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Jessica Pilla
Updated on January 16, 2024

Naturally curly hair needs a routine that’s simple yet effective to keep it clean and shiny without causing damage. Many have been swearing by the Curly Girl Method for years and are thrilled with the results.

This method was first made popular in 2001 when hairstylist Lorraine Massey released her hair-care guide, Curly Girl: The Handbook. Now, when curly and wavy hair is all the rage, the guide has become a starting point for millions of girls willing to reveal the natural beauty of their curls.

Curly Girl Handbook


What Is the Curly Girl Method?

The Curly Girl Method is a set of principles that help to achieve perfectly moisturized, full, and bouncy curls. Such results depend not only on the way you wash and style your curly hair but also on the products you should avoid.

Although the method suggest refusing from shampoo overall, opting for co-washing or a sulfate-free alternative is often enough to see splendid results. Read the core Curly Girl Method guidelines before we go into the specifics:

Curly Girl Method Guide

Is the Curly Girl Method for Me?

The Curly Girl Method works for all curl patterns, whether your hair is wavy, curly, or coily. It is designed for natural hair textures though, not the relaxed or permed locks.

Wrong styling can make you hesitate whether your hair is curly at all or just puffy and frizzy. If you are not sure that you have a curly hair type, it is worth going through a simplified, Curly Girl Method inspired test before shopping for Curly Girl Method approved products.

How to Start the Curly Girl Method

Use a clarifying shampoo to “reset” your hair and get it ready for the new styling routine. Further, you will need to use it once per month to rid your hair of dirt, oil, and product buildup; this step alone promotes natural shine and hair growth.

The next step is to get rid of your old shampoo and other products that contain sulfates, alcohol, fragrance, and non-water-soluble silicones, and begin your hunt for the Curly Girl Method approved products (more on that later). Finally, remember that no amount of moisturizing can bring your dead ends back to life. Trim them off to really start fresh.

The Curly Girl Method Steps

All the major steps of the CG method take place on a wash day. Here is how to perform each step for the best result.

1. Cleanse

After you’ve wet your hair, distribute the sulfate-free shampoo or a cleansing conditioner throughout your scalp. Massage the scalp using your fingertips to stimulate hair follicles and strengthen the roots. Such a massage also lifts any sweat, oil, and dandruff that cling to your scalp and allows you to wash them away more easily.

There is no need to shampoo or co-wash tips of your hair – rinsing the product from the scalp down your hair length is normally enough. Rinse the conditioner out completely. Since curly hair requires much natural oil to stay moisturized, cleansing hair too often is not a good thing, and the preferred interval is once per week for curly hair and once per two for coily and kinky hair types. It is better to rinse hair with cool water, as this will seal the cuticle and reduce frizz.

2. Condition

Next, distribute the conditioner throughout your hair. Use a generous amount of the products to make hair feel fully saturated and coated. Then, untangle your hair slowly and gently using either your hands or a wide-tooth comb. Remember, you will only brush your curly hair when it’s soaking wet with a conditioner from now on.

To get the most from your conditioner and force more water into your hair, use a ‘squish to condish’ method: collect the dripping water and conditioner into your palms and keep squishing your curls with the mixture.

Even if you don’t use a leave-in conditioner, don’t rinse all of it from your hair to get soft and smooth curls. In case you have high porosity hair, consider sealing the moisture with oil or butter before applying a styler (a cream or a gel). This routine is called a LOC/LOG method, where the abbreviation helps you remember what products to apply and in what order to apply them: leave-in conditioner, oil, cream/gel.

3. Style

This step starts with applying a styling product – a cream, a mousse, or a gel – onto your wet hair. Rub gel between your palms to make sure it’s nice and emulsified. Praying hands, raking, scrunching, scrunch and pulse, roping, and glazing are all different ways to apply the product.

Once all of your products are in, take time to shape your curls. Again, you can do this using a variety of methods. For example, you can form large curl clumps for big, fluffy curls or scrunch curls upwards in the palm of your hand for thinner, looser curls. It is better to try out these methods several times in a row to understand which application technique works best for your hair.

