So, you heard about the benefits of the Curly Girl Method and want to know how to start this transformative journey.
One quick note I do want to make before we begin is the fact that I will never personally endorse a “strict” Curly Girl Method routine (no-poo method).
Every routine I describe will have some sort of shampoo to at least properly clarify hair once a month.
All hair regardless of texture must be clarified at least once a month to keep the scalp clean and prevent build-up from blocking potential hair growth.
Now, that we understand each other, let’s get into to typical “first” washday experience.
To keep everything as simple as possible, and keep us all on the same track, I am going to use one of my favorite brands, the brand I’ve been using since I first started my journey over four years ago, Inahsi Naturals, as the product examples for each step.
If you would like to try the products, remember to save money using my discount code: REDCARPETCURLS
Step #1: Clarify Hair
To start a new journey, you want to cleanse yourself of your past baggage. In this case, it would be all the silicone and product build-up left behind by your pre-CGM products.
Most products on the market are catered towards straight hair, meaning they often include harsh ingredients like sulfates and silicones.
Naturally textured hair is always at a moisture disadvantage because of the structure of our texture. The texture slows down how fast our Sebum (natural oil our scalp produces) can make its way down from the roots all the way down to the ends.
The sebum is created specifically by our scalp to keep both the scalp and hair moisturized and protected from breakage.
This is normally what happens with straight hair, but naturally textured hair isn’t so lucky, therefore we need a specialized method to help supplement the moisture we naturally lack.
If you have naturally textured hair (waves, curls, coils, etc.) using sulfates and silicones will only further dry out your hair and make it more vulnerable to split ends and breakage.
Silicones form barriers around the hair strand locking in moisture, but once the moisture is gone, the barrier doesn’t allow new moisture in. You essentially seal in dry hair causing your own split ends and breakage, especially during the winter & summer months.
Silicones can only be clarified out of hair; this means a special shampoo (clarifying) formulated with the strongest class of surfactants, strong enough to remove the silicone and other forms of build-up. This surfactant class is known as Anionic Surfactants.
Not all shampoos are created equal. When the Original Curly Girl Method came out over 20 years ago, the method called for the complete exclusion of shampoo. The idea behind this was to protect our delicate and dry tresses from sulfates, instead choosing to co-wash because they contain gentler detergents.
You should NEVER fully cut shampoo out of your haircare regime.
The first step to healthy hair is a healthy scalp. Yes, we shouldn’t be using harsh sulfates, but we should not be exclusively using conditioners to cleanse because the moisture builds up leaving hair feeling greasy, weighed down, or not curling to its fullest potential.
Not all shampoos are created equal. There are different types of detergents used for different situations. This is where knowing the science helps you determine the correct product to use.
Anionic surfactants are the strongest class of detergents, this group contains both sulfate and sulfate-free options. So, if there is a sulfate-free Anionic surfactant strong enough to remove all build-up including silicone without the damage a sulfate imparts, why would you ever use a sulfate again?
Therefore, when you start your hair care journey, you never ever need a Final Wash, you always start with a sulfate-free clarifying wash.
How do you spot a sulfate vs. a sulfate-free Anionic Surfactant?
The most common sulfate-free Anionic Surfactant you will find in clarifying shampoos is Sodium C14-C16 Olefin Sulfonate.
This is why the Inahsi Naturals Soothing Mint Sulfate Free Clarifying Shampoo is perfect to remove all build-up and prime your tresses to receive the full moisture from your next step. Not to mention the amazing tingly peppermint feeling once the shampoo is applied, really makes your hair and scalp feel CLEAN.
Please remember Clarifying Shampoo is considered the strongest wash and doesn’t need to be done too often.
All hair must be clarified at LEAST once a month. If you have fine/wavy hair or suffer from build-up more quickly like low porosity hair, try twice a month.
Otherwise, try to use gentler cleansing options between clarifying washes such as a low poo like the Inahsi Naturals Soothing Mint Gentle Cleansing Shampoo.
Paired with a scalp brush, you will get a nice clean feeling with each wash.
If you are still a little confused about the differences between shampoos such as clarifying, low-poo, and no-poo, please check out my article on that by clicking here.
Otherwise, let’s move on to step #2 in your washday…
Step #2: Deep Condition Hair
Expert Tip: Whenever you use a heavy-duty cleanser like a clarifying shampoo, always remember you need a heavy-duty moisturizer to replace all that moisture that was just washed away with your shampoo. The heaviest duty conditioner you can use is the deep conditioner.
