Mistakes I made while following the Curly Girl Method

I started (loosely) following the Curly Girl Method in early 2018, and started blogging about it and reviewing products later in that same year. Since then, I have learned a lot about my hair and about taking care of curly hair. Although I never followed the method strictly and have always been a huge proponent of only applying the rules that actually work for your hair, I still made a lot of mistakes in taking care of my curly hair. In this post I will talk about 5 mistakes I made while following the Curly Girl Method, to help you not make these mistakes as well!

Pretending my hair was curlier than it was

My first mistake was pretending my hair was curlier than it was. As a kid, I had really nice ringlets, so I assumed my natural curl type would be a 3A – even though my hair was more like a 2B to 2C at this point in my life. This meant I constantly had unrealistic expectations for how my hair would behave.

Of course, if I had severely damaged my hair by straightening it all my life, my ringlets might have come back. But this wasn’t the case! I had always worn my hair curly, I just didn’t really know how to take care of it. Once I accepted I had wavy curly hair rather than true curls, I started getting a lot more good hair days.

To be completely honest, some days it can be still frustrating to see other people who have similar hair to me when they don’t use any styling products, get amazing results when they do style their hair – and no matter what I try, I can’t get the same results. Fully embracing my own hair without comparing myself to others is not an easy process, but I am slowly letting go of unrealistic expectations.

Not figuring out my texture and density sooner

Another mistake was not figuring out my texture and density sooner. When I just started the Curly Girl Method, I couldn’t really figure out whether my individual hair strands where thin or thick and whether I had a little or a lot of hair. So I settled for medium, and thought I didn’t really need to worry about these things.

But boy was I wrong! It took me years to figure out my hair’s texture was actually relatively fine, and I had relatively low density as well. The realization that my hair was fine came first, after constantly struggling with products weighing my hair down. Not long after, I started realizing my hair is lower density as well.

What really helped me to figure this out, is realizing that texture and density are a spectrum. There aren’t just three points of fine, medium and course for texture and thin, medium and thick for density: your hair can be anything inbetween and you can have different textures and densities on your head. My hair might not be on the lowest end of both the texture and the density spectrum, but both are definitely on the lower side.

A graphic showing the text "Texture" with a line below it showing a spectrum from fine to course. Below is the text "Density", with a line below it showing a spectrum from thin to thick.

Thinking I didn’t need protein

Back when I started the Curly Girl Method, there was a lot of talk about people being “protein-sensitive”. Especially people with lower porosity hair like mine often were protein-sensitive, is what the internet told me. And since I had been trying out a shampoo with wheat protein right before starting the method, which made parts of my hair feel all dry and brittle, I too believed I was protein-sensitive and didn’t need protein.

It took a few months for me to find out I actually did need protein, but I still thought I only needed a little protein boost every once in a while. It was only recently that I found out that because I have fine hair, I actually do need quite a lot of protein! Fine hair often isn’t strong enough to hold a curl on its own, even with a strong hold gel, and protein can help with that as it strengthens the hair. Because I also have low porosity hair, smaller proteins work better than bigger proteins like wheat protein – so it makes sense that I reacted poorly to that shampoo, but really benefited from using a conditioner with keratin, a smaller protein. So I wasn’t actually “protein-sensitive”: I just didn’t know yet how to use proteins for my hair type.

Keep using low budget products only

When I started this blog, one of the things I wanted to do was review low budget Curly Girl friendly products that were available in drugstores in Europe. And so I tried out many of these products in order to review them, without asking myself first whether they would actually work for my hair. I would just buy any cheap drugstore product that was technically CG-approved.

Now, I certainly am not saying low budget products are bad. Over the years, I tried out many products that I liked and some of them I even repurchased. But a lot of drugstore products contain a lot of heavier ingredients, such as coconut oil and shea butter. These ingredients work great for many hair types, but for my fine hair, these products were often too heavy.

Of course, if I had bought more expensive products before figuring out my hair texture, density and protein needs, I still might have bought products that were too heavy for my hair. So at least buying inexpensive products saved me from having a lot of money going down the drain. But I still wish I had tried at least slightly more expensive products sooner, because it could have given me so many more good hair days.

Three hair products, a conditioner by Schwarzkopf, the Noughty Wave Hello Curl Defining Cream and the Flora & Curl Volumizing Foam, lying on a yellow background with diagonal white lines.

Focusing on products instead of techniques

And last but not least: I focused too much on products instead of styling techniques. This also is a direct result from reviewing a lot of products for this blog. Because I was constantly trying out new products, I never really experimented with my styling techniques. I did often try out new products in a few different ways, or started styling upright instead of upside down for a while, or on damp hair instead of wet hair. But I never really figured out what was best for my hair.

So lately I have been experimenting with new products, especially protein stylers, but I also have been using different techniques to apply the same products. At this point, I have found an easy and quick routine that seems to work pretty well for me, so I often resort to using that. But I am still trying new techniques every now and then, as well as tweaking, finetuning and perfecting the methods I’m already using.

While using the right products for your hair type is incredibly important, using the right techniques for your hair is just as important. What helped me the most is following people with similar hair to mine on YouTube and Instagram and trying out their techniques. Of course, what works for them is not necessarily going to work for me. For instance, some people with fine hair recommend styling upright, but I personally prefer styling upside down and then raking my hair from side to side to make sure my hair doesn’t stick to my scalp. But without experimenting, you will never find out what your hair likes best.

Because in the end, all of us are going to make mistakes while taking care of our hair. No one will have perfect hair right away: it takes a lot of experimenting and having the occasional bad hair day where it will just go up in a bun right after drying. But if you avoid the mistakes I made, this might save you a lot of time and money!


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