It’s been a good few months now since I first adopted the ‘Curly Girl’ method of haircare, so I thought it was about time I shared my experience with the world! The curly girl method, or CGM, is a set of rules for taking care of curly hair so as to best preserve curl, strength and shine, whilst keeping frizz and dryness at bay. It was created by hair stylist Lorraine Massey in her book ‘The Curly Girl Handbook’, and it has quite the following nowadays. If you already know about CGM and you’re just wondering about my experiences and routine, then skip this next part! But if you’re new to the method, I’ll start with a quick intro…
The main rules of CGM
No sulphates or harsh cleansers – these strip the hair of its natural oils and cause dryness. They can be found in almost all shampoos, even ones for dry hair! Use conditioner to wash instead, or one of a select number of shampoos that contain only the most gentle cleansing ingredients.
No harsh alcohols – alcohols can be broken down into two main types; long chain and short chain. Long chain or ‘fatty’ alcohols like stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol are moisturising and nourishing to the skin and hair, whilst short chain, like ethanol, isopropyl and others are very harsh and must be avoided.
No silicones, mineral oil or waxes – these coat the hair, which stops moisture from penetrating it, and can weigh it down. These ingredients also need to be washed out with a sulphate, so are incompatible with CGM cleansing techniques. Luckily there are LOADS of suitable styling products out there, for all budgets. You just have to know which to buy.
No chemical processes, heat or straightening – these weaken the hair and cause breakage, frizz and dryness. You can use a diffuser on a low or medium setting, or a soft t-shirt to dry your hair.
No brushing – this can lead to breakage and split ends. Detangle with fingers instead, and distribute product with a wide tooth-comb.
It can be confusing at first because there are lots of different techniques you can try, and you’ll probably have to replace almost all of your products and start a completely new routine. You also need to start becoming aware of ingredients lists, but there is a website called curlsbot.com that you can use to help you. It might seem like an effort, but it’s so worth it. For me, I’ve always worn my hair curly, so I didn’t really need to change my styling techniques, but I was using a shampoo that was far too harsh, as well as some products that contained silicones and waxes. I was shocked to learn that my ‘dry remedy’ shampoo contained a harsh sulphate, and that my argan treatment oil contained more silicone than oil!
My favourite Curly Girl Method approved products
So, here’s a quick rundown of my routine and the products I use…
Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo
This shampoo is what’s known as a ‘low poo’ – which means that it contains very gentle cleansing ingredients instead of sulphates. It removes product build-up and grime without stripping the hair of natural oils. I absolutely love this product, it’s amazing how it leaves my hair feeling super clean but not dry or stringy at all. I wash my hair about once a week, so I can get away with using this every time I wash. Lorraine Massey encourages you to try co-washing to begin with, but it doesn’t suit everyone, and it definitely doesn’t work for me. This shampoo is the perfect alternative. (Buy it from Boots – £12.99)
Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Treatment Masque
Because I only wash once a week, I use a really rich moisturising mask to make sure my hair is nourished and softened. This is a really thick mask, and it’s very, very hydrating. I love the smell, and it leaves my hair feeling silky smooth when I rinse it out. I apply a big glob of it to soaking wet hair, and then squish it into my hair (using a technique called ‘Squish to Condish’). When I rinse it out, I try to leave a little at the ends. I also find it to be surprisingly good for detangling! More on that below… (Buy it from Boots – £12.99)
This is a fairly new addition to my routine, but one that I am already in love with. The Hair Food masks (there’s also Banana, Aloe and Coconut versions) are ultra moisturising, and a LOT lighter than the Shea Moisture Masks. I like to use this if I’m going for a bouncier curl, knowing that my definition won’t last as long, but that my hair will have more body. I use it on washday in the same way I use the Shea Moisture Mask. I also use it as a leave-in when I want to refresh my hair – to do this I use a technique where I scoop a bit out, wet my hands, and then smooth it over the curls. It takes a while to dry, but it looks gorgeous afterwards! (Buy it from Boots – £3.49)
Not CGM, so if you want to follow it to the letter, skip this part. But because of the amount of hair I have, I would be spending hours upon hours detangling by hand, and I don’t have time for that! I detangle my hair upside down in sections, and make sure to keep both my hair and the brush soaking wet – this makes the conditioner more ‘slippery’ and helps the tangles to come out without breakage. I find that the Tangle Teezer is the gentlest of the three ‘curl friendly’ brushes – the other two are the Denman Brush and the Wet Brush. I’ve used all three a lot, and I find the Wet Brush to be totally inept (the bristles bend) and the Denman to be almost impossible to get through my hair. If you’re going to brush, go for the Tangle Teezer. Another popular use for a brush when you have curly hair is to use it to define your curls – you’ll find loads of tutorials for this on YouTube, and they’re usually done with a Denman Brush, but I find that the Tangle Teezer works amazingly well for that, and I love it when I want to make my hair form big, luscious curls. (Buy one from Boots – £11)
