It’s been over 2 years now since I first discovered the Curly Girl Method and it’s not only transformed my hair, but taught me to understand what products to use and which ones work better for me.
Don’t get me wrong, my hair is by no means in perfect condition. I still have frizzy days and days where it’s completely out of control, but I now have lots of days where my curls look really defined and where I’m really happy with it. The Curly Girl Method is a case of trial and error; I advise what works or doesn’t work for me, but that doesn’t mean it will be the same for you.
Starting the Curly Girl Method can feel quite overwhelming, and this is the reason why I decided to put together a beginners guide to the Curly Girl Method. There is so much information out there and it can look like it’s complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. If you are starting up, keep it simple. Use a conditioner, a deep conditioner and a styling product. You could even skip the deep conditioning stage and just use a conditioner and a styling product. Simple! Keep using the same products for a few weeks to give them time to work before moving on, trying different options.
I want to share with you a beginners guide to the Curly Girl Method that will hopefully help you understand it a bit more, and hopefully clear any doubts you might have.
What is the Curly Girl Method?
The Curly Girl Method is based on a book by the same name written by Lorraine Massey.
Products containing non-soluble silicones, sulphates, drying alcohols, waxes and heavy butters – which happen to be ingredients found in most shampoos and conditioners – should be avoided. Yes, all of these are great to remove dirt and oils, but they will strip your curly hair of it’s natural moisture leaving it dry and frizzy.
Check out an earlier post on Curly Girl Method approved products or the infographics below on ingredients to avoid.
A Beginners Guide to The Curly Girl Method
You’ve decided to follow the Curly Girl Method so what is your first step? A final wash is key (important) to get rid of all the product build up and silicones that have accumulated in your hair over the years. For the final wash you need to use a shampoo that contains sulphates but not silicones. This is because sulphates are the only thing that can remove silicones from your hair. It’s worth mentioning that the final wash is not mentioned in Lorraine Massey’s book but it’s something that I’ve seen recommended and I don’t see any harm on it anyway.
If you live in a hard water area, like I do in London, you can use the same shampoo for clarifying your hair once a month.
Baby Johnson Shampoo is perfect for a final wash, otherwise, diluted washing up liquid is also suitable.
This is where it gets a bit confusing and it takes a bit of time to get around it especially if you are starting out. A co-wash is a conditioner you use to wash your hair, these are usually cleansing, and are designed to clean the hair and add moisture at the same time. When co-washing make sure you scrub your scalp for a few minutes to ensure it’s properly cleaned.
There are quite a few co-wash conditioners out there that you can try, however you can use regular conditioners instead, as long as they are Curly Girl Approved.
Curly Girl Method Approved Co-Washes
- As I am Coconut Co-Wash – This is my favourite and the one I use on a regular basis. It leaves my hair feeling really clean and smelling great.
- Cantu Co-wash
- Boucleme Curl Cleanser
- Camille Rose Cleansing Milk
- Camille Rose Curl Coating Co-Wash
- Alikay Naturals Co Wash Me Cleaning Conditioner
- Jim + Henry Nine
- Curlsmith Curl Quenching Conditioning Wash
- Bounce Curl Hydra-Drench Cleansing Conditioner
- KeraCare Curl Essence Moisturizer Co-Wash
Curly Girl Method Approved Conditioners
These are conditioners that are Curly Girl Approved There are a lot out there; this is just a small list.
- Noughty moisture boost conditioner
- Only Curls All Curl Conditioner
- Kind Natured
- Organic Shop Conditioners
- Sainsbury’s Apple Conditioner
- Organic Shop Algae & Clay Conditioner
- Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner
- L’Oreal Botanicals Rose & Geranium Conditioner
- Beauty & Planet Shea Butter & Sandalwood Conditioner – The formulation for this conditioner has recently changed and the new ones are not CGM approved. Double check the label before buying it. You can still find the old ones, which are CGM approved, in TK Maxx.