Deep conditioners provide the same benefits as instant/rinse-out conditioners; the most significant difference is the level at which they work.
Deep conditioners contain ingredients with lower molecular weight making it easier to penetrate the deepest layers of the hair to really moisturize and repair from within the strands.
The shiny frizz-free results from a deep conditioner last longer than that of the instant conditioners. Often, you will see deep conditioners contain penetrating ingredients like amino acids, oils, fatty acids, etc., that is because they are small enough to penetrate past the hair cuticle all the way to the deepest layer of the hair known as the Cortex.
Let’s look at the Inahsi Naturals Mango Hemp Restorative Hair Masque Deep Conditioner.
It is one of my Holy Grails! This masque is especially useful for transitioning hair since it contains both moisture and protein!
Let’s face it; our hair can be put through its paces. Between everyday wear and tear, caused by weathering, manipulative styling, and heat and chemical processes, it is enough to make our hair downright parched, weak, and damaged.
This natural hair masque will restore, protect, and strengthen your tresses to promote overall healthy hair.
This hair masque is enriched with ceramides, such as Hemp oil, that will help hair retain moisture, restore hair’s balance, and help to minimize the effects of daily wear and tear.
The silk amino acids will strengthen your hair and restore protein loss due to damage. Perfect for transitioners from chemical to natural, color-treated hair, and over-processed hair.
Your deep conditioner is so important because not only is this the step to add all the moisture back into your hair to regain your elasticity, bounce, and shine, but when you choose a deep conditioner with gentle protein like hydrolyzed protein or amino acids, you are helping keep the right balance of protein and moisture in your hair to avoid pitfalls like Hygral Fatigue or Protein Overload.
Essentially here’s the difference between Instant and Intense Conditioners:
Deep Conditioners= penetrate past the cuticle and are left on for more extended periods, results last longer. (1-2x a week max! But at least once a month)
Rinse Out Conditioners = daily use, penetrate to the cuticle (outermost layer of the hair strand) to improve manageability and appearance, results don’t last long.
I like to look at my deep conditioning sessions as my hair insurance! Protecting my hair 24/7! If you are a visual learner like me, here is a tutorial on how I deep condition my hair.
Applying heat to your deep conditioning treatments is especially helpful for low porosity hair or those with thicker or coarser hair will help your deep conditioner penetrate more quickly and effectively.
The heat helps the scales on the cuticle layer of the hair lift much more quickly to allow the deep conditioner to penetrate too much deeper layers much more quickly than it would otherwise.
Step #3: Styling Hair
Styling Naturally Textured hair is all about choices and preferences. You literally have so many options available to you. In fact, it can get a bit overwhelming trying to choose the right product or combination of products.
So, I figured the best way to break this down is to show you your options in styling products using the Inahsi Naturals Line!
Let’s start with the first step of any styling session. Sectioning your hair.
Again, there are countless ways to section your hair, since I have fine hair (works with thicker hair as well), I prefer to have my hair sectioned out before any product touches it.
This allows me to focus less product (preventing build-up) on the areas that need it most. This will give more curl definition and shine!
I am a big fan of the BMC sectioning technique also known as the BeMycurl Sectioning Technique. Here’s a visual demonstration…
As you can see, sectioning my hair in this manner, makes it easier to manage, allows me to use less product, and focus on the curl definition I am looking for. Once I let a section out of my clip, I re-wet it with water. I like to apply my products to soaking wet hair when styling for definition. If you are looking for more volume than definition, then style on damp hair.
The first product option you have and should always include is to moisturize your hair with a leave-in conditioner.
Yes, you did moisturize your hair in the deep conditioning step, but by the time you are out of the shower, you have rinsed out all or most of your deep conditioner (for those with very dry thick coarse, or high porosity hair you can leave a little of the deep conditioner in your hair for extra moisture), your strands now need some kind of moisture to seal the scales on your cuticle allowing you to retain that moisture.
That is where your leave-in conditioner comes into the game. Let’s start with a classic leave-in, the Inahsi Naturals Aloe & Hibiscus Leave-In Conditioner & Detangler.
This ultra-moisturizing leave-in conditioner moisturizes, strengthens, and restores shine which makes it a triple threat to parched tresses. The water and aloe Vera juice moisturizes, the panthenol along with the rich oils of avocado and coconut help to strengthen the hair while the ayurvedic herbal blend of hibiscus and marshmallow root not only provides slip for pesky knots but they help to make the hair soft, supple and sleek.
