An introduction to the key points of the Curly Girl Method
A lot has been written about the Curly Girl Method but I wanted to go back and have a look at the basics.
Don’t be overwhelmed!
You will already be doing many of these things.
The influence of Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl Handbook (where the CGM all began) has been wide-reaching and many of the concepts will be familiar as a result.
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Let’s break down the different areas of hair care:
Curly Girl Method Cleansing
We want gentle cleansing. Hair has natural oils and we don’t want these to be stripped away.
Gentle cleansing means staying away from sulphates. These are harsh detergents found in lots of shampoo. They remove natural oils from our hair and can lead to dry, brittle hair.
Use a sulphate-free shampoo instead. They won’t lather up as much but they are much gentler.
Also try not to wash your hair too frequently. Aim for around once a week (if possible!) but definitely not every day.
Gentle, infrequent washing will help keep hair moisturised. If you struggle to find a sulphate-free shampoo, Lorraine Massey recommends using a botanical conditioner in its place. This will still cleanse by removing dirt from the scalp.
This conditioner-washing is the origin of ‘co-washing’ products.
Use plenty of conditioner. Curly hair needs to be kept moisturised.
Try to leave a little bit of conditioner in your hair. When you rinse, the CGM recommends facing the shower, cupping your hands under the shower and then pouring this water backwards over your hair a few times (like you are in a rainforest 😉)
Stepping Out of The Shower
When hair is dripping wet use a t-shirt to absorb the water.
A regular towel is too rough to use when drying curls. The texture will rough up the hair cuticle and can lead to damaged, weak hair.
Use a t-shirt or microfibre towel instead.
These are much gentler fabrics and will help reduce frizz. With your head forwards use the t-shirt or microfibre towel to gently squeeze hair upwards towards your scalp. This will encourage your curl pattern.
Use a gel to style.
While hair is still wet and your head is still forwards use the gel to gently cover all of your hair.
Next gently scrunch your hair up towards your scalp again. This helps to encourage your curls to form.
When you have applied the gel gently move your hair back round to the back of your head and shake your head slowly so that your hair falls into its natural place. You can gently smooth more gel onto the top of your hair if your hair tends to be frizzy around the crown.
Gel holds the curl pattern as your hair dries and keeps moisture in.
Air dry if possible.
Heat can be very damaging to curly hair as it dries it out.
Hair straighteners and curlers are the worst culprits as they reach such high temperatures. You can’t reverse heat damage. If there isn’t time to air-dry it is ok to use a diffuser on a low heat setting to gently put the curls upwards towards the crown.
Read my full post on why heat is damaging to curly hair
Shake it out.
The gel will have formed a cast around each curl.
Now that your hair is dry it is time to remove the cast. You will see this mentioned as SOTC (scrunch out the crunch).
The original CGM method doesn’t recommend scrunching as such but a gentle shaking of the hair to remove the gel cast. Tip your hair forwards again and gently shake from the scalp. Then move the hair back again and lightly shake/scrunch your hair until the curls are released.
The result is soft, moisturised curls.
A Few Additional Recommendations
Silicones (when checking ingredients the names usually end in ‘…cone’) are frequently added to hair products to increase shine and reduce frizz.
They coat the hair with a thin layer of silicone to achieve this effect.
The trouble is that they are difficult to remove and build up on the hair. This weighs it down and can make it seem greasy, leading to a temptation to wash more frequently.
Lorraine Massey advises against products containing alcohols.
Alcohols can be drying to curly hair. However, this isn’t always the case and some are actually good for it! Read my post on alcohols and curly hair for a full list of good and bad alcohols.
The Curly Girl Method recommends ‘root clipping’.
This means adding clips like the ones below to the roots of your curls around the front and top of your head while hair is still wet.
Remove them once your hair is completely dry. This helps to relieve the weight of the curl from the roots so the curl won’t be stretched out when it dries.
Don’t brush dry hair – this will cause frizz and likely break your hair too.
The Right Haircut
Curly hair should be cut when it is dry. A stylist can work with our curl pattern when they can see it in its natural, dry form. Also avoid razoring and thinning the hair to keep the volume of the curls.
The Curly Girl Method is all about keeping moisture in your hair and treating it gently.
All curly girls can take pointers from this list. We may not follow all of the rules, or maybe we are following some of them already!
Each of us knows our hair better than anyone else.
I hope that this breaks down the key areas of the Curly Girl Method.
Let me know which parts you follow and love.