I Went to a Curl Spa and My Ringlets Have Never Looked Better

Spiral (x,y,z) salon is a haven for curls. More of a spa than your typical cut, color, wash and go salon, the stylists at Spiral (x,y,z) make each strand of hair feel like it’s the only curl in the world. The salon is noticeably serene, and aside from taking a holistic approach to how curls are treated, all work is done as though time is a non-issue. 

I took a trip to Spiral (x,y,z), which was opened by Deva Curl co-founder Lorraine Massey, on their launch day not knowing what to expect. The first thing that really caught my attention was the sink setup. Instead of chairs, the salon has makeshift beds adjacent to the sinks, similar to what you would expect when going for a massage or facial — and that’s actually closer to what happens when you sit for a shampoo. 

Images via Spiral (x,y,z)

Curl Detox

“We offer a cranial massage as part of the hair and scalp spa mist treatment to stimulate blood flow, providing health benefits to the scalp as the buildup of debris can trap dead skin cells that clog the pores on the scalp,” says Lorraine. “This can result in an itchy scalp and over time and lead to hair loss because the inflammation can ultimately interfere with the natural fauna and flora of the scalp,” she explains, which can impede the optimal functioning of hair follicles. “The scalp and neck do not get enough attention or ‘hair time’ — we hold a lot of tension in our head so this is a deeply relaxing and beneficial treat for your hair and scalp,” she continues — and I can attest that it really is relaxing AF. 

As I have my hair washed, steamed and my scalp massaged, a woman comes to cleanse my actual energy, pressing down on my body with a towel and meditating over me. If you get one service from the salon, the scalp and hair facial, which Lorraine calls the “curlonic,” is where it’s at. 

“The steam from the spa mist opens up the hair cuticles to allow more moisture for the Sham-Free Shampoo: $30 to help penetrate and absorb for a deeper cleansing conditioning,” Lorraine notes.  “This treatment can help to soften, loosen and dislodge build-up from non-water-soluble and impenetrable silicones, oils, and serums that stick to the surface and laminate the hair. Some people with years of build-up may need a couple of deep spa mist treatments to get a proper detox,” Lorraine says, who says that it’s especially beneficially for broken curls. 

Image via Spiral (x,y,z)

Pin and Slow Dry

After the curl and scalp massage, my hair is partially pinned up, creating elevation at the root. “Pinning up your hair with bobby pins, pin curl clips, or two hair picks linked is almost like putting your laundry out to dry — it gives hair a lift at the roots by releasing the hair of water and styling product weight during the drying process,” says Lorraine. “Pins can add lift and direction around the face and hairline if you have a cowlick. Pins can be extra beneficial when your roots are showing and your color appointment is weeks away. When your part is so exposed it can end up looking like you have a bald spot or flat crown without pins,” she continues. 

Curls pinned to dry

I then sit under a “micropod,” which is like a hood dryer for women who shop at goop – it is surprisingly elegant. The reason curls are dried this way is because the dryer creates a “microclimate,” which holds in the warm air and thus evaporates the water molecules faster. “This allows the curl formation to dry and set quicker from their wet set formation,” says Lorraine. It is also a crucial part of the curl spa experience. “You are forced to sit still, which also helps prevent outside friction and atmospheric disturbances such as wind and constant movement. (Once you become a seasoned, cultivated curly girl/guy this all becomes second nature). Air drying from a wet state to a dry can take some curly girls up to 8 hours to dry depending on length, product application, and weather conditions. Think of the heat from a diffuser or hood dryer in terms of freeze-drying,” she adds. 

Under the hood dryer at Spiral (x,y,z)

DIY Curl Spa

If you can’t make it out to Spiral (x,y,z), you can still give your curls the spa treatment at home, and you really should. It’s almost as if your curls can sense when you’re giving them TLC and they respond accordingly. To do this, Lorraine recommends starting with wet hair and applying a silicone-free cleansing conditioner, such as Sham-Free. Then, she says to fill a large bowl or sink with boiling hot water. Bend over the steam while covering your entire head with the shower liner to ensure the steam does not escape, which you may have to do in intervals. “This is a fantastic scalp facial and also helps with your sinuses,” says Lorraine, who recommends adding a few drops of your favorite pure essential oil. Then, rinse your hair and air dry using either a diffuser, old school hood dryer, or even a wall heater if you have one – your curls will thank you. 

Image via Spiral (x,y,z)

Curl Enhancing Tips

We ask Lorraine her top tips for enhancing curls and she responds, “to keep them as healthy as possible.” This means to stop using sulfate or quasi no-sulfate shampoos. “The bubbles dry out already naturally dry hair and simply wear out your curls. Think of your hair as an organic hair fiber; like a cashmere sweater you wear every day of your life. Why not treat your hair like the most priceless organic fiber you will ever own? Curls are 100% free. Read those labels and think about the importance of conditioner on our hair; it’s like water for the body,” she says.

To make sure you’re using the right shampoo, always check for product transparency and look out for the PH on the packaging. “Anything between 0 and 6.9 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and anything between 7.1 and 14 is considered alkaline. The pH of hair is between 4.5 and 5.0, and the scalp omits a natural coating called sebum. It is not dirt! This natural acidity prevents fungi and bacteria from growing in the hair and scalp. Many products strip the acid mantle on the scalp, which dries out the hair, leading to what you think might be dandruff when it’s really just a dried out scalp, unhealthy frizz, breakage, and/or damage,” continues Lorraine. 

If you’re looking for a list, check out her top don’ts (and one do) below:

No bubbly shampoos

No brushing/ combing 

No silicones and heavy oils 

No heat damage 

No chemical straightening 

No razoring /slicing curls 

No cutting curls when wet 

Get a curly dry cut

Cut for Curls

After my hair has been carefully dried, a stylist sifts through my hair and strategically trims each curl individually so that actual ringlets form – ringlets I haven’t seen in years. “Cutting curly hair dry is so important since we wear it dry; we don’t wear our hair wet. We must consider the spring factor, because some spring factors can be as great as 10 inches when pulled down to its furthest point (below the boob) and can shrink right back up to the chin or shoulders. That can be devastating to a curly girl,” shares Lorraine, and I’ve definitely been there. 

If nothing else, stop into the salon if you’re in a hair rut and have been hating your hair for as long as you can remember – the Sprial (x,y,z) mission is to reverse this thinking and remind you that curls are beautiful. “We personally train our clients to learn to love and respect the organic nature of their curls and their shape-shifting ways,” says Lorraine, who cautions against relying on the “blow-fry” to feel like you are in control of your curls, which only leads to long- term damage. 

“The hair needs to rehabilitate, however it doesn’t take as long as one would think. Give the curls plenty of rest from singeing heat and plenty of condition and hydration, and they will be back in no time. Perfect curls are not real and real curls are not perfect. For a curly girl to stay in a blow-fry coma during a rainy day/season or at the beach, it’s a constant battleground and there is no doubt it becomes exhausting and consuming,” says Lorraine. 

Image via Spiral (x,y,z)
Lorraine carefully shapes a curl

Holistic Hair Care

The team at Spiral (x,y,z) takes a holistic approach to hair care, treating the hair as an extension of the body and the soul. “Your job is to preserve this precious fiber that lives on your head, just as would with your body and mind. It’s usually the daily habits that lead to wear and tear, which cause damaged hair. Some doctors say that most women apply an average of 187 chemicals on their bodies before 9 AM. We have to remember that we are a part of nature, not apart from it. Truly understanding your curls and looking after them is more about what you’re not doing, as opposed to what you’re doing,” muses Lorraine.

If you have curly hair, stick to THESE 10 oils. 

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