Book Reviews Hair Care

Curly Girl: The Handbook – Book Review

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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.

The front cover of Curly Girl: The Handbook

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!

You can buy Curly Girl: The Handbook on Amazon here.

I would give this book 3 out of 5!

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Curly Girl: The Handbook - Book Review


  1. I very often wish I had curly hair! Rock it girl 🙂

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      Thank you! I often wish my hair was naturally straight but I’m trying to embrace the curl!

  2. Nancy says:

    It is great that there is a collection of tips and tricks to rock them curly hair! Curly hair isn’t bad – I love seeing people rock their waves and curls. It feels natural and easy to deal with. Thanks for sharing this e-book!

    Nancy ♥

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      I also love the way curly hair looks, I just hope my hair will fall into a regular pattern instead of sticking out in random directions! Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book, I’m tempted to download the e-book to have a read as I’m a fellow curly-haired girl! I have a love-hate relationship with my hair & I’m always curious to try new ways which encourage it to cooperate…

    Pixee xo | Thats What Pea Said

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      I recommend downloading the e-book, it’s worth a skim through at least to pick up a few tips! Good luck with your hair!

  4. I have ridiculously thick crazy curly hair and I spent years straightening it – just for it to not even stay straight as soon as a single gust of wind or raindrop hits haha! The past year or so I’ve been learning to embrace my curls but it’s difficult to find which products and methods work – so I’ll definitely have a skim through this book to see if it has any helpful advice!!

    Roni 🖤

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      Mine curls up as soon as a raindrop hits it too, or even if it’s a bit humid! One of the best things about this method so far is that I don’t have to worry about what the weather is like! I’m glad you’re embracing your curls and I hope you find some helpful advice in this book!

  5. What an intriguing premise, this isn’t the kind of handbook I’ve come across for a while. My hair is more frizzy than curly which drives me mad but I guess everyone wants what they haven’t got. Great review, this does sound like an interesting flick through.

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      I recommend a flick through the book – maybe this method would help tame your frizzy hair? Thank you for reading 😊

  6. Hazel says:

    I have never read this but I always find the Facebook groups very informative! Another good source of information.
    Hazel x

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      I hadn’t thought of checking the Facebook groups – thanks for letting me know about those, I will check them out! x

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