What Is The Curly Girl Method? CGM Explained

Shout-out to all the curly-haired girls, this is your time! ‘The Curly Girl Method,’ is kinda like a hair lifestyle that gives you the perfectly defined curls you’ve always wanted. Many people who have wavy hair, start their curly hair journey only to discover they actually have really curly hair! If you’ve never heard of it or are still a little unsure of how it works, let’s break it down.

What Is The Curly Girl Method?

The Curly Girl Method is a hair care regimen developed in 2001 by Lorraine Massey and was created to help people with curly hair grow the healthiest natural hair possible.

Since curly hair is prone to frizz, dryness, and damage, her method is gentle and gives hair the best opportunity to grow without being prone to damaging chemicals. Her method is for all hair types whether African American Hair, Caucasian hair or anywhere in between.

The Curly Girl Method stresses the avoidance of all heated styling tools, sulfates, silicones and heavy manipulation to the hair. It also emphasizes using conditioner to wash the hair and to forego shampoos altogether. It’s all about loving and treating your curls with the ultimate respect.

Although the Curly Girl Method was designed for those with curly hair, the method can be used by those with nearly any hair type. Straight hair can be dry and damaged too, and the Curly Girl Method is an excellent way to replenish moisture, regardless of curl pattern.

So here’s how to build a curly girl hair routine:

Step 1. Final Wash

When you start with the method, you have to make a final wash – here you wash the silicone out of your hair and for one last time, you use hard sulfate in a product.

If you go straight into Curly Girl without a final wash it will result in buildup from the silicones used before. So final wash is about washing your hair one last time with a silicone-free, sulfate shampoo to get rid of all the Buildup From Silicones Used Before. It is important to use a shampoo that contains sulfate but not silicone, as sulfate is the only thing that can remove the silicone from the hair.

After the final wash you don’t need to wash it again with a curly girl approved shampoo. You can move to step 3.

Step 2. Cleanse Or Co-Wash

There are three types of cleansers to use when following the curly girl method.

Co-Wash(1, 2, 3), Low-Poo(1, 2, 3) And No-Poo(1, 2, 3). Here’s where it can get confusing and overwhelming. A co-wash is using a conditioner to “wash” your hair. However, for most people, if they use a regular conditioner to do this, their hair quickly becomes greasy, oily and weighed down. Instead, opt for a cleansing conditioner, or cleansing co-wash.

A low-poo usually lathers up slightly and uses curly girl safe commercial, cleansing ingredients. It’s typically more suited to low porosity, fine, wavy hair. A no-poo, like a co-wash, doesn’t lather up at all and contains natural ingredients, in their natural state. Co-washes and no-poos are typically more suited to dryer, curly to kinky-coily, high porosity hair types.

Step 3. Condition

This is usually where you find silicones, so it’s really important to check the ingredients when purchasing your conditioner, deep conditioner and leave-in conditioner.

After gentle shampooing or co-washing, you’ll rinse out the excess cleanser and condition your hair. Yes, even if you’ve co-washed, you need a separate conditioning step. Curly Girl friendly conditioners contain moisturizing oils and other natural ingredients, and avoid the use of silicones. Whatever you choose, you should comb it through your hair using a wide-toothed comb in the shower.


Step 4: Squish To Condish

What is squish to condish?

The principle behind Squish to Condish is that conditioner and water should work in unison to hydrate the hair, because water is the hydrating and moisturizing factor, the conditioner is just a medium to get water into our hair.


How to squish to condish?

After washing your hair normally, start with your head upside down. Make sure your hair is soaking wet.

Apply enough conditioner so that your hair feels like seaweed — super slippery. Work it through your hair to evenly distribute the product.

Squish! As you begin to rinse, gather the pools of the water and conditioner that are coming out of your hair into your hands. Plop your curls into the water and conditioner mix, and squish those curls. Tighter curl patterns may need to add more conditioner; just be sure to add more water and keep on squishing. Keep doing this until your hair is no longer dripping. If you’re concerned about messing up your curl pattern or causing frizz, just be sure you that are scrunching gently, and that your hair is wet enough.

