Curly Girl is a combination of techniques to follow when looking after curly hair. Have you ever wanted to have soft, healthy hair and maybe even embrace your natural curl pattern or waves? Then this is the guide for you, the Curly Girl Method Quick Start Guide with where to start and tips for beginners. In this step-by-step guide to looking after curly hair, we will at the techniques, curly hair types and which hair products you should use as a starting point.
I started on my curly girl journey four years ago, before I had dry hair that was breaking and frizzy. After researching curly girl, wash techniques, drying techniques and approved products, I haven’t looked back and developed a hair care routine. These are the secrets to the Curly Girl method, a process and method of nurturing and protecting your hair to achieve its best potential.
Looking after your curls and learning how to style them can in turn enhance your hair’s natural curl. If you have curly or wavy hair, or even if you think you have curly hair, you can try these curl styling tips to boost your curls and remove your frizz. Here we will discover everything you need to know about styling and treating curly hair as well as building a curly hair routine that banishes frizzy hair.
It can be mind-boggling to start with, so here is my beginner’s guide and Curly Girl Method Quick Start Guide in the UK from a professional hairdresser and curly girl herself.
Learn How to do the Curly Girl Method by trying this Curly Girl Method Quick Start Guide in the UK.
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What is the curly girl method?
The Curly girl method is a technique and structuring ideas on how to get your hair in the best condition possible and then learn how to maintain and manage your curls. The Curly Girl method started out with expert Lorraine Masseys book The Curly Girl Handbook, a guide to Curly hair. The hairstylist Lorraine Massey having had curly hair her whole life wanted to embrace her curls and teach others how to manage them. Read on for advice on top tips for starting your curl journey right now. The whole idea behind the curly girl method is to remove harsh products and other elements that damage your hair. Your hair in good condition with a mixture of protein and moisture will curl better.
I have always looked after my hair and clarified my hair often to remove the silicones, but the improvement in condition, since I started the CG method has been amazing. In just a few weeks I have achieved bouncy curls. Curls that last days and my hair feels in the best condition it ever has.
What is the curly girl method? Curly Girl Method Quick Start Guide in the UK
You can start to follow the Curly Girl method by doing these things;
- cutting out all harsh chemicals such as Sulphates and drying alcohols.
- Stopping the use of products that contain Silicones and waxes. These coat your hair, weigh it down and prevent moisture from entering your hair.
- Washing your hair by means of co-washing, which means washing with only conditioner, or use a Lo-poo ( sulphate and silicone-free shampoo )
- No heat, or styling that will dry or damage your hair
- Avoid brushes
- Have curls cut dry by a curl-by-curl cut
- Use specific products for naturally curly hair
When following the Curly Girl Method, it’s important to identify your hair type to understand better its unique needs and how to care for it properly. Here are some steps to help you determine your hair type:
- Wash your hair: Start by washing your hair with a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser to remove any product buildup or residue.
- Allow your hair to air dry: Avoid using any styling products or heat tools after washing and let your hair air dry naturally. This will give you a true representation of your hair’s natural texture.
- Observe your hair’s natural pattern: Once your hair is dry, observe how your hair naturally falls and the shape it takes. Look closely at the curls or waves that form.
- Compare your hair to curl patterns: Familiarize yourself with the different curl patterns to determine which one closely resembles your hair. Hair types are commonly categorized as follows:
- Type 2: Wavy hair that forms loose, beach-like waves (2A, 2B, 2C).
- Type 3: Curly hair with well-defined curls that range from loose to tight (3A, 3B, 3C).
- Type 4: Coily or kinky hair that forms tight curls or coils (4A, 4B, 4C).
- Assess your hair’s characteristics: Along with the curl pattern, consider other characteristics of your hair, such as thickness, porosity, and density. These factors will help you tailor your hair care routine further.
- Thickness: Determine if your hair is fine, medium, or thick. Fine hair strands are usually delicate, while thick strands are more robust.
- Porosity: Assess how easily your hair absorbs and retains moisture. Low-porosity hair tends to repel moisture, while high-porosity hair absorbs it quickly but loses it fast.
- Density: Evaluate how closely your hair strands are packed together. If you can see a lot of scalp, you may have low density, while a fuller appearance indicates higher density.
