The Curly Girl Method was developed by Lorraine Massey as a way to enhance natural curls. I came accross CGM 5 months ago and it’s completely changed how my hair looks and behaves. Before I started I had frizzy, fluffy hair with a slight wave. As you can see in the photos, now my hair is smooth, glossy from root to tip and curly.
Below I share my experience, routine, products & how you can get started with CGM. I’ll update this post as I change my products and routine.
If you’d like to see the orginal Curly Girl Method, purchase Lorraine Massey’s book Curly Girl The Handbook or join the Facebook Group. There is a wealth of information and I understand that some people find it overwhelming to sift through everything, so I’m sharing what I do and what worked for me.
The main thing to be aware of is that everyones curl pattern, hair needs, and response to products or routine will be different. What I’m sharing here are the steps you can take to get a basic routine started, that you can then modify as you observe how your hair behaves & changes.
Also, this is a very detailed and indepth method. Try not to get overwhelmed!
This method uses products that are free from sulphates, alcohol & silicones as well as no/minimal shampoo. Because of the structure of curly hair, it needs lots of hydration and that’s why we don’t use any products that dry out the hair.
CGM also uses particular styling techniques to help curls form, but doesn’t use any heat styling.
The orginal Curly Girl Method is quite strict, but I found I needed to experiment to find out what worked for me. I believe you can modify the methods & products to suit you, depending on how much time and energy you have, and how much effort you want to put into your hair.
The main aim of CGM is to have healthy hydrated hair. This method can also be used if you have straight hair and want to improve hair health – you just skip the curl styling techniques & products.
Here are some things I believe are important to consider and be aware of before you jump in.
Porosity means how much moisture or products your hair does or doesn’t absorb.
Low Porosity Hair – Conditioners & oils don’t absorb easily, hair tends to get oily, takes a long time to dry, naturally shiny.
High Porosity Hair- Products soak in easily, minimal oil, hair dries faster, minimal natural shine
Medium Porosity Hair – your hair will be somewhere between Low & High porosity.
If your hair strand is fine, it may not tolerate heavy products or too many products. Whereas if your hair strands are thick, it may tolerate heavy products. Keep this in mind when choosing products and if you have fine hair, avoid products that contain oils.
Protein helps keep your hair healthy. Some factors that may indicate your hair needs protein are – breakage, damaged hair, dry hair even after using deep conditioner, hair won’t behave, no bounciness.
If you think you need protein, add a product to your routine that includes protein (keep reading for more info).
Curl type – Wavy, Curly, Sprial
This will determine how much you can touch your hair when styling. For example my hair is more on the soft wavy side so I can’t run my fingers through my hair when applying styling products. I have to ‘pat’ it in between 2 hands, then scrunch. If your hair is curly or spiralled and or tight, your hair will cope with raking products through.
I’ll be sharing the products I use, but if you want to check that a product is Curly Girl Approved, copy and paste the ingredients into https://www.curlsbot.com/
Types of products you need
- Conditioner Wash – Also known as Cowash, Cleanser or No-Poo. (This is in place of shampoo)
- Low-Poo (Used once per week if necessary to reduce build up)
- Curl Cream
- Gel or Mousse
- Leave in conditioner
- Deep Conditioner
- Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse (used to reduce build up)
My Product List
Click on the links to find out where to purchase
- Conditioner Wash – Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Conditoner or Goat Oatmeal Conditioner (Contains protein)
- Low-Poo – Sukin Natural balance shampoo
- Conditioner – Giovanni 50:50 Balanced Hydrating-Calming Conditoner
- Curl Cream – PPS Curl Booster
- Gel or Mousse – Organic Care gel or Giovanni LA Natural Styling Gel
- Leave in conditioner – Giovanni Direct Leave In Weightless Moisture Conditoner
- Deep Conditioner – Matrix Biolage Hydrasource Conditioning Balm (Protein Free), Giovanni Nutrafix (contains protein)
Before you run out and buy everything – you can start with just 2 or 3 products. I started with 3 and observed how my hair was changing, then added in one product at a time. I recommend starting with a cowash (you can use this as conditioner also), curl cream and gel or mousse.
