If you've been following me for a while then you know I follow the curly girl method. In this post, I explain the basics of the curly hair method for wavy and curly hair and give you a step-by-step guide to follow so you can start the curly girl method.
The curly girl method is a set of rules to follow, such as process, ingredients, and techniques, that will enhance your curls over time and improve the health of your hair. You ditch damaging products and habits like sulfates and brushes, for a healthy hair care regimen that includes lots of moisture and specific styling techniques.
I used to have mostly wavy hair, and over time following the curly girl method, it has become curlier so that it's mostly curly now with some wavy parts.
So the curly girl method works for wavy and curly hair. You can see the change in my hair in the photo below, and more of my curly girl method before and after in this post.
What is the Curly Girl Method?
The curly girl method all started with Lorraine Massey's The Curly Girl Handbook. Definitely read the book before starting, or at the same time as starting at least. It gives great insight and will help you troubleshoot along the way.
The goal is to have healthy curls by treating them the right way. You avoid certain things that are considered damaging to curls and waves. And you embrace ingredients and techniques that make your curls healthier and more manageable.
Not only is this method a special way to care for wavy and curly hair to bring out its natural curl with less frizz, but it's also a lifestyle and mindset change.
It's a journey and takes lots of patience and perseverance to stick with it through the bad wash days and products that flop.
To follow the curly girl method, there are certain things you need to avoid and certain things you need to do. Let's go over them in more detail.
Dos and Don'ts
Avoid the following:
- non-water soluble silicones
- drying alcohols
- heat styling
- regular towels
- hair dye
What you can do:
- use sulfate free shampoo or cowash
- use silicone and alcohol free conditioners and styling products
- use emollients like oils and butters
- use moisturizing ingredients like aloe and flax seed
- use humectants like glycerin and honey
- finger detangle or use wide-tooth comb
- style on wet hair
- scrunch in styling products to enhance curl pattern
- plop and/or diffuse to dry
- protect your curls at night
- deep condition often
You can use CurlsBot to look for curly girl method approved products. I also have a post affordable and clean curly girl method approved products and another on my favorite curly girl approved products for fine curly hair.
Some people place great importance on curl types to choose products. I honestly think porosity and density are more important, but I'll go over all the curl types here.
Type 2 Wavy Hair
- 2A: has a slight wave, usually fine and thin, tousled look
- 2B: straight at the roots with an s shape, frizz at the crown
- 2C: more defined waves that start at the roots, more frizz
Type 3 Curls
- 3A: big, loose curls and spirals, well defined s shape, the circumference of sidewalk chalk
- 3B: tighter curls, the circumference of a sharpie, has more volume
- 3C: tightly packed corkscrews, the circumference of a straw
Type 4 Coils
- 4A: dense and springy coils, wiry or fine
- 4B: more z like shape than curls or coils, strands range from fine to coarse
- 4C: less definition and more shrinkage than 4B, very delicate
So those are all the curl types.
I have 2b, 2c, and 3a waves and curls. I used to be all 2b but it got curlier over time.
That is not always the case but it does often change throughout life, which is one reason I think curl type is not as important as people make it out to be.
More important than curl type is porosity.
You should be choosing your products depending on how your hair behaves as this will tell you what it needs.
Porosity has to do with how your hair absorbs and retains moisture. If it easily absorbs water, it's likely high porosity. If it takes long to absorb water, it's likely low porosity.
I have a full guide on hair porosity which I recommend you read and find out what yours is.
Another thing to consider is density, or how much hair you have.
If you have low-density hair as I do, you do not want to weigh your hair down. High density will have the opposite problem.
My scalp shows very easily so I sacrifice definition on top and avoid any product, even conditioner near my scalp. I want it to be fluffier there to hide my scalp.
Along with my hair being high porosity, it's very important for me to choose very lightweight products so I can have volume and definition.
How to follow the Curly Girl Method
Depending on what your hair and scalp needs, you can wash with a co-wash, low-poo, or clarifying shampoo that is free of sulfates and non-water soluble silicones.
When you first start, you will need to do what is called a final wash. This is the last wash you will do with sulfates to remove all the buildup and silicones in the hair to start fresh.
Again, depending on how much moisture your hair needs is the type of conditioner you will use. If your hair is really dry you'll need a thicker, heavier conditioner than others.
There is also leave-in conditioner, which most will need. Leave-in provides the lasting moisture in waves and curls to prevent frizzing and encourage the curl.
Deep conditioning is very important as well. You'll need to deep condition on a regular basis, and more often if your hair is damaged from coloring and heat styling.
I also have a post on affordable and clean curly girl method approved products and another on my favorite curly girl approved products for thin curly hair.
This is the trickiest part. There are so many styling methods and products.
- Apply styling products to wet hair before drying. There are different ways to apply like scrunching it in, raking it in, smoothing it over, etc. Try different methods.
- You can use curl creams, custards, mousse, and/or gel. Make sure to not touch your hair at all while it is drying. You want it to dry hard and crunchy, then you can scrunch out the crunchy hard cast to get soft curls. Read affordable and clean curly girl method approved products and curly girl approved products for thin curly hair to see my top picks for curly girl approved products.
- Use a cotton t-shirt, hair towel, or flour sack towel to plop dry your hair. See numbers 5 and 6 of my curly and wavy hair hacks post for more details on plopping.
- If you need to dry faster, use a diffuser on low heat. I really like the Xtava Black Orchid diffuser.
- Try out a silk pillowcase or hair buff to help your style last longer and prevent tangles and frizz.
- Refresh the next day with a little water and product to reactivate your style.
