A Step-by-Step Guide to The Curly Girl Method

This is the only way I'll wash my hair.

curly girl method

 Stocksy

If you're a fan of DevaCurl products or have been to a Devachan Salon, you're likely familiar with the Curly Girl Method. In fact, it's Lorraine Massey's Curly Girl Method that morphed into the DevaCurl Salon's we know and love.

Curly Girl: The Handbook
Lorraine Massey Curly Girl: The Handbook $7.26
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My first DevaCurl salon experience with Donatella and Ezzy of Curls One on One was a game-changer for me and how I viewed my hair. I had just moved to Los Angeles, and my hair and skin were confused. One session with them helped me spend less time doing my hair on wash days, gave me the tools to maintain my coils' hydration, and is the reason why my hair is growing and healthy. 

Deva stylists practice the art of using no shampoo, combs, heat styling, sulfates, alcohol, or silicones with a process consisting of a three-step routine: cleansing, conditioning, and styling. For some of us, this means throwing our entire wash day routine away. But don't fret and put all of your products into a bag and send them into product exile: You can slowly switch out products, because we all know how expensive new products can be, especially if they're purchased all at once.

To get a little insight into the method, I spoke with Devachan Stylist, Taylor Tugman.

Meet the Expert

Taylor Tugman is a senior stylist at Devachan Salon in New York City. She has worked as a natural hairstylist for six years and specializes in the acclaimed Devacut, a dry cutting technique that lends specifically to the needs of naturally wavy, curly, and super curly hair

I asked why she thinks this method works on a range of hair types. "It's the ideal 'hair diet' for textured hair," she explains. "Not only are you no longer stripping the hair of moisture with sulfates, but also feeding the hair real moisture, not the superficial version silicones give. It's amazing how curly people can completely transform their hair simply by eliminating silicones and sulfates!"

Before we get into the three-step technique, there are a few hair housekeeping rules for ensuring the best results:

Say no to using clarifying shampoos with sulfates: "It's best to avoid most clarifying shampoos as they tend to be extra harsh and drying," Tugman urges. "That being said, there are exceptions, like DevaCurl Buildup Buster. Buildup Buster uses micellar technology instead of sulfates to magnetize impurities and gently remove them from strands."

Lose the combs: "Fingers are definitely preferable over combs for a few reasons," Tugman explains. "First, using your fingers is much more intuitive. You're more aware when you get to tangles, and rather than ripping through them, you can gently work them out, preventing breakage, which leads to frizz and comprises length retention. Also, when using your fingers, you simultaneously massage moisture into the strands. You wouldn't put lotion on your body and hope it soaks in, would you? It's the same concept with conditioner. It needs to be massaged and worked into curls to be most effective."

Now that we've got the right shampoo and tools in our showers, how often should you cleanse? With Massey's method in mind, if your hair is wavy, shampooing should only be done once a week. For curly hair textures, washing should take place once every 10 days with a co-wash once a week. For coily hair textures, Massey recommends cleansing as little as possible and opting for co-washes instead (which is a practice I've adopted). 

Your new wash day routine:

Start With A No-Poo Shampoo 

As we've mentioned, sulfates are a no-go. "Most traditional shampoos contain sulfates," says Tugman. "They are found not only in shampoos but also in many household products, like dish soap. If you've ever washed your hands with dish soap, you know how drying that can be for your hands. Since curly hair is already naturally on the dry side, it's best to avoid ingredients that further dry or strip the strands."

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That's why a sulfate-free, "no-poo" hair cleanser will serve you well: it's gentle and effective. But remember to utilize the same in-shower method you'd use with a traditional shampoo. Says Tugman, "We've been conditioned to think bubbles mean clean and forget about friction. When using a no-poo shampoo, friction is imperative to loosen and remove excess oil or dirt from the scalp."

Condition

At my first appointment with Donatella and Ezzy, one pro tip they gave me was to leave a bit of conditioner on the hair rather than rinsing it all out. Tugman agrees: "Leaving a little conditioner in can help hair strands trap hydration in for longer periods of time, which means frizz control and longer lasting definition."

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Like the shampooing step, how you condition your hair will vary based on your hair type. For wavy hair, rinse the hair, but keep in mind you have the option to leave a little conditioner in. For curly hair types, you can rinse the conditioner out entirely or leave it in. For coily hair types, deep conditioning is highly recommended to lock in moisture. If you're worried about having a milky cast left behind when doing this, this is something I do from time to time without any white residue. 

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Style Without Heat or Combs

The curly girl method recommends low manipulation for all hair types. As a 4c girl (coily hair texture), I understand the shrinkage struggle. I personally don't mind my shrinkage, but the great thing about this method is that it can be adjusted by hair type and styling preference. The only thing you shouldn't do is use any heat, but if you're in a hurry, using a diffuser on low heat is an option. 

After products are applied and before styling, turn your head over (with a towel covering your face), give your hair a shake turning your head up and down and side to side. After this step, you'll move into your preferred method of styling. Wavy hair textures are generally encouraged to scrunch the hair with a microfiber towel or t-shirt to soak up the excess water without causing frizz. 

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For coily hair textures, the method recommends a wash-and-go, but if that isn't how you like to wear your hair, follow a technique that helps stretch your coils, but be sure to stay away from combs and silicones in your styling products. 

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One thing I know for sure is the curly girl method is something I think every curly girl can benefit from no matter their hair texture. 

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