Step 5: Style

Once you’ve cleansed and conditioned your hair, it’s time for the styling products.

Styling starts as soon as you finish rinsing out your conditioner. At this point, you should avoid combing or brushing the hair to avoid breaking up your curl pattern and creating frizz. Switch to scrunching instead, to encourage your natural curl pattern to form.

The most important thing is that you close the palm in a continuous motion up to the scalp, to get the product into the hair and help the curls on the way.

Make sure that whatever gel you use contains no silicones. Some people use nothing but gel, while others like to use other products.

Gently scrunch your hair with a t-shirt, paper towels, or a micro-fiber towel to remove excess moisture. A generic terrycloth towel will make your hair frizzy. You may wish to finger shape your curls at this time instead. After all the desired products have been applied, you can put the hair up in a ‘plop ‘.

You plop your wet hair after you’ve applied your styler and before you start to dry your hair. It will accordion your curls, helping them keep their defined, spiral shape, even after they dry.

If you have fine hair or looser waves, plopping can create lift at the roots, since your hair is drying on top of your head rather than being weighed down. And if on some days your waves or curls tend to disappear or look limp, this will enhance your curl pattern by scrunching up the curls while they dry.

Step 6. Dry

The time required to use the Curly Girl Method on your hair should be about the same as with your regular washing routine. However, if you usually blow dry your hair, you may not be used to the time needed to dry your hair naturally.

If this is the case, using a blow dryer with a diffuser on a low and cool setting is acceptable although not preferred. If you have short hair, even more time will be saved.

It’s important to leave the hair partially damp, so the hair doesn’t become damaged or overly dry.

photo by @marisascurls

Step 7. Breaking The Casts aka SOTC-Scrunch Out The Crunch

Once the hair is dry, it will be stiff or crunchy rather than soft. Lorraine Massey calls these crystal casts, the hard seal the hair gets outwardly, which feels stiff. To soften the hair, repeatedly scrunch the hair to break the casts.

To break the crystal casts on the scalp, gently run your fingers on the scalp and fluff, which is about to hug the hair until it becomes soft. This is the same movement as when you apply the product, you open the palm and hug the hair towards the scalp. In this process, one can use oil, to reduce frizz. The results will be soft, defined, shiny, and healthy curls.

Step 8. Refresh

Refreshing your 2nd and 3rd-day curls with the Curly Girl Method is pretty much the same as refreshing your curls any other time. The difference is that you’ll be using silicone-free products.

Silicone not only coats the hair, but it must also be removed with shampoos that have sulfates. Because the Curly Girl Method doesn’t use products that contain sulfates or silicone, the damaging silicone and sulfate cycle is broken.

This leaves your hair in a natural state. To refresh your curls, lightly spritz them with a silicone-free conditioner and water and oil mixture.

Pay a little more attention to the ends. It isn’t necessary to get the entire head wet.

Add just enough to get rid of any frizz. Individually twist wayward curls with your finger and lightly scrunch.

At the start of the method, one’s hair may well seem heavy, the greasy and the hair seems dry and not as soft as when using silicone-filled products, but it is only a transitional phase. This is quite normal, as the hair should just get used to the new method. You should not be depressed by the fact that you do not get large, rich curls or super lusty hair in the first few weeks, as it is a longer process to rebuild the hair again from within and as the months pass, you will achieve better results. A good idea is to take a picture when you start on the method, so that you always have something to compare with later.

The curly girl method focuses on your natural hair texture, embracing that wave and curl, and helping that hair to be as healthy as it can be. Broken down it is a method of washing and styling your curls without the use of heat or harsh chemicals.

Like many beauty regimens, the results will vary from person to person, but this method just might work for you. So, say good-bye to the frizz and split ends and hello to soft, healthy curls.

Let us know if you have or are going to try the curly girl method, in the comments below.

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