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8 Takeaways From The Curly Girl Method

by | Aug 23, 2020 | Beauty

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It took me forever to accept that I had curly hair. I hated my hair texture growing up, but when I got older and learned how to style it, I love my curls. After following sage advice from my hairdresser over the years and reading Curly Girl: The Handbook, my curls have never been healthier! While I don’t follow the curly girl method to a “t”, here’s what I do follow that you can follow too, even if you don’t have curly hair.

Know your hair type

Not all curly hair products are the same. Curly hair can be described as having waves, curls, coils, etc. I have a mix of 2c/3a curly hair, so I have a mix of waves and spiral curls depending on how my hair decides to style on a given day. This great quiz from Naturally Curly helped determine not only your hair type but also your hair texture, hair porosity, and thickness. The more you know about your hair, the better you’ll be able to take care of it.

Not washing your hair every day

When I first embraced my curly hair, I was using shampoo and conditioner every day. It turns out, I was damaging my hair further by washing it every day because I wasn’t letting my curls do their thing. Your scalp was not meant to be washed with shampoo every day. Now, I wash my hair on average every 2-3 days, usually by co-washing (see below). Over time, you will know what your scalp needs.

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Suave Essentials Tropical Coconut Conditioner (via Suave Product Website)

Co-washing

Going back to washing my hair, my secret is co-washing. Co-washing is using a sulfate-free/silicone-free conditioner to act as both shampoo and conditioner. I like co-washing because it helps break up any leftover product in my hair without it being too harsh. Suave’s Essential Conditioner line is popular not only for how effective it is, but also for being cost-efficient. It usually takes me 8-10 months to go through a 30 oz., so it lasts long and it’s affordable!

 

Looking at ingredients

One of the biggest steps in the Curly Girl Method is making sure your products are #curlygirlapproved. This means the products you use do not contain sulfates, parabens, or silicones. Why are these ingredients bad? See below:

Sulfates

Sulfates strip the scalp of natural oils. These oils are necessary to protect your hair and scalp. Not only are sulfates detrimental to your hair’s health, but they also damage the environment. Look for the following terms in the ingredients list to see if a product is sulfate-free:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate

When in doubt, be cautious of an ingredient that ends with “sulfate”.

Silicones

Silicones are actually meant to repel water and aren’t biodegradable. They prevent the hair from absorbing moisture properly. In addition, silicones can weigh down your curls and can prevent their natural shape from forming. Look for the following terms in the ingredients list to see if a product is silicone-free:

  • Dimethicone
  • Dimethiconol
  • Amodimethicone
  • Cyclopentasiloxane

When in doubt, be cautious of an ingredient that ends with “cone”, “conol”, “xane”, “col”, or “cane”.

Parabens

Parabens are used to prevent the growth of bacteria, most commonly used in makeup. There’s been recent controversy whether or not parabens are actually safe, but most curl-friendly products no longer contain parabens. Look for the following terms in the ingredients list to see if a product is paraben-free:

  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Butylparaben

If you’re not able to find a product you like that doesn’t contain sulfates, silicones or parabens, look at the ingredients and see what number they fall on the list of ingredients. If a sulfate, silicone or paraben is listed further down the list and not included in the first five ingredients, it’s okay to use. Just make sure the product doesn’t list a sulfate, silicone, or paraben as one of the top ingredients. Even if a label says “for curly hair” or “free of sulfates/silicones/parabens”, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s curly girl approved.

Protecting your hair while you sleep

Your hair is most vulnerable to breakage and frizz at night while you’re sleeping. You want to protect your curls as much as you can before you go to sleep so your beauty sleep does not ruin your hair! The best tips I can give you is a) don’t sleep with your hair wet and b) don’t sleep with your hair down. I use the pineapple method to plop my curls on my head so they’re not where I lay my head on my pillow. In addition, I also have a silk scarf I can use to wrap my head to protect my hair. You should also be mindful of the surface you’re sleeping on; I use a silk pillowcase to help prevent acne and protect my hair while I sleep.

