What is the Curly Girl Method?
The Curly Girl (CG) method is an approach to hair care designed for naturally curly hair that has not been chemically or heat straightened. In 2001 the CG method was introduced to a wider audience by hairstylist Lorraine Massey, in her bestselling book, Curly Girl: The Handbook.
The basic aim is to care for naturally curly hair gently, minimizing damage to the hair cuticle and keeping the hair completely moisturised at all times. Curly hair is more prone to dryness than straight hair and with adequate moisture and water the CG method will accentuate rather than interfere with the hair's natural curl pattern.
To protect the moisture in curly hair the idea behind the CG method is to remove all harsh ingredients and any ingredients that unnecessarily coat the hair shaft. When these ingredients are removed there is no need for strong sulfates to clean the hair and this leaves only the ingredients that can be washed away with water.
The first major step to the CG method is to remove shampoo from your hair care routine which is described as going "no poo" or another option is to go “low poo” which means using a botanical cleanser with a very low foaming action.
A very common approach by curly girls following the CG method is the use of a cleansing conditioner in place of shampoo and this is called "conditioner washing" or "co-washing". This process can’t be undertaken with any variety of conditioner, the formula needs to be capable of performing a light cleansing action whilst conditioning.
The CG method also incorporates key guidelines to help achieve the perfect result for curly hair such as; no sulfates, no silicones, no waxes, no oils, no drying alcohols and no film-forming ingredients that may block moisture from penetrating the hair. When blow drying, the use of a diffuser is mandatory and no brushes, combs or regular bath towels are allowed. There are even special tips for how to apply the right hair gel and other styling products.
The 4 major steps of the Curly Girl method each come with their own special techniques and some unusual terminology and can be described briefly as below;
CLEANSE – low poo or co-wash
CONDITION – with as much as twice the normal amount of conditioner (common techniques are the ‘squish to condish’ and ‘roping’ methods).
STYLING – Most commonly with creams and strong hold gels (common techniques are ‘praying hands’ and ‘scrunch out the crunch’).
DRY – slow gentle drying is imperative (common techniques are to ‘plop’ and then air dry or gently blow dry with a diffuser).
Use in totally wet hair as primer to moisturise and accentuate curls before applying sealing product.
Use as the curl control gel to create a cast.
As a final step, apply cream to finished look to tame any unwanted frizz.