What Is The Curly Girl Method and How to Make It Work For You?

The curly girl method is a hair-care routine that's designed to minimize frizz and maximize curl. Learn the basics of this popular hair-care regimen, as well as how to get started with it.

Well, Hello My Beautiful #RedCarpetCurlsRoyalty,

So, you heard about The Curly Girl Method and now you’re overwhelmed with information and want to quit before you start huh? Or even worse, you just have no idea where to start. No worries, we have all been there. How do you think I ended up creating and running my own Curly Girl Method/ Natural Haircare blog?

In this blog post, I am going to break down the most FAQs regarding the Curly Girl Method to help you uncover all the scientifically proven facts which will help you make the best decision regarding your haircare goals.

So, let’s get started with the basics…

What is the Curly Girl Method?

I like to describe The Curly Girl Method as a set of guidelines or principles to adapt a new haircare routine aimed at repairing and maintaining the overall health of naturally textured hair.

The method focuses primarily on removing harmful and potentially damaging ingredients such as sulfates and silicones, and parabens.

The method also focuses on removing damaging practices such as chemically altering treatments such as a relaxer or utilizing high heat. These practices change and weaken the overall structure of the texture, leading to excessive frizz, split ends, and breakage.

The goal of The Curly Girl Method is to minimize damage to the hair strand, but most importantly, the outermost layer known as the cuticle layer. That is because the cuticle layer contains the tiny scales which raise and lower allowing moisture to penetrate and retain in the hair strands. The more damage this layer has, the less moisture you can hold on to. By removing damaging practices and replacing them with all-natural ingredients and techniques, you can repair the damage, leading to healthier hair over time. Keeping the strands moisturized and protected expediates/encourages new hair growth/length retention.

Why does Naturally Textured Hair Need a Specific Method?

Scientifically Proven Fact: Naturally textured hair is always at a moisture disadvantage.

Why? Simple Science really…

The human body creates its own oil to moisturize the skin. Your scalp is still skin, so it is no different. Your scalp produces its own natural oils to moisturize and protect the hair &scalp, this oil is known as Sebum.

Sebum is considered the ideal conditioner for hair because your body literally creates the oil uniquely to your skin’s needs. The issue is the speed by which the sebum travels down the hair.

Those with straight hair can keep hair moisturized more quickly because there is no obstacle in the way of the sebum to slow down its travel time, leading to the oil spreading its way down to the ends much more quickly. This keeps hair healthy.

Those with Naturally Textured Hair (all hair with some kind of texture; including waves, curls coils, etc.), are not as lucky. Yes, our scalp still produces sebum, but the spiral shape of the texture slows down the travel time of the sebum. Our sebum is meant to travel all the way down the hair strand to the ends of our hair to moisturize and protect it. The longer it takes the sebum to make its way down, the more vulnerable the hair is too drying out becoming brittle, or in worst cases, causing split ends and breakage.

Therefore, naturally textured hair requires a different method focusing more on imparting moisture and reducing damage. By supplementing more moisture, the overall health of hair will improve over time.

This is also why, with a few modifications, the overall method can work for any hair type.

Who invented The Curly Girl Method?

Now here’s where it might get a little tricky for some. While haircare practices like co-washing and variations of the method have been around for many years, The Original Curly Girl Method (as described by Massey) was introduced to mass audiences in 2007 by Former Deva Curl Owner and Stylist, Lorraine Massey.

She is the author of the 2001 guide known as Curly Girl: The Handbook, which has become a staple read within the natural hair community. While the book doesn’t answer all the questions, it’s a launching point when you jump into haircare completely blind, as most of us do.

The book discourages the use of shampoo altogether, instead, replacing drying sulfate shampoos with sulfate-free moisture-based options like co-washing. Over time, as the method began to grow in popularity, many discovered the “original” method and either fell in love or found that it just didn’t work the same way for everyone.

Are there different “versions” of The Curly Girl Method?

Yes.

As I explained before, as Massey’s variation of The Curly Girl Method grew in popularity many people with different hair types began putting the theory of more moisture to the test. But problems arose, leading people to create their own modified versions of the method.

The “Original” or “No-poo” method is all about making the decision to cut shampoo out of your life altogether. Instead of shampooing, you use cleansing conditioners to focus on giving your hair more moisture rather than deep cleaning.

The idea behind co-washing is most conditioners are formulated with gentler cleansing agents (often cationic surfactants/ positively charged), the gentle cleansers focus on lightly cleansing while the moisturizing ingredients in the conditioner deposit another layer of invisible moisture onto the hair strands. The only issue with this is conditioners build-up on the hair strands, therefore, you shouldn’t give up shampoo completely. You should instead, understand the purpose of shampoo, and the different kinds of shampoo available to you.

As a result, many began making alterations to the “original” regimen to find what works for them while honoring the key principles of removing damaging chemical and high heat practices and using products with clean ingredients (meaning no sulfates, silicones, or parabens).

Mainly, what did not work for many people was the practice of exclusively co-washing as their main source of cleansing.

