About 6 years ago, I decided to stop the daily curling iron, straight ironing and blow-outs of my hair and let it be curly. My hair was fried, a bad weather day meant my hair seemed to have been electrocuted and I spent tons of time and money looking for products to undo the damage I was doing to my hair every day. My fight against nature was not working.
When I decided to air dry, though, my hair didn’t know any more what it was- curly, wavy or straight. Welcome to an even bigger mess! That’s when I discovered the Curly Girl Method. If you are into natural beauty and have waves in your hair that you fight, read on. Curly Girl takes a minute to master, but it can revolutionize your beauty routine and help you have the hair of your dreams.
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 girl-ing” 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”. I will give you a sketch of how to get started. (FYI: a quick google search of ” curly girl products” will bring up a ton of blogs dedicated to CG-approved hair goodies to try.)
NOTE: your hair may look terrible for a week or two before this really starts working. Hang in there!!!
Curly Girl Overview:
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.
3. Wash your hair with conditioner! First thing that springs to mind: YUCK. Conditioner? My hair will be filthy! That’s how I felt. It does work! Use a conditioner without silicone, and preferably one that is a lighter, more “everyday use” conditioner. I stick to chemical-free as much as possible, without turning my life upside down. Nature’s Gate Hemp Conditioner is a good and inexpensive one to try for conditioner washing.
4. The Conditioner Wash Method: Wet your hair in the shower, then scrub your scalp with a “handful” of your co-wash conditioner for a minute or two. After massaging your scalp well, work the conditioner down the length of your hair. As you rinse your hair, continue to massage your scalp a bit to really get it 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. I use a Wet Brush (this brush is the BEST!) but you can use a comb to de-tangle your hair while its full of conditioner. Now, rinse. If you have particularly dry hair, leave in a bit of the conditioner. I found that it will helped me to get great curl faster if I kept a bit of conditioner in my hair. you will need to experiment.
5. On your way out of the shower, “rake through” some curling gel (again, silicone free!) or a silicone-free styling curl 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. Unfurl your hair from the towel and let it dry. Scrunch it a bit with your hands to “un-crunch” curls with too much gel in them… and, you are done!
Curly Girl 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 argan oil (do not use argan oil in blonde/dyed hair or you risk yellowing it!) 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.
- 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!
Have you tried the Curly Girl Method?! Have any tips, hair recipes or experiences to share? Please do!!! xoxo Dana