A Starter Guide To The Curly Girl Method!

Dana_Claudat

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. 

curly-girl-the-handbook

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

Christina March 27, 2013 at 11:54 pm

I love that you’re posting about the Curly Girl Method! 🙂 I recently just started using this method and I’ve been a little bit disappointed with my results. Thank you for letting me know that it gets better! I’m also going to try to the wet brush, because the finger detangling is not working for me.

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danaclaudat March 28, 2013 at 3:22 am

🙂 Christina, in my experience its all about sticking it out! I looked (and presently look) like crap. My hair was either greasy, clumpy or a combination. The best tricks for me were the sugar scrub weekly, finding the RIGHT conditioners to use, and the cider vinegar rinse mid-week. I was just a wreck with finger detangling! Maybe experiment with samples or small bottles of conditioner (thats what I did). Jessicurl sells inexpensive sample packs online, and they have sales every so often with free shipping or a percentage off so if it works for you you can stock up. Feel free to email me about it; we can encourage each other through the less-than-wonderful part 😉 xoxo

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S. Brooks March 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Thanks for the silicone tip. Makes sense now. My curls would go flat by the end of the day despite no sulfates and no blow dry. I have used WEN conditioner for a few years and Aveda curl products for since Aveda stated, but I will have to look at the ingredients for silicone. Love your blog!

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danaclaudat March 29, 2013 at 10:51 pm

omg thank you so much for the blog love. and even if you aren’t full into this program of no-shampoo, i have to say that whenever i have used silicone (anything that ends in -come : dimethicone, etc) my hair feels like hay shortly after. So, no silicone is a standard now for me! Enjoy your weekend! xoxo Dana

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Tea March 30, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I’ve been practicing the curly girl method for almost a year and I love it. I can tell a huge difference in my hair. I recently got a Deva cut from a salon that is trained to do the curly girl method and uses Deva products. I’m super pleased with the results– curls are popping even more!

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danaclaudat March 30, 2013 at 7:15 pm

omg, i so want to try that haircut! amazing!!!

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Tendai June 25, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Hi,

Thanks so much or your post. Really helps. For me being a black girl, the curly girl method has worked wonders!. I have even shared my experience at http://www.blackcurlygirlmethod.com.

Thanks

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Meenoo July 7, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Great blog, curly girl method explained in simple words. Thanks for sharing your experience and so many tips 🙂
I have started the curly girl method too, of course its just been a week, and my hair is in “not so great phase”. But I can wait for this phase to pass. My main concern is when hair fall when I try to detangle my dripping wet hair saturated with conditioner. I am aware that its okay to shed 100 hair per day and since we curlies do not brush hair daily and hence all the dead hair come out in shower while detangling, but it still feels like a lot more. Did you face the same issue ? I am just concerned about the hair fall 🙁

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danaclaudat July 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm

If you are healthy and otherwise not losing hair from vitamin deficiencies, stress or hormone imbalance, I personally wuld not worry. But if it happens even when you are non-curly girl, I would do a little dr. trip for bloodwork and see if you are all stable in that regard. I lose more hair seasonally, but if its extreme I know that I am usually, personally, anemic. Hopefully that helps a bit! 🙂 xoxo

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Meenoo July 10, 2014 at 12:28 am

Thanks a lot for suggestion….yeah may be I should look into that..the idea never crossed my mind !!!

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terri August 5, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Hello
I too am just starting curly girl. I recently switched from gel to bouncy. While bouncy made my curls soft. I felt
Like it left a residue on my hair. Like build up. I wonder if maybe I used too much? How’s much do you use?
I have shoulder length hair, wavy ,medium thickness I ussed about 10 pumps.

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danaclaudat August 6, 2014 at 6:37 pm

I’ve been doing loads of giovanni leave in conditioner, like a palm full. but i have super long hair. its amazing. the apple cider vinegar rinse is fantastic to get rid of build up.

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Kit February 1, 2015 at 9:50 pm

I just started this method. I am having trouble with frizz though :(. Does anyone know how to decrease frizz more? Here is my story so far https://thenorsegirl.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/the-curly-girl-method-week-one/

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danaclaudat February 3, 2015 at 1:58 am

leave in conditioner or argan oil 🙂

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Stacey April 9, 2015 at 4:47 pm

I am going to try the curly girl method. I have the long thick wavy bipolar hair. I usually just wash my hair twice a week anyway. I am not sure I can go a whole week though cuz I get oily right above my ears. I am not sure I can give up my hair brush either. I am a hair brush addict I guess. I washed my hair last Saturday and last night and I have brushed my hair once since Saturday and it’s driving me crazy! That hair brush felt soooo good going through my hair last night. Talking about it makes me want to go brush my hair! I can’t though cuz I’m at work and if I brush then I would have to bun the hair to hide the frizz. I sweat like crazy when I’m working out too so I have to wash my hair. Can you wash your hair everyday if you need to with a curly girl approved conditioner?

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danaclaudat April 9, 2015 at 5:57 pm

people wash every day… its always tricky as the goals is to wash less. dry shampoo really works well.

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Stacey April 9, 2015 at 8:14 pm

I will try the dry shampoo. Thank you so much for all your tips and suggestions. Going to give it a go…

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Sam July 6, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Hi there! I’ve been following the curly girl method for a few months already, Ive been pretty happy with the result until now. My hair tends to remain very greasy, Starting to get quite a bit of breakage and falling hair. I’ve read somewhere that it is possible to over-moisturize and this may lead to breakage. I’d like to know how you found your balance to avoid your hair becoming greasy.

Unfortunately I dont get much choice in Silicon free conditioners – i’ve only found Tresemme Natural so far. Also do you use sulfate free shampoos at times?

Thanks!

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danaclaudat July 7, 2015 at 7:37 am

yes i do use silicone/sulfate free shampoo! i go in & out of curly girl… when I’m filming things on camera my hair needs to be blown out & styled so I can’t do it forever and ever consistently, but when I do it and get build up I do the baking soda and cider vinegar rinses and also use a shampoo time to time. people have great results with silicone-free bar shampoos, fyi. I used to be very up on the curly girl bloggers 🙂

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Abigail Ross November 6, 2015 at 11:59 pm

Great article! I’ve been using the Curly Girl Method for about two years now and I’m still figuring out what styling products and methods work well with my hair. For some reason plopping never works for me. My hair gets tangled and sticks straight out :).

Here are my before and after pictures from the Curly Girl Method: http://faithfulelegance.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-before-and-after-pictures-from-curly.html

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