A leave-in conditioner is formulated to be a lighter dose of moisture as opposed to that of a rinse-out conditioner. It may have penetrating ingredients just like a deep conditioner or rinse-out conditioner, just in smaller quantities, allowing you to style with multiple products without causing too much build-up (remember build-up will always occur when applying products especially depending on how much product you use).
If you have fine density hair or wavy hair and need a lighter moisture option, you can always investigate sprays/mists like the Inahsi Naturals Pamper My Curls All-In-One Moisture Mist!
This mist is actually one of my favorite products to style or refresh my hair with because it is so light and provides so much slip.
The mist is also another triple-action product, it will moisturize, repair, and protect your strands.
Once you have applied your moisturizing product most people love the classic combination of leave-in conditioner and a gel. It’s me, I’m most people, ha-ha.
The classic leave-in conditioner and gel give you everything you need, moisture, and hold so you can enjoy those hair days for longer periods of time.
A gel is responsible for giving hair hold, it will stiffen the shape of the curl to preserve it.
Just take a look at the gels Inahsi Naturals offers, starting with the Pamper My Curls Curl Sculpting Glaze.
This protein-free frizz-fighting natural styling glaze will leave your curls defined, protected, and oh so shiny.
The sunflower oil which is rich in ceramides will help to repair the hair from wear and tear. This curl sculpting glaze provides a strong hold without leaving your curls flakey or a white residue. It is also great to smooth down edges and help to Instantly define and hold curls in place.
If you have fine hair and find this gel, too be a bit too much, or even if you are sensitive about fragrances, you can try the Define & Shine Liquid Styling Gel.
It is lighter in weight as well as hold. The Pamper My Curls Gel will give you more hold, but this lightweight gel stands on its own!
This lightweight fragrance-free liquid styling gel is just what your curls crave.
This liquid styling gel will define your curls while adding shine and bounce to each strand.
This frizz-fighting gel is specially formulated with quinoa protein which will help to improve color retention, conditioning, and protection, while the rice protein will repair your curls while leaving them soft, voluminous, and bouncy.
This liquid styler provides a soft to medium hold without leaving your curls dry or crunchy.
Once you master the classic Leave-In Conditioner and Gel combination, you can begin to play around with other options like:
- Define & Shine Volumizing Foam – this is perfect to use when looking for more volume! Apply this after your leave-in conditioner and before your gel for more volume, especially around the roots! Also perfect for refreshing! Very light-weight, and fragrance-free! This will leave your curls defined, voluminous, and oh so shiny. The rice protein will help to repair the hair from wear and tear while restoring shine and plumping curls to give soft voluminous curls. The baobab provides care from the damaging effects of heat, UV, and environmental exposure. This styling foam provides a soft to medium hold without leaving your curls flakey or a white residue. It also can be used to smooth fly-aways and help to instantly define and hold curls in place.
- Define & Shine Mango & Papaya Curl Defining Custard- custards are amazing to use, it’s like an awesome combination of leave-in conditioner and curl cream. If you choose this as your moisturizing option (leave-in conditioner), you literally can’t go wrong. If you switch out a leave-in with a custard-like this, you’re still going to get the moisture you need. This Coconut oil-free styling custard will leave your curls moisturized, defined, and oh and the shine is out of this world. The panthenol along with the rich oils of avocado and sunflower seed oil help to strengthen and repair the hair. The hydrolyzed oats will condition, moisturize, and deliver a beautiful shine to your curls. This gluten-free curl-defining custard provides a light to medium hold without leaving your curls flakey or a white residue. This is also perfect to use as a sole refresh product!
- Rock Your Curls Curl Enhancing Cream- Speaking of curl creams here is one of my favorites! Totally fine density hair approved, just use pea-sized amounts through each of your sections. Consider a heavier cream like this to be the big brother of leave-in conditioners. Sometimes a leave-in conditioner is just not enough especially for those with lots of thick coarse hair, or even during season changes like the winter months. You might need more moisture to control that frizz. This will moisturize, define and strengthen your curls while leaving them touchably soft. It’s also perfect for protective styles like braids or twist-outs!
- Island Breeze Hair & Body Whipped Butter- If you have thick and coarse hair, sometimes moisture is just not enough, you need a styling product that will seal all that goodness into your hair strands, that’s where this whipped body butter comes in. This moisture sealing hair whip is rich with Mango Butter and Shea Butter which restores shine and locks in moisture. Couple this with the Aloe Hibiscus Leave-in Conditioner & Detangler for ultra-moisturized tresses. For those with fine hair, here’s a little trick, use a pea-sized amount or less to Scrunch Out The Gel Cast once your hair is dry to make sure that hair is sealed. For those with thick coarse hair, you can use this after your leave-in and gel or as part of the LOC method! Get creative to find what works for you.
