The Curly Girl Method is an approach to haircare that’s been devised with curly hair in mind. In short, it’s a gentler method that aims to lessen cuticle damage and keep hair moisturised, since curly hair is often more prone to dryness. The end goal is to emphasise, rather than interfere, with the hair’s natural curl pattern. And while it’s obviously suitable for curly haired folk, those with frizzy or wavy hair can also have success using it.
So for all our curly and wavy-haired guys and girls, these are the dos and don’ts to keep in mind.
Avoid sulphates and silicones
We asked Claire Lendon, The Curl Consultant whose been in the industry for 20 years and trained with Lorraine Massey, for her advice on products. “The best tip is to cut out all sulphates and silicones. A silicone can be many names, but is pretty much anything the ends in ‘cone’ e.g. dimethicone,” she says.
Instead of scrubbing your hair clean with a harsh shampoo, you’ll be using a conditioner to gently cleanse it. Use your finger pads in circular motions to get your hair clean. If you suffer from build-up try a physical exfoliation with brown sugar, it works wonders (and smells delicious).
Hair feeling dry? Treat it to a Curly Girl-approved deep conditioner or mask. Massage in and leave for around 15 minutes before washing out.
Use styling products
To coax your curls out, you’ll want to use styling products. The Curly Girl community leans towards gel as it creates a cast as it dries, preserving the curl. Once dry you can ‘scrunch out the crunch’, revealing bouncy curls.
To encourage curl formation, you may like to ‘plop’ your hair by wrapping it on top of your head in a t-shirt to set for around 30 minutes. Afterwards let it air-dry or experiment with diffusing
We also spoke with Matt Surplice from Spring; he’s worked exclusively with curls since 2009, trained with Lorraine Massey and in 2016 opened up the first curl-only salon in the UK. His advice? Be patient. “You have to give your hair time to recover from silicone build up as well as any straightening damage you might have and cutting techniques that are not great on curly hair. It might not be a one cut fix or a one-week miracle transformation – this is the start of the journey,” he says.
Keep it simple
Matt also advises keeping your approach as simple as possible. “Most new people to the curly routine try to over complicate it and do everything at once. They watch so many videos on YouTube and read so many blogs that it becomes overwhelming. They’ll try one product that’s been recommended somewhere, try it once; then decide it hasn’t worked and try another that’s been recommended to them by some other influencer. If you try a product, try it for a while. Try it with different amounts, leave your hair soaking wet one time, dry it slightly the next,” he says.
Do a final wash
A final wash is one last cleanse with a sulphate-based shampoo to get rid of any build-up. But Claire says this is not necessary. “The existing hair will eventually remove the products in the end. This will take time, persistence is key,” she says.
Brush your hair
Brushing your hair – wet or dry – can mess with your curl pattern. Instead detangle with your fingers or a wide tooth comb. And don’t forget to load up on the conditioner (this Tara Smith one is ideal for giving hair that soft manageability) which creates ‘slip’ and makes detangling a doddle.
Dry with a towel
A towel is too rough for curly hair and will create frizz. Instead use an old t-shirt or buy a microfibre towel.
Want to know more?
Here are some of our favourite resources for learning more:
- Not sure if a product is Curly Girl Method approved? Copy and paste the ingredients in to this handy tool and it’ll let you know.
- Got questions? Join the Curly Girls UK Facebook group and bathe in the group’s collective wisdom. There’s even a subreddit dedicated to the topic
- For real life inspiration, follow Curly Cailin, an Irish blogger documenting her Curly Girl Journey. Look how incredible her hair looks!
- For a deep dive into the method, check out ‘Curly Girl: The Handbook’ written by Lorraine Massey who is considered the ultimate Curly Girl guru by many