Morgan Noll
Updated May 07, 2020
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Hair goes through a lot: hot styling, experimental coloring, and all the miscellaneous tugging and pulling. All of this can cause dryness and breakage. And, what’s more, the products we use to try to repair our hair can often leave buildup on our scalp, which weighs down hair over time. So, sometimes, our hair needs a break. Lorraine Massey, the creator of the Curly Girl Method, suggests putting down the hair tools and nixing hair products for a while. Instead, she suggests doing a hair detox to reset your scalp.

Since a hair detox removes the factors of styling and even conditioning (a central part of the Curly Girl Method), it’s not always pretty. That’s why Massey says that now—while we’re all in quarantine and limiting our interactions with the outside world because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic—is the perfect time to give a detox a try.

What is a hair detox?

Massey describes it as a gentle way to remove impurities and synthetic toxins from the scalp and hair. Just like a detox for the body, a hair detox, per Massey’s recommendations, uses natural fluids to gradually flush out toxins.

“A true hair detox means to refrain from, not add more,” she explains. Instead of using treatments and products to repair hair, a detox eliminates all the extra variables so that the hair can get back to its most natural state. It may look a little more untamed than usual during this transition, but Massey says that it’s a great opportunity to get to know your hair better. “So what if it frizzes? Take a look at it, see it, and love it,” she says.

When is the best time for a hair detox?

Massey says that you’ll know it’s time for one when you notice that the products going into your hair aren’t coming out. If your hair feels sticky, your color looks dull, your curl pattern is “lethargic,” your scalp pores feel clogged, or your hair starts to resemble synthetic, doll-like hair—you’re due for a detox.

However, it isn’t necessarily a quick fix for these types of problems. Massey says it may take three detox treatments for hair to feel fully relieved of that grimy feeling from stuck-on silicones or oils that may be lingering on the scalp. She says that, sometimes, a detox may take weeks, depending on the products you’ve been using.

That may sound like a long time to avoid styling and endure transition hair, but for those who have tried out the Curly Girl Method, this is a familiar experience. The period of transitioning from shampoo to solely conditioner can be a similar struggle, but it will help you achieve healthier hair in the end.

Can you DIY a natural hair detox solution?

Massey is a big fan of a DIY ginger and lemon rinse. Ginger is recognized as a natural antibiotic, which is said to help reduce scalp infections and dandruff. The citric acid in lemon juice can also help reduce dandruff and remove oil and buildup from the hair, which can, in turn, boost shine. To make your detox solution, she recommends washing and pulverizing a large chunk of ginger root in a blender, then adding two tablespoons (or more, as desired) of distilled water and the juice from two lemons. Put the solution through a fine-mesh strainer, and the remaining liquid is your detox solution.

To use the solution, wet your hair in the shower and then pour the solution all over it. Massey recommends rubbing the scalp thoroughly with your fingertips while the solution is in to help stimulate blood flow and break loose whatever buildup is stuck on the scalp. Then, let the solution sit in the hair for about ten minutes, gently rinse it out, and scrunch or blot out the excess water. When you’re done rinsing, “allow the hair to air dry and just breathe,” she says.

Shop everything you need for a homemade hair detox solution below.

Ginger Root

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Lemon

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Apple Cider Vinegar

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Shop It! $13.13, Amazon.com

For more oily hair types—often those with straight or wavy, rather than curly, hair—Massey recommends adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the lemon and ginger solution. The added acidity can help remove more buildup and oil.

Aloe Vera

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Shop It! $14.99, Amazon.com

To help tame frizz, Massey also recommends adding aloe vera juice to the detox solution as a hydrating element.

Coconut Water

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Shop It! $7, Amazon.com

Coconut water (not oil) is another option. Like aloe vera juice, it can add hydration without leaving buildup on the scalp.