- Seek professional advice if needed: If you’re still unsure about your hair type or need further guidance, consider consulting a hair care professional specialising in curly hair. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your hair’s specific characteristics.
Remember that hair can have multiple characteristics and may vary in different sections of your head. Understanding your hair type will help you choose the right products, techniques, and styling methods to embrace your natural curls and achieve healthy, beautiful hair with the Curly Girl Method.
Steps and methods to promoting curls and easy UK products to find
Curls need moisture to retain their curl. The better condition your hair is the better your hair will curl. The way to keep your curls bouncy is to get your hair into the best condition you can and then lock the moisture into your hair by various methods.
Here we will look at these steps to the curly girl method;
- Final Washing
- Deep conditioning masks
- Building a wash routine
- Clarifying your hair and removing build-up
- Clumping curls together
- Plopping Hair before drying
- Choosing styling products
- Styling techniques
- Drying and diffusing your hair
- Creating a cast
- Learn about transition time when doing the curly girl method
What is the final wash?
Do one last wash with a final wash shampoo such as baby shampoo. You need a silicone-free shampoo but a shampoo that contains sulphate to cleanse any silicone left on the hair. Once you have done your final wash, you will start with a routine of Co-washing ( washing with conditioner) and Lo poo ( sulphate and silicone-free shampoo) washing instead.
The final wash is not stated in the Curly Girl Handbook If you want to religiously follow Lorraine Massey’s book you can leave this out. In my opinion, it will ensure hair is completely on a clean slate by removing any access built on the surface just like a clarifying shampoo would do. For instance, if you have build up you will need to try removing this. For more advanced information on build-up removal read my post on Clarifying here.
Johnson’s new packaged baby shampoo is now CG-friendly and is considered a LO-poo Shampoo now.
Take a look at my 25 curly girl hair hacks here!
Deep Condition and repairing hair
After your final wash, you should restore your hair with a silicone-free deep conditioner. This should be done once a week on damp hair. Wrap your hair in a plastic bag or cap and then cover it with a towel to keep in the warmth. leave for 10 to 30 minutes or even an hour before rinsing. After this, you can apply a normal silicone-free conditioner as well and comb through to remove to detangle.
Build a routine with your hair by Co-washing it with conditioner, Lo poo and Clarifying.
Your Curly Girl routine will be made up of a mixture of washing with conditioner (co-washing) using a Lo poo shampoo ( chemical free ) and an occasional clarifying shampoo.
When you are in the shower, wash your hair with conditioner as you would a shampoo. Massaging the conditioner into your hair and scalp to remove residue. Do this a few times to remove any dirt particles and cleanse your hair. This is the time to comb through your curls while they are wet and slippery and coated in conditioner.
You may not want to co-wash every time as this does not suit everyone. Too much conditioner can also weigh the hair down and certain ingredients can still build up. Instead, use a Lo poo shampoo in between and be guided by how your hair feels.
lo poo is a shampoo or “low poo” which means a sulfate-free shampoo that still contains cleansing ingredients (called “surfactants”). This is not strictly CG either, but over time I have made some changes to my curly girl routine that have worked!
Do I wash, lo poo or co-wash each time using the curly girl method?
How do you know when to lo poo, co-wash or even just refresh? If your hair is;
- Thick and greasy weighed down? clarify it
- Needs regular routine was Co wash with conditioner.
- Not feeling fresh try a general wash with Lo poo.
- Needs moisture feels dry? Deep condition
How to clarify your hair and remove buildup
Clarifying your hair with a non-silicone shampoo in-between washes can help make your hair feel light again. If you may find that your hair starts to feel heavy with conditioner or in fact dry you must clarify it. I am using a chelating shampoo which removes hard water build-up and build-up from natural oils. If you want a curly girl approved Clarifying shampoo, you need one with these ingredients;
- sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate or
- sodium lauroyl sarcosinate
Products with these ingredients are not a lo-poo shampoo but more of a gentle cleanser. These are not a sulphate and are used to help remove impurities and build-up. Do this maybe every 3 to 4 weeks or when you feel it needs it. Noughty does a detox shampoo which does just this.
I am using one from the US right now Kinky Curly Come Clean chelating shampoo or you could try this one from savers such as the KHC banana shampoo.