Conditioners deposit moisture into the hair with those flexible invisible barriers, each time you co-wash it adds another layer. For those with fine density hair or looser textures, this can weigh down the hair causing it to feel greasy, weighed down, and cause more frizz. The original method suggests using acidic rinses like apple cider vinegar rinses or lemon rinses to “clarify” the hair of build-up. This doesn’t always work, as acidic rinses need to be measured properly and often can cause more harm than benefit. When utilized correctly acidic rinses are an amazing tool to add shine to the hair, but it should not be your only form of clarification.

The “Modified” Curly Girl Method honors the key principles of the method (No high heat, no sulfates, silicones, or parabens) while bending other rules to find what better works for you.

Let’s use me as an example, shall we?

I follow a “modified” Curly Girl Method routine. This means I incorporate the use of shampoos; I just make sure they are all sulfate-free. I prefer to have a couple of different options for shampoo, one for clarifying and 1-2 others for in-between clarifying washes.

Since I have fine hair, my hair doesn’t react well to strictly co-washing. Therefore, I incorporate shampoos of different strengths.

I also prefer to exclude three other types of ingredients that can be potentially harmful to the hair. Those ingredients are drying alcohols, synthetic waxes, and mineral oil/paraffin.

As for styling tools, I like to use the Scrunch It Brush (discount code: redcarpetcurls) to give me better curl clumps and definition, whereas in the original method you wouldn’t use styling tools.

Modified CGM is all about finding the alternatives that work for your hair since different hair types require different things.

Whenever someone comes to me expressing the desire to start the method, I always recommend going with a modified routine because ALL hair NEEDS to be clarified at least once a month, and most haircare issues come from the cleansing department. Sulfate-free shampoo removes all the hassle and worries from you.

Will The Curly Girl Method Work for Any Hair Type?

Yes.

Just understand the purpose of the Curly Girl Method is not to deliver pristine curls. The overall goal of the method is to minimize damage to the hair strands to restore and maintain the overall health of the hair.

That is why the key principles of the method will work for any hair type. All hair types will get better with consistent use, just remember it will take time to find how much product is right for your hair. By removing harmful practices and supplying hair with all-natural moisture, your hair will thrive regardless of hair type or texture.

Why Didn’t the Curly Girl Method Work for Me?

Often the most common reason people quit the method is because they get overwhelmed with information, product suggestions, and the overall curly community.

This is completely understandable, it’s a whole new world for you to learn. It’s why I created this blog to help you find the right information and products for yourself.

Besides feeling overwhelmed with information many falls into the frustrating pitfall of becoming a product junkie. This is what we call the phase where we just hear or want to begin the method and we begin buying every product we hear of on social media. All the while, we never really understand what is in the products, how they work, or really understand why they purchased the product, to begin with, other than the fact that it was said to be Curly Girl Method approved. The next thing you know you have a bathroom and/or closet overflowing with products you feel don’t work for you.

When it comes to product junkie syndrome, take it from a recovering addict herself, buying a TON of products is NEVER worth it. Reason one is you can’t use all that product in the twelve-month time frame it’s meant to be used (expiration dates matter!) Reason two is by trying so many products at once, you can’t tell how your hair is reacting to anything, if it works for your hair, if it doesn’t, if it’s not working in conjunction with other products you are using.

My best recommendation is when starting the method, take the time to first learn about ingredients and what they do. Examine your hair care goals, get your hair examined by a lab, find support to discuss your hair with like Facebook Group Communities or even experts like me! Once you are ready to make an informed purchase, look for a brand that can offer what you need to start: A sulfate-free clarifying shampoo, a deep conditioner, a rinse-out conditioner, a leave-in, and gel. My favorite recommendation when purchasing products to start your journey is Inahsi Naturals (discount code: redcarpetcurls) or Miche Beauty. I’ve used these products since the beginning of my journey, I adore them, they work for all hair types, and offer every step you need for your routine.

Another common reason for the method not working is the fact that not enough time was given for the process to work. Remember one thing, it’s very easy and quick to damage your hair, but it takes a long time to repair it. That makes you think differently about your haircare choices, doesn’t it? It takes about three months to notice hair growth changes. I started my journey with so much heat damage, my hair was see-through. It took about 6-10 months for my hair to begin curling on its own and being able to hold a curl past day one or two. Not only was my hair repairing, but it takes time to find and master what products and techniques work for your hair. So, don’t expect an overnight success story. Walk into this the same way you would a fitness journey, with realistic expectations, commitment, and knowledge.

Is the Curly Girl Method Safe?

Yes.

When you find all-natural products that work for your hair, your hair will thrive.

The most important thing to remember is your cleansing and conditioning steps.

You need to clarify at least once a month; acidic rinses are not enough. You need to deep condition regularly with a specified deep conditioner. Your scalp health is key to healthy hair, if you keep your scalp clean and moisturized, the method will always be safe.

If you choose the “original” method, you might find more issues with irritation and skin issues due to the conditioner leaving build-up.