I have a discount code from iHerb that will give you a 5% plus I receive a $5 credit. Copy and paste the code ANG5093 when you put your order through. CLICK HERE for my full iHerb product list.
Step 1 – Wet your hair completely and using your finger tips, massage your scalp. This helps shift oil & clean your scalp
Step 2 Cowash – Use a cowash product as you would shampoo, to cleanse your scalp and roots. I run this through the ends of my hair then rinse.
Note: You can use Low-Poo if you find that your cowash product doesn’t clean your hair enough or it gets oily quickly. I have been using Low-Poo every wash, because my hair is super oily but have found this too drying so will do it less often. To make Low-Poo – mix 10% low-poo product with 90% cowash product.
Step 3 Condition – Take a good amount of conditioner and apply to your mid sections and ends. How close you go to your roots depends on if your hair tolerates it. (My hair gets oily so I don’t use condioner at my roots.) Make sure you coat your hair and rake it through.
Step 4 Squish to Condish or STC – Squish and scrunch the conditoner into your hair. I don’t have a lot of hair so I scrunch all my hair at the back of my head. If your hair is thick you can do this in sections.
CLICK HERE for Lorraine Massey’s tutorial on how to do this step. I give my hair a scruch, then lightly rinse, then scrunch and repeat until it’s all rinse out. If you have thick hair strand and/or high porosity hair, you may be able to leave in some conditioner. (I personally prefer not to do this and use a specific leave in conditioner instead.
Step 5 remove excess water – give your hair a scruch in the shower to take out excess water. Then use a microfibre towel or old cotton tshirt to squish/scrunch out excess water. (I still use a normal towel for this step, but keep in mind that can create frizz)
Step 6 Leave In Conditioner – Personally, leave in conditioner really amped up the gloss. Apply leave in conditoner through mid section and ends. Use 2 hands to ‘pump, each section of hair 5-8 times
Step 7 Curl Cream (helps the curl to form) – Use the same process
Step 8 Gel (locks in moisture and helps hold the curl) – Use the same process. If you prefer to use Mousse, do that here instead of Gel. I haven’t used Gel yet.
Step 9 Dry Plop (depending on your hair you may not need this step. Personally if I skip it, the water drags my hair down and my curls aren’t as bouncy or voluminous)
Take a cotton long sleeve tshirt and lay it down in front of you with the neck closest to you. Put your head upside down and bunch your hair together onto the tshirt. Take the bottom of the tshirt (should be furtherest from you) and fold it down over your head to the nape of your neck. Take the sleeves and cross them over at the back of your head, lift your head and tie the sleeves accross the front/top of your head.
CLICK HERE if you prefer to watch a video. (Note: in the video she scrunches excess water after plopping, I do this before so that I’m not squeezing product out.)
I do this for 10 minutes because if I leave it longer my roots flatten. Depending on your hair, you can leave it in longer.
Step 10 Dry – Take your hair out and let it fall. Let it fully dry. You may need to use a hair dryer and diffuser on low heat to quicken this process. (My hair can take 4 hours to fully dry naturally so I will often diffuse.)
Step 11 Scrunch Out The Crunch or SOTC – Once hair is fully dry it may be crunchy. Give your hair a scrunch with your hands until it becomes soft and bouncy.
Note: Lorraine Massey applies leave in, curl cream & gel with the head upside down. I don’t do this as it’s uncomfortable, it changes the way my curls sit and I get product all over my face. But it may work better for you so just experiement.
You can do this whole process every time your hair needs to be washed. However if you’re like me and can’t be bothered every single time – I suggest just doing cowash, condition and leave in conditioner.
If you want to refresh your curls on day 2/3/4 etc, mix leave-in with water in a spray bottle (start with 50:50 and adjust from there). Spray into your hair, scrunch and let it air dry. This step reactivates the products and redefines your curl.
Apple Cider Vinegar – use this if your hair has build up. Mix 250ml water with 15ml of Apple Cider Vinegar and apply to your hair. I find it easiest to use a spritzer bottle and rinse out. Make sure you deep conditon after this step
Deep conditioner – use this once per week.
So that’s it! Please leave any questions or comments below and I will answer them for you.
Enjoy, Curlfriend xo