bal harbour blog

The Original Curly Girl

Culture Watch

By Tali Jaffe

Lorraine Massey, stylist and founder of Devachan salon in New York, is the curly hair guru. She spreads her hair care gospel almost religiously as she aims to save one curly-haired head at a time.

In town for a book signing for her updated “Curly Girl: The Handbook” at Books and Books Bal Harbour, we caught up with Lorraine to discuss ditching shampoo, blow frying and how to tame unruly hair—even in the most humid of summers.

It’s been 10 years since the first edition of “Curly Girl: The Handbook.” What have you been up to since then?
We didn’t know it would be such a big deal book at all. And then what we saw was that it allowed all of these women to admit their “dirty little secret” of having curly hair. We’ve been trying to hide it underneath all of these “weapons of mass hair destruction.”

It was bad for 10 years, now it’s gotten even worse. As if blow frying wasn’t enough, now we have to put on gas masks so that we can do Keratin treatments!

You must have a lot of women with damaged hair at Devachan.
We see the worst-case scenarios. It’s like an emergency room for hair.

Have you ever had a client come in with damage beyond repair?
Never. As long as there’s hair on your head, we can fix it. There’s always hope.

Devachan salon opened in 1995 in SoHo. How long did it take for your products and practices to be adopted beyond your own salon?
It spread word-of-mouth at first. We never thought we’d end up where we are today. We just wanted to make our clients happy. It was truly grass roots. Just one curly girl sharing their secret with another.

Do you think some of the models, like Gisele, who have that natural, wavy look, have had an effect on the curly hair revolution?
Definitely. We see a lot of women wanting that wavy look. It’s better than that straight, anorexic hair look. Even if there’s just a bit of movement in it.

What’s the number-one complaint women have about their curly hair?
That it’s unruly. So, I turned to the text about how to deal with unruly children, and took the same advice: consistency. Unruly children crave consistency, and I realized that when you become more consistent with your hair, the more consistent it becomes with you. Too many women go back and forth between curly, blow frying, straight. Curly, blow frying straight. That’s the problem. You have to commit to a routine of caring for your hair and not deviate.

How about some at-home advice? Can you give us the three steps to maintaining beautiful curls?
You know, we have no interest in just making you beautiful in the salon. We’re all about how you can maintain your curls at home. First, get rid of your shampoo. Shampoo does more damage than anything else. Just use conditioner to give yourself a scalp massage. You’ll see amazing results right away. Second, don’t take too much of the moisture out of your hair with a towel. Use a gentler cloth, or even paper towels to pat it dry. Third, style with an alcohol-free gel by gently scrunching section of the hair from underneath.

What about in the summer? Humidity is enemy number one, right?
Leave a lot of conditioner in. Use more than usual. The humidity will evaporate the product, but it will take longer. Our hair frizzes because it’s thirsty so it takes moisture from the atmosphere by opening up its cuticles. If your hair is well conditioned, it won’t take as much from the atmosphere and won’t frizz.

Do you have any new products in the works?
We’re working on a bunch of new products. The most exciting one that’s launching this year is hair spray. If we can make an alternative shampoo, we can make an alternative hairspray that will be totally. Women cannot stop using hairspray, so we’re creating a product they can use that won’t damage their hair.

Meet Lorraine Massey at Books and Books Bal Harbour on March 21, at 7:30 p.m.

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