What is the curly girl method?
The Curly Girl Method is a predominantly natural hair routine that promises to bring out your curls completely. The method was invented in 2007 by Lorraine Massey, who described it in her now famous book ‘Curly Girl: The Handbook’. It is a hair care method that trades harmful habits for a healthy curly hair regimen, using only nourishing products without sulphates, silicones and parabens.
The CG Method is based on a number of basic rules, such as removing harmful ingredients and products, discovering your curl type and hair characteristics, and learning new habits. In short, this method prohibits harmful chemicals and shampoo. You replace these ingredients and products with milder means such as conditioner, hair masks and gel.
Despite the incredible results that the curly girl method has for many people with curly hair, you can feel completely free to adjust the rules to your own hair and preferences. Experiment and discover what works for you!
Curly girl method: the golden basic rules
CG Method: What is better to avoid?
- Say no to sulfate shampoos
It is best to avoid harmful and drying sulfate shampoos, as they are often extra harmful and drying. That said, there are exceptions. Like the DevaCurl Low-Poo Original Daily Cleanser, which gently removes impurities from your hair without sulphates.
- Stay away from heat and styling appliances such as blow dryers, hair straighteners and curling irons
If you do use these appliances, you risk seriously damaging your hair. Loraine Massey lovingly calls blow-drying “frying” because you are literally baking your locks. By the way, if it is the middle of winter and it is freezing, do not go out with wet hair! There is a correct way to blow-dry your hair, namely with an attached diffuser that spreads the moderate heat evenly over the curls. However, it is strongly recommended to let your hair air dry naturally as much as possible. But that is of course easier to do in the warmer months.
- Omit brushes and combs
Detangling your hair with your fingers is definitely preferable to combing for a number of reasons. Using your fingers is much more intuitive. You are more aware of where your tangles are, and instead of breaking through them you can carefully work out the tangles. This prevents hair breakage, which can lead to frizzy hair and makes it difficult to grow your hair long. In addition, when using your fingers, you simultaneously massage moisture into your hair. You don’t spray lotion on your body, just hope it absorbs, right? The same goes for conditioner. It must be massaged well into your curls for it to be most effective.
- Banish hair products with harmful chemicals
These are products that contain sulphates, silicones that are not water-soluble, wax, non-natural oils, harmful alcohols and odor or perfume.
- Don’t wash your hair too often
- Don’t use towels
Towels roughen the cuticle and cause a lot of frizz – no matter how gently you dry your hair.
- Prefer not to color or dye your hair
When colouring your hair, ingredients that are harmful are often used, so it is not recommended. But many people do and still maintain healthy curls. In any case, make sure you do a final wash after dyeing your hair to wash out any silicone. Then moisturize very well with a hair mask!
Curly Girl Method: Roadmap
Once you’ve removed the above products, ingredients, and habits from your hair routine, move on to the steps that Lorraine Massey recommends in her book. Before you start with the curly girl method, it is important to remember that a hair routine is different for everyone and works out: what works for another does not automatically have to work for you.
During your curly girl journey , keep experimenting with various products and steps until you have found a routine that makes you and your curls happy. It is useful if you keep a record of how your hair reacts to everything you do and your hair in a diary or notes on your phone: from washing and styling to the weather and your surroundings. There are even templates for this, such as my miracle curls daily tracker.
Step 1: find out your curl type and hair characteristics
If you know your curl and hair type and hair characteristics, you can determine which hair products you can use best. Therefore, first read our articles on curl type, hair thickness and density, elasticity and porosity, to find out:
- What is my curly girl curl type, hair thickness and density?
Curly is divided into several curl types: wavy, curly and coily – also called wavy, curly and coily. In addition to your curl type, the density of your hair and hair thickness are also important. If you know your curl type, hair thickness and density, you can adjust your routine, products and hairstyles accordingly. With this knowledge you can provide even more beautiful and healthier curls!
- Hair elasticity: what is it and how do you test it?
