How to adapt the Curly Girl Method for fine or thin hair

For many of us, the moment we decide to take proper care of our waves or curls, the starting point is the Curly Girl Method. And while this can be great as a starting point, the truth is that it just doesn’t work for everyone.

The method might be great for people with thick, high density hair that is damaged or gets dry easily. But for those of us who have hair that’s either fine, thin or low density, low porosity, or even with just wavier hair or an oilier scalp, the Curly Girl Method usually doesn’t work long-term. These hair types tend to be less dry and get weighed down more easily. Following the CGM could easily lead to overmoisturized or overconditioned curls that are too soft and won’t hold its curl.

So here are some ways in which you can adapt the Curly Girl Method in ways that generally work better for fine and/or low density hair. Some of these tips also might help if your hair is low porosity, wavy, or if you have an oily scalp. Of course not all of these are going to work for everyone, but if you find that the CGM doesn’t work for you, you could experiment with these tips!

Brown wavy curly hair spread out over a white background

Regularly use a (clarifying) shampoo

One of the pillars of the Curly Girl Method is co-washing: washing your hair with a conditioner or a special conditioning type of shampoo. However, there are many people this doesn’t work for. If you find yourself with overconditioned hair and an oily scalp, you’re better off just using (sulfate-free) shampoo!

It is also especially important for finer hair types to get rid of build-up, because our hair tends to get weighed down easily. While most shampoos can get rid of build-up just fine, it is important to use a clarifying shampoo every once in a while to clean your hair thoroughly. There are plenty of sulfate-free clarifying shampoos out there, but don’t be afraid to use sulfates either! Especially if you have an oily scalp, you may find that sulfate shampoos work much better for you.

Wash your hair more often

Within the Curly Girl Method, it is very common to only wash your hair every week or even less. But this often doesn’t work for fine, low density, wavy or oily hair – and maybe even not for other hair types. While washing your hair every day is usually not needed for curly hair, you don’t have to wait to wash your hair as long as possible.

Just wash your hair as soon as it feels like you need to wash it – either because it gets oily, itchy or just because your curls won’t hold any longer. It is so important to have a healthy scalp, and not cleansing it enough can lead to both scalp issues and hair issues. So wash your hair however often works best for you!

Use lightweight products instead of heavy oils and butters

A lot of products that are Curly Girl friendly are aimed at very curly, thick, dry, high porosity hair and contain a lot of heavy oils and butters, such as shea butter and coconut oil. But if your hair is fine, low density or low porosity, these products might be way too heavy for you and weigh your hair down.

It really depends on your specific hair type how much of these heavier products you can handle. For instance, if you have fine hair but high density or course hair but low density, you might find you can use heavier products than when you have both fine and low density hair.

But in general, if your hair gets weighed down easily, you want to be careful with heavy oils and butters such as coconut, olive or avocado oil. Instead, use more lightweight products that consist of mostly water and have plant extracts or lightweight oils such as argan or grapeseed oil high up in the ingredient list.

A hand holding a bottle of foam with lightweight ingredients above a white sheet background

Use less product

Another way to avoid weighing your hair down or overconditioning it, is to use less product – both a smaller amount of product as well as fewer different products. The best way to figure out how much product you need is to just experiment with it – try out different amounts of both your conditioner and your stylers, and experiment with different types and numbers of stylers.

For example, your hair might do better on either leave-in or curl cream rather than both, or maybe see what happens if you use only a curl cream, only a gel, or if you use a mousse instead of a gel. Just remember that fine hair typically needs more hold to not lose its curl, so make sure you use at least one product that gives that hold.

Style your hair upright

While styling your hair upside down is not technically a part of the Curly Girl Method, many people do this and swear by it. It is often the most recommended way to people with fine and low density hair to create more volume at their roots. However, there are many people who struggle to style this way. It can make it more difficult to style the back, and your hair might get stuck to your roots. On top of that, some people with fine and low density hair find that it actually decreases their volume.

So if you find that styling upside down doesn’t work for you, try styling your hair upright instead! There are many people who style their hair this way and get great results. Personally, I currently use a combination of styling upright and styling upside down, which works pretty well for me. The best way to find out what works for you hair is to use the same products and try out different styling routines, and see what gives you the best results.

Style your hair damp

And lastly, you might have heard to always style your hair soaking wet just out of the shower. But this is also something that might not work for fine and low density hair. Having too much water in your hair while styling can also be too heavy for your hair and stretch out your curls.

If you find this is the case for you, you could style your hair while it is some degree of damp instead of soaking wet. You could remove a bit of water with a microfiber towel so that it is no longer dripping but still quite wet, or maybe it works best for you when your hair is towel dry. You could also try adding your leave-in or cream while your hair is still wet, then add a gel when it is a little drier. This last method is what I am currently using and that seems to work pretty well. Again, the best way to find out what works for your hair is to just experiment with it.

I hope these tips were helpful to you, and good luck experimenting!


One thought on “How to adapt the Curly Girl Method for fine or thin hair

  1. This is really helpful, thank you! I think my hair is 2b and I have been trying to let it air dry a lot more often now (tired of the time with blow-dryer and curling iron). I have seen a lot of advice for curly hair that just doesn’t work for me. My scalp is oily and I don’t need moisturizing products. My hair is fine but thick – so all your advice makes a lot more sense for how I think my hair is.

    Liked by 1 person

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