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How to get started with the Curly Girl method

by Lotte Lindgren on Oct 22, 2021

Read through by Dorthe Kristensen

Hairdresser and former co-owner of the award-winning hairdressing chain Zoom by Zoom
With many years of experience in the hairdressing industry, Dorthe has advised many customers about hair and hair care. Dorthe has read through this blog entry to ensure high quality and professionalism. This blog post is professionally updated on April 20, 2024.

Table of contents

The Curly Girl method: How to get started

If you are lucky enough to have small or large curls in your hair, you are probably also aware that it requires a good hair routine and the right methods to make the curls look presentable. If you don't already know about the Curly Girl method, then it is definitely a solution that you should learn more about, so that your curly hair gets shine - and new life.

But it can be difficult to get started with the method and find out which products meet the method's requirements or not. Many blog posts and videos often give conflicting advice, which makes it a pure jungle!
But don't worry! We have put together our best guide for you based on our experiences in the Curly Girl area. We go through step by step how to adapt your hair care to The Curly Girl Method.

Learn more about the Curly Girl method in this blog post, and learn more about how to accentuate the natural look of your curls. 

What is the Curly Girl method?

Curly Girl is a methodical approach to hair care and styling of naturally curly hair. The method includes, among other things, that you use some very special products that are approved for use. If products contain sulfate or silicone, they are not part of the Curly Girl method.

In addition, the Curly Girl method also involves some specific techniques that can contribute positively to several different points in connection with the styling and maintenance of your natural curls, reducing frizz and improving the health of the hair. The method recommends, for example, that you start using conditioner instead of shampoo when you wash your curls.

The Curly Girl method was first introduced back in 2001, when hairstylist and expert Lorraine Massey came up with the idea. Since then, the method has gone through several changes in order to adapt to the different types of curls that exist in the world. Curly Girl has therefore over time become a method that you can use, regardless of the types of curls your hair has.

How does the Curly Girl method work?

The Curly Girl method has become extremely popular in recent years, as it helps to make curls more defined and shiny. The method ensures that your curls do not become dry and frizzy , which is often a big problem for people with curls. The method thus ensures that the curls have the best possible moisture at the same time that ingredients that dry out the hair and scalp are not used. What you will experience with the Curly Girl method is therefore beautifully defined curls with lots of shine, which last a long time without becoming frizzy.

Woman with beautiful curls

Curly Girl metoden vs. No poo metoden

The Curly Girl and the No poo method are two methods that have several features in common to enhance and maintain your curls. The no poo method involves, among other things, that you do not use any kind of shampoo in your hair. You simply remove the shampoo from your weekly hair routine. The no poo method also implies that you use no poo conditioner, which is conditioner without sulfate. This method is sometimes also called the Co-wash (conditioner only) method, because you only wash your hair with conditioner/conditioner.

If you find that your hair becomes greasy when you choose to use conditioner instead of shampoo, you can use a low poo shampoo, which is a shampoo that does not contain sulfate. Sulfate can be your hair's worst enemy because it counteracts the natural oils your hair produces. Our shampoo is sulfate and silicone free and therefore also a low -poo shampoo .

Both the Curly Girl method and the No poo method involve getting rid of products that do not benefit your hair's natural production of fats. When you remove the natural production of fats with sulfate-containing products, your hair will be forced to produce extra fats in your scalp - and then you will quickly find that your hair becomes greasy in everyday life.

The big difference between the two methods is: That the Curly Girl method has a greater focus on the use of natural ingredients, such as avocado, aloe vera and coconut oil - and so the method is only relevant for you who have natural curls.

5 steps to get started with the Curly Girl method

There is a big difference between curly hair. Therefore, it is different which parts of the Curly Girl method work well for you. You must assess for yourself which steps in the method are rewarding for you, as well as select the products that best suit your needs.

You can do the Curly Girl method in many ways. Below you can read about the most recognized and used steps. The five steps give you a good start if you haven't thrown yourself into the Curly Girl method yet or if you've tried the method but want to do it in a different way.

To get started with the Curly Girl method, you need some products that meet the method's requirements. These are the following:

1. Clean the hair of old product residues

When you switch from traditional hair care to the Curly Girl method, silicone and other product residues have accumulated in your hair over a longer period. Therefore, you must make sure that your hair is completely clean and without any products when you start with the Curly Girl method.

