Trying out the Curly Girl method

Growing up, I’ve always had curls. Over the years there have been times where it was more wavy, but in general most people would refer to my hair as curly. When I was very little I had really nice ringlets and random people in church would always compliment me on my hair and saying they wish they had my hair. Little me was always a little confused at this, because those people had curls too – little did I know that they curled their hair.

I personally didn’t always love my curls, but most of the time I did embrace them. And yet… I recently learned that I did not know how to take care of my hair. What I usually did to my hair was just wash it, brush it, and hope for the best. Turns out that is all entirely wrong. At least according to the Curly Girl Method, named after the book “Curly Girl: The Handbook” by Lorraine Massey.  If you want nice, beautiful curls, you apparently have to follow this “Curly Girl Method” (works for curly guys as well, by the way).

So what is the Curly Girl Method? The basics are actually very simple: it means not using sulfates, silicones or alcohol on your hair. You also don’t use heat, don’t brush your hair, and don’t use regular towels. The reason for this is that curly hair is naturally very dry and prone to frizz. Sulfates (which are the main cleansing ingredient in most shampoos) are therefore too drying for curly hair, as are (non-fatty) alcohols. Because you’re no longer using sulfates you will also have to avoid silicones, as these can only be washed out with sulfates. Heat, brushing and using regular towels should be avoided as well because they break your hair which causes more frizz.

Okay, so that is what you can’t do – now what do you do instead? That gets a little more complicated. Generally it contains using at the very least a cleanser, a conditioner and a styling product. Yup, I’m saying “cleanser” here, because not everyone who uses this method uses shampoo. Some “co-wash” – short for “conditioner-only wash”. Then instead of a regular towel you use a microfiber towel or a t-shirt,  instead of blow-drying you either use a diffuser or let it air dry, and instead of brushing your hair, you either finger detangle or use a wide tooth comb – which you only do when your hair is soaking wet with a lot of conditioner in it. In addition, the method often contains stuff like using leave-in conditioner, deep conditioning, “plopping” (drying your hair on top of your head in a t-shirt or microfiber towel), “scrunching” (bringing your hair towards your scalp with your hand and squeeze, which enhances curl definition) and various different ways to apply conditioner. It also contains figuring out stuff like your hair type, hair porosity and hair density to find out which products are more likely to work for you.

When I first encountered this method, it mainly just seemed like a lot of work and not something I’d want to spend time on. But then I saw the results a lot of people were having, and I realised I really wanted the beautiful ringlets back I had when I was a child. So I decided to give it a try and slowly incorporate some principles from the Curly Girl Method into my routine. I’ve already always let my hair air-dry, but I also started using a microfiber towel to “plop” and stopped brushing my hair while dry. Then the actual buying of products began. I started out with a shampoo that still had a mild sulfate, because my scalp gets greasy quite easily and I was afraid going sulfate-free wouldn’t work. But apparently, harsh sulfates strip your hair of its natural oils as well which can cause your hair to overproduce them and get even greasier – so the shampoo has actually made my scalp less greasy, making me able to get away with third day hair if I wanted to. After the shampoo I also bought a silicone-free conditioner, which worked nice. Then one day I decided to leave a bit of the conditioner in as a leave-in… and that is where I really started to see results and decided I need to try out more products that are “Curly Girl”-friendly.

My hair before starting the Curly Girl method and a month after starting it

There is, however, one major downside of the Curly Girl Method – and that is that many products that are CG-friendly and promoted by other users of the method are either 1) really expensive; 2) not available in Europe; 3) both. Yet, there are quite some affordable products out there that are CG-friendly, even when they’re not specifically aimed at curly hair. It’s just hard to find reviews of these products and the process of finding them consists of a lot of trial and error. So I decided to make it a little bit easier for us European (and especially Dutch) curlies: I am going to try and review products that are affordable and available here in the Netherlands. If products are internationally available I will review them in English but I will also try some stuff from my local drugstore, which makes more sense to review in Dutch.

I’ve already tried a couple of products of which reviews are coming soon, so stay tuned for that! If you’re interested in trying the Curly Girl method but it all seems a little overwhelming: join the club. I also have a post up about steps that helped make it easier for me to start the method.

3 thoughts on “Trying out the Curly Girl method

  1. I read your twitter profile and was intrigued to find that you are bad at social media. I am probably worse than you, I keep mixing up my passwords and then run to my kids with an SOS.
    I looked through a couple of your posts and really liked your light hearted style.
    Looking forward to reading more of your work.


  2. Great post. I’m really intrigued after reading it and think I’m going to look into these products. My poor hair became super fragile, due to meds and no longer really looks the same. So as it slooowly grows back, I’m trying to take even better care of it.
    I hated my curly hair for years, now I miss it awful. LOL. Isn’t that always the way? Thanks for the post!! ~Stacey


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