To start the method you need a clean slate so to speak. You need to remove the silicones that are currently in your hair from the last time you washed and styled your hair. We used to think the final wash (washing hair one last time with sulfates to quickly remove the silicones) was mandatory, that way you can begin to properly hydrate your hair.
After further research, we determined the final wash to be unnecessary. Many Sulfates derive from petroleum which is something we avoid as well, completely defeating the purpose. Sulfate-Free shampoo is formulated with Anionic Surfactants that work to remove buildup.
Anionic surfactants are a group of detergents (both sulfate and sulfate-free choices) that work to deep clean and remove build-up. This includes ALL build-up, including silicone buildup. The shampoo will be strong enough to wipe the slate clean so you can properly begin your modified curly girl method journey without damaging your hair as sulfates can.
If you would like more information on the differences between cleansers and shampoos (including the difference between no-poo and low-poo) please click here.
Deep conditioning is vital to the health of your hair. Deep conditioning is a more intensive conditioner than the day-to-day rinse out conditioner. Deep conditioners are designed to penetrate the strands and work to help repair damage and maintain overall health from within. Deep conditioners (especially when heated up) moisturize the hair from within increasing the hair’s elasticity and strength, preventing split ends, breakage, and possible damage from future manipulation. This intensive conditioner varies from rinse-out conditioner because rinse-out conditioners work to seal the cuticle to avoid frizz instead of penetrating to the innermost layer of the hair (known as the cortex) to moisturize and repair damage from within, leading to overall healthier hair.
If you would like more information on the science behind deep conditioning including tips to boost deep conditioning benefits, please click here.
When it comes to styling the minimalist approach is best. Hair needs two things to be on it’s the best behavior; hydration and hold. Hydration quenches frizz and allows hair to clump nicely. When you apply to leave in to soaking wet hair it locks in the moisture of the water in your hair and helps you spread the leave-in more smoothly and evenly throughout the hair, that helps you use less product so you don’t weigh your hair down with product (wavy hair and fine hair cannot afford to overdo it on products, use pea-size amounts at a time to build up). The next step is the gel. A gel is meant to provide hold to the curls. Gel locks in moisture and locks out humidity helping preserve curl definition.
Here is an example of my wash day routine, for you to find what works for you. Please click here.
☆Expert Tip: To speed up drying time gently scrunch excess product and water from hair with a microfiber towel or t-shirt. My suggestion is everyday paper towels from your kitchen. They remove the perfect amount of moisture and product without causing frizz like microfiber towels.
The curly girl method is all about avoiding the damaging heat that has to lead us all to our current state of dead ends and dry hair. To dry your hair your options are naturally air drying, diffusing, plopping, or sitting under a hooded dryer.
Diffusing: is using a hairdryer with a unique bowl-like attachment on low to medium heat. Make sure you alternate between low heat and cold air. The cold air will freeze your curls in the state that they are in.
Air drying: styling your hair as you want it and leaving it alone for a couple of hours to dry naturally as you go on with your day.
☆Expert Tip: Do not touch your hair at all until it is 100% dry or you will cause your hair to frizz.
Hooded Dryer: The same rules still apply for heat! Cool to low heat, sit till your hair is completely dry, and then scrunch the gel cast out with 3-5 drops of oil. Pic and fluff as you desire.
Plopping: Tying a cotton t-shirt around your head in a forward motion gently placing the hair in an accordion-like fashion allows the fabric to absorb some of the moisture from your hair so it can dry faster. Plop your wet hair after you’ve applied your styling products and before you start to dry your hair. It will “accordion” your curls, helping them keep their defined, spiral shape, even after they dry.
☆Expert Tip: Don’t plop for too long or you can run the risk of allowing the shirt to absorb too much moisture from your hair causing frizz. Start out with 10-20 minute intervals until you find the right time frame for your hair.
Scrunch Out the Crunch (SOTC) and Seal Ends:
The most important thing about the curly girl method is making sure once we have packed in that essential moisture that we keep it in! The best way to do that is to use 3-5 drops of oil, massage it in your hands, and gently scrunch away the hard gel cast left after hair dries. Oil on your hands will seal the ends of your hair as you scrunch, sealing in the moisture preventing the ends from drying out and breaking off. This will be extra helpful when it comes to length retention. The oil also helps to separate curl clumps without causing frizz. You can add hairspray and use a pic to fluff as desired.
☆Expert Tip: I put a drop of oil on each fingertip, rub my fingertips together and gently do a scalp massage with my gel cast still intact. This moisturizes the scalp, stimulates blood flow and hair growth, and minimizes frizz you would get from scalp massages normally. After the scalp massage, I add 3 more drops of oil to the palm of my hand, rub my hands together and scrunch the cast away. That tip helps me create volume, minimize frizz, and protect/seal my hair.
For more information on oils, please click here.
For more information on scrunching out the gel cast, please click here.
That is it, my beautiful queens! You have officially started the method.
Please remember these are simply guidelines and tips. The Curly Girl Method is very individualized and all about finding what works for you.
If you find leave-in and gel doesn’t work for you, play around with mousse, spray leave-ins, or curl creams. If your hair is extra dry deep condition twice a week instead of once.
This method is the start of your love affair with your hair. Have realistic expectations, remember it takes time to heal damage and achieve the curl definition you desire. Don’t give up when something doesn’t work out or that halo frizz just won’t go away. Our hair is constantly changing, growing, and healing. Give it time, the right routine, and the right product and watch the surprises your mane has in store for you!