Be mindful of the surfaces that touch your hair

As mentioned above, it’s important to protect your hair not only while you sleep, but also while it dries. I used to use a bath towel whenever I was drying my hair after I showered, but the texture of the towel was too rough on my hair. Most bath towels are made of cotton, which can dry out hair and cause more friction/frizz. To dry my hair, I use the following two options: a microfiber towel wrap and the plopping method. Microfiber is gentler on the hair so it won’t cause friction/frizz like a cotton towel. YouTube personality Penny Tovar has a wonderful video tutorial on plopping hair:

Not brushing my hair

The biggest takeaway was learning about what a brush can do curl patterns. By brushing your hair, especially dry, you’re breaking the pattern of the curl and encouraging frizz. If you have tangles in your hair, the method recommends you try to get them out using a wide-tooth comb while your hair is wet. If your hair is not detangling while wet, you can also use some conditioner to help break the tangle.

Limit the use of heat

I used to straighten my hair every other week before I embraced my curls. Then, it dwindled down to once a month, and eventually, maybe once or twice a year. Not only can heat make your hair dry, but it can cause damage to your hair that may not be reversible. This includes the use of a hairdryer. The method suggests you use little to no heat and let your curls air dry, but if you need to dry your hair fast, you can use a diffuser attachment with a hairdryer set to low/medium heat.

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19 Comments

  1. Ana

    Great information. Curls can be beautiful as long as you take care of them. I have wavy hair and it took me forever to embrace not brushing my hair. I made it so frizzy! Thanks for sharing these helpful tips.

    Reply
  2. Tracy

    I’ve always wanted to try this method but I have trouble being so strict as I like to change up my look! Maybe I’ll eventually try it out!

    Tracy
    Find Your Dazzle

    Reply
  3. Megan Griffith

    Thanks for sharing! My hair is wavy…if I take care of it right. If not, it’s straight as a line. Maybe some of these tips can help me keep my cute curls!

    Reply
  4. poliarchivist

    Definitely need to share this with my curly hair friends!

    Reply
  5. Karin

    I love and agree with these takeaways too. I don’t think that I could make the curly girl method a lifestyle change- but some of the aspects will definitely improve my hair!

    Reply
  6. Catherine

    As someone who has hair that’s straight as a board this was a super interesting read! Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Nicole

    I don’t have curly hair (only a little wavy), but a lot of these tips are really great and work for a lot of hair types. I’m going to go take that quiz now, though! I’m excited to learn more about my hair type 🙂

    Reply
  8. Tanya

    Amazing tips! Not washing my hair every day and limiting heat made a huge difference to the health of my hair. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  9. Puja

    Wow, thanks for these tips. One of friends has curly hairs, she always gets irritated with various hair issues . I’ll share this post with her…hope this will be helpful for her.

    Reply
  10. Hallie

    I love this!! I started implementing different parts of the curly girl method and it has changed my hair so much!!

    Reply
  11. Vibe Inspire

    I have wavy hair which ends as spirals. Thanks for the surfaces tip. Never knew that. Also braiding your hair while going to sleep helps too!!

    Reply
  12. Bren

    I love this! Thank you so much for all the tips!! I have curly hair that drives me crazy.. I am so tired of trying to straighten it. I am going to try these asap. Such a great Post!!

    Reply
  13. Stephanie

    I also have curly hair and took forever to accept it. I’ve been wanting to try the curly method so this has inspired me to get going! When co-washing, do you only use the conditioner? Or do you use that on top of shampoo/conditioner combo?

    Reply
  14. Nishtha

    I love curling hair, they look so good! Thanks for sharing your tips. I especially like taking care of hair while sleeping, never thought of that

    Reply
  15. Sas

    While I don’t follow the curly girl method perfectly anymore for my wavy hair, I have definitely learned how to take better care of it and understand my own hair better! Love this write up 🙂

    Reply
  16. Megan

    I’ve been following the CGM for around 2 nearly 3 years now and I’ve loved what it’s done for my hair! Co-washing isn’t something I can do though unfortunately as it makes my hair lose all it’s definition 😩✨

    Reply
  17. Jaclyn

    Thank you! I have recently gone back to embracing my natural curls so this is very helpful!

    Reply
  18. Alexa | The Alexandra Blog

    Your hair is absolutely beautiful! I don’t have curly hair, but my cousin has and she follows all of the tips you’ve given and they certainly work wonders for her! Thank you for sharing this! 🙂

    Reply
  19. Emily

    As a person with curly hair, all of these curly hair hacks are definitely relatable! I use all of them and they are definitely very helpful especially not washing my hair every day and wearing it up to bed.

    Reply

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Jenn & Tonic

Lifestyle blogger and digital marketer based in Wisconsin. Michigander at heart. I'm here to provide my take on life through my blog. Fueled by chardonnay, cast recordings and chocolate.