When choosing products for your routine, please remember to account for your own allergies.

How Long Does It Take for The Curly Girl Method to Work?

There is no set time frame, all hair takes its own course. Just consider the amount of damage you have when starting the method.

For example, if you expose your hair to a lot of chemicals (relaxers) or high heat practices (straightening hair) it will take longer to repair that damage, versus someone coming in with minimal to no damage.

Since I spent my life straightening my hair every single week, I had a lot of damage and didn’t see a noticeable change in my hair until around months 4-6. After this, my hair began to look, feel, and respond much better until all damage was healed and almost five years later left with the healthiest hair of my life even during medical treatments for my liver! Your hair will show the commitment you give to it, just give it time.

Does The Curly Girl Method Cause Hair Loss?

The original curly girl method is known to cause hair loss because exclusively co-washing doesn’t work.

All hair needs to be clarified once a month to keep the follicles healthy and free from build-up. This is what helps encourage hair growth. When the follicles are blocked with build-up, they can become inflamed and stop active hair growth. The follicles can get so swollen it even causes hair loss.

Therefore, I tell everyone, please do not villainize shampoo, it is a VITAL step to healthy hair, and is what helps keep your hair flowing, while your deep conditioner helps you retain that length by keeping it moisturized.

Can The Curly Girl Method Cause Dandruff?

Once again, if you follow the original curly girl method, meaning strictly co-washing the build-up can lead to excess dandruff.

If you are following a modified routine, remember that dandruff is normal, it can mean the skin is dry or it can be excess dead skin cells.

Try using a scalp brush when you cleanse to help get a good clean and exfoliate the scalp to prevent this. After this, if you see you are still suffering from dandruff, try daily scalp massages with 3-5 drops of oil to spread your natural sebum and the extra oil all around the scalp keeping it moisturized and flake-free.

Pre-poos are also a phenomenal way to add more moisture to the scalp! Try to pre-poo with penetrating oils such as coconut oil, grapeseed oil, babassu oil, etc.

If you need extra moisture, try to pre-poo with aloe vera gel instead! Since aloe vera gel is 98% water your scalp will get all the water it needs while feeding on over 70 nutrients aloe vera gel contains to encourage hair growth and overall hair health.

Is The Curly Girl Method Worth It?

Yes.

Once you commit to caring for your hair, it’s so much more than just hair. Your hair is your crown. Healing and learning about my hair led me to find myself, find my passion/career, and most importantly, find the self-confidence I lacked all my life. I used to hide my body and myself from people. I always felt ugly growing up. Once I started learning why my hair responded the way it did and ways I could help it, my confidence soared. Not only about my looks but my newfound abilities. It all started with googling a simple question, what is the curly girl method. That lead me to find the life and calling I was always meant for.

Any investment you make in yourself is ALWAYS worth it.

Will The Curly Girl Method Work on Straight Hair?

Yes and No. Depending on your expectation.

If you were born with straight hair, the method cannot make you develop a texture you never had. All the method will do is heal any damage and keep hair healthy moving forward.

If you were born with some kind of texture like waves, curls, or coils, and your hair appears straight now from damage, then yes, the method will work to restore the natural texture of your hair.

Will The Curly Girl Method Work on Permed Hair?

The method is designed for naturally textured hair, so permed hair might react a little differently over time. I would think it would be high porosity and suffer from frizz, so the curly girl method can help with definition. Remember this method is about developing healthy habits for long-term health. A perm typically lasts three to six months, so keep in mind these little differences. But during this time the curly girl method will have positive effects on the hair.

How To Start the Curly Girl Method?

Yay! We have finally made it to the exciting part, how to start the method! Since I’ve taken you through so much information, I am going to let you process everything and when you are ready, click here.

That is my full blog post on how to properly start the method to make it effective and effortless over time. Don’t worry I’ve incorporated all the science in there that will explain some of the things we discussed in this article.

That’s about it on the Curly Girl Method everyone! Remember the Curly Girl Method always works when you pair it with Trichology (the science of hair and scalp).

If you found this blog post helpful, then make sure to subscribe to the website (bottom of the home page) so you never miss a new blog post! Thank you so much for your support, and thank you for allowing me to assist you through your Curly Girl Method journey!

 

Queen Monroe

Queen Monroe

Curly Girl Method enthusiast and educator. I have been on my own CGM journey for a bit over three years now. I take a scientific approach to the Curly Girl Method. I believe by learning Trichology (the study of hair and scalp) you can better understand your hair's needs and behaviors. This will help when you need to learn ingredients to read product labels. I research and write each and every article in this site. The information used and referenced on this website come from open access, peer-reviewed journal articles from publications such as the Journal of Cosmetic Science and the International Journal of Trichology.

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About Red Carpet Curls

About Adrienne Monroe and Red Carpet Curls : In this section you’ll get to meet your guide…me! I’ll tell you more about my Curly Girl Method Journey along with all the resources you can expect to find on this website. You will also find out exactly what makes Red Carpet Curls different from any other Curly Girl Method Website.

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