If you were blessed with curls (at this point, it seems more like a punishment than a blessing), you know one of the most challenging things to do is keep your curls frizz-free.
Since there are, annoyingly, no guidebooks being handed out to teach you how to take care of your curls, many curly-haired queens hop from one’ expert-approved solution to another.
And without a doubt, the internet is not short of ‘the secret curly hair recipes.’ The list is endless, from hot oil treatments to hair plopping and exclusive DIY solutions.
While some of these solutions don’t do anything to save you from the frizz monsters, some, like the popular Curly Girl Method or CGM for short, have proven to be extremely handy.
If you’ve tried it, you already know it’s a magical solution to your curls.
If you haven’t, don’t worry. Below, you’ll learn what the Curly Girl Method entails, a step-by-step CGM routine and what to expect from the world-class hair technique.
So, pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine, nestle in for a mind-blowing read, and get ready to finally rock those curls confidently.
What is the Curly Girl Method?
The Curly Girl Method is a hair technique officially launched by hair extraordinaire Lorraine Massey, the author of Curly Girl: The Handbook. It’s aimed to help natural hair queens (not forgetting kings) get the hair of their dreams by using (and avoiding) specific products and styling methods.
Bonus Tip: Most of the information you’ll read here, and any other source, tends to be variations of Lorraine’s original CGM method, amended over the years to encompass an extensive range of curlies, coilies, and wavies.
Even though the specific might vary – someone with fine waves might not follow the same guidelines as an individual with tight curls, the idea behind CGM, in general, remains the same. To help you figure out the best blend of ingredients and styling methods for your hair type and get rid of frizz, dryness, and breakage.
So, how do you go about it?
How to Do the Curly Girl Method – Step-by-Step
Since there’s literally a book designed to answer this question, alongside a laundry list of Facebook groups and natural hair communities, we will give a rundown of the basic steps involved in the CGM routine.
Step 1: Buying the Right Products
As most naturalistas know, some ingredients in hair care products can strip your hair of oils, irritate your scalp, and weigh down your hair. One of these includes sulfate-based shampoos. The sulfate in the shampoos is a potent cleaning agent and strips your hair and scalp of natural oils, leaving your hair dry and brittle.
You might also want to give wax-based products a quick kick to the curb. This is because wax accumulates on your strands, weighing them down.
• Combs and brushes
• Heat styling tools
• Non-water soluble silicones
• Alcohol-based products – even if not all alcohols are terrible, many can degrade your cuticles and are always present in aerosol sprays like dry shampoo and canned hairsprays. Therefore, you should op for alcohol-free hairspray
• Mineral oils (they build up on your hair like wax)
• Rough, nubby towels – they rough up your hair cuticles, leading to frizz/flyaways and tangles
Instead, opt for
• Sulfate-free shampoos
• Emollients like shea butter and olive oil
• Cleansing conditioners with glycerine and panthenol
• Deep conditioning masks
• Moisturizers with amino acids and aloe vera
• Styling gels with PVP and PVP/PA
• A lightweight mousse
Logically, you don’t have to use all these products on your hair. Determining your hair type in terms of porosity, thickness and volume will help you choose products that work best for you.
Step 2A: Cleanse
To officially kickstart this method, you need to cleanse your hair to eliminate any product buildup on your hair. To do this, you’ll need a no-poo shampoo.
Since sulfate-filled shampoos are aggressive and well known for their stripping agents, they’re no good for curly hair. So, instead, go for a sulfate-free, no-poo shampoo. It might be gentler, but it is also as effective.
However, remember to use the same in-shower method you’d employ with traditional shampoo. We are conditioned to think bubbles mean clean and avoid friction at all costs. When using a no-poo shampoo, friction is vital to loosen and eliminate product buildup from your scalp.
Step 2B: Co-Washing
If you’re not comfortable with shampooing, you might have to consider co-washing as an alternative.
Co-washing is washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. Again, you should ensure that the conditioner you use is suitable for your hair type and doesn’t have any harmful ingredients like parabens.
Step Three: Condition & Detangle
One of the most common reasons for hair breakage is over-manipulation using combs and brushes. That’s why most CGM followers stay far away from these items. It is advisable to finger detangle your hair while in the shower working in sections. If this seems like a punishment, opt for products with a slip like leave-in conditioners, detanglers, or a Denman brush.
Step Four: Deep Condition
You’re probably wondering why you need a deep condition when you just used a conditioner to wash your hair?
Well, deep conditioning works to nourish your hair. That’s because most deep conditioning masks/products are enriched with humectants that help your hair retain moisture.
Additionally, some have protein, which helps strengthen hair strands. Depending on your preferences, you can leave the deep conditioner on for an hour or overnight.
Step Four: Styling
Rake and scrunch a handful of styling gel or lightweight mousse into your wet hair from the roots to the tips.
Step Five: Plop
If you’re not familiar with this TikTok hair styling sensation, then you’ve been missing out. The technique involves:
• Wrapping your hair in a soft, cotton t-shirt
• Flipping your head upside down and wrapping the cloth around the base of your head
• Tying the from and then flipping over to ‘plop’ your curls
• Gently scrunch the excess moisture from your hair
Top Tip: You can plop your hair from 15 to 20 minutes or even overnight based on your hair type and preferences. After plopping, you can air-dry your hair (please, don’t touch it!) or use a diffuser on low heat.
If you have coily hair, you can put your hair in twist-outs and let it dry or pull off a wash and go.
Step Six: Repeat
Repeat steps one to four every time you get your hair wet.
What to Expect From the CGM Method
The CGM method isn’t a quick fix for damaged hair. It may take you weeks or even months before you start noticing changes in your hair. This is especially the case if your hair is relatively healthy.
Additionally, the Curly Girl Method won’t miraculously give you longer, fuller hair. However, taking out products, which were weighing down the strands, and the minimal manipulation may cause your hair to look more voluminous.
Adopting this method might seem like a lot of work, but you can ease yourself and your hair into the process. This can start with a step as small as eliminating products with harsh ingredients.
Keep in mind that different products and techniques work for different hair types and lifestyles. Therefore, play around with the products and find which works for you. In no time, you’ll notice how naturally the process becomes for you, and your hair and scalp will thank you for it.