What is the Curly Girl Method?
When it comes to growing healthy and natural hair, one of the most effective techniques is the Curly Girl Method (CG). The CG Method is a hair care regimen developed in 2001 by Lorraine Massey and was created to help people with curly hair grow the healthiest natural hair possible.
Since curly hair is prone to frizz, dryness, and damage, her method is gentle and gives hair the best opportunity to grow without being prone to damaging chemicals. Her method is for all hair types whether African American Hair, Caucasian hair or anywhere in between.
The Curly Girl Method stresses the avoidance of all heated styling tools, sulfates, silicones and heavy manipulation to the hair. It also emphasizes using conditioner to wash the hair and to forego shampoos altogether.
This is called co-washing. In her handbook, Ms. Massey stresses that shampoos disturb the sebum balance of the scalp.
Sebum is the natural oil produced by the scalp and is a natural moisturizer necessary for healthy hair production. The CG Method also involves using a t-shirt to blot-dry the hair instead of using a towel.
Ms. Massey explains that drying the hair with a towel causes friction to the hair shaft which results in damage. The best part about this method is that it can be used by anyone with curly or straight hair, regardless of hair type, curl pattern, length or condition.
Because this method is so gentle on the hair and scalp, you may notice less hair loss. They key factor to the Curly Girl Method working successfully is the avoidance of sulfates, silicones, and heated styling tools.
When this method is used for a long time, not only does the hair become healthy, but the scalp does too. This results in a true curl pattern, almost no split ends, incredible shine, and springy curls.
What is the Modified Curly Girl Method?
The modified Curly Girl Method is simply tailoring the Curly Girl Method to suit your particular hair or situation. Some ladies alter the method by using products like sulfate-free shampoos to wash the hair instead of the recommended conditioner.
This modification is for Curly Girls who don’t feel comfortable using a conditioner or perhaps needs a little extra cleansing. Another modification is the occasional use of heated styling tools after first applying a heat protectant.
While heated styling tools do damage the hair, there are some who just do not have time to wait for their hair to dry naturally. Others must have that straight style and use a flat iron.
This by no means is a practice often done. In fact, it’s only done for special occasions.
Another modification to the CG Method includes using additional styling products or drying the hair with a microfiber towel instead of a t-shirt. Still another modification some curlies do is to use a styling product that has glycerin.
While styling products with glycerin are not recommended, it comes down to what works best for your hair. While modifying the Curly Girl Method isn’t ideal, the hair can still become healthy.
CG Method Steps
Just follow these steps to get gorgeous curl results.
To do the Curly Girl Method on your hair, apply a palm-sized amount of silicone-free conditioner directly to the scalp and massage with the pads of your fingers for about 5-10 minutes. Follow by distributing the conditioner throughout the hair and gently wash using a downward motion, so the hair doesn’t tangle.
Detangle the hair as you go along, gently pulling knots apart as opposed to finger combing. Rinse the conditioner out.
If your hair needs a lot of extra moisture, don’t rinse out the conditioner completely and continue with the CG Method of drying your hair. If your hair is especially dry, repeat the first step but this time focus on applying the conditioner to trouble spots like dry spots or ends.
Do not rinse the conditioner out. Gently blot the hair and scrunch with a soft t-shirt.
Once the hair is not dripping, shake and flip the hair so the curls can fall in a natural manner. Apply silicone-free, flake-free gel to the hair and scrunch, making sure the gel is evenly distributed throughout the hair.
Breaking the crystal casts:
Allow the hair to naturally dry. Once the hair is dry, it will be stiff or crunchy.
Lorraine Massey calls these crystal casts. To soften the hair, repeatedly scrunch the hair to break the casts.
To break the crystal casts on the scalp, gently run your fingers on the scalp and fluff. The results will be soft, defined, shiny, and healthy curls.
Drying your hair:
How Long Does the Curly Girl Method Take? The time required to use the CG Method on your hair should be about the same as with your regular washing routine. However, if you usually blow dry your hair, you may not be used to the time needed to dry your hair naturally.
If this is the case, using a blow dryer with a diffuser on a low and cool setting is acceptable although not preferred. If you have short hair, even more time will be saved.
It’s important to leave the hair partially damp, so the hair doesn’t become damaged or overly dry. Because this method is aimed for wash and go styles, the time saved can be liberating.
Yet, some still love to do overnight braid outs or twist outs when the hair is slightly damp to make styling a cinch the next day. It really does depend on what works best for you and your hair.
How Long Before it Works
Seeing results when using the Curly Girl Method will depend on the current condition of your hair and how closely you follow the instructions over time. However, positive results are many times seen immediately.