To make your hair completely clean, you must wash your hair with a low-poo shampoo, i.e. a sulfate-free shampoo. This helps to gently clean your curls without sucking the moisture out of them. You can use the Deep Scalp Brush for 1-2 minutes. It's great for cleaning the scalp and makes it a breeze! Afterwards, you can simply rinse your hair thoroughly.

Your hair type naturally plays a big role in how your hairstyle looks. And it also plays a role in how quickly it is slapped after a wash. If your hair is smooth and fine, the fat slides easily from the scalp down the hair shafts. There is no curl or rough texture to stop it.

2. Wash the hair with a cleansing conditioner

The next step in the Curly Girl method is to wash the scalp with a silicone-free conditioner. Here you should go for a washing or cleansing balm. Spend a few minutes massaging the conditioner into the scalp with your fingertips or with a scalp massage brush . You choose whether you want to let the conditioner sit through the next step or whether you want to rinse it out.

To avoid greasy hair, it can be an advantage: to choose a neutral conditioner that does not contain oils and other harsh ingredients. It is important that the conditioner is silicone-free.

Products for curls

3. Wash the hair again with a moisturizing conditioner

Now you need to apply a conditioner that releases moisture - and softens your curls. It is again important that the conditioner is silicone-free. You need to apply a large handful of conditioner to your curlers, this is to ensure that the hair is saturated with conditioner. While the conditioner is working, you can choose to save the hair gently either with a wide-toothed comb or with your fingers. After the conditioner has been allowed to work, you rinse it out of the hair.

4. Style your wet hair with loving hugs

While the hair is still wet, apply products for both care and styling. Feel free to use the scrunch method for application, as it promotes the shape of the curls. When you scrunch your hair, you gently hug it in an upward direction. In this way, you avoid your curls being separated from each other. To promote the curls, you can advantageously use a curling cream, for example Twirl and Curl curling cream, which is fantastic for defining your curls. Regardless of which products you use, it is important that you let the product slide through the wet hair when you style it. After that, hug it with loving hugs.

5. Let your hair dry in a plop

When products have been applied to your wet hair, the last step is to put the hair in a plop. You do this by letting it fall into an outdated t-shirt or a microfiber towel . Afterwards, wrap the hair in the towel - and place it on top of the head.

Attach the towel to the hair and then it should usually be allowed to dry for a total of 15 to 60 minutes. A tip can be to sleep with the plop in, so that the hair has the night to dry in it.

When you take the plop out of your hair, you must hug your hair to get the right curls. After this, you have reached the end of the road with the Curly Girl method.

This routine must be repeated every time (with or without styling, it's your choice) the hair gets wet. In this way, you are guaranteed optimal care for your curls.

Products for curls

The Curly Girl method's washing advice

To get the optimal hair wash, we have briefly summarized the washing advice Lorraine Massey (the creator of the Curly Girl method) has:

  • No washing with shampoo (however, low-poo shampoo can be used if necessary)
  • No brushes or combs in dry hair
  • No cutting when the hair is wet
  • No thinning or cutting the hair
  • No blow drying at high heat
  • No sulfate or silicone containing products.

When does the Curly Girl method work?

You will need to wait a few weeks for both your scalp and hair to balance again after removing all the usual products from your hair routine. You can experience improvements already after the first time you wash your hair according to the Curly Girl method.

You may also find that it takes a few weeks before the method starts to work for you. Therefore, it is important that you are patient and persist if the method does not produce results from the start.

It is individual which parts of the Curly Girl routine work for you. You have to try all the steps and different products to find the best result. Stick to the method or parts of the method, but experiment with the products so that you get the best result.

Curly Girl Rules: All the Don'ts

When using the Curly Girl method, it is important, among other things, that you avoid the following:

  • Sulphates are cleaning agents that can be harsh on the hair and scalp, they are often added to shampoo. You should pay special attention to these sulfates, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS).
  • Silicone, are polymers that are most often found in conditioners and styling products. Silicone can help to clog the scalp and close the hair strands so that they cannot absorb care or moisture.
  • Mineral oil and wax, here it is important that you choose some that can be easily removed from the hair, so that it does not stay in the hair for too long.
  • Too much heat from water, hair dryer or similar, this helps to dry out the curls.
  • Alcohol, which can dry out and damage the hair. Alcohols that dry out are often called "alcohol", "alcohol denat", "ethanol" or "methanol".