4. Dry

After applying gel, you need to let your hair dry completely. You would feel the scrunchy cast on your curls, but do not worry, you will break it once your hair is dry. As tempting as it may be, don’t touch your hair while it’s drying. This will not only ruin the curls, but will also cause frizz.

A good way to cut down on drying time is plopping: piling curls up in a cotton T-shirt or microfiber cloth for 15 to 30 minutes. If you’re in a rush, use a diffuser or a diffuser attachment to dry your locks.

5. Scrunch Out the Crunch (SOTC)

This step is often left out from the Curly Girl method review, which makes those who are new to this curly hair styling routine feel like the method is a complete failure. Although not a major one, this step is very important, as it lets you transform your crunchy curls into soft and natural ones.

To scrunch out the crunch, scrunch your hair upward again with either your hands with a little hair oil or serum on them, a cotton t-shirt, or a silk/satin scarf. Here is the effect of the CG method before and after SOTC:

Curly Hair Before and After Breaking the Cast


Maintaining Your Curly Hair

It’s extremely important that you give your hair a few weeks to adjust. Years of improper care can’t be fixed right away, and your hair may look even worse for some time. Be patient, and remember that you don’t have to give up shampoo cold turkey. Use a little bit less each time you wash, and pair it with the conditioner to make the transition easier.

To delay the wash day and make your curls look great till the next wet to dry styling process, you’ll need to learn to preserve curls overnight and refresh them in the morning. Here is a little inspiration showing that well-defined waves and bouncy curls day after day are perfectly achievable:

Curly Hairstyle on the Wash Day and Five Days After


Once you’re settled on the curly girl journey, find a great hairstylist to support you. Make sure to find a hairstylist that is properly trained in cutting your hair type and uses the right products for curly hair. Thus, get your hair trimmed every four to six months in order to remove any dryness or damage that could weigh your hair down. Also, follow curly hair Instagram influencers for inspiration and troubleshooting tips.

Although the Curly Girl method is quite universal, some modifications help to better adapt it to wavy hair or natural hair wash & go styling. After using the method for a while, feel free to experiment with some steps and stick to the routine that works best for your hair and lifestyle.

It might be useful to remember that the CG method allows styling your curls to perfection, but you should feel compelled to do so each time. As long as you use the approved products and limit heat styling, the magic won’t be broken and you’ll be able to get perfect curls whenever you want to.

Curly Girl Method Approved Products

Any product that is silicone- and sulfate-free is CG method approved. Since it may take some time to find what works best for your hair, we at The Right Hairstyles have compiled a shortlist to help you in your search.

  • Mop Top Daily Conditioner is an excellent hair moisturizer and frizz reducer for all curl types. It’s especially helpful for thicker hair.
  • Kinky Curly Curling Custard defines natural curls, eliminates frizz, and brings on shine without leaving hair greasy or crunchy.
  • SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl and Style Milk is a leave-in cream that not only hydrates but also protects the hair against damage and breakage. It’s a perfect choice for those with thick hair.
  • Ecostyler Professional Styling Gel uses the power for pure olive oil to retain moisture to the scalp for overall hair health.
  • DevaCurl Low-Poo is recommended by Massey herself for those who can’t go completely shampoo free. A mild lather that’s great for all types of curls, it cleanses without stripping away oils or drying the scalp.

If you’re using a product not listed above, don’t panic. There’s an easy and quick way to check whether your products are CG approved. All you have to do is use this site to enter the full list of ingredients of the hair product, separating each with a comma. Once you’ve entered all the ingredients, hit “Submit,” and the verdict will be on its way!

Flaunting Your Natural Curly Locks

After your hair has completely adjusted to your new routine, and your curls are now healthier and fuller than they’ve ever been, the only thing left to do is show them off wearing a flattering hairstyle.

Remember that even though every hair type has its own unique set of challenges, they are all beautiful in their own way. For far too long, the beauty industry has spent countless amounts of time and money convincing women to completely alter their appearance. With more and more outlets encouraging women and girls to embrace and even enhance what’s naturally theirs, the Curly Girl handbook has proven to be an incredible tool in helping them to achieve the confidence they desire.

Featured Image via Instagram

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