The curly girl (CG) method (also referred to as "no-poo") is based off the book Curly Girl: The Handbook by Lorraine Massey. Curly hairstylist Massey developed a method of cleasening a caring for curly hair without using sulfate shampoos or hair care products with silicones. Others have adapted her method, but the basic idea of not using sulfates or silicones remains a prominent theme.
The nickname "no-poo" refers to not washing your hair or scalp with a shampoo containing sulfate cleansers. Sulfates (commonly listed as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate) are considered to be harsh cleansers that strip the hair of its natural oils, causing excessive dryness. For curly hair, which is by nature dry, washing away natural oils from the scalp and hair can cause frizz and breakage.
Many curly-headed girls and guys swear by the CG method, which emphasizes using only silicone-free conditioner and water to cleanse the scalp and hair. This can help keep curls moisturized.
Once you take away the sulfates your hair can retain its natural moisture. Like many beauty regimens, the results vary from person to person, but this one just might work for you. So, say good-bye to the frizz and split ends and hello to soft, healthy curls!
Original article: wikiHow:Follow the Curly Girl Method for Curly Hair
Things You'll Need to Start Edit
- Curly or wavy hair
- Wide-toothed comb
- Old t-shirt, microfiber towel, linen, or paper towels
- Products (generally used in the order listed):
- Non-sulphate shampoo
- Co-wash conditioner
- Rinse out conditioner
- Leave-in conditioner
- Curl cream
- Optional items:
Having trouble finding CG products? Read about them here.
Steps for Beginners Edit
- Read the book! The full title is "Curly Girl - The Handbook A Celebration of Curls: How to cut them, care for them, love them, and set them free" and it was co-authored by Lorraine Massey with Deborah Chiel. It has hair care recipes, tips and tricks, stories about curlies, and an explanation of curly hair care as well. Although, the book is outdated (almost ten years old), you can probably check it out from the library for free and it is a great source of inspiration.
- Clarify with a sulfate shampoo before beginning. This will cleanse your hair of any silicones--ingredients in some hair products that are not water soluble (see the Warnings section below).
- Have your hair trimmed. This will get rid of any damage or split ends. If you don't want to visit a hair salon you can always trim your own of course.
- Replace your brush with a wide-toothed comb. It is easiest to damage hair with a brush whether wet or dry. Untangling hair while dry with any tool is not a good idea; separating the curls dry just causes more frizz. Instead of a brush, switch to a wide-toothed comb, or even better, just use your fingers (when the hair is wet). If it is difficult to untangle your hair this way, add more conditioner to your hair when wet or trim any unruly ends.
- Stop shampooing your hair. Most shampoos contain harsh, drying sulfates that are extremely damaging for curly hair (ammonium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, etc.). They make curly hair frizzy and uncooperative. Conditioner can be used sufficiently to clean the hair (see the next step). Also, more gentle shampoos that contain mild cleansers (i.e. cocamidopropyl betaine or coco betaine) can be used occasionally or more often for wavier hair types.
- "You'd never dream of washing a good sweater with detergent. Yet most shampoos contain harsh detergents (sodium lauryl sulfate or laureth sulfate) that one finds in dish washing liquid. They're great for pots and pans because they cut grease so effectively. Your hair on the other hand, needs to retain some natural oils, which protect your hair and scalp. Stripping them away deprives the hair of necessary moisture and amino acids and makes it look dry and dull." - Lorraine Massey
- Wash your scalp with conditioner (conditioner washing). Begin your routine by wetting your hair in the shower. Distribute conditioner on your entire scalp and massage your scalp with the tips of your fingers (not your fingernails). This rubbing action will loosen dirt and dandruff which can then be rinsed away. (Be sure to avoid silicones in your hair products, see this article.) Thoroughly rinse your scalp afterwards. Depending on how dry your scalp is, you can conditioner wash, once a week, twice a week, or every day.
- "The curly-haired can leave their hair hydrated with natural oils and clean their scalps quite well by rinsing only with hair conditioner once a week or less. Rubbing the scalp firmly with fingers is enough to loosen dirt." - Lorraine Massey
- Distribute conditioner throughout all of your hair and untangle gently. Use your hands or a wide-toothed comb. Start by untangling bottom sections of your hair and then gradually move upwards. Let the conditioner sit in your hair for five minutes or so for extra moisture. You also may want to part your hair at this point with a comb. Part your hair to the side to prevent "triangle-shaped" hair.
