Simply put…I don’t follow all the hard rules for the curly girl method. That’s my main shortcut. I do what I have found works for me and sometimes I start all over, products get “improved” or discontinued, or my hair just says, “enough of that now!”
When Lorraine Massey first wrote her book Curly Girl: The Handbook back in 2002 I was absolutely stoked to find it in the bookstore. I grabbed two copies, even, because I knew right away that I would be sharing with other Curly Sisters. In addition, I purchased the revision. Then I got her latest book, Silver Hair: Say Goodbye to the Dye and Let Your Natural Light Shine: A Handbook, as soon as it came out.
I tried all the DevaCurl products when they came out, and much to my dismay not a single one of them worked for me. I ended up with straight hair. However, through lots of product purchases and trial and error and a ton of product returns. At one point, I had a spreadsheet of all the brands I had tried and why I loved them or hated them. It included things like smell, texture, price and if it made me itch or not. I figured out some things on this journey that I tell any Curly Girl (CG) when she asks me what to do for the CG Method.
First things first, your hair is like a fingerprint no two heads are the same. Texture, density, porosity, moisture retention, coil, wave, dyed, undyed, humidity, even pregnancy and menopause, it all matters it all changes the equation. Speaking of equation that is exactly how you need to treat it…your own personal equation.
Cleanse + Condition + Detangle + Leave-in + Drying Method + Hold = Your Perfect Curl
These are my top Curly Girl must do’s. The rest depends on what works for you.
- Find your shampoo and conditioner that work for you 80% of the time. Why do I say 80%, because 20% of the time you need clarifying products.
- Never wash your hair every day. I wash three times a week, if that. If you need a refresh, rinse your hair thoroughly and go from the condition point of your equation.
- Never use a brush. Throw it out and only detangle with a wide toothcomb in the shower with conditioner in your hair.
- Never use a terrycloth towel, microfiber or t-shirt towels only.
- Never rough up or scrub your hair with a towel. Pat or scrunch dry. Air dry when possible after sopping up most of the water. If you air dry from sopping wet hair it stretches the curl and causes breakage, so always air dry once your hair is slightly damp.
- Or learn to plop. I don’t have much luck with this mostly because I’m always in a hurry. LOL
- If you must blow dry, blow dry on low to medium heat with a diffuser.
- Sulfate and silicone free products are the best for curls. Sulfates are always a NO! But not all silicones are created equal some are water soluble which means they don’t bind to the hair and wash out each shampoo. (PEG prefaced Dimethicones are the safest –cones.) (Dimethicone by itself is one of the worst so remember the difference because it is the most popular in most brands.) If you already have silicone buildup you can remove it with an equal part baking soda and clarifying shampoo mix treatment…just make sure you deep condition after.
- Watch for alcohol content, alcohol dries your hair.
- Read up on what your hair is lacking moisture or protein, and vice versa, read up on what you have too much of. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
- KNOW YOUR HAIR TYPE. You need to know what curl pattern you have, if you have dry curls, if you have high porosity or low porosity.* Porosity is very important to silver sisters it means the difference between what your hair absorbs or not and if products will yellow your hair.
- Applying product is as important as the product itself. I like scrunching in my leave-in and styler, usually in the shower with wet hair. Praying hands method works great as well.
- Sleep is important, if you have long hair get Satin Scrunchies and learn to pineapple your hair. Get a silk or satin pillowcase. I have been through my share of these and so far my all-time favorite 100% Silk Pillowcase made by Amazon, it has a zipper and stays in place.
- Finally, if you need to wear ponytails, ditch the elastics, rubber bands and any hair tie with metal on it. I have used these seamless ponytail holders for decades and love them. If you cannot find them, you can make them out of baby tights, which I have done when stores go through weird phases of not selling them.
Tried and true things you need to know for curls:
- The towel and the comb were the biggest helpers for my hair…Stopped the frizz.
- About the towel, get the kind that doesn’t have loops and isn’t the turban style that sucker will drive you nuts.
- Think of each curl clump as a family. That family needs to stick together, that is why you need a wide-tooth comb, you never rough up your hair with a towel, or blow-dry without a diffuser.
- If you need to print this list of Curly Girl approved ingredients take it with you when you go product shopping. You might need a magnifying glass too (I use the one on my iPhone); these labels are getting smaller and smaller print every time. I won’t get started on that though.
*Porosity: The Float Test
- Fill a glass or bowl with room temperature water.
- Take a couple strands of your clean hair and put them in the water. Clean hair is important. If you have oils or products on your hair, it will alter your results.
- Watch it for 2-4 minutes. If your hair sinks immediately, it has high porosity. If your hair floats for a while, it is low-porosity hair and if it sinks midway but not all the way to the bottom it is moderate-porosity hair.
A few of my favorite Curly Girl things:
The Aquis microfiber towel is hands down my favorite towel. I have purchased at least 10 of them over the years.
You know it is time to replace when it gets stiff and less absorbent.
A great alternative that I just found is the t-shirt towel. Fair warning it is HUGE. It was made for a lot of hair.
My favorite wide-tooth comb is great for travel too. I like the fine-tooth side for getting fairy-knots out.
I keep one of the small versions of these wide-tooth combs on my bathroom vanity for combing in product to get bigger curl clumps.
And if you prefer a wide-tooth comb with a handle, this version is perfect for detangling in the shower.
I saved the best for last, Acure Curiously Clarifying Lemongrass Shampoo & Conditioner. I really should get stock in Acure for as often as I recommend this product. I absolutely love this for clarifying. I use it about every 10 days and once a month with the QuickSilverHair Clay.
Final note: please don’t shoot me, I have been playing with the CG Method for over 15 years, I have had to find what worked for me. Some of what I try is completely not CG Method approved. It was originally a METHOD, not a LAW. So go easy on yourself too, not everything works for everyone.
Yes, I did!!!