Taming curly locks and making them look bouncy can be a struggle, especially as coils can become limp and stringy as we get older. Thankfully, women with ringlets are sharing their best tips under #CurlTok on TikTok to ensure curls stay springy, frizz-free and more. All it takes is a simple scroll through videos on the app that feature this hashtag and you’ll see hundreds of curly hair hacks. But the one that has the most buzz recently is the bowl method for curly hair. Read on to learn what this styling trick is and how it can take curls from limp to luscious in no time.
What is the bowl method for curly hair?
This technique consists of working your usual leave-in conditioner or curl cream into wet hair and then repeatedly dipping hair into a bowl of water. After you dip your hair into the bowl, you then “scrunch it up” in sections and let the water drip back into the bowl.
It was invented by TikToker Zia @curlyzia.xo who went viral with a video that has logged nearly 37 million views, in which she says to dip each section of hair into the bowl 4 times. And she recently shared another video (see below) about how she started her curly hair journey and came up with the bowl method for curly hair, which devotees call it ‘magical’ and ‘amazing’ for reviving and taming their curly locks.
Patience is key with the bowl method for curly hair
While it sounds like the bowl method for curly hair could really be the secret to frizz-free curls — not so fast! Literally, because unlike most of the other beauty hacks on social media channels, this one sure isn’t a quick fix: It takes a fair amount of time to reap the curl-beautifying rewards.
But the results are worth the extra effort and if you traditionally use a lot of products to manage your mane, many devotees of the bowl method for curly hair say it isn’t that much more time — or labor — intensive. (Click through to learn about the fast hack of reverse hair washing to give hair added bounce and body.)
The benefits of the bowl method for curly hair
It tames frizzy curls
“Your ultimate weapon against keeping frizz at bay is conditioner, which seals down cuticles and provides much-needed moisture,” says Natacha B., hairstylist and curly hair expert. “The problem is that most of the time the conditioner simply sits on the surface of your hair.”
However, the bowl method for curly hair works so well because it mixes water and conditioner together, enabling deeper hydration and penetration. “Adding water to conditioned hair reopens the cuticles, allowing for greater product absorption,” explains Natacha. This quenches the thirst of curly hair to prevent it from absorbing excess moisture in the air that turns coils into a frizzy mess.
The bowl method restores moisture to thin, brittle hair
As we age these hair woes like increased brittleness, dryness and thinner locks can be brought on by decreased production of natural oils on our scalps, hormone fluctuations and more. “The bowl method for curly hair increases conditioner contact time, which is great for mature hair in need of extra moisture,” says Chaz Dean, celebrity hair stylist and founder of Wen hair care. Plus, keeping hair super hydrated can help reduce further breakage.
The bowl method keeps curly hair looking voluminous
All of the moisture given to hair from doing the bowl method for curly hair pumps strands so they appear fuller. And flipping your hair upside-down can also increase the volume of the curls thanks to gravity, says Dean as it lifts the curls away from the root. (Click through to learn about the benefits of amla oil for hair and how it can boost hair growth.)
How to do the bowl method for curly hair
If you’re ready to try this method at home, follow these simple steps:
- First, wash and condition hair as usual while showering, then work a quarter-size amount of a curl cream or leave-in conditioner, like John Frieda Frizz Ease (Buy from Amazon, $7.98), through wet hair with fingers.
- Next, grab a bowl that’s large enough to dunk your head in, and fill it with warm water.
- Lean over the bowl and dunk all of your hair into the water to get it completely saturated. Lift hair out of the water and gently scrunch hair to squeeze the excess water back into the bowl.
- Repeat this process two to four times on the front and back, and all sides of your hair.
- To finish, you’ll want to squeeze out as much excess water as possible after your last dunk and add a quarter-size amount of a curl-defining mousse or gel before diffusing your hair with a blow dryer. “It’s crucial to make sure your curly hair is wet, but not soaking, before applying styling products,” says Dean. “That way your hair won’t be too wet to absorb the products.”
- After hair is dry, Dean suggests applying a nickel-size amount of a hair restoring serum (Buy from Wen, $28) to further help seal in moisture.
To see the bowl method for curly hair in action, especially the dunking steps, check out the below video posted by trichologist Kate Holden on TikTok.
Helpful tricks for doing the bowl method
Of course, with any viral hair hack, there are many users who come up with tweaks to address different hair needs, and the bowl method for curly hair is no different. Here, two useful tips for women that tested out the viral trend.
Use this cream and plop hair in a T-shirt
Beauty expert Kerry-Lou Henson shared her experience doing the bowl method in the below video she posted to her YouTube channel and offers some helpful tips. When it comes to styling hair post-bowl method, Henson swears by using Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Gel (Buy from Ulta, $8.99), which she says gives her “bouncy, well-defined curls with a flexible but firm hold.”
She also follows up all the dunking by “plopping” her hair in a 100% cotton T-shirt for about an hour “to blot out extra moisture” and help reduce frizz. The reason: Cotton is smooth, unlike a traditional towel that has a lot of grooves, which won’t rough up hair’s cuticle and it absorbs excess moisture.
Lean the head into the bowl backward if you have thin, curly hair
TikToker Jana Kim shared that she has thin hair at the crown of her head, and realized that doing the viral trick facing toward the bowl was creating weight at the front of her hair. This ended up pulling her hair forward and made it look as if she had bald patches at the back of her head.
“I have figured out the secret to doing the bowl method if you have very thin hair,” Kim declares in the below video about her discovery of leaning backward, instead of forward, and plopping her hair into the bowl. “Doing this creates curl clumps and naturally brings that weight backwards to create coverage for [trouble spots].”
While the bowl method can be a great way to create bouncy, more defined curls, keep in mind that all hair types are different, and you might need to adjust the technique. In the end, using the bowl method for curly hair might just completely bowl you over by helping you to embrace your curls and putting a spring back in their step.
The video that started the bowl method for curly hair trend
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