For clarification if you wish you can use a shampoo with no silicone but one that still has sodium laurel sulphate; this is not a strict curly girl rule and bear in mind it can dry your hair. This can however work for many wavy hair people making it feel light again. Remember to do a deep condition after though!
Do I use Conditioner and or leave-in conditioner when doing the curly girl method?
After washing your hair, you need to leave some moisture in your hair by using a leave-in conditioner. This is a very important step and the best way to make your curls spring into life. Alternatively at this step, you could opt for a curl cream. For lighter thinner hair choose products that are not heavy. These normally contain ingredients such as shea butter.
Gently squeeze out access water but not too much; you want your hair to be wet to lock the moisture in. With your head upside down, apply a generous amount of a suitable leave-in conditioner so that you can see it and gently brush through. Again brushing is not to be done in the strict main curly girl method. Use fingers to detangle or a comb instead.
How to Brush hair to clump curls together
The idea of brushing through when really wet is to get all of your hair to stick together and then slowly separate into larger clumps. Many curly girls now use this method. This achieves a larger curl rather than lots of separate stringy curls. You need to use a brush with close-together bristles such as a Wet brush or a Denman brush.
Once you have done this with your head still upside down, gently scrunch the leave-in conditioner in. You will notice your curls start to clump together again. Then plop in a towel for 10 minutes.
What is plopping your hair?
Plopping is a method used to promote a natural curl pattern and remove some dampness.
Using a micro fibre towel or a t-shirt, position your hair wet upside down and gently wrap. Let your curls sit in the towel gently and wrap the towel around before putting your head upright again. Let this sit on top of your head for about 5 minutes before drying. Do not use a harsh fluffy towel that will disturb your curl or cause frizz.
Plopping your hair for 5 to 10 minutes in generally enough. Plopping for 30 minutes is ok but apply the gel after plopping on this occasion. Alternatively, Plopping may not work for you so you can also gently scrunch out access water with an old t-shirt or microfibre towel.
How to plop curls with a T-shirt
When doing the curly girl method, you can plop your hair with a cotton T-shirt. Fold the t-shirt down to make it a bit shorter and lower your head into the shirt. Wrap the straight end around your head then bring up the sleeves to tie it up. You can see how to plop with a t-shirt in this video below.
What styling products do I need for the curly girl method?
You can start with either a mousse or a gel to keep it simple. There are lots of products you can use such as;
- Curl Cream
- Curl custard
Each product will be different and work in different ways. A gel, custard, hairspray or a mousse will create hold. Curl creams act like conditioners and smoothers.
There are two ways of adding styling products to your hair before you plop your hair or after. I would not advise leaving your hair wrapped up for too long if putting the product on first. Try both ways to see which way works best for you.
After plopping remove your hair from the towel and get ready to add styling product still with your head upside down. You can use Mousse, gel, or curling custard to add definition to your hair. There are even cg hair sprays on the market now which are curly girl friendly. You can even make your own curly girl hairspray too!
Apply the gel with either your head upside down or upright to arrange where your parting is first. I have found applying my gel upright leaves the top section and parting with a better curl formation; again this is trial and error and everyone will be different.
Styling techniques for the curly girl method
Squish to condish
Squish to condish is using the scrunching method of squeezing in conditioner and promoting a curl.
Use these techniques when styling your hair and doing the curly girl method. Remove the towel and gently swipe gel or curling custard over your hair using praying hands. Praying hands means keeping your palms flat and gently going over the hair’s surface to distribute product. Scrunch this in and get ready to diffuse. You can layer different gels or use one or two products together.
Drying your hair and how to diffuse.
One of the best ways to dry your curls is to let them dry naturally; this is healthy and non-drying. This is however not practical for everyone and for some with hair that is not as curly it may not work as well.
Try both leaving your hair to dry and diffusing and see what works for you. For wavy girls diffusing can help create a bigger curl with more volume.
Diffusing works better for me. Also, I use a diffuser to dry my hair promoting its natural wave and lift it from the root. Thick wavy hair can need some support whilst drying and diffusing on a low speed and low heat can help.