- Do the final rinse of your hair with cool or cold water. This will decrease frizz and add shine. Leave some conditioner in your hair, especially in dry sections like the ends. It is fine to run your fingers through your hair gently, but do not comb your hair after this point.
- Apply products to your hair. Do it while it is soaking wet if you have curlier hair, but wait five minutes or so if you have medium to wavy curly hair. Put product in your hands and rub them together to emulsify. Then, smooth or rake the product into your hair by sections. A common method is to begin with a leave-in cream or conditioner to decrease frizz and then follow with a gel for hold and definition. (Using your normal conditioner as a leave-in is fine too.) However, use whatever type and order of products you like. Next, finger shape the curls by scrunching them (cup your hair in the palms of your hands and scrunch in an upward motion) and/or twisting individual curls around a finger.
- Gently scrunch your hair with a t-shirt, paper towels, or a micro-fiber towel to remove excess moisture, as a generic terrycloth towel will make your hair frizzy. You may wish to finger shape your curls at this time instead. Next, wait five or so minutes so the hair can permanently assume its current shape.
- Decrease the drying time of your hair by plopping. Spread an old t-shirt or micro-fiber towel onto a flat surface (such as the toilet with seat down). Bend over at the waist and position your hair in the middle of the cloth. With your head touching the cloth, drape the back section of cloth over your head. Twist the sides until they form "sausage rolls" and clip or tie them at the base of your neck. After 15-30 minutes remove the cloth. If your hair is frizzy after plopping lightly graze the hair with gel.
- Plopping works best for medium to long length curly hair. The curls usually become weirdly squished after plopping in shorter hair. See How to Plop Your Hair for more info. as well.
- Dry your hair. Air drying is the easiest and gentlest way to dry your hair. If you must blow dry your hair use a diffuser to avoid frizz. Only dry your hair partially (about 80% dry) and air-dry the rest of the way. Do not touch your hair while it is drying or it will mess up and frizz. Both types of diffusers work well in terms of diffusing and decreasing frizz:
- A bowl diffuser with fingers causes more volume and clumping (curls sticking together instead of going every which way), is bulky and heavier, and will probably only fit on the hairdryer it comes with. Place a section of hair in the bowl and press the bowl to your head. Then turn on the "warm" setting of your blow dryer. Press the cool shot if your head gets too hot.
- A sock diffuser is lightweight, fits on any hair dryer, and is portable. Aim the diffuser at different parts of your hair while you scrunch your hair with your hands. Stop scrunching when your hair is about 50% dry.
- Find an experienced hairstylist. Ask him/her in advance if they are experienced in cutting curly hair and what products they are going to use on your hair. Unplanned haircuts can be disastrous for curly hair. If their products contain silicones insist on bringing your own. If your hairstylist uses a razor to thin out your hair it will make your ends ratty and prone to split ends. Remember, it takes a skilled hairdresser to successfully cut layers or other haircuts in curly hair.
- Have your hair trimmed every four to six months. A 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch trim is usually enough to get rid of split ends. Long, rounded layers are more suited to curly hair--short layers tend to stick up and look funny. Curly hair usually consists of a combination of textures, with the crown being the curliest part. For this reason it's hard to tell what dry curly hair looks like when wet--consider having your hair cut dry. Also, take into account that curly hair is much shorter when dry than wet. You may lose only two inches while wet, but that could be four or five while dry!
- Give your hair time to adjust. It takes 2-6 weeks for your hair to adjust to the no shampoo and it may even look worse at first. Hair is a long-term project and it may take a couple weeks for it to regain its health after being stripped of moisture for years by shampoo.
- Smile and show off your glamorous, beautiful curls!
Modified Curly Method (Mod-CG) Edit
Many curlies decide to be modified CG and toe outside of the guidelines; e.g. using light silicones, straightening hair with a flat iron, clarifying with a sulfate free shampoo or low poo, etc. Low poos still contain cleaning agents but leave out the harshest anionic surfactants, in favor of the more gentler surfactants. If you are still prone to greasiness after a long period of adjustment to CG, you probably want to consider a low-poo. Using heat tools on the hair is fine in moderation, and it's very personal whether certain borderline silicones build up on one's hair. There is not an extremely clear distinction between mod CG and CG, and don't feel the need to stick with one label completely.
Silicones and Sulfates Edit
These ingredients need to be avoided in a curly girl routine. Silicones make the hair look and feel good after a couple uses, but need to be removed with a harsh, drying sulfate. This causes a never ending cycle of adding and depleting moisture form the hair. For more information on how to choose products see Curly Girl Products.
