It has been over two and a half years since I started using the Curly Girl Method to take care of my hair. While I never followed the rules very strictly, just taking a lot of the principles and applying them to my hair has definitely changed my hair for the better. It is healthier, less frizzy, and my curls are more defined.
That being said, it has also brought me a lot of frustration throughout the years. Sometimes I spend a lot of time on my hair, only to have it look exactly the same as before I started using the method. It may feel like you are doing something wrong when your hair does not look the same as all those YouTubers or Curly Girl bloggers. But it’s not necessarily you – it may be the method. So here are 5 things I wish I knew before starting the Curly Girl Method.
1. It takes time
I often see people in Curly Girl Method groups asking why they are barely seeing improvement after one month of using the method. And that is because it takes time! Especially when your hair is damaged, it is going to take a while before it gets its curl back. For some people, it might take months or even years before they finally have the results they dreamed of.
Secondly, it might take a while before you find out what your hair properties are, such as your curl type, porosity and density, and what products and application techniques work for you. Figuring this out is not always easy, and you might need to experiment a lot with different products and techniques before you find something that sticks.
2. Your hair won’t be perfect
Even when you have been using the method for a while, your hair is still not going to be perfect. You are still going to have bad hair days. Some hair types will have frizz no matter what, and your curls will not always be as defined as you know they can be – I know both are certainly the case for me.
And sometimes, even if you have figured it out, products that used to work well for you hair suddenly won’t work anymore and you have to try out and experiment with different products and techniques all over again. Using the Curly Girl Method is not a guarantee for constant perfect curls, or perfect curls at all.
3. It’s not ‘one size fits all’
While following the Curly Girl Method strictly may be a good starting point for people who are just starting out, the same routine doesn’t work for every hair type. Taking good care of your curls is about more than which ingredients you do not use, it is also about which ingredients and products you do use. You will need to figure out how much hydration your hair needs, how much protein your hair needs, whether your hair does well on co-washes or whether it is better to stick to a shampoo, and whether you need heavier or lighter products. This all depends on your hair properties.
And even the ingredients you are supposed to skip can have some good properties as well. For instance, a sulfate shampoo is really effective to get rid of product build-up – as not only silicones and waxes can build-up in your hair over time, but oils and butters can too. Especially wavy and fine hair can benefit from washing with a sulfate shampoo every once in a while.
4. You don’t need to buy every product
When your first start getting in to the Curly Girl Method, you may feel like you need to buy all the products: a sulfate-free shampoo, a co-wash, a conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, a mask, a mousse, a gel, a refreshing spray… and the list goes on and on. But you really do not need all these different products, and you definitely don’t need to change your entire hair routine at once.
The best thing to do is to start simple. Get either a sulfate-free shampoo or a co-wash, a conditioner and one styling product such as a cream or gel and see what it does for your hair. From there, you can slowly start to figure out your hair a little bit better and add in products that are more tailored to your specific needs. If you need some more pointers to start here, also check out my post Easy ways to start the Curly Girl Method!
5. It’s okay to break the rules!
Lastly: it is okay to not follow the method very strictly and break the rules! As I mentioned before, some people maybe benefit from washing with a sulfate shampoo every once in a while – especially people who are more prone to build-up because they have wavier or finer hair, like I do.
But even silicones can have their use. They mostly have a bad reputation because they only give the hair the appearance of being healthy, and because they need to be washed out with sulfates – which can dry out the hair. But silicones can also help to give your hair good “slip” for detangling, seal in moisture into the hair, and fight frizz. And not all silicones need sulfates to be washed out: there are water-soluble silicones, silicones that evaporate, and silicones that can be washed out with a sulfate-free shampoo.
In conclusion: if you notice that a product gives you great results, you should use it. The Curly Girl Method is a great starting point if you want healthier curls. But it is not the be-all end-all for curly hair care. You should feel free to experiment both within and outside of the method to find what works best for you.