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How To Start The Curly Girl Method & Choose The Right Products

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With all the info on the curly girl method out there, it can get quite overwhelming for beginners.

If you’re trying to figure out how to start the curly girl method, the abundance of products, gadgets, information, and things to consider can make it difficult to know exactly what you really need, aside from feeling overwhelming.

So this post is for all the curly girl method beginners. I’ll share exactly how to get started, and the only products you need to get started, and spoiler alert, it’s not a lot!

A side by side comparison of Delilah's fine wavy hair when she first started the curly girl method and her full curls now

Ready to transform your frizz into defined, bouncy curls and waves? Join my free Quick Start Guide To Mastering Your Curls email course below and be on your way to fabulous curls in just a few steps!

How To Start The Curly Girl Method

  1. Understand what the curly girl method is. Sign up for my free quick-start guide Sign up for my free quick-start guide here
  2. Determine your hair type: density, texture, and porosity.
  3. Choose a curly girl approved cleanser, conditioner, and styling product based on your hair type.
  4. Do a final wash using a shampoo with a sulfate.
  5. Follow with curly girl approved conditioner and styler. Every wash after this will be using curly girl approved cleanser, conditioner, and styles.
  6. Create a schedule, routine, or tracking system to monitor progress and learn what works and what doesn't.
  7. Get a clarifying shampoo, and deep conditioner if needed, and use them regularly.
  8. Experiment with different styling techniques to find what works for you.

How To Choose Curly Hair Products

Determine Your Hair Type

First up, you have to know a little about your hair type to help you choose the right products or at least be on the right track.

Curl type doesn’t matter so don’t concern yourself with that. You don’t choose products based on the pattern of your curls. You choose them based on how your hair behaves.

So ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does my hair have color or heat damage?
  2. Is my hair fine or coarse? (this refers to how thick the individual strands are)
  3. Do I have a lot of hair (high density) or can you easily see my scalp (low density)?
  4. Does my hair get weighed down easily?

This is the important information. Forget about curl types, protein, porosity, and all that. You don’t need to know that in the beginning. Just answer the questions above to help guide you with product choices.

Need help with this? Take the Curly Hair Type Quiz!

What products do you really need?

The big question here. I get asked for product recommendations more than anything else.

What you really need is:

  • a low poo (if you need less moisture) or cowash (if you need more moisture)
  • a clarifying shampoo
  • a conditioner
  • a styling product (maybe 2 for some hair types)
  • if your hair is damaged or very dry, then you also need a good deep conditioner

Now I know I sound like an outlier to the typical recommendations, but you really don’t need much to get started.

The products you do have NEED to be free of silicones and sulfates, with the exception of the clarifying shampoo which should have either a sulfate or olefin sulfonate.

So before you go shopping for new products, search for the products you already have on a website ingredients checker like curlscan.com to see if they are CG approved.

You don’t have to use “curly” hair products at all, they just need to be free of sulfates and silicones and you might already have some products that don’t need to be replaced.

Evolvh line of curly girl method beginner products on a counter

Curly Girl Method Beginner Products

Here are specific product recommendations if you’re a curly girl method beginner, since I know that’s what you’re really here for 😜

And if you’re on a budget, check out my free shopping guide for budget curly girl method products in my freebies library.

Some brands also offer trial sets and this is a very affordable way to try different brands and products. Here are a few:

I also have coupon codes for:

  • EVOLVh – HE15
  • TreLuxe – holisticenchilada15
  • Mop Top – HE10
  • A Simple Planet – HE10
  • Miribel Naturals – HOLISTICENCHILADA 

I don’t believe this method to improve the health of your curls is focused on products like others do.

Yes, it is important to use high quality products with the right ingredients.

But it’s more about how you use them that makes or breaks this. You need to learn about your hair more than anything else.

Simple Curlies & Wavies facebook group

How to choose the right products for your hair type

It’s very important to really consider the answers to the questions above to choose the right products. Based on your answers, here are some tips to help you choose from the products I listed above:

  • Damaged curly hair needs more moisture
  • Fine and low density hair needs lightweight products, less product, and usually less moisture
  • Thick and high density hair will require heavier products and more product
  • EVERYONE NEEDS TO CLARIFY. Everyone. At least once every 4-8 weeks.
  • Deep condition once a month or more often if your hair is very dry or damaged.
  • You can use your regular conditioner as your leave-in and as a deep conditioner. You don’t need to buy a separate product for those but you can.
  • You most likely don’t need more than 1 styling product. But you can use 2 if you want to. And if you use 2, make sure it’s something lightweight first like a serum or mousse, followed by a gel or custard.
  • If you use a curl cream or mousse, you’ll still need to apply a gel over it. Curl creams and mousses don’t have any hold so your style won’t last long.
  • Try a product multiple times before concluding it doesn’t work for you. Try using more or less or a different application method.

So you only need 4 or 5 products. In addition to that, a few accessories can help make it a little easier.

Curly product handbook

Product Matching Guide

If you need more help in choosing specific products based on your hair type, check out my product finder, the Curly Product Handbook.

This guide will show you how to identify your hair type and characteristics, provide some styling tips, and list exact products that will work on your hair type. Click here for more info.

Curly product handbook graphic

CG Method accessories that help beginners

  • a hair towel – to reduce frizz (use code HOLISTICENCHILADA for 15% off)
  • a hair buff or scarf for sleeping – to protect your hair and reduce time spent refreshing the next day
  • a diffuser – to help your curls dry faster. Unless you want to air dry. That’s ok too.

That’s it. There are lots of other gadgets and products for the CG method but for getting started this is all you need.

Delilah using curly girl method hair towel

What to do once you have everything

Once you’ve acquired what you need, you just have to start the process.

