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I’ve been wanting to try the Curly Girl Method for a while, but I felt discouraged because I didn’t want people to see me with messy hair during the transitioning phase. Being in lockdown due to the COVID-19 situation has provided an ideal opportunity to try the Curly Girl Method because very few people will see my hair!
What is the Curly Girl Method?
The Curly Girl Method was developed by hairstylist Lorraine Massey. It is a methodology for caring for naturally curly hair. It emphasises using natural products that are free of sulphates and silicones and avoiding the use of brushes, combs and heat tools. The results are supposed to be soft, healthy, defined curls with minimal frizz. The method is suitable for any hair type from tightly coiled afro hair to slightly wavy hair.
Lorraine wrote a book about her method, called Curly Girl: The Handbook. I have just finished reading it and I am going to post a review of it within the next few days. Now that I am armed with lots of tips for how to care for curly hair, I am ready to get started!
Some Background on My Hair
As a child, I had straight hair. When I reached my teens, it went curly. I have always thought this a bit strange, but according to the Curly Girl Handbook, it can happen. Throughout childhood, I had a fringe (bangs) which looked fine when my hair was straight, but when it went curly my fringe would stick out at funny angles and look stupid. I definitely had a phase of very bad hair as a teen! I later grew my fringe out but still, my hair looked a mess. Since reading the Curly Girl Handbook, I now know that this was because I was still treating my hair as though it was straight.
In my late teens, I discovered the joys of hair straightening irons. Finally, I could tame my crazy hair and make it look a bit better, which really boosted my confidence. I loved my hair straighteners! Ever since then, I have been using straighteners regularly. I even cut myself a new fringe. Most of the time, my hair looks fine, but it still curls up and sticks out in random directions when it is raining or humid.
Because of the frequent use of straighteners, my hair has got quite dry and damaged over the years. It’s thinner than it used to be, and it won’t seem to grow beyond a certain length even though it was very long when I was younger. I’ve decided it’s time to do something about it. So, I am excited to ‘embrace the curl’ and get started on the Curly Girl Method!
What products will I need?
The main hair products recommended by the Curly Girl Method are a sulphate-free cleanser, conditioner and gel. I have several shampoos and conditioners already, but I wasn’t sure whether any of them were suitable for the Curly Girl Method. Luckily, I found a tool where I can check them!
This site called ‘Is it CG’ allows you to enter the ingredients of a product and it tells you whether it is suitable for the Curly Girl Method or not. I checked all my existing hair products using this site and I was pleased to find that about half of them are Curly Girl approved. I’m glad about this because I would rather use the products I already have before buying new ones.
As for the products that are not approved, I don’t want to waste those either. Therefore I may still use them sparingly until they are used up. Then, I will replace them with Curly Girl approved products. I might also give some of them away to my sister (who has straight hair) or a friend.
One thing I don’t already have is hair gel, because I’ve never used gel on my hair. I have other hair products such as ‘hair moisturisers’ so I am going to use those instead, at least until I get hold of some gel.
Because of the current COVID-19 situation, I can’t just go out to the shops and buy new hair products. Therefore any that I need I will have to order online.
Homemade hair care
I also plan to make a few of the simple recipes described in the handbook. One of these is a lavender spray, made up of lavender essential oil and water. This supposedly helps to cleanse and refresh hair between washes, as well as making it smell nice. I also want to try making the scalp exfoliator, which is made up of brown sugar and conditioner. The handbook suggests using this once per week.
What tools will I need?
There are a few tools suggested in the book which I don’t currently have. The first is clips, to place in hair when wet to give volume to the roots. I have hair clips already but not the right sort. I tested them and they don’t effectively hold up the roots.
The second tool is proper haircutting scissors. I currently cut my own hair but I have always used ordinary scissors. These are not ideal because they are not very sharp so they can cause fraying and split ends. There is advice in the handbook for how to cut your own curly hair, so I may well continue doing it myself. Even if I did want to go and get a haircut, this wouldn’t be possible for a while because of the lockdown. If I have my own hair cutting scissors, I can at least trim off the split ends in the meantime.
The third ‘tool’ is soft pillowcases that won’t cause damage to the hair at night. The handbook suggests silk but I prefer not to use this for ethical reasons. Therefore I will go for satin or high-thread-count cotton. I plan to order these tools online along with any hair products I need.
I have put my hairbrush and hair straighteners away so that I won’t automatically reach for them out of habit. The method states that you can blow dry your hair but only if you use a diffuser, so I have attached a diffuser to my hairdryer. I have never used a diffuser before so that will be a learning curve.
What changes am I making to my hair care routine?
I plan to follow the Curly Girl Method as strictly as possible to start with. However, the handbook emphasises that everyone’s hair is different, so I may need to adapt it if it’s not working for me.
I have always washed my hair every other day but following the advice of the method, I am going to try washing it every 3 days instead. This will give my natural oils a chance to moisturise my hair, as well as giving my hair a break from harsh shampoos.
The handbook recommends giving your hair a cool rinse after washing, to help the hair look extra shiny. I already do this so I will definitely continue.
At night, I always used to put my hair in a plait. However, I realise this would mess up the curl shape. One suggestion in the handbook is to make a ‘unicorn’ hairstyle, i.e. tie your hair in a very high, loose ponytail on your forehead. This stops your hair getting too ruffled on the pillow. I have been trying this so far and it seems to keep the shape of the curls.
A curly fringe?
Currently, I have a fringe which I have been straightening nearly every day for years. I like having a fringe because I think my face looks better with one. However, when I let it go curly, it looks messy and stupid! My plan is to let my fringe grow longer so that it might go into neater ringlets and I can have a curly fringe. I’m not sure whether this will look good or not. Otherwise, my two options are to grow my fringe out completely or to continue to straighten my fringe and just use the Curly Girl Method on the rest of my hair. If I grow out my fringe, I may create a side parting in my hair (I currently have a centre parting) because I think this would look better.
My hopes for my hair
I have seen lots of impressive ‘before and after’ photos of the Curly Girl Method, and I am hoping to achieve results as good as those. I’d like to have healthy, defined, glossy curls that fall in a regular pattern, instead of sticking out in random directions like mine currently do when it gets wet or humid!
I would also like my hair to grow thicker and longer. I know it will take time for my hair to grow, so I will have to be patient with this one!
I will write an update post in a few weeks or months, to let you know how I am getting on with the Curly Girl Method and whether it worked for me!
Related post: Colouring my Hair with Henna
Have you ever tried the Curly Girl Method?
Do you have curly hair? Have you ever heard of, or tried the Curly Girl Method? I would love to hear whether it worked for you and if you have any tips or product recommendations for me. Let me know in the comments!