Curly Girl Method: Steps, Products, Do’s & Don’ts

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Curly Girl Method

For most curly girls, the dream is to have consistent and well-defined curls.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of hair routines and methods have been devised to manage curly hair.

One of these is the “Curly Girl Method

Lets take a look into this method and how you can use it to achieve consistently defined curls.

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What is The Curly Girl Method?

The Curly Girl Method is a hair care approach that discourages damaging hair practices such as the use of products containing harsh ingredients.

This method was developed Lorraine Massey, author of Curly Girl: The Handbook.

The Curly Girl method can be described as a lifestyle customized for curly hair types simplified into three main steps i.e. cleanse, condition and style.

One thing to note is that this method varies based on different hair types therefore it is beneficial to identify your specific hair type and curl pattern.

Curly Girl Method Steps

Here is are 5 steps in the Curly Girl Method:

Step 1: Cleanse

Cleansing using the curly girl method is heavily set on reducing dryness caused by stripping shampoos.

For this reason, a co-wash, which essentially is a cleansing conditioner, is recommended as it is kinder to hair.

When it comes to the washing frequency, this depends on the specific hair type i.e.

  1. Wavy: This can be done once or twice a week with shampoo followed by conditioner after washing hair.
  2. Curly: Wash once or twice per week with water and non-sulfate shampoo and conditioner after.
  3. Coily: Co-wash hair with a cleansing conditioner and wet it every other day.

Use your fingertip to massage the product through your hair and scalp. The friction caused helps to lift buildup cleansing your hair.

Step 2: Condition

For conditioning, Lorraine Massey recommends NOT using silicon and sulfate conditioners that strip hydration from hair.

Here is the technique for conditioning with different curl patterns:

  1. Wavy: Use a rinse-out conditioner briefly. You can opt to leave a bit of conditioner in to boost hydration in hair.
  2. Curly: Use a rinse-out or leave-in conditioner depending on your moisture needs.
  3. Coily: Use a deep conditioner to boost hydration. Take care to rinse completely to remove buildup.

Step 3: Dry and style

For styling, use natural hair gels or curling crèmes to bring out the hair`s natural curl pattern.

Let the hair air dry or use a low-heat diffuser. These techniques varies with different curl patterns as follows:

  1. Wavy: Use a microfiber towel or old t-shirt and scrunch to dry the moisture in the hair. This works to avoid frizz.
  2. Curly: It is recommended to let the hair dry and then fluff its roots while bending your hair.
  3. Coily: Go for low or non-heat styles to reduce heat for instance a low-heat diffuser.

Step 4: Protect

  • Protect the by steering clear of silicon or sulfate hair products, and preferably use natural-based products.
  • Additionally, opt for styling techniques that use little or no heat.
  • Use a silk satin cap or pillowcase to protect your curls when sleeping and to reduce the chance of frizz formation.

Step 5: Refresh

Your curls may need a refresh especially when frizz forms or the curls slowly faze out.

This will take at most 10 minutes and will most likely have more volume and bounce.

To refresh, you will need a spray bottle, diffuser, gel, thick conditioner, and 2 to 3 styling products.

Depending on your hair type, the following routine is needed to revive your hair.

1. Loose curls

  • Create a mixture out of a curly girl-approved conditioner and water and add to the spray bottle.
  • Next, bend hair upside and crunch your hair to help your hair absorb the product.
  • Rub gel between your palms and apply to your hair then scrunch your hair.
  • Lift your roots by raking through your fingers and keep scrunching until you have the desired curl pattern.

Finally, let hair air dry or diffuse on low heat.

2. Tight Curls

  • First, wet your hair then apply a curling crème to your hair while bending it forward.
  • Hold your palms in a prayer position and smooth products over your hair. This works to reduce as much frizz as possible.
  • Scrunch the hair up to add definition and volume to hair.
  • Add a small amount of gel to the hair then scrunch until you attain the desired curl pattern.

3. Dry or Dehydrated curls

  • Moderately wet your hair with water then apply a deep conditioning product on your hair after bending your hair using a scrunching method.
  • Add a small amount of gel to the hair in the same scrunching method.
  • Style your hair as desired then air dry or use a diffuser on low heat.

Curly Girl Method Do’s and Don’ts

The curly girl method has been referred to as the ultimate “hair diet” that works to eliminate product buildup while restoring hydration in hair.

It is mostly a rule of dos and don`ts that are aimed at protecting your hair from damaging practices and nourishing it to its best curly hair form.

Some of these do’s and don`ts include:

  1. Don’t use hair products that contain drying ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate, and non-water soluble silicones.
  2. Use minimal to low heat on hair to avoid dryness.
  3. Do not use combs and brushes to prevent breakage frizz, and tangled curls. You may however consider wide tooth combs which are gentler for hair.
  4. Avoid hair products with harsh fragrances and alcohol ingredients which are also ingredients that dry hair.

How Long Does it Take for the Curly Girl Method to Work?

The time it takes to transition after beginning the curly girl method varies based on several factors such as the hair type, and health condition of your hair. It can range anywhere from the first day to a few weeks.

But on average, the transition period will take 3 to 4 weeks where your hair is still adjusting and may look worse.

Hair experts estimate visible transformations from week 6 and a full transformation after 3 months of using the curly girl method.


In summary, here is the Curly Girl Method easy steps

  1. Cleanse
  2. Condition
  3. Dry and Style
  4. Protect
  5. Refresh

Essentially, the Curly Girl Method aims at:

  • Avoiding dry hair usually caused by harsh cleansing products
  • Maximizing hydration through different hair products
  • Enhancing the hair`s natural curl pattern.

BTW, did you know hair porosity plays a key role in hair growth? Take this simple hair porosity test to determine if your hair is HIGH, LOW or NORMAL porosity.

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