- Different products work better for different types of curly hair. You will want to experiment and check out hair forums like naturallycurly.com for products that work for your hair type. Some high quality lines of products for curly hair are Jessicurl and Devacurl (created in part by Lorraine Massey).
- Curly hair has different needs during different seasons. In the summer use more liquid-like products so as to not suffocate the hair. It's also helpful to leave less conditioner or leave-in cream in your hair to prevent frizzing and increase definition. It's sort of the opposite in winter. You should use heavier, creamier products and more conditioner or leave-in to combat dry, wintry air.
- Gels may leave your hair crunchy. When your hair is completely dry flip it over and gently scrunch your hair. This will leave you with soft, non-crunchy curls. Some people prefer the extra hold of a crunchy gel, as long as the texture can be scrunched out.
- Try adding honey to your conditioner. Mix it about half and half with your conditioner, and then apply and use normally. You can leave some honey in your hair, but make sure it's not more than a drop or two--otherwise your hair will end up sticky and coated. Honey cleanses the hair and adds moisture and shine.
- If you're having a bad time with your hair don't give up on your curls. Try cleansing with a non-sulfate shampoo to remove buildup, changing products, or how you use your current products. If you're still discouraged with your hair trying using gel to slick it back into a fancy up do, ponytail, or braid before you reach for the straightening iron. Adding cute accessories can also help.
- It can be hard to shower in the morning and style hair before work or school. Try showering the night before and then plopping (explained in step twelve above) while you sleep. When you wake up your hair should be dry. Spray a little watered down gel, refreshing spray, or water on your curls, scrunch and you're good to go.
- Be patient and experiment with hair products and changes to your routine. Your hair may never be perfectly frizz-free all the time, but it can get close. Visit the Sources and Citations for more suggestions and hints at helpful websites.
- You can use various clips and methods in your hair to increase top volume by lifting the roots. Take small sections of hair from either side of the part, criss-cross, and clip with a small claw clip. Or take some duckbill clips and clip hair as shown to the right. Also you can try washing, combing, scrunching, and/or drying your hair upside down.
- Try sleeping on a satin pillowcase to prevent breakage and frizz.
- If you want to go two days in a row without washing your hair you can pineapple your hair the second night. Wear your hair in a high ponytail, secured with a scrunchie (cloth covered hair tie) wrapped one or two times around the hair. This will not stretch out the majority of the curls like a normal ponytail would.
- Proteins can also build up on your hair without sulfates. However don't cut them completely out of your hair's diet. Your hair needs protein to recover from damage and stay healthy. Instead of avoiding protein use it occasionally, perhaps in a deep treatment, and be sure to clarify with non-sulfate shampoos.
- If you think your water is "hard" or contains harmful chemicals such as chlorine or calcium carbonate you may want to invest in a showerhead filter. This is a simple way to avoid all the gunk that comes with hard water. This gunk often builds up on porous curly hair quickly and can only be removed by--you guessed it--SLS.
- Never comb or brush dry curly hair. Not only does it make your hair look like a poofball, it also damages it quite a bit. Don't even run your fingers through your hair if it is any more than wavy. Instead careful pull a knot or clump of curls apart. (Of course if you prefer the afro style, go right ahead.)
- If you normally straighten your curly hair and switch to the CG method it may seem like you are losing a lot of hair when untangling in the shower. Don't panic! It is normal to lose up to 100 hairs a day. If you are wearing your hair straight or straighten your hair it will fall out naturally and you probably wont even notice. If you wear your hair curly the hair comes out when you untangle; this is why it feels like you are losing more hair.
- Diseases, medicines, diet changes, and high levels of stress can cause you to lose more hair than is normal. So, if you do notice thinning in your hair or scalp consult with a doctor as soon as possible.
- Most people will compliment you on your lovely curls. However, some people will never appreciate your curly hair. Don't let this affect you. No matter how hard you have tried to fight it with straightening irons and hairspray, you have curly hair. Enjoy it!
Sources and Links Edit
- "Curly Girl - The Handbook A Celebration of Curls: How to cut them, care for them, love them, and set them free" by Lorraine Massey with Deborah Chiel
- Got Curl? - A website based on the book
- Curly forums and articles at naturallycurly.com
- Devacurl Video
- NaturallyCurly.com Article "All About the No-Poo Method"
- Laura Lee's All One Guide to Going CG
- Live Curly Live Free "Curl Care"
- NaturallyCurly.com's Extensive List: "Ingredients Commonly Found in Hair-Care Products"
- Healthy Curls "Drying Methods"
- NaturallyCurly.com "To Plop or Not to Plop"