If you’ve got naturally curly, or wavy hair, chances are you’ve tried a lot of products in your lifetime. Products for straightening, curling, defining, de-humidifiying and strengthening.
You’ll have used a million conditioners, serums, and mousses. But nothing will ever make your hair as beautiful as the curly girl hair method: fact.
The Curly Girl Method is not an overnight technique. It’s a long-term commitment to your tresses that involves ditching the sulphates and silicones, in favour of natural hair products and care techniques that love your curl to life.
It’s not the easiest technique but it is worth the time and investment for the transformation it will make to your hair.
To make it easier, here’s our guide to everything you need to know about getting the Curly Girl Method (CGM) right from day one.
What is the Curly Girl Method?
The Curly Girl Method was officially developed by stylist and curl expert Lorraine Massey.
Her book Curly Girl: The Handbook is considered a bible for getting curly hair in its best shape ever. Every tutorial, guide or step-by-step you find has its original roots in Massey’s method.
It varies depending on the type of curl you have, but ultimately it suggests trying several techniques and product combos to get to the ultimate mix for your curl pattern.
Does the Curly Girl Method Give You Curls?
If your hair is straight then no, the Curly Girl Method won’t work for you. You need to have at least 2a/2b waves ( learn more about your curl pattern in this brilliant guide from Cosmo).
To get the best benefits your hair should be between a 2c or a 4a. That doesn’t mean you can’t try the method if you have straighter or coilier hair, but don’t expect magical corkscrew curls on your straight hair with it. That requires chemical bending of the hair shaft (a perm) which this won’t give you.
DON’TS of the Curly Girl Method
CGM revolves around cutting all of the nastiness from your hair care. Out with harsh detergents, thickeners, salts and foaming agents and in with natural cleansers and treatments to work with your hair.
You will need to consider reducing/cutting out:
Mainstream chemical shampoo
Heat stylers, with the exception of a diffuser used slow and low
Sulphates (learn more about these here)
Silicones - the number ONE ingredient to avoid in your CGM method, found in most mainstream conditioners and serums. Learn why you need to avoid them here
Waxes and mineral oils – too heavy to remove without sulphate shampoo
Towel-drying your hair
Alcohols – no, not your weekly wine. The alcohol found in hairsprays and mousses
How Do I Choose the Right Products for the Curly Girl Method?
The trick to getting CGM right is in using natural, chemical free products.
The very first shower you take to begin your CGM journey requires a “reset shampoo”. Some places advocate something fairly harsh. We suggest a ‘no poo’ exfoliant instead.
This is because you need a clean base, stripped of all silicone and wax buildup or this method just won’t work.
From there, switch to gentle, sulphate free shampoo that keeps your hair clean and fresh without damage.
Once you’ve done your initial reset wash, you’ve got two CGM-approved cleansers to keep your hair clean on the regular: sulphate free shampoos or cleansing conditioners.
Sulphate free shampoo
Similar to the ‘no poo’ method, you switch to gentle, sulphate free shampoos that keep your hair clean and fresh without damage.
Best for: Hair that gets oily quickly and fine hair types
Also called “co-washes”, this means washing with lightweight conditioners used as shampoo.
Most curl types (and all coil types) don’t like detergents, they need water, moisture, and a thorough scalp massage.
This means kneading your shampoo into your scalp for at least 60 seconds!
Note: Most CGM guides will tell you to start with a cleansing conditioner. You’ll be amazed by how good your hair looks after a month.
How often do I wash my hair on the Curly Girl Method?
Ideally you should only “shampoo” or cleanse once a week, but as long as you’re using gentle, moisturising products, how often you cleanse shouldn’t matter.
How long until I see results on the Curly Girl Method?
Give yourself four to six weeks of using this simplified routine before adjusting.
If your coils are feeling dry even after a month of doing strict CGM, try adding in a leave-in conditioner before your gel, and/or a smoothing on a layer of oil after your gel to seal in moisture.
What are the steps?
1. Reset Wash
Wash your hair with your hair and scalp exfoliation product – twice if necessary
2. Co wash
Wash your hair with a CGM-approved cleansing conditioner or sulphate-free shampoo, massaging your scalp for at least 60 seconds.
Apply a handful of CGM-approved conditioner through the bottom half of your hair until it feels fully coated, then detangle with your fingers or a large-tooth comb.
Rinse out most (but not all) of the conditioner.
You can apply your styling products in a variety of methods, but we advise layering and ‘pushing’ them into very wet hair. Start with a CGM-approved gel, and consider mousse and curl balm.
Here is a helpful video showing you what plopping looks like. Either plop your hair for 5-15 minutes, or gently scrunch the excess water from your hair with a cotton T-shirt or microfiber towel. DO NOT TOWEL DRY as this leads to frizziness.
Air-dry without touching your hair on low. Once your hair is totally dry, gently scrunch your hair with your hands to get rid of the crunchy gel coating.
That’s it. That’s the very basic Curly Girl Method.
Once you’ve applied your products, you can plop your hair (my preferred method), scrunch out the water with a cotton T-shirt or cotton towel, diffuse it on low heat or let it air-dry if you’re doing a wash and go.
CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR CURLY GIRL METHOD FRIENDLY PRODUCTS AND VIEW THE CGM BUNDLE