With continued use, your hair will keep getting healthier, stronger and shinier. If your hair is particularly dry or damaged, using the CG Method can help restore health to your hair as it grows out.
However, if your hair is already natural and just needs some extra pizzazz, you’ll see the benefits of using the Curly Girl Method almost immediately. Keep in mind that as your hair grows, your curl pattern may change as your scalp returns to a healthy state.
The cycle of sulfate stripping and silicone coating may have wreaked havoc on not only your hair but your scalp as well. Breaking this cycle by using the Curly Girl Method can help get your hair and scalp back onto the path of health.
How to Refresh the Method
Refreshing your 2nd and 3rd-day curls with the Curly Girl Method is pretty much the same as refreshing your curls any other time. The difference is that you’ll be using silicone-free products.
Silicone not only coats the hair, but it must also be removed with shampoos that have sulfates. Because the CG Method doesn’t use products that contain sulfates or silicone, the damaging silicone and sulfate cycle is broken.
This leaves your hair in a natural state. To refresh your curls, lightly spritz them with a silicone-free conditioner and water and oil mixture.
Pay a little more attention to the ends. It isn’t necessary to get the entire head wet.
Add just enough to get rid of any frizz. Individually twist wayward curls with your finger and lightly scrunch.
Try not to handle the hair too much as this can cause more frizz. Allow your hair to air dry and in no time your curls will be rejuvenated.
CG Method on Transitioning Hair
Some of you may be wondering if the Curly Girl Method can be used on transitioning hair. The answer is absolute YES.
In fact, it is an excellent way to bring chemically treated hair to its best possible condition while your natural hair grows. When using the CG Method for transitioning hair, there isn’t such a distinct difference between the two textures of hair.
This can give you the option of either gradually trimming hair as it grows, or grow your hair longer before doing the big chop. If you’ve already been transitioning, you’re probably well aware of the struggle maintaining two textures of hair.
But by using the Curly Girl Method, not only will you be able to care for both textures of hair with one step, but the time saved in doing so will be quite liberating. Also, by using only one set of products, you’ll be saving money as well.
CG Method on Relaxed Hair
If you have relaxed hair and are wanting to transition to natural hair, using the Curly Girl Method is an ideal method for repairing the damage caused by the relaxing process. Relaxing chemicals can be so harsh, they can burn the scalp.
If this can happen, it’s easy to see how damaged the hair can become. The CG Method replenishes moisture in the hair and helps protect it from sustaining further damage.
This is done by avoiding sulfates, silicones and heated styling tools. Some ladies who have relaxed hair modify the CG Method by co-washing with a light silicone conditioner every other wash or as needed.
Because silicone coats the hair and does not wash out, it may be helpful in sealing in needed moisture. If you decide to co-wash with a light silicone conditioner, avoid getting the conditioner on your natural growth and scalp-which could be difficult.
Check the results. If this method works for you, alternate between silicone-free conditioner on the scalp and hair, then use a light silicone conditioner on the relaxed hair only and use sparingly.
Remember, the only way silicones can be removed from the hair is with sulfates or a mineral clay rinse, so this method would only be used as a last resort on dry hair.
CG Method on Straight Hair
Although the Curly Girl Method was designed for those with curly hair, the method can be used by those with nearly any hair type. Straight hair can be dry and damaged too, and the Curly Girl Method is an excellent way to replenish moisture, regardless of curl pattern.
There are also some who may think they have wavy hair when in fact, they have kinky hair. This would be the case for ladies who have long hair that’s all one length.
The length of the hair might be weighing down the hair, hiding the actual curl pattern. Adding layers into the hair would help the curl pattern to show.
It really doesn’t matter how wavy or kinky the hair is to benefit from the CG Method. What’s important is that it’s dry or damaged.
This is why this method is so successful to so many ladies around the world with so many different hair types.
CG Method on Type 3 Hair
When using the Curly Girl Method on type 3 hair, there are a few things you can expect. First, your hair will be softer, moisturized and shinier.
You’ll notice that frizz and flyaway hair will be nearly non-existent. If you’re starting your Curly Girl journey with trimmed ends, you’ll also notice almost no split ends.
This would extend the time between trims and help your hair to grow longer. This is your hair’s way of thanking you for avoiding heated styling tools and harsh sulfates.
It’s the reward you get from being gentle with your hair. In fact, many people report seeing immediate improvement in their hair, but if you don’t, your satisfactory results are right around the corner.
Using lighter and creamier products are more likely to work better than thick or buttery consistency, but it really depends on your hair. Whether your hair type is 3 or 4 hair, the CG Method can give your hair springy, defined and healthy curls you didn’t think were possible.