Shea Moisture Raw Shea Extra Moisture Detangler
Whilst this has probably the worst product name in cosmetics history, it’s actually my FAVOURITE product EVER. This is a super super moisturising leave-in, which completely eliminates tangles and deeply hydrates the hair. It eliminates frizz without being heavy, leaving smooth, soft, really well defined, gorgeous curls. Seriously, I have so much love for this product it’s bordering on ridiculous, but it leaves my hair feeling SO GOOD. I apply it to soaking wet, freshly rinsed hair, and I do it in one of two ways. If I want smaller, bouncier curls I smooth this through all of my hair using a technique called ‘praying hands’, and then squish it in to get every hair coated. If I want sleeker, longer curls, then I flip my hair right side up, and smooth it over each curl individually, and again I squeeze it in to make sure it gets on all of the hairs. I was using Lush R&B for years before this, which was a sticky, heavy, waxy leave-in, and it’s such a joy to get all the benefits of that, without the gross residue. If you only buy one CG product in your whole life, make it this. (Buy it from Boots – £10.99)
I use a small amount of this soft gel to seal in all the goodness from the rest of my products. It works brilliantly to maintain soft definition, but it’s also really good for getting a ‘cast’, which is basically where your curls are defined to the point of being crunchy. If you use enough to get a cast, you can scrunch it out once your hair is dry (apply some oil to your hands first), and by magic, you get defined, soft, bouncy, frizz free curls! (Buy it from Superdrug – £5.89)
Even though I didn’t make particularly huge changes compared to a lot of people who start doing CGM, I’ve still seen amazing results and I’m over the moon with how my hair looks now. I’ve never been so happy with it! One thing I used to struggle with a lot was how quickly my hair would tangle, and since switching up my styling products, I now no longer have that problem. I don’t have any breakage or split ends, and my hair itself is extremely strong and very healthy (I can say that because my hairdresser told me lol). My hair was doing okay before I started CGM, but I absolutely freaking LOVE IT now. I really recommend giving the Curly Girl Method a try – it will help you to truly understand and enjoy your hair!
12 thoughts on “What happened when I tried the ‘curly girl’ haircare method”
Pingback: Lush R&B Hair Moisturiser | Little Yellow Butterflies
Pingback: Lush Avocado Co-Wash: Review and How to Use! | Little Yellow Butterflies
Pingback: Moroccanoil Curl Collection* Review | Little Yellow Butterflies
Pingback: Rene Furterer Lissea Leave-In Smoothing Fluid Review | Little Yellow Butterflies
Pingback: Review: Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Leave In Conditioner | Little Yellow Butterflies
Pingback: Natural Curly Hair Care Routine | Little Yellow Butterflies
Pingback: Miracle Curly Product: Palmer’s Coconut Oil Hair Milk | Little Yellow Butterflies
I had no idea about the impact of the chemicals – that was really useful detail and advice. Your hair is utterly gorgeous I have to say and you make it seem so easy to care for! Thanks for all the product links too
I had been using the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Masque and it’s great for repairing my 3b hair which went dry and brittle because of the lovely winter weather.
Anyway, was in the look for an affordable leave in and gel that kept my curls in shape for at least 2-3 days and wouldn’t dry my hair so bought the Twisted Sista Dream Curls Gel and Garnier Papaya Hair Food and I’m delighted. Already made them part of my routine. They give amazing results, even better that some other expensive ones that I won’t be repurchasing any more.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yay! It’s so good to find things that work AND are cheaper, isn’t it!
Hi Cia, Loved reading about your curly hair routine and the changes one should do in their own routine. I have wavy lack-lustre hair but as they are not straight or curly, I am in between stage where I have to do something to style them when I need to attend any events. I try to use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner too but I will see if washing with just conditioner works for my scalp and hair. One major change I did to avoid hair breakage and improve my scalp health is to reduce hair colour. I have grey roots and from past 2 months I havenot used hair colour on my roots. I have opted for Henna which is a natural hair dye. Henna mask gives my hair some volume too. I noticed less hairfall since then. Coming to curls, I would like a low maintenance hair styling routine. I currently have long hair and will be getting them cut to shoulder length or shorter soon. I want to achieve curls without using tongs. Do you think of any products that are good for health of my hair and give me some defined curls?
Sorry for an essay-like comment! This post has been on my to-read list for a long time.
How do you dry your hair