If you haven’t already, download my Quick Start Guide To Mastering Your Curls to help guide you through the steps and understand how to treat your hair.

curly girl method pdf guide download

Below is a snapshot of the steps in the curly girl method.

It’s not as complicated as some make it out to be. As I said before, if you’re a beginner don’t worry about protein, dew points, porosity, rice water rinses, and anything else that makes your head spin.

Wash your hair, condition, style, and protect. Keep it simple.

The most important thing is to pay attention to your hair. That is how you learn about its characteristics to make better choices regarding products and treatments in the future.

curly girl method steps graphic

Then go read this post with my top tips for beginners to ensure success!

Fabulous Curls Academy

Fabulous Curls Academy offers the curly hair resources you need to master your curls and create the routine that will give you fabulous curls. Check out the digital downloads and courses to help you have the defined, bouncy curls you want. The monthly membership is the most affordable way to access everything you need to embrace your curls with success. Click here to learn more.

Delilah Orpi shows budget nontoxic products to try when using curly girl method


Want to remember this? Save How To Start The Curly Girl Method & Choose The Right Products to your favorite Pinterest board!

how to choose products when you start the curly girl method

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  1. Hi, i’m confused. In your list of low poo’s you recommend the Giovanni 50/50 but when I wanted to buy it, at amazon it says ‘Giovanni 50:50 pH Balanced Hydrating & Clarifying’. Is is a low poo or a claryfing shampoo then? Is it suitable for oily scalp? Or would u rather recommend another one then. Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Carmen. It days clarifying in the description but it’s not really clarifying. To be clarifying it must contain a sulfate or olefin sulfonate, and that shampoo has neither. It’s pretty cleansing and good for normal to oily scalp and hair. If you want something with more moisture go with the Smooth As Silk line.

  2. First, i wanted to say thank you for all this amazing info. I’ve had very thick naturally curly hair, but have always hated it & was using keratin straightening & flat iron, blow outs for over 20 years. Now i have a 2 year old & hair is horrible, its summer & I want to leave it curly but healthy.

    I’m a tiny bit confused on some products.
    Wash day is for clarifying like buildup buster? What about other days? Is it either do not wash/get wet at all or rinse just with conditioner & or leave in conditioner?

    The “as I am cowash” – do you just use that?
    Or do you “shampoo ” first.
    Or do you just use that cowash & leave it in? Or use it, rinse out & then use it again & leave it in this time.
    Or do you use that as cowash & then a different leave in conditioner & then styling product?.
    I guess I’m really confused about shampoo & conditioner part?!

    Thank you. BTW I have thick very curly hair.

    1. Hi Cassandra. Wash day is whenever you use a shampoo or cowash. Cowash is meant to be used in place of shampoo. It’s great for dry or very thick hair. Low poo is a sulfate free shampoo that actually bubbles up. This is less moisturizing than a cowash. Clarifying shampoo is the most cleansing and should not be done more than once a month.
      I recommend you use another conditioner after the cowash. You may or may not need a leave in conditioner.
      In between wash day, you can leave your hair alone or wet it and restyle. Some people low poo every few days and cowash if their hair needs to be rinsed in between, like after working out or swimming.
      Hope this helps!

  3. I wanted some help in determining if this meathod is for me or not. I have recently noticed a lot more wave on my previously “straight” hair. Some sections in the top crown area of my head are still straight, while I have much more of a definite wave pattern underneath. Just for fun I experimented with plopping and scrunching meathod with just a bit of silicone free hair oil, and while my hair was still wet it was all bouncy and wavy, but by the time it dries its practically straight again, but underneath my wave pattern is still there, but not to the same extent it is while wet. Do you think I should invest in a styling product with more hold to see if that helps my curl pattern stay, or is my hair just not “textured” enough to try curly girl meathod?

    1. you can try a gel with more hold, but it’s normal for it to fall out in the beginning since your hair isn’t used to being worn “curly”. I would try it out for a few weeks and see what happens. Nothing to lose 😉

  4. Hello there! hope all is well. I have many questions, as I am lost with all the information. I have thick curly hair with lots of volume, Ive been using deva curls for the past two years, my hair has looked amazing and healthy until maybe about 3 months ago. I am noticing more and more hair on the floor, i lightly hold my hair as if i am going to put it in a pony tail and pull off the hair that extends from the ends. Everyday more and more seems to be falling. What product do you recommend to repair and refrain my hair follicles from letting the hair fall out. What should i use to get rid of the buildup accumulated from using the devacurl line, and reverse the effects. Oh and where do I find the list of curl category 2a, 2b, 3c etc

  5. I have been doing the method for about 3 months now and I feel like it’s really not getting anywhere. My hair looks identical to your before picture. I am using a low poo shampoo and conditioner a leave in conditioner and I have a gel and a cream and my hair is still looking frizzy what out of that do I need to reevaluate? I have a naturally oily scalp I’m just completely lost honestly! Please and thank you!

    1. There is so much to question. Is it dry or humid? Does your gel contain glycerin? Is your hair dry? Did you use enough product or apply it correctly? These all need to be addressed to figure it out.

  6. Hey. Thank you for all the time you have put into helping us with our curly hair. I tried this method for an inconsistent 3rd or 4th time. And my hair has beautiful curls around the front of my face until about halfway back then it goes flat and weird waves… and underneath does not want to hold the curl either. I have a curl gel called Ouidad advanced heat and climate control that I raked then scrunched in when wet then used a cotton shirt to dry, then let curls sit for a couple hours untouched

  7. Thanks for the info! You say fine and low-density hair needs lighter products while coarse and high-density hair needs heavier products. What about hair that is both fine and high-density?

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