Low Poo is shampoo that has no sulphates or other harsh cleansers. They are usually more suited to those with fine low porosity hair, but I guess it’s all down to preference.
Like I said earlier, it’s all down to personal preference and trial and error, so if you feel like trying a product, as long as it’s Curly Girl Approved, go for it. You will in time start to understand what suits your hair.
- Jessicurl Gentle Lather Shampoo
- Johnson’s Cotton Touch Newborn Wash & Shampoo
- Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo
- Giovanni Golden Wheat Deep Cleanse Shampoo
- Shea Moisture Raw Shea and Cupuacu Frizz Defense Shampoo
- Flora & Curl Organic Rose & Honey Cream Shampoo
- Bounce Curl Pure Silk Moisturizing Shampoo
- As I am Dry & Itchy Scalp Care Shampoo
You’ve co-washed your hair, what next? You still need a separate conditioning step. Coat your hair with conditioner, you can use the same use you previously used or a different one. Use your fingers to detangle your hair, or if you prefer you can use a wide comb tooth. You shouldn’t really brush your hair, but if you have to be sure to brush when the hair is wet. Flip your hair upside down and squish your hair from the ends to the scalp, this is called “squish to condish” – make sure you do this lots of times, keep adding a bit of water to it and keep squishing the hair. The squish action will make the water and conditioner to work together. Remember curly hair is usually dry, and this will help with hydration. “Squish to condish” helps with hydration but also with clump formation.
Hair that has been bleached or straightened for years might need frequent deep conditioning, especially to start with. My hair is extremely dry so even though I rarely straightened it or bleached it I still deep condition every couple of weeks. These are some of the masks that are suitable and are CG approved.
- Garnier Fructis Hair Food Papaya This is one of my favourite masks and it’s really versatile, this can be used as a conditioner, a leaving mask or a deep conditioner. I use it as a deep conditioner as it’s not too heavy and leaves my hair feeling really soft.
- Garnier Ultimate Blends Almond Milk Normal Hair Treatment Mask
- Jessicurl Deep Treatment
- Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment
- Camille Rose Algae Renew Deep Conditioning Mask
- Boucleme Intense moisture treatment
What styling products to use are down to personal preference. For years I only used mousse but once I started following the Curly Girl Method I started adding gel on top of it. If you are starting up I’d recommend using one product at a time to see how it works for you. You can always add more as time goes by.
How to apply your products can make a huge difference to your hair and how your curls will look. I always apply my styling products to soaking wet hair with my hair upside down. I first add mousse scrunching it from the ends up towards my roots. I scrunch, scrunch, scrunch for a few minutes. I also repeat this step if I’m adding gel on top of the mousse.
If scrunching doesn’t work for you, you can try the “praying hands” technique. Rub the styling product between your hands, clap hands together -as if praying – and smooth the product from root to end.
- Pantene Pro-V Defined Curls Mousse 5 – Only the number 5 is Curly Girl approved
- Giovanni LA Hold Styling Gel
- Only Curls Enhancing Curl Gel
- Jessicurl Spiralicius Styling Gel
- Trepadora Acai Berry Fix Defining Gel
- Kinky Curly Curling Custard
- Cantu Define and Shine Custard
- Shea Moisture Coconut Curl Enhancing Smoothie
Once the styling product or products have been applied you then need to plop your hair. Hair plopping entails wrapping the wet hair tightly on a microfiber towel or t-shirt. Plopping helps curl definition, and it also absorbs excess water and reduces drying time. You can plop between 10 minutes to a couple of hours before the next step.
Scrunch Out The Crunch
SOTC or Scrunch out the crunch is the last step in the hair wash process. Once your hair is completely dry, if you’ve applied a styling product, it might feel a bit “crunchy”. The idea is to break out the cast around the hair to soften it, and make the curls more defined. Use your hands to scrunch that cast until it’s completely gone.
I hope this beginners guide to the Curly Girl Method has been helpful and given you some tips and information to start following it.
You can read all my other Curly Girl Method posts here
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