Do you have doubts about whether a product is Curly Girl Approved? Then a smart short cut can be to use the website http://www.isitcg.com/
Here you can insert ingredient lists from the product and quickly get an answer as to whether it is Curly Girl Approved or not.

Hairdresser's advice

Lasse Søby is Denmark's leader in curls - Certified in Curl by Curl Cut™️ with training from Lorraine Massey herself in New York. In addition, he also works with other curl cutting techniques in dry hair and is an expert in colour treatments. See his instagram here. 

What product(s) are essential in a curly girl's hair care routine?

- The essential thing about the products you choose for your curls is to match them to your curl type and when it's finished styling, it should feel natural, airy and not greasy and the product. I would mainly, if I have to generalise, go for pure moisture products and lightweight products and then layer a few more products where you take a little of each product to build up the hold without weighing it down.

How do you cut Curly Girl/curly hair?

- The way to cut curly hair is in dry hair, where the curls are styled in the curls and then with a special technique or combined techniques, including Curl by Curl™️ Cut, Rezö Cut or Deva Cut, which are methods developed for curly hair. I myself work primarily with Curl by Curl™️ Cut, which I am trained in, but after years of experience I combine it with some of the other techniques that inspire me. When cutting with these methods, you only have in mind what is beneficial for the curl and the bounce factor of the hair, which is the "spring" that shows how much the curl bounces up.

What makes the Curly Girl method so popular?

- What makes the Curly Girl Method so popular, both for curly and straight hair, is the whole ideology of avoiding unnecessary harmful ingredients that dry out, clog, "laminate" and close the hair, and being more gentle and caring in all the things you do to your hair. So avoiding drying alcohols, silicones, wax types, all sulphates (anything that foams if it's the original method) but or drying sulphates (if it's one of the modernised versions) The whole method is about; Less is more and be gentle. So, minimise the number of products in your routine and choose products that are good for you, your hair and your skin.

Frequently asked questions about the Curly Girl method

Can everyone use the Curly Girl method?

Yes, anyone can use the curly girl method. It's a method designed to help women with curly hair get the most out of their natural hair type. However, all hair types can use the Curly Girl (CG) principles. If you have completely flat hair, you will be able to get nice waves in your hair, but if your hair tends to curl, you will be able to get nice well-groomed curls without frizz..

How often should I use the curly girl method?

The Curly Girl Method is a great way to maintain and care for curly hair. It is recommended that you use the method at least once a week for best results. It's also important to use products designed for curly hair and to avoid products that contain silicone and sulfates or other drying ingredients.

How much styling should I put in my hair?

There are several people who find, when they embark on the Curly Girl method, that they have to use a larger amount of products for styling than they would normally do with dry hair.

It is possible that you can get a feeling: That the hair eats the products you put in. Therefore, it can be difficult to assess how much product should be used. It's about trying yourself out. Too little product reduces the effect and thus the durability, while too much can make your hair stiff.

Are there side effects to the Curly Girl method?

No, there are no side effects as such from using the curly girl method. However, it can be difficult to find the right balance between products and styling methods that suit your hair. Using too much product can lead to greasy hair and using too little can lead to dry and brittle hair. Hair is very individual and it is therefore important that you try your best to find the combination that works best for you and your curls.

What does putting the hair in a plop help?

Putting the hair in a plop will help give the curls a lift. The plop will take the worst moisture from the hair after the bath, and then it will help the curls to hold their shape better.

Hair products for you with curls

Which products are Curly Girl approved?

Among other things, the following products are used for the Curly Girl method:

  • A washing/cleansing conditioner
  • A caring and moisturizing balm
  • A t-shirt or a microfiber towel, here you can advantageously use our microfiber hair towel, which has fantastic absorbency while its material is soft to the touch.
  • A wide-toothed comb , which has good wide teeth that make it easy to save your curls.