Keep the diffuser close to your head and do not touch the hair. Let your hair sit in the diffuser cup and slowly dry. This can be a long process and my hair and can take up to an hour to dry. In fact, I am typing this while I am in the drying process. It is worth taking the time to dry slowly as my hair can stay perfectly curled for days. This process is called pixie drying.
For extra root lift, you can clip up your roots with small metal hair clips while it dries.
You can dry your curly hair until at least 80% dry then leave it to air dry.
How to create a cast when doing the CGM method
Crunchy is good! After your hair is 100% dry, it should appear crunchy. This means you have held your curl and locked in some moisture. This is called a cast, and I have found this is the most important component of creating a frizz-free curl.
When your hair is 100% dry, you can scrunch out this crunch with your hands by gently squeezing the hair and scrunching out the crunch. You can also use a t-shirt to scrunch with to stop any fries. Gently take your hands through the roots of your hair and shake to soften the look. You will be left with soft curls or waves.
If you feel your hair never gets a cast, there may be reason for it. Read my post on How to get a curl cast to find out the reasons why you can’t get a gel cast.
If you are not keen on a cast ( crunchy hair ), alternatively you could try a cream such as the Noughty Wave Hello taming cream.
Trial and error with maintaining your routine and transitioning.
Everybody’s hair is different and it will be trial and error a lot of the time. Wavy hair with get greasier quicker and may find product heavy. Very curly hair will need more moisture to tame it. If your hair has a low porosity (shiny, greasy, smooth ) with closed cuticles, it may need less conditioner. Therefore high porosity hair ( coloured, damaged or dry) may need more conditioner to absorb into the cuticle.
It can take a long time for your hair to adjust and transition. Your hair overtime has become used to silicone and sulphates drying the hair. So in turn your scalp had been producing more sebum to make up for this. Now you are not drying your hair out with harsh products your scalp will need time to adjust. Hence why you may find your hair slightly greasy when you first start; combat this by using a lo-poo shampoo more than a co-wash conditioner whilst it transitions.
Trying a rice water rinse
Curly hair needs protein and moisture to maintain a good structure. Rice water is known to strengthen hair from within flatten the cubicle and promote hair growth. With regular rice water treatments, you can enhance the condition of your hair. Check out my post on how to do a rice water rinse when you have curly or wavy hair.
Where to buy products curly girl method products in the UK?
Where can I buy curly girl products in the UK? As part of my Curly Girl Method Quick Start Guide in the UK, I have listed in the above photos products that can be found in UK supermarkets and drugstores like Boots and Superdrug. There are also some websites and new brands that are cropping up in the UK. I am always excited to try new products as I go along. Take a look at these products and websites for more help.
Here is some of my favourite products that I purchase from Amazon; always check as prices can fluctuate. You can sometimes buy some of these in Superdrug or Boots.
For more Curly Girl-approved leave-in conditioners see here.
More Curly Girl reading
Curly girl product reviews for further reading
Naturalistic Products stock a wide range of Curly girl approved methods not available in the UK.
Curly Girl method products in Savers
Noughty range of curly girl products which are 97% natural.
Cantu Review here these products are all available in the UK.
Only Curls a London-based company whose mission is to ditch the chemicals and help people have healthy hair and embrace their curls.
Naturalistic Products stock a wide range of Curly girl approved methods not available in the UK.
Kiyo Beauty is another website which are in the Uk ( funny enough just down the road from me ) they ship in the Uk. Many of the harder-to-find products can also be found on Look Fantastic.
An easy way to check your curl product ingredients!
Always check your ingredients are chemical-free first! you can check by popping your ingredients into this handy tool on the Curlsbot website.
Take a look at what my friend Sarahs favourite Curly Girl products are in the UK here.
Your hair will love you even if you are curly or not!
I hope this Curly Girl Method Quick Start Guide in the UK has helped you. Stick with it and take pictures as your hair will change over time and improve.
Please note these may not be all strictly the original curly girl methods (i.e. I use a hairdryer) but they work for my thick wavy hair. Remember the CGM Method is trial and error and what works for some people does not work for all. Experiment with different applications, products and ideas.
All reviews and opinions are my own. This page does contain some Amazon affiliate links. These are at no extra cost to yourself unless of course you can find them cheaper elsewhere.
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