- Keep a schedule to ensure a balanced routine. Clarify and deep condition regularly!
If you want help with embracing your naturally wavy or curly hair, you can join my FREE email course and download my FREE pdf guide, THE QUICK START GUIDE TO MASTERING YOUR CURLS, full of everything you need to know to get started and bring out your beautiful waves and curls.
I recommend you find a blogger with similar hair to yours, not the hair you want but the hair you actually have, and try out their methods and products to see what works for your hair. It will take lots of experimenting so be patient.
The Curly Girl Method for Wavy Hair
When applying the CG Method for wavy hair you just need to make a few tweaks.
- You will need to use a low-poo and clarifying shampoo more often than curly types. Some wavies don't ever co-wash (myself included).
- Deep condition less often.
- Use more water during the styling process to get good clumps.
- Use lighter products and sometimes even less product. Check out my post on products for fine curly and wavy hair.
- Use a diffuser to help with volume and for tighter curl pattern.
- Understand that your hair may never be curly and might stay wavy and learn to embrace how beautiful your waves are.
You might also be interested in my affordable monthly membership which houses all my online curly hair courses, Fabulous Curls Academy. This program will guide you through creating a simple routine that gives you fabulous results. Learn what your hair type is, which products and ingredients will work for you, and how to style according to your hair type by creating a simple routine that works. No more confusion about products or methods or battling frizz and time. Click here for more info.
Curly Girl Method Tips
I want to offer some advice:
Keep it simple and focus on what matters. Don't let yourself be overwhelmed.Confucius
I see women get so overwhelmed and frustrated with this method. The whole point of going to your natural hair is simplicity. Back to basics. No more being a slave to the flat iron.
This process takes a long time. You have likely been mistreating your hair for many years so you have to be realistic about how long it will take to bring back your waves and curls.
Yes, in the beginning, you will need to experiment with products and methods, and that will take time. But you don't need to spend hours on your hair for this to work. You don't need to apply 8 different products for this to work.
You don't need to try everything you see others doing!
Stick to the basics. Get a good cleanser, conditioner, and styler and go from there. If you still have a lot of frizz, then troubleshoot with more or less product, different ingredients, and different styling techniques. I have a post all about frizz which can help as well.
The most crucial part of success with this method is to master the application process, not the actual products. Once you figure out how to best apply the products to your hair, you can have success with almost any product line.
But know that frizz is a part of having curly hair. It will never completely go away. So embrace what you have and work with it.
Whether it's wavy or curly, voluminous, or flat, just enhance it. You can't change what you have and force it to be something else.
Overall, don't let others overwhelm you!
FAQs About The Curly Girl Method
How long does it take for the curly girl method to work?
Results really vary for everyone and depend on so many variables like how damaged your hair is and how long you've been working against your natural texture. Most people will see some progress within a few weeks or months. Give yourself about three months on the curly girl method to see how it works for. Don't forget to track your journey so you can really see the progress.
Does the curly girl method work for everyone?
No, it doesn't. The curly girl method is a way to bring back the health of your hair so that your natural curl is enhanced. Therefore, it will work on any textured hair, wavy or curly. But that doesn't mean it will take your 2A waves to 3A curls. Everyone's curl pattern is different and your hair may always be 2A, but with the curly girl method, it will be healthier, more defined, and easier to manage.
Can you brush your hair with curly girl method?
Technically no you can't brush your hair. But many people following the curly girl method do brush with a detangling brush like the Denman or Wet Brush. This is only done during the conditioning and styling steps, when your hair is wet and full of products that make detangling easier and cause less damage to your hair.
How do you sleep with curly hair?
Many with curly hair will put their hair up into a curly girl pineapple style and use a silk pillowcase or hair buff to prevent tangles and frizz. Check out this post all about sleeping with curly hair.
How often do you wash your hair with curly girl method?
According to the Curly Girl Handbook, Massey says you should only wash your hair about once a week. But many will wash more often, and as long as you're using curly girl approved cleansers which are very mild, you can wash as often as you need to.
Can you use shampoo with the curly girl method?
Yes, you can. Although the original Curly Girl Handbook talks about cowashing, this was back when sulfate free shampoo wasn't easy to find. Now you can find many sulfate free shampoos, which are considered low poo and are curly girl approved.
Please do me a favor and share this post to social media, as it helps me grow my audience and spread the word about the curly girl movement! And remember to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and Instagram for more curly hair tips and product recommendations. Thanks!
READ MY OTHER POPULAR POSTS ON CURLY HAIR:
- A Basic Guide to the Curly Girl Method for Wavy & Curly Hair
- What Products You Really Need To Start The Curly Girl Method
- Curly Girl Method Routine for 2B 2C 3A Hair
- 50+ Curly Girl Method Approved Products
- Curly Girl Night Routine To Protect Your Curls At Night
- How To Refresh Curly Hair
- Tips For Fine & Low Density Curly Hair
- How To Clarify Curly Hair
- Rice Water Rinse Guide
- 14 Hacks For Curly and Wavy Hair
- How To Repair Damaged Curly Hair
- Curly Girl Method Before and After – 1 Year Progress Update
- Ultimate Guide to Hair Porosity for Curly Hair
- My Favorite Products for Fine Curly Hair
- 11 Surprising Reasons You Have Frizz + Tips to Beat Frizz
- Common Causes of Limp Curls & Their Fixes
- Guide to Humidity & Weather Styling
- EVOLVh Review
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I now also offer Curl & Clean Beauty Coaching sessions virtually! You can book a 15-minute, 30-minute, or 45-minute session with me to help you solve your curly hair or clean beauty struggles. Click here to learn more.