Are you wanting to embark on your curly hair journey, but you're not sure where to start? Learning about the Curly Girl Method (CGM) will help you on your way to embracing your natural, beautiful texture.
The Curly Girl Method, originally created by hairstylist and curl advocate Lorraine Massey, who wrote Curly Girl: The Handbook, is an approach to the care and maintenance of all types of curly hair to enhance the natural beauty of the hair without the use of synthetic or cosmetic enhancements.
The Curly Girl Method involves a four step approach of cleansing, conditioning, styling and drying.
Haircare products are considered Curly Girl Friendly when they are formulated without specific ingredients including sulphates, silicones or drying alcohols.
The Curly Girl Method advocates for a gentle cleaning action of the hair and scalp. This can be done with a sulfate free botanical cleanser known as a ‘no poo’ product.
The unusual formulation of a Curly Girl no poo cleanser is designed to open the hair cuticle to allow cleaning, yet the entire action is carried out without a foaming action. ‘No poo’ means no lather (no bubbles or suds) and these products are neither a shampoo nor a conditioner.
Another way to clean the hair and scalp within the Curly Girl Method is to ‘co-wash’ which means to conditioner wash. This technique requires no shampoo or cleanser to be used at any time, and a Curly Girl approved conditioner is used in place of a shampoo.
The idea is that the gentle cleansing action of the fingertips combined with the nourishing properties of the conditioner will gently remove any dirt and grease from the hair and scalp without any lather, thus minimising the agitation of the hair and possible disruption of the curl. It is important to note that if a Curly Girl chooses to co-wash it is with the upmost importance that the gentle cleansing action is worked through the entire scalp for more than a minute.
The co wash process can’t be undertaken with any variety of conditioner, the formula needs to be Curly Girl approved and capable of performing a light cleansing action whilst conditioning.
This is a technique that involves the gentle squeezing action of the hands when applying water and conditioner to the curls. This particular technique will help push water and product into the hair cuticle.
When the mixture of water and conditioner is squeezed into the hair it ensures that the curl is conditioned and completely hydrated.
Another technique designed to ensure maximum hydration is achieved by utilising a hand motion similar to milking a cow.
Working from roots to ends and back again the hair is worked in sections and the mixture of water and conditioner or treatment is applied. This technique allows each section to penetrate as much water and moisture into the hair as possible helping achieve maximum hydration. This particular technique can be undertaken in a salon and at home on wash day.
The application of styling products such as curl cream and curl gel must be applied with gentle action.
The praying hands technique is where the styling product is distributed across the palms of the hands, and then applied to the hair between both hands when together in a praying motion. This particular technique helps with distributing the product in the hair evenly.
Once the curl gel has been applied to the hair and allowed to dry it will be crunchy and the hair will feel like crispy noodles.
The gel has set around the hair shaft like a cast on a broken arm. This is known as a cast because it feels strong and hard to the touch but can be easily removed.
The cast is an important part to the method as it freezes in all the hydration and moisture from the previous steps in wash day and styling. A good cast will help the Curly Girl get more days out of their wash day.
A method used to gently remove excess water from the hair after it has been washed.
This method is usually completed by wrapping the hair in a cotton t-shirt or muslin wrap and allowing it to gently absorb the excess water from the hair. Simply flip your head upside-down, gather all of your curls, waves or coils at the top of your head and wrap them up to keep the curl pattern intact while your hair dries while wrapped for 5 – 15 minutes.
This heat free technique can help cut down on drying time without causing frizz or heat stress.
Once the curl gel has dried completely and become a crunchy cast, it can be gently scrunched out of the hair with a squeezing action of the hands.
No brushes or combs are to be used. It is advisable to lightly wet the palms of the hands or apply a very light coating of Curly Girl approved curl cream to act as a gentle lubricant between the hands and the curls.
The gentle scrunching action will break the cast, remove any residual crunch and reveal the beautiful soft and bouncy curls. This is the moment the curly girl has been working towards. Naturally beautiful curls that everyone will want to touch!
A technique used to conserve curls at night.
This technique is achieved by creating a high ponytail using a curl friendly scrunchie. The pineapple technique is widely popular due to the limited disruption the curls have while sleeping.
Your curls will need to settle again the following morning after being in a pineapple. For best curl results, take out your pineapple and gently shake your curls. This can be done upside down if desired.
Let your curls rest before applying your refresh techniques.