A viral TikTok trend and an old beauty technique – both called the curly girl method – is helping people discover they’ve had curly hair their entire lives and never knew. If this sounds like you, or sounds like it could be you, then read on, because here’s how to do it.
The curly girl method was coined by Lorraine Massey, in her 2010 book Curly Girl: The Handbook, but recently found new life thanks to TikTok user Danielle (@thedaniellelife).
“So my whole life I’ve been brushing through my hair like this,” she says in her video, which has been viewed more than 16 million times.
“And TikTok is making me realise that I think I actually have curly hair.”
In the video, Danielle uses the steps of the curly girl method – which avoids heat styling and dry brushing – to discover that yeah, she’s had curly hair this entire time.
And she’s not the only one: her audio has been used for more than 4,000 other TikTok videos, sending the #curlygirlmethod trending on the platform. It’s safe to assume she’s not the only person out there who’s been over-brushing and over-styling their curly hair all their lives. (Obviously, not all 4,000 people using the audio are also ~discovering~ their hair, but it’s a vibe, ya know?)
“The technique will only work if your hair tends to have a small natural wave through it already,” Brad Mullins, celeb hairstylist and Pantene Ambassador, told PEDESTRIAN.TV. “The process is quite simple to recreate at home.”
It basically consists of using the right products, not messing around too much with your hair, and leaving it overnight while wrapped up tight in a t-shirt – a.k.a. plopping.
“The benefit of a t-shirt is that it is lightweight, absorbent and easy to secure with the sleeves, which is important when leaving it on overnight,” Brad said.
“You could also use a microfibre towel and secure with a clip, but I wouldn’t recommend your standard terry towel as it is too heavy and may skew results.”
Put the towel down. Got it.
Brad advises to avoid brushing regularly, and – if possible – only doing so right before you wash your hair.
“Another tip is to ensure you remove all excess water from your hair before applying your conditioner and then comb it through with a wide tooth comb,” he said.
“To ensure your hair is completely nourished, leave your conditioner to sink in for a couple of minutes before rinsing out.”
How to do the curly girl method:
Step 1: Wash your hair. (Brad recommends a “volumising, silicone free shampoo”.)
Step 2: Apply curl-defining product to your hair while it’s still wet.
Step 3: Fold your hair into an old t-shirt and secure the sleeves tightly to hold. (This is the ‘plopping’ part.) Leave in overnight.
Step 4: Untie the t-shirt, let your bee-yooo-tiful curls fall down, apply a bit of hair spray to hold, and you’re good!
Repeat a few times per week (or whatever is good for your hair), and you’re good!
Brad – as Pantene’s ambassador – recommends the Pantene Pro-V Sheer Volume Shampoo and Conditioner, which at $7.99 is a bloody great price point. I’ve rounded up a couple tried-and-true products from my curly-haired colleagues to get you started.