Whether The 'Bowl Method' For Curly Hair Is Actually Beneficial Comes Down To One Fact

While there always seems to be a new viral beauty hack circulating on social media apps like TikTok, few have proven to actually be worth the hype or provide results that make you want to work it into your everyday routine. Enter, curly hair TikTok, a very popular side of the app and social community where those with naturally curly hair who have perfected their post-wash styling routine teach others how to do the same. 

Many of the various popular "curly girl" methods have proven to be effective for many, and the "bowl method" has become the latest hair trend that seems to be catching on for those with loose waves to tight curls. The viral method is an elevated and more hands-on version of other types of post-wash routines for curly and wavy hair — and involves repeatedly dunking your head in a bowl of water. In a video with 7.5 million views, content creator Zia (@curlyzia.xo), who regularly uses the bowl method, shares that it can help people discover and master their curl pattern, even if they never knew they had one. 

As is the case with any viral trend, the only way to determine whether or not it's worth it is to try it for yourself. Learning how to perfect the bowl method can help you define your curls and decide whether or not it's right for your routine.

What is the bowl method?

While the bowl method involves the same products as other curly hair methods, it involves saturating your hair after application to dilute and evenly distribute your product while defining curl clumps and boosting hydration.

After shampooing and conditioning your hair in the shower as you normally would, apply leave-in conditioner and curl cream before brushing it or finger combing it in to ensure that the product is evenly distributed. While using a curl-defining gel is an optional step, hair stylist and salon owner Marissa Ryan recommends it, especially if you struggle with frizz, as the gel can help control it better than cream on its own. "Whatever you do, make sure that you are putting your curl products on soaking wet hair," she says (per Prose).

After applying your products, dunk your head in the bowl of water, lift your hair out of the bowl, and scrunch your hair to your roots, letting the water from your strands fall back into the bowl before dunking each side and doing the same thing. While the dunking and scrunching process should be repeated at least twice, Zia tells Allure that she usually does it four times to ensure the product is evenly distributed. After scrunching your hair out for the last time, you can plop your hair for a few minutes with a microfiber towel before either letting it air dry or diffusing it for added definition and a shortened dry time.

Why does the bowl method work?

There are several different reasons why the bowl method might better help define your curl, the main being the added hydration that comes with it. "We always advise our customers to apply curl products onto soaking wet hair," says Lizzie Carter, founder of Only Curls (via Stylist). "This is because curls clump together better on wet hair as hair is smoothest when wet. Applying products to soaking wet hair creates the smoothest, frizz-free curls. The bowl method helps create amazing curl clumps and forces more water into the hair for extra hydration."

Because the hair is saturated with water when the diluted product is distributed throughout your hair with every dunk, Melissa Ryan says that your curls are better able to lock in moisture, which leads to more defined curls and waves with none of the annoying frizz (per Prose). The dilution process that comes with dunking your hair also helps evenly distribute the product throughout the entirety of the hair shaft, leading to even, natural-looking curls. "Some of the product you apply will be rinsed off in the process, but since it goes back into the bowl that you reuse, some will reapply to the hair," says Carter, adding that saturating your hair also helps the product penetrate your hair more easily.

What's the verdict?

Determining whether or not the bowl method is right for you likely comes down to one factor — time. More specifically, whether or not you are willing and able to put in the additional time and effort that this method requires. "I would keep in mind that this technique takes both patience and time," says Marissa Ryan (via Prose). "It takes about five to ten minutes from start to finish, depending on your hair length and thickness as well as your experience using this method."

Though the bowl method takes more time and effort than other hair routines, many people swear by its effectiveness and claim that the extra time is worth the result. According to TikToker and hair content creator Jonathan Monroe (@jonathankmonroe), those with dry or frizzy curls who struggle to define them can especially benefit from utilizing the bowl method, and should consider adding the extra minutes to their hair routine. "I find the diluting part of the bowl method really helps provide volume and curl," he told Allure.

TikToker Kimberly Díaz (@__kimberlydiaz) agrees, adding that the bowl method is great for providing the added moisture that dry curls so desperately need, especially during the winter months. She also notes that the bowl method works well for those with all types of curl and wave patterns, making it a good option for those with loose waves who struggle to define or perfect them using other, less hands-on methods.