Your Step by Step Guide to The Curly Girl Method Using Natural Hair Care Products
If you have wavy, curly, or kinky hair, you’ve probably struggled to get your hair care routine to work for you. You may even have spent a lot of your life straightening your hair into submission. But if you learn how to take care of your hair properly, you may end up happy to embrace your hair’s texture and bring out your natural curl pattern!
Curly hair is not always easy to tame because conventional hair care advice often doesn’t apply. Many common pieces of advice, from washing your hair with shampoo to brushing your hair regularly, can actually be damaging to curly and kinky hair types.
One of the most popular curly hair care philosophies is known as the “curly girl” method. Here, we’ll go over the basics of CG, plus give you lists of the best curly girl hair care products. Whether you’re a curly hair aficionado or a total beginner to natural hair, this article is for you.
What’s the Curly Girl Method?
If you have curly hair, you’ll know it’s a totally different beast than straight hair. Unlike straight hair, curly hair often doesn’t react well to conventional shampoos and conditioners. Avoiding shampoo, or the so-called “no-poo” method, is the cornerstone of curl expert Lorraine Massey’s haircare philosophy from her popular “curly girl” book. Her hair care method is known as the curly girl method, and it’s popular with wavy, curly, and kinky hair types alike. Basically, if you don’t have straight hair, this method could work for you.
The curly girl method is based on two simple premises:
- The first principle is to avoid using shampoos with harsh chemicals — known as surfactants — such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). This strong ingredient is great for removing dirt and oils, but it can also strip your hair of its natural moisture, leaving it frizzy and fried.
- The second rule is to avoid using conditioners and other products with silicones and silicone-based compounds. While these compounds can smooth your hair, they also seal out moisture and can create buildup. Some common silicones include dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane. Generally, if an ingredient ends in “-cone”, it’s not allowed.
Curly girl adoptees avoid these products and replace them with natural, highly-moisturizing alternatives. They also avoid brushing the hair — to avoid breaking up the natural curl pattern — and typically “scrunch” in curl-enhancing products like hair gel.
How To Follow The Curly Girl Method: Step-By-Step
It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by the wealth of knowledge and information out there. Although there are a lot of options, taking care of your curly hair can be simple. If you’re following the curly girl method, you only really need two products to start:
Let’s go over all the steps to achieving gorgeous, bouncy, frizz-free curls.
Step 1: Cleanse or Co-Wash
The first step is cleansing. You’ll replace your sodium lauryl sulfate shampoo routine with one of two options:
- You can use a gentle, SLS-free shampoo, such as the Shea Moisture intensive hydration shampoo, or
- You can do what’s known as “co-washing”. Co-washing is where you wash your hair with silicone-free conditioner. Instead of relying on the action of surfactants like SLS, you’ll rely on the physical motion of scrubbing your scalp to remove dirt, oil, and buildup. The conditioner acts as a lubricant for the scrubbing, and it also helps dissolve out the oils.
Top 3 Curly Girl Hair Products For Gentle Cleansing:
- Shea Moisture Moisture Retention Shampoo: This extra-gentle shampoo features super-moisturizing shea butter and argan oil. It’s a great option for those who need a cleansing boost, but don’t want to use SLS shampoo.
- Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl and Shine Shampoo: This shampoo was made for curly hair. While it contains an ingredient called sodium lauroyl lactylate, it’s important to note that this is not the same as SLS. It’s much gentler, and should make your hair shine and bounce!
- Avalon Organics Nourishing Lavender Shampoo: This shampoo offers a gorgeous herbal scent with clean ingredients. It’s strong enough to clean your hair well, but it doesn’t use any sulfates.
Top 3 Curly Girl Hair Products For Co-Washing:
- Nature Clean Pure-Body Conditioner: This conditioner features rice protein, which helps to “seal, strengthen, and restructure the hair cuticle.” Plus at under $10, it’s a steal!
- Live Clean Hypoallergenic Conditioner: This Live Clean hypoallergenic conditioner is a great option for those among us who are sensitive to scents but still want to use silicone and sulfate-free products.
- Andalou Naturals Exotic Marula Oil Silky Smooth Conditioner: This product smells incredible and contains a number of moisturizing oils to make your hair smoother without weighing it down. It’s perfect for co-washing!
Step 2: Condition
After gentle shampooing or co-washing, you’ll rinse out the excess cleanser and condition your hair. Yes, even if you’ve co-washed, you need a separate conditioning step. CG-friendly conditioners contain moisturizing oils and other natural ingredients, and avoid the use of silicones. Whatever you choose, you should comb it through your hair using a wide-toothed comb in the shower.
Top 3 Curly Girl Hair Products for Conditioning:
If you’re co-washing, you can use the same conditioner for this step but if you’re using a CG-approved shampoo, you’ll need a dedicated product for conditioning.
