The Curly Girl Method: my life-changing (seriously) hair experience

March 2, 2020

For the last few years, I’ve disliked the wave and frizz in my hair. “It’s got a kink and I want it straight” I used to tell hairdressers. I had also highlighted my hair for the last 10 or so years, and I didn’t really maintain my hair’s condition with treatments, so my hair was in bad shape – dry and damaged because of the bleaching. This was all my fault – I was bad at taking care of my hair, and always wanted to go lighter and blonder.

I often used to quickly straighten a few sections just to look “presentable” (or so I thought).

But a change was coming… and I didn’t even know it

Irritated by the damage and my roots, I went for a chop, and was told about products for curly girls.

“What, I’m a curly girl?” I asked.

“Yes you are” I was told. “And here are some products to help you embrace your natural hair”. (The recommended products were Intrinsicurly Me, and I bought the co-wash, conditioner and styling cream).

Now, after all these years, I didn’t even know what my natural hair was, but these products, I learnt, were Curly Girl (CG) approved, and through using them, I learnt about the Curly Girl Method.

What is the Curly Girl Method? 

The Curly Girl Method comes from US hairstylist Lorraine Massey and is a haircare method that gets curly or wavy hair looking and feeling better by swapping things like shampooing and heat styling (which are damaging for curlies), for a curly hair regimen. Lorraine also wrote a book “Curly Girl: The Handbook“.

The CG regimen

The first step with the method is knowing what you shouldn’t do. to starting the Curly Girl Method is knowing what NOT to do. Lorraine suggests avoiding certain ingredients and methods which are actually damaging to curly hair.

All the things you thought were good like combing, lathering with shampoo and heat-protectant spray aren’t all that great for curlies. It’s a complete mind shift, and akin to finding out that Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy don’t exist, I imagine.

The point with the method is to not do things that cause dryness or loss of shine, and all the products and methods below are, according to the CG Method, not that kind to curly hair, despite what we’ve been told or promised.

Here’s what you need to avoid when following the CG Method:

  • Shampoo
  • Heat styling tools
  • Combs and brushes
  • Sulfates – namely sodium lauryl sulfate & ammonium laureth sulfate
  • Non-water soluble silicones
  • Alcohol
  • Fragrance

How to wash and style

Lorraine recommends the following routine for cleansing, conditioning and styling. It must be said now that although these are guidelines, the CG Method is a lot about trial and error, and will depend on the type of curl and hair you have.

The basics are there, but you’ll need to experiment and figure out what works for you – I’m still working on the best method for me. I buy Intrinsicurly Me products, which are the only salon-approved CG products in South Africa.

STEP 1 CLEANSE

Gently scrub and stimulate the entire scalp with fingertips (no nails!) with cleanser or co-wash.

The friction will lift residue, sweat and oil to be rinsed out.

Less is actually more, and if you feel like you need more cleanser – don’t add it. Rather add water.

(If this is your first time doing this method, you’ll need to do a clarifying wash first to get rid of the silicones – you can make a mix of bicarb of soda and apple cider vinegar).

STEP 2 CONDITION

On wet hair, smooth conditioner over hair in sections, until all hair has been coated with conditioner. Let the water distribute the product evenly. Then “squish to condish” – add water and squish it into your hair. Water is your friend here – a big reason why towel drying isn’t recommend. Rather use a microfiber towel, but only before styling, and very gently.

Then scrunch your hair normally, and do it again with your head flipped forward, and scrunch until the roots.

STEP 3 DRY & STYLE

Bend forward & blot dry by cupping curls in a microfiber towel – never wring or disturb your curls. Then air-dry. If you’re in a hurry, use a diffuser.

Scrunch product from ends toward the scalp, starting at the nape and working up, scrunch the top layer last. Some women use claw clips while their hair is drying around their hair parting for volume and curls at the root

My experience

I am loving my hair – it’s soft and healthy looking, and my wavy curl is getting better and better. I’m going back to my natural colour, though my old highlights are still coming through. I’ve colour washed my hair twice at the roots just for some uniformity, but this hasn’t been damaging.

Although I spend longer in the shower washing and conditioning, it’s worth it for the moisturised result. My hair is evolving, and my hair is getting a bit wavier. I’ve read loads of CGM testimonial from women who say their hair gets better and curlier with time, so one could expect even better results down the line.

One thing I have noticed is that I prefer my hair wavier, and I’m starting to think that natural curls and waves are so much prettier than hair that has been straightened. This is a complete shift for me!

For more info, Google! You’ll find some conflicting information, and I feel that some of the advice on the Facebook curly groups is a bit overwhelming, and makes me panic that I’m not doing the right thing, or using the “right” products. This is why I’m trying to just stick to Intrinsicurly Me products for now, and the advice on their Facebook page.

You can still see signs of my old highlights, but I’ll likely grow them out
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10 Comments

  • Donna Palinhos

    Tanya I love this and I need it in my life! I’m going to get the book for me and my daughter. Do you know if the book gives you guidelines on what products to buy? I want to buy it all at once (products and books) but worried that I end up buying the wrong products. Is that a thing to worry about?

    March 2, 2020 at 7:54 am Reply
    • Tanya

      I don’t think the book gives recommendations about products – just that they mustn’t contain silicone. It’s a trial and error to see what products work for you. I would look for a Facebook group for Portugal curly girls, and get recommendations there, or else ask the global group what they recommend.

      March 6, 2020 at 7:43 am Reply
  • Rene

    LOVE the curls, but as someone with straight hair I’ve obviously always wanted curls. My daughter has curly hair, and I think it is gorgeous when she just leave it naturally, but she’s doing everything to straighten it.

    March 2, 2020 at 9:03 am Reply
    • Tanya

      It’s such a shame – waves and curls look so good! But I understand the need and want to straighten 🙂

      March 6, 2020 at 7:11 am Reply
  • Heather

    Looking good Tanya!

    March 2, 2020 at 3:43 pm Reply
    • Tanya

      Thank you so much xx

      March 6, 2020 at 7:07 am Reply
  • Ruby

    Your hair looks fabulous and I love the brunette Tanya – your hair looks 100x times healthier! As I mentioned over the weekend, I do CGM in the holidays and I found a super helpful video on YouTube that shows the method in *detail*. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1nw98fyNqY or just google “Curly Girl Method Shower” …

    March 3, 2020 at 6:18 am Reply
  • Tanya

    About to watch it, thank you! I’m so happy you embrace it on “off days”

    March 6, 2020 at 7:15 am Reply
  • posparenting

    As a curly haired person whose idea of a hairstyle is ‘out of the way’ these products look really good for giving my hair some much needed attention!

    March 6, 2020 at 3:15 pm Reply
    • Tanya

      Let me know how it goes if you do try them 🙂

      March 11, 2020 at 6:44 am Reply

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