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Curly Girl: The Handbook, expanded second edition by Lorraine Massey and Michele Bender. Workman Publishing, New York. First published 2010.
I have recently started to follow the Curly Girl Method to properly care for my naturally curly hair. You can read all about this method and my experience with it so far in this blog post: I’m Trying the Curly Girl Method.
Basically, the Curly Girl Method is a methodology developed by hairdresser Lorraine Massey for achieving healthy, defined, frizz-free curls. She wrote Curly Girl: The Handbook as an instructional guide to this method, so I gave it a read before I started.
What was Curly Girl: The Handbook like to read?
The handbook was a quick and easy read. It has lots of pictures and the text is divided up into manageable chunks, therefore I got through this book very quickly. However, it could have been so much shorter! The book is quite repetitive and is filled with lots of ‘waffle’. It could easily be condensed into half the length and still contain all the key information.
It is separated into chapters, which include the method itself, hairstyles, coloured hair, chemo hair, men’s hair and kids’ hair. Within and between chapters it jumps around quite a lot. Random topics are interspersed, and it’s not always easy to refer back and find a piece of information you are looking for, because it’s hard to remember what chapter it was in.
There is a section at the end of the book called ‘Hair Horoscopes’. Basically, for each zodiac sign, it gives some waffle about embracing your curls. This is obviously just a bit of fun, but it does make the whole book seem a little less credible.
The book is also packed full of curly hair related puns. They distracted from the flow of the text at times, and I got a bit tired of them.
Even after reading this book, I still had a few questions in my mind. I feel the book could have gone into more detail on some areas. These include finding suitable hair products, what to do with thin, fine hair, and how long it will take to see a difference. However, I guess these things will be different for everyone, so I will just have to experiment and find what works best for me!
Not everyone hates their curly hair
My other main complaint about this book is that the author comes across as assuming that everyone with curly hair hates their hair or has struggled with it. She spends a lot of time convincing her readers to embrace their curls and ‘join the sisterhood’ of curly girls.
Personally, although my hair has never been the neatest or easiest to deal with, it hasn’t actually been a huge issue for me. I want to try this method because I’d like to make my hair healthier and look nicer. But by no means do I hate my current hair and it hasn’t caused me any major problems in my life. If it had, I would have done something about it sooner!
I’m sure I’m not alone in this. For some people, what our hair looks like is not our highest priority! Therefore, these parts of the book became a bit annoying after a while.
There are a lot of case studies and personal stories included in the book, which I enjoyed reading. However, they are all on a very similar theme. (Woman hates her hair and struggles with it since childhood, then she follows the Curly Girl Method and lives happily ever after.) I think more variety could have been introduced into the personal stories, or else fewer could have been included.
The e-book version
I read the e-book version of the handbook and unfortunately, the embedded videos didn’t work. Maybe that was just in the version I had because I downloaded it from Scribd where I have a membership. There are parts in the book that clearly have a relevant video linked to them but I couldn’t access the videos from the e-book. These videos would have been especially helpful in the ‘hairstyles’ section because from the written instructions it is hard to understand how to do the hairstyles. The physical book apparently comes with a DVD. I would recommend the physical version if you want to be certain that you can see the videos.
Would I recommend Curly Girl: The Handbook?
Although I am hoping that I will be able to give the method 5 stars, I would only give the book itself 3 stars. However, if you are thinking of trying the Curly Girl Method, I would still recommend at least skimming through this book because it is the original resource for this method. I will be referring back to this book as I am learning to care for my hair. It contains all the key information, even if you have to skim through some waffle to get to it!