CG Method on Type 4 Hair
The Curly Girl Method is suitable for nearly all types of hair, and black hair is no different. In fact, ladies have mentioned that their hair needs less detangling and their curls are softer, springier, and more defined.
It works with relaxed, permed, transitioning, and of course natural hair. It doesn’t matter if you have type 4a, 4b, 4c or 4d hair, the CG Method will work for you.
When it comes to co-washing, type 4 queens might want to use thicker products, but as long as there aren’t sulfates or silicones, whichever product gives the results you want is the one you’re going to want to stick with. When you compare how your hair was before and after, you’ll see just how healthy your hair can be.
When it comes to getting the most from your Curly Girl Method, ensuring your hair stays protected while you sleep important. Now because different hair types have different needs, your exact routine may differ a little.
However, there are some key things to remember. Sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase helps minimize frizz and breakage that can come from sleeping on cotton pillowcases.
Wearing a loose and protective style like a drawstring pineapple also helps keep frizz at bay. Loose buns on the top of the head are also useful.
Wearing twist outs, large flat braids or even Bantu knots can help keep kinky or extra curly hair from tangling. The point is to maintain the hair protected while sleeping.
In the morning, styling should be as easy as spritzing oil and conditioner and removing the braids, twists or knots.
Most Curly Girl Method hairstyles are targeted for the wash and go girl. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other styling options available.
Lorraine Massey teaches the importance of embracing your natural curls and to avoid over manipulating the hair whenever possible. But sometimes a girl needs styling options.
If you’re going to style your hair while using the CG Method, try to stick with protective styles and wear them a little looser if possible. This is especially important if you’re in the process of rebuilding strength to brittle, weak or delicate hair.
Fabric headbands, drawstring pineapples, halo braids, and chignons are examples. It’s also okay to roller set your hair.
The key is not to pull the hair so tight that it’s straight. Sure, sleek styles are beautiful to look at, but it can be counterproductive when you’re trying to get your hair back to it’s all natural state.
Since you’ll be washing your hair with conditioner, shampoos are no long on the haircare menu. In fact, the only two products needed when using the Curly Girl Method are conditioner, oil and styling gel.
That’s it. As long as your products don’t contain sulfates or silicone, you’re pretty much set.
It’s even better if there isn’t paraben, mineral oil, glycerin or other unnecessary ingredients. Shea Moisture has products specifically designed for co-washing. However, their Grow and Restore Leave-In Conditioner works just as well.
It really does depend on your hair type and its condition. Also, because co-washing has become so popular, there are several products on the market now created specifically for co-washing.
If you choose to modify the CG Method, there are friendly shampoos available. They don’t contain sulfates or silicones.
While technically these products are considered shampoos, they are an acceptable alternative to co-washing. When it comes to the second product for using the Curly Girl Method, a styling gel is preferred.
A silicone-free mousse or soufflé is also acceptable if it works with your hair and gives you the results you’re looking for but be careful to select products that do not contain drying alcohols. Shea Moisture’s Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Souffle is packed with Agave, Shea butter, and coconut oil which not only gives your curls incredible definition and shine, but it’s color-safe and seals in moisture.
Less is more with this product, so be sure to try out a little at a time. Some ladies benefit from selecting products that have Moroccan oil in them.
While Moroccan oil does help seal in moisture, many believe it also helps prevent hair loss. It’s still important to maintain a healthy balance between moisture and protein, and protein treatments may still need to be done at least once a month.
So, if you notice that you’re not seeing the results you once did, it may be time to consider a protein treatment.
Ingredients to Avoid for Curly Girl Results
Sulfates are fast becoming a no-no of the haircare world and for a good reason. Sulfates are used in many products such as shampoos, body washes, and dish soap.
They strip away oil and are responsible for providing the lather and suds most people associate with cleaning products. However, most people’s hair isn’t as greasy as a frying pan.
Applying sulfates to damaged and dry hair not only strips essential oils from the hair, but it leaves it in a weak condition. The hair cuticle is left open which allows moisture to escape the hair.
Silicones in Hair products coat the hair so moisture can be retained. And curly hair tends to be drier than other types of hair.
This sounds like a reasonable solution, except that silicones can only be removed with sulfates or a mineral clay. So, an endless cycle is created.
When hair is damaged and dry, this cycle can end up damaging the hair even more. It explains why your shampoo or conditioner isn’t working and why many people end up product hopping.
Sticking to products with as many natural ingredients as possible is the best solution to ending the sulfate-silicone cycle. Using hair spray with the Curly Girl Method isn’t really recommended and is not part of the suggested regimen.
While finding a silicone-free hair spray is possible, many times they have drying alcohols that counteract the moisturizing benefits of the CG Method. Give the Curly Girl Method a try for a few months and see how much healthier your hair can be.