Podcast Episode 2: Starting the Curly Girl Method
If you know me at all, then you know I’ve become a full-on advocate for the Curly Girl Method. My hair was damaged and seemed beyond hope, but the CGM brought it back to life. The CGM has made it easier to take care of my hair and know how to get amazing natural results every time. If you are asking “What is the Curly Girl Method?” or “How do I start the curly girl method?” then you will want to listen to my podcast episode on Starting the Curly Girl Method and check out this post.
If your hair is frizzy, fluffy, wavy, curly, dry, oily or kinky, then the Curly Girl Method is right for you! The method is ideal for hair that is curly (some find they have hidden curls!), but it also works for straight hair as a way of treating hair better. The Curly Girl Method is not a particular line of products, but a way of washing and caring for your hair.
The beginning of your Curly Girl Journey is going to be in doing a final wash. The final wash is using a shampoo with sulfates, but no silicones or waxes. I often recommend Suave Clarifying Shampoo because it is cheap and easy. Once you have done this final shampoo, you won’t use shampoo again (unless you accidentally get a silicone or wax in your hair).
Shampoo isn’t actually cleaning your hair as much as it is stripping oils. The problem is, not only does this remove dirt and grime, it also removes natural hair oils that are good for your scalp and hair. This stripping process causes frizz. In order to tame that frizz, most conditioners and styling products contain silicones—but those silicones can only be stripped out with shampoo. So, this vicious cycle harms your hair over time.
When you stop using shampoo, you don’t stop scrubbing out the dirt. Instead of using shampoo to scrub, you will scrub with an approved (silicone-free) conditioner to co-wash your hair. You don’t need a product called cowash because that literally stands for conditioner-only washing. So using any “safe” (silicone-free) conditioner to wash your hair will work. You will need to scrub the scalp with your finger pads for a longer amount of time than shampoo, but usually only by a few minutes.
So, did you catch that? NO MORE SHAMPOO AFTER THIS STEP.
Finding Safe Ingredients
So, before you start, you will also want to get a conditioner and gel for styling your hair. You can spot bad ingredients by seeing if anything in the list ends in:
- Or is listed as a wax
Dimethicone, for example, is a very popular silicone ingredient. This would require a shampoo to get off of your hair. If you try to cowash with dimethicone in your cowash, leave-in or gel, then you are going to start to get a lot of build-up and frizz because your hair is still coated in the silicone.
Most of the Shea Moisture conditioners are safe, but they can be heavy for many types of hair. I highly recommend starting with the Not Your Mother’s Naturals conditioners for leaving in. Many people love Vo5 and Suave conditioners because they are so cheap and many are safe. I personally use L.A. Looks gel for styling, but there are many options. You are going to want to start very simple, though, so don’t get crazy picking out too many products.
Track Your Progress
Take a before picture. You will be shocked at how things change. Most of the time, the changes are going to be so slow you might not even notice. Once you get into it and get a good routine going, you aren’t even going to remember how bad it was. My kids don’t recognize my before picture.
Have a Best-to-Date Routine
Do your final wash, then start cowashing. You can cowash as often as you want to because it is not hard on your hair. I like to diffuse my hair to cut the drying time and increase the curl definition, but many air dry or let their hair dry overnight. You should only make a small change or two with each wash so you can see what you are really changing. If you get to wild with changing products and ways of applying those products, you won’t be able to tell what really made a negative or positive impact.
Always know your best-to-date routine. That routine is what you fall back on if a change doesn’t make it better. So if you normally squish in your conditioner, you might decide to do everything as normal except rake in the conditioner that next time. If that doesn’t improve on your frizz or clumping, you will then go back to the original routine before making a change the next time. The reason you want to keep track of your best-to-date routine is because you need to have something you can fall back on for times when your hair needs to look its best. This will also help you make educated guesses about how to adjust to get a better result for your hair.
Certain hair is going to like and dislike certain ingredients—but everyone is different. Personally, my hair hates coconut, but two of my four kids do well with coconut in their hair. If I use coconut in my hair—even way far down on the ingredients list—it makes it extra frizzy. At the same time, if I don’t diffuse starting at the roots, my hair is flat and more limp. If I don’t fingercomb my hair long enough after adding my leave-in, then my hair will be frizzier than normal. Every point of your routine can be done many different ways.
On Transition Hair
Perhaps you’ve heard of the transition hair you get with the Curly Girl Method. As your hair adjusts to the new routine, it will have to stop overproducing oils in an attempt to keep up with the stripping that you used to do with shampoo. Your hair might look horrible for a few weeks, or it may look great for a few weeks before starting to look and feel horrible. Transition hair can hit any time in the first few months. For me, my hair looked amazing at first before hitting transition around 3 months.
With transition hair, your hair may feel:
These are all common with transition hair and you must just press through! You can clarify by adding lemon juice to your cowash, which will help cut the grease faster without stripping the hair. I highly recommend braids, buns, headbands and clips during this time to help hide the hair you are going to hate. But once you get over this hump, you will be able to move on to truly healthy hair.
On Feeling Overwhelmed
This might not really be possible, but try not to feel overwhelmed.
It’s a learning curve that most of us didn’t know existed. There is a lot of information to relearn and ways this can change what you do with your hair. There are so many avaiable products and ways to apply them, it can be very hard to keep track.
We’ve all gotten used to the normal routines and products that we expect to work in our hair. The CGM challenges all of that and goes against what we are most used to. There are groups to help and you can always reach out for support. Start simple and go slowly. It isn’t nearly as hard as it might sound.
Listen to the podcast above and then check out my post about my 9 months progress here.