- Kristin Ess Hair Frizz Management Cleansing Conditioner: This gorgeous conditioner has a short ingredient list and boasts essential oils to give your hair an aromatherapeutic boost.
- Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Hair Masque: This deep conditioner is best used occasionally because it packs a powerful hydration punch. It’s thick to the touch and works best when you leave it on for a while.
- Nature’s Gate Aloe Vera Moisturizing Conditioner: This product features aloe vera and jojoba oil, and it’s a great everyday choice for conditioning curly hair.
Step 3: Style
Styling starts as soon as you finish rinsing out your conditioner. At this point, you should avoid combing or brushing the hair to avoid breaking up your curl pattern and creating frizz. Switch to scrunching instead to encourage your natural curl pattern to form. Once you’ve scrunched the excess moisture from your hair, you can scrunch in a styling product.
Gels like Briogeo’s Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Quinoa Frizz Control Gel offer a strong hold that can define and enhance your curls. Make sure that whatever gel you use contains no silicones. Some people use nothing but gel, while others like to use other products. You can build your product routine over time to include other products like leave-in conditioners, curl enhancers, and hair oils.
Top 3 Curly Girl Hair Products for Styling:
- Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Gel Souffle: This gel is made of natural, plant-based ingredients including aloe, agave nectar, shea butter, and coconut oil.
- Kristin Ess Hair Depth Defining Water-Based Pomade: This hair texturizer features a gorgeous scent profile and high quality ingredients!
- Druide Alcohol Free Hair Gel: This aloe-based gel is alcohol free and totally CG-compliant. While it may be pricier than some other options, it’s got rave reviews to back it up.
Step 4: Dry
It’s always best to let your hair air-dry wherever possible. One of the best ways to dry curly hair without making it frizz out is to gently scrunch with a microfiber towel. There are also super cute microfiber hair wraps, which make it easy to do your makeup and continue getting ready while your hair dries.
If you don’t have time to let your hair dry naturally, the next best thing is to use a hair dryer with a diffuser attachment on the low setting. As the name suggests, a diffuser helps to diffuse the air from your hair dryer so it won’t break up curls and cause frizz. This beautiful hair dryer set comes with a diffuser.
Top 3 Curly Girl Hair Products for Drying:
- kitsch Microfiber Hair Towel in Blush: This hair turban makes getting ready in the morning a breeze. Simply plop your curls into the turban, twist, and continue getting ready for the day!
- Le Angelique BelleAir Dryer in Cherry Blossom: This hair dryer comes with a diffuser so you can dry yourself some frizz-free curls!
- Envision Home Microfiber Cloths: While these cloths are branded for cleaning, they’re also perfect for drying curly hair without creating frizz. Pick up a set and you’ll be good to go.
The Bottom Line
If you have wavy, curly, or kinky hair and you follow the curly girl method, you’ll find a lot of great options that you can’t find at the drugstore on Well.ca. From cleansing to conditioning to styling to drying, you can easily cover all your bases. With a little bit of trial and error, you can find the right green and natural curly girl method products for your curly hair.
Laura Tennant is a Toronto freelance health writer. She holds an Honours B.Sc. in Neuroscience from the University of Toronto. She loves using her writing to help others make better-informed choices about their health and lifestyle. When she’s not writing, she’s tending her houseplants, working out at the gym, and finding reasons to laugh.
Carly AlizaPosted at 23:32h, 10 July
Should I only use shampoo once a week? If so, when I shower without shampooing, do I still use conditioner every time? I always comb my hair in the shower with conditioner. My hair gets very naughty when I wear it down. It gets matted up like a dreadlock in just hours so I think I would have to use conditioner about every 2 days to keep it from tangling too much. If I don’t use any shampoo it’ll be pretty greasy I think. My hair isn’t usually very dry.
Laura TennantPosted at 08:44h, 23 July
You might like a method called “co-washing”. It’s where you scrub your scalp with conditioner instead of using shampoo.
For the knotted hair, I’d suggest using a leave-in conditioner, or simply leaving in some of your regular conditioner when you’re washing it out. That should help make it easier to detangle.
JaceyPosted at 13:47h, 11 September
I have fine hair that is a combination of wavy and curly. I have just learned of the Laura method and wondered how often I should shampoo with a clarifying shampoo. Also, I was under the impression that you keep scrunching during the entire process including the conditioner. (not combing out ) I noticed you advised that a leave in conditioner can be added to the routine but I thought it was a must before applying the Gel. I also thought the Gel was meant to be put on while your hair is still dripping wet. Maybe I am not getting the process correct. Can you please help? Thanks!
EmiPosted at 14:21h, 15 October
Hi. I don’t know if the formula changed but https://well.ca/products/andalou-naturals-exotic-marula-oil_127768.html contains Amodimethicone. It’s not CG