You may find that you need to use fewer or more products. When you embark on the Curly Girl method, it is largely about finding out which and how many products work for you and your hair.

What is the difference between the Curly Girl Method and other methods of hair care?

The Curly Girl Method is a hair care method designed specifically for curly and wavy hair . It focuses on avoiding products that contain sulfates, silicones and other harmful ingredients that can dry and damage the hair. Instead, the Curly Girl Method uses natural products and techniques to hydrate and condition the hair so that it becomes healthy and strong.

The biggest difference between the Curly Girl Method and other hair care methods is its focus on embracing and nurturing curls and waves. Traditional hair care methods can often dry out curly hair and cause damage as they do not take into account the hair's natural waves and texture. However, the Curly Girl Method is designed to promote hair's natural curls and waves, resulting in healthier, more defined and beautiful curls.

Can I use the Curly Girl Method if I dye my hair?

Yes, you can use the Curly Girl Method even if you dye your hair. However, it is important to choose colors that are gentle on your hair and scalp and that do not contain harmful ingredients such as sulfates and silicones. In addition, it is a good idea to give your hair extra care and moisture, as coloring can dry out the hair. You can use natural and moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil , aloe vera and honey to give your hair the extra love it needs. Also remember to have your hair colored by a professional who can guide you in choosing the color and treatment that best suits your hair.

Is protein important for hair if you have curls and use the curly girl method?

Protein is incredibly important for hair, whether you use the Curly Girl Method or not. The protein is the building block of the hair and helps to strengthen the hair and maintain its structure and elasticity. When hair lacks protein, it can become weak, brittle and susceptible to damage.

When it comes to the Curly Girl Method, protein is also an important part of the hair care routine. Since curly hair tends to be more porous than straight hair, it may need extra protein to maintain its strength and health. Protein helps fill the holes in the hair's cuticle and repair any damage, resulting in more defined and less frizzy curls.

There are several ways you can add protein to your hair when using the Curly Girl Method. A popular method is to use protein-based hair products such as hair treatment, conditioner or leave-in conditioner . These products contain proteins that can penetrate the hair and give it the necessary strength and moisture.

Product Recommendations

The Curly Girl method can create the most beautiful curls, but it can also be a bit difficult to find the right products. We have made a number of product recommendations here, which will certainly make your everyday life as a Curly Girl easier and with prettier curls of course.

A good curl cream that is Curly Girl Approved

One of the things that can really make a difference to your curls is finding a good curl cream, which of course must be Curly Girl Approved. Here we have a really good offer for you: Twirl and Curl Curly Cream. Over several years, we have developed the formula and have created a fantastic curling cream that focuses on the curls having a long-lasting hold. That's why it contains Fision™ AquaShield, which is a combination of moisturizing, caring and nourishing ingredients. It also helps reduce frizz. It is also enriched with nourishing almond and macadamia oil, which leaves your hair soft, healthier and frizz-free. It is of course curly girl approved and without e.g. sulphate, silicone and drying alcohol. It is definitely a MUST have in your curling routine.

Salt water spray that can do much more

A salt water spray can be a good idea to create extra hold in the curls and at the same time get more volume with a slightly beachy look. It can also be quite effective if, for example, you often experience greasy hair. I highly recommend our Twirl and Curl Saltwater Spray, it does much more than hold your curls. Among other things, it is heat protective up to 230 degrees and it is also UV protective. This means your hair gets maximum protection and is especially good for you who often use a diffuser to promote your curls. It is of course Curly Girl approved and a big favorite in the warehouse.

Broad-toothed comb

If you have curly hair and do not yet own a wide-toothed comb, it is a big mistake. It's a bit of a must-have in every Curly Girl's hair routine. A wide-toothed comb is perfect for combing through curly hair without tearing or damaging it. At the same time, it is also a good way to distribute different products around your hair.

Microfiber hair turban to ensure efficient and quick drying

Did you know that when hair is wet, it is most vulnerable? Therefore, it is essential for the hair to be dry in the most gentle way possible. Women with curly hair are especially familiar with the problem, as wet curly hair tends to create the wildest frizz sometimes. We therefore recommend using a microfiber hair towel, which with its good absorbency, soft material and gentle setup ensures that your hