Right now, Brazilian Blow-Outs are all the rage. While I don’t want to incite major controversy, but these purportedly safe hair straightening systems are being investigated by the FDA for their potentially poisonous chemical compounds. If you could go curly even half, or three-quarters of the time, you wouldn’t dream of a formaldehyde bath to straighten your hair. Lets look at what the glamorously curly side of things looks like.
About 6 years ago, I decided to all but stop the daily curling iron, straight ironing and blow-outs of my hair and let it be curly. That’s when I discovered the Curly Girl Method. If you are into natural beauty and have waves that you fight, read on. Curly Girl takes a minute to master, but it can revolutionize your curls.
While I thought I would be met with abundant criticism when I all but tossed my blow dryer, I realized that my crazy curls were actually garnering crazy compliments. After a few weeks of “curly grilling” my hair, the curls became bolder, more defined, even…springy! My hair grew faster and I barely ever needed a trim. The hours I spend “doing” my hair each week turned into a few minutes. And it all started with the book written by Lorraine Massey, “Curly Girl”.
Since the Curly Girl book is literally the bible of all things to do with the method, grab yourself a copy if you decide to go forth into the world of curl because it will fill you in far more than I can here. But what I will do is give you a sketch of how to get started. If you are truly interested, a quick google search of ” curly girl products” will bring up a ton of blogs dedicated to CG-approved hair goodies to try. I will keep it simple, natural and fun for you.
The method is based on bringing a huge amount of moisture to your hair, eliminating harsh surfactants (i.e., those sulfates in shampoos that you hear about often) in shampoo that can be really hard on your hair, and, finally, eliminating all forms of silicone (Except water-based ones, but that’s advanced. I’d stay away from all of them at the start). Silicons build up on your hair and will ultimately make it look like dry hay after a bit of time using them, when they are supposed to make it shiny and radiant. Silicone is the enemy of great curls. You can also all but shelf your blow dryer unless you want to gently diffuse your hair dry while gently scrunching up the hair into handfuls- that allows you to sort of “coax” curls further into shape while you partially dry your hair.
Here’s how you start:
1. Accept the fact that your hair might look terrible for a few weeks while you are getting accustomed to the new way of living! (It took me about 2 weeks to start looking great!) Some recommend a trim before you get started to eliminate split ends. I got a trim after I saw how curly my hair would get, a few weeks in, so I could get a more appropriate cut.
2. Wash your hair- for the last time!- with a full-sulfate shampoo to strip off the last of your silicone hair products completely. Wash it twice if need be, until your hair literally feels “squeaky” clean. Give away your silicone-filled conditioners and sulfate-filled shampoos to a friend with straight hair!
3. Now, the fun! Learn to “conditioner-wash”, or “co-wash” as they call it in CG speak. Essentially, you will use a conditioner without silicone, and preferably one that is lighter rather than a “deep” conditioner. I try to stick to all “natural” as much as possible. Nature’s Gate Hemp Conditioner is a good and inexpensive one to try for your co-wash. Wet your hair in the shower, then scrub your scalp with a “handful” of your co-wash conditioner for a few minutes. After massaging your scalp well, work the conditioner down the length of your hair. After several minutes of cleaning, since with you continue to massage your scalp, to ensure you get the maximum result in “clean”.
4. Once you are fully-rinsed, use a richer conditioner (silicone-free) on your ends. I am in love with Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose (its like a bushel of roses!) and switch off with Deva Curl One Condition. Now, some purists say your shouldn’t comb your hair at all, but, rather, rake it with your fingers to untangle it. I tried that once and looked like I was growing dreadlocks in a week, and it was painful to untangle. So, comb out your hair around now while its full of conditioner, and rinse it out. If you have particularly dry hair, leave in a little bit of the conditioner. It will help you get great curl faster!
5. On your way out of the shower, “rake through” some curling gel (again, silicone free!) or cream. Use a bit more than you might think you need to (trial and error are a part of the process!) and distribute it well through your very damp hair. My super-secret potion: ISO Bouncy Creme. It may not be organic, but its totally incredible! You can use a gel as basic as Totally Twisted Gel by Herbal Essences and get the job done beautifully.
6. Now, for the “plopping”. This is complicated to explain though simple to do to get the excess moisture out of your hair and help form your curls. HERE is a video on plopping. I never “plop” but I do use a microfiber towel which keeps hair from getting super frizzy.
7. Let your hair down and let it dry. Scrunch it a bit to “un-crunch” curls with too much gel in them… and, you are done!
Extras you want to know about to get started:
- Once a week try to do a an apple cider vinegar rinse between co-wash and conditioning. 1 part cider vinegar to 10 parts water (roughly, its not too scientific) mixed in a cup and poured over your hair. I leave it in for as long as it takes me to comb it through (about a minute) and then since before the final conditioning.
- Every one to two weeks I mix up this awesome scrub by adding a few tablespoons of brown sugar (smells AWESOME!) into my “co-wash conditioner” and scuba my scalp for a while with this yummy blend.
- You can add a little coconut or argon oil to the ends of your hair and braid it up before bed to more deeply condition.
- If your hair goes flat during the day, carry around a little spray bottle that contains distilled water mixed with about 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Some people add a few drops of yang yang oil, too. Its a great curl pick-me-up.
- And, lastly, if you “cheat” and blow out your hair or use silicons or sulfate shampoo, all is not lost. Start from the top of the list above and get back “on the wagon”. I’m in the process of doing that right now!
If you are a Curly Girl or have personal experiences with the Curly Girl method, let me know! Comment, send questions or your expert tips! xoxo Dana