The Curly Girl Method

Published January 20, 2013


curly girl methodIf you've been paying any attention to trends in hair lately, you've probably noticed a surge in the popularity of curls and waves. Natural hair care is stepping into the spotlight. Women everywhere are embracing their natural texture and loving every minute of it. What's stopping you from doing the same? If you have dry, frizzy curly or wavy hair and need a change, look no further. Here are some tips for achieving the healthy, moisturized curls you've been dreaming about.

1. Before starting, clarify your hair with a sulfate shampoo. Once you start Curly Girl, you won't be using any shampoo. Before you get started down the road to perfect hair, though, you'll need to remove any product buildup from your hair so it won't impede your progress. Any old shampoo you have around works for this step. Be sure to throw the bottle out or give it away after you've finished!

2. Get your hair trimmed. I skipped this step when I started Curly Girl, and I wish I hadn't. A trim removes the split ends from your hair and will allow it to grow longer, stronger, and much healthier. You should get a trim every four to six months.

3. Only detangle your hair while it is wet and while you still have a lot of conditioner in it. Throw out all of your brushes and non-wide-toothed combs. The only tool you are allowed to use on your hair now is a wide-toothed comb. You'll use the comb of your fingers to detangle your hair in the shower before you rinse out your conditioner.  Once your hair is dry, you cannot comb it again. And DO NOT USE A BRUSH. You may only use your fingers. Brushing or combing dry hair causes frizz and breakage.

4. Stop shampooing your hair. Traditional shampoos containe sulfate and other harmful chemicals. Some of these chemicals are the same pollutants found in household dish soap. You wouldn't wash a cashmere sweater with dish soap, so why in the world have you been using it on your hair? This part of CG is the most difficult to get used to. Instead of shampoo, you can clean your scalp with a light conditioner, water, and friction.

5. Scrub your scalp with conditioner. You've thrown all your shampoo away. How can you clean your hair? By conditioner washing (or co washing) your scalp. Squeeze a lightweight conditioner onto the pads of your fingers and massage it into your hair using your fingertips. The conditioner and the movement of your hands should be enough to loosen dirt and oil without stripping your hair of vitamins and minerals it needs to look its best. My favorite co washing conditioner is Suave Naturals. VO5 is also fantastic.

6. Distribute a heavier conditioner throughout your hair and detangle with your wide-toothed comb. Depending on your preference, you can use your co washing conditioner for this step or you could apply something more serious. I like Herbal Essences. Whatever you use, though, make sure it doesn't contain sulfates. Let the conditioner sit for several minutes before rinsing so it can fully penetrate the hair shaft.

7. Rinse your hair with cool or cold water. This technique seals the cuticle shut, prevents frizz, and leaves your hair looking smooth and shiny.

8. Apply products to your hair. If your hair is very curly, apply your products while the hair is soaking wet. For wavy hair, wait three to five minutes before applying products. Many people use either a leave-in conditioner, smoothing cream, or anti-frizz serum first, and then follow it up with mousse or gel for lasting hold. I prefer gel because my hair is very thick, but you may find you like using mousse better. You just have to experiment and see what works best for you personally. Put product in your hands, rub your hands together, and rake your product through your hair to evenly distribute it.

9. Scrunch your hair with a t-shirt, paper towel, or microfiber towel. Once you've applied your products, the next step is to scrunch your hair to set the product and remove some water. When you scrunch your hair, use a t-shirt, paper towel, or a microfiber towel to avoid damaging your hair or making it frizz. Terry cloth towels are the worst for scrunching because the little loops on the surface can get caught on your hair and rough up the cuticle, creating frizz.

10. Decrease drying time by plopping. After scrunching your hair, you may want to plop it on top of your head. Take a long sleeved t-shirt and place it on a flat surface like a chair or the toilet lid. Lay the shirt flat with the neck hole toward you. Bend over at the waist and gather your hair in the middle of the shirt. Pull the bottom of the shirt against the back of your head, scrunch up the sides, pull up the front around your forehead, and tie the sleeves together. If you need more help, there are plenty of videos on YouTube. Plopping for 15-20 minutes can drastically reduce drying time.

11. Let your hair air-dry or use a diffuser. The healthiest way to dry your hair is to let it dry naturally. If you don't want to walk out the door with wet hair, invest in a diffuser. Unlike a blow dryer, the diffuser circulates air without irritating the cuticle, reducing the amount of frizz caused by the heat.

12. Give your hair a little time to adjust. It may take a few weeks or months for your hair to look better. Remember, you'll be reversing years of stripping your hair dry. It could look worse before it gets better. Just stick with it, and your hair will look absolutely amazing!

So, whether your have tight coiled ringlets or loose beachy waves, the Curly Girl method is an excellent way to keep your hair looking healthy. Give it a try and see what you think!

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