Now, this might have looked like a lot but trust me you aren’t using ALL of these products on wash day. These are simply your OPTIONS depending on how you feel like styling.
On your first washday, after your clarifying shampoo and deep conditioner, I recommend starting with a leave-in and gel to get used to those foundational styling steps and learn how to expand from there.
Again, for my visual learners, here are those tips and more tips on the entire Inahsi Naturals product line…
Step #4: Sealing Hair
So, you have finally finished styling your hair and it is officially dry whether you chose to air dry or diffuse.
Now, it’s time to seal that moisture into those strands. If you styled with any product (outside of the butter) you will want something to seal in the moisture, so the hair doesn’t appear dull and dry in a few hours (this is typically what happens with damaged/transitioning hair, or those with high porosity hair)
Oil is ideal to seal, when it comes to oils there are two types of oil, Moisturizing (also known as Penetrating because the oil will never hydrate your hair) and Sealing Oil.
Pretty self-explanatory, but penetrating oils contain more fatty acids that have the capability to penetrate deep into the hair strand, whereas sealing oils do not and as a result sit on top of the hair strand creating an invisible flexible barrier to seal in moisture from your products.
Some examples of sealing oils include broccoli seed oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, etc.
I love sealing/SOTC/ doing a scalp massage with the Inahsi Naturals Pamper My Curls Hair & Scalp Elixir.
It contains a mixture of penetrating and sealing (olive, grapeseed, avocado, sunflower) oils.
Sunflower oil alone contains ceramides a fatty lipid that’s essentially the glue holding the hair cuticle together.
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In addition to using, it as a sealing oil, you can use sunflower oil in hot oil treatments and as an enhancer for your deep conditioner.
I like to take one drop per fingertip, massage together, then massage my scalp for two minutes. Next, I take three more drops in the palm of my hands, massage them together, and scrunch out the hard gel cast feeling, revealing beautifully moisturized, bouncy, shiny curls!
Step #5: Sleeping & Refreshing Hair
Once you have completed the first four steps of your wash day:
- Clarify Hair
- Deep Condition Hair
- Style Hair
- Seal Hair
You’ll realize you have come to the final step of your washday, sleeping/refreshing your hair.
If you are one of those people who can just stuff your hair in a bonnet and wake up with perfect curls God Bless Ya! I am not one of the chosen.
When it comes to sleeping with naturally textured hair you always want to make sure you are sleeping with satin accessories.
Cotton fibers suck the moisture out of hair causing tangles and breakage. Cotton pulls and tugs on the hair strands causing damage while you get, you’re not so beauty rest. Just take a look at the Inahsi Natural Satin Bonnet.
The reversible Satin Bonnet is an all-in-one solution for protecting your hair and style while sleeping, showering, lounging, and more! The drawstring closure gives you the ability to secure the bonnet without messing up your hairstyle. Whether your hair is natural, or in extensions, long, short, curly, or straight – this Satin Bonnet is perfect for all hair types.
With Satin, hair doesn’t experience the same friction caused by moisture-absorbing cotton, instead, the hair glides off the satin fabric aiding in moisture retention.
If the moisture in your hair isn’t be sucked out at night, you wake up with healthier, moisturized hair. This will keep hair resistant to split ends and breakage.
Utilizing satin accessories through the winter months aids in not only moisture retention but length retention as well!
For extra protection, in case my bonnet falls off, I like to have a satin pillowcase and scrunchie as well. Ensuring my hair doesn’t touch cotton all night.
To refresh hair, you once again have a few options:
- Steam paired with a conditioning product like a cream, mist, or foam
- Mix water and a little conditioner in a spray bottle and lightly mist hair
- Completely re-wet hair with water and apply a single styler like a gel or custard
Whatever you choose to keep it light since the water will re-activate whatever styling products you applied to your hair the day prior, you don’t want to overdo it, you simply want to tweak what’s there.
Once, you’ve refreshed and dried your hair, you are ready to go about your day! Refreshing should never take any longer than 10-15 minutes, you are not re-styling, just refreshing, it’s not supposed to look completely perfect, it’s supposed to look perfectly you!
Now remember depending on your transitioning time, you may not get the definition you are looking for, just keep true to the five steps, giving your hair time to heal and adjust! You’ve got this, welcome to your new healthy hair life!