The elasticity of your hair determines whether you should use products with or without protein . Elasticity is measured by pulling out a curl and watching how quickly your curl bounces back. If your curl does not bounce back quickly, it is a sign of a lack of hydration. With an imbalance you can, for example, suffer from dry or fragile hair.
- This is how you discover the porosity of your hair
Porosity is about the extent to which you absorb and retain moisture. You can measure this by checking how quickly your hair dries after washing – is it fast or slow? If your hair doesn’t absorb moisture easily, you need thicker, richer creams.
Step 2: CG proof hair products
With the information you obtained about your hair in step 1, you can determine which care and thus hair products are best for your curls, which fit within the curly girl method. In addition, you immediately know which products are better left on the store shelves. Depending on your curl and hair type, you use lighter or heavier products.
Step 3: the final wash
To make sure you can start the Curly Girl Method with a – literally – clean slate, do a Final Wash. You wash your hair one more time with a shampoo with sulphates, an aggressive cleaner. This wash is intended to wash the build up out of your hair. That’s an accumulation of hair products, which has built up in your hair over time. We want to get rid of that!
Want to know more? Read our extensive article about the Final Wash and the shampoos that you can best use for it!
Tip: because you are going to use a fairly aggressive product for your hair for the final wash, it can cause your hair to dry out considerably. It is therefore advisable to pay extra attention to moisturizing and nourishing your hair after your final wash, by using a deep conditioner hair mask.
Step 4: detangling
Before you wash your hair, it is best to first remove your hair from the tangles. This is also called detangling. You don’t do that with a regular brush or comb, but preferably with your fingers. Another option is the Denman Brush, a brush famous among CGM fans. You can also take a look at detanglers; products that are made to make your hair easier to tangle. Check whether the product you want to buy is curly girl – friendly. For example, you could also use castor oil.
However you detangle your hair, do it very carefully. If you work to coarsely, you can suffer from hair loss.
Also read: find out which Denman brush you need
Step 5: co-washing
After doing the Final Wash, you should no longer wash your hair with shampoo. From now on you do this according to the co-washing method. That is short for conditioner washing , which means that you wash your hair with conditioner. The reason for this is that shampoo is often harmful to your hair: it contains aggressive cleansers that do their job so well that they wash away the natural oils from your hair and thereby affect the texture of your hair. Co-washing is much milder for your hair and scalp. Your hair will take some getting used to, so count on greasy hair in the beginning. But do not give up, here too applies: the persistent wins!
Read this extensive article about co-washing, which includes tips for the right products.
Step 6: Deep conditioning
Deep conditioning is a treatment method that focuses on nourishing your hair with a deep conditioner. Yes, after co-washing you also use a deep conditioner. Curls are naturally drier and therefore need more hydration. And conditioners are made for that! You will see, this helps you get beautiful, healthy and shiny curls that form better.
Choose a good deep conditioner that is CGM-friendly, apply a lot to your hair and leave it on for about twenty minutes. Then rinse the conditioner well. Do you have very dry hair? Then you can leave a little bit. We recommend using a deep conditioner hair mask once or twice a week.
Also read: 5 tips for deep conditioning your hair
Step 7: styling
After washing and caring for your hair, you naturally want your curls to get and keep their beautiful shape. For this you use the hair products that fit your hair and curl type according to the previous steps.
Rinse your hair with cool water to close the cuticles, take the shower off and throw your head over. Squeeze a little water from your hair and apply some leave-in conditioner using the praying hands technique. Then scrunch your curls well. Then apply a styling product, such as a mousse, gel or pomade, in the same way. This keeps your curls in good shape and seals hydration in the hair.
Also read: the main techniques of the curly girl method
Step 8: drying curls
How do you dry your hair? We recommend starting with plopping your hair: that is a technique to dry your hair without damaging it. In addition, it provides more definition, less frizz and helps your hair dry faster. You gently tie your curls in a cotton t-shirt or microfibre towel and let it sit for about fifteen minutes.
Then it is best to let your hair air dry. Another option is to dry your hair with a blow dryer with a diffuser, on a cold setting. Preferably do this for a maximum of 20 minutes, to protect your hair.
Is your hair dry and does it feel hard? Then you can apply the scrunch out the crunch technique. To do this, hang your head upside down, grab parts of your hair and squeeze gently until you feel the hard layer break. You work from your points towards your hair roots.
If you follow and maintain this curly girl method steps, you will only have to style your curls 1-2 times a week. In between you can refresh your hair by filling a spray bottle with water and a little leave-in conditioner. Spray this through your curls, apply a little styling product, scrunch this in your hair and your curls will look like new again! At night, you can protect your hair by putting it in a pineapple and sleeping on a silk pillowcase.
Also read: How to dry curls the right way
Curly Girl Method: When do you see results?
If you follow these steps and use the right products, you should see a change immediately after your first cgm routine, less frizzy hair for example. And if you keep it up consistently, you should be able to see really good results after six weeks.
However, you will have to persist and experiment with your products. It is also advisable to check your curl and hair type from time to time as this may change after you start using the curly girl method. Your hair needs can also change as a result.
After a year you will see the real and complete consequences of applying the curly girl method in your hair routine: shiny, manageable, hydrated and frizz-free curls!
Curly Girl Method: Possible issues during the transition phase
Unfortunately, you won’t notice a hallelujah experience right from the start. Your hair will have to get used to your new hair routine. How long it takes for your hair to get used to and what ‘challenges’ you encounter with your hair? That transition phase is different for everyone. To give you an idea of what you can – but not necessarily – expect, we have listed a number of problems.
By using shampoo your scalp produces too much sebum, sebum. Your scalp reacts to the drying effect that sulphates have on the sebum on your scalp. If you are just getting started with the curly girl method, your scalp needs time to adjust the sebum production to get it back in balance.
At the beginning of the curly girl method, some people suffer more from fluff than before. That is because your hair can finally breathe, and is no longer burdened by silicone and heat. Due to the co-washing, the moisturizing conditioners and silicone-free products, this should disappear in a few weeks.
Also read: How to treat frizzy hair
If you feel hair mushy, soft, and frizzy, you probably have over-conditioned hair. Although curly hair tends to be dry and needs a lot of moisture, some products can overload the hair. Especially if your hair is very fine. If this happens, clean your hair with a sulphate-free shampoo and use lighter conditioners and moisturizers on your hair. Do not use a deep conditioner too often.
the different seasons of the year require different care. In summer, use lighter products so you don’t choke the hair. Use less leave-in conditioner in your hair to prevent frizz and get more curl definition. In winter this applies exactly the other way around. Use heavier products and more leave-in conditioner to combat the dry, winter air.
How do you proceed with the challenges described above? First of all, give your hair time to adjust to your new hair routine. Further:
- Fight the – understandable – urge to get back to blow dryers, hair straighteners, and sulfate products. Believe us: the curlies that persist are really rewarded!
- You can choose to gradually remove the sulphates from your hair routine and gradually reduce the use. The CG Method actually prescribes that you stop completely at once, but we can imagine that this is difficult. Then take it easy. Good to know is that it will probably take longer before you will see the real CGM results.
- Start simple! You have noticed that there are many different product types and brands. The point is not that you buy and use as many products as possible for your curls, but that you master and apply the techniques and habits.
Curly Girl Method: mod CG
Not everyone follows the curly girl method 100%, which is also known as ‘mod CG’. It means that you use the Curly Girl Method as a base, but deviate from the rules in some cases. Because it feels good for your hair. You may like products with castor oil or water-soluble silicone. That’s completely okay. The longer you apply the cg method, the more you will automatically learn if your hair becomes happy by following the cg method as closely as possible or if you want to walk your own path more. At least most people see the most benefit from avoiding sulphates, which dehydrates your hair so terribly.
We are curious how you like the curly girl method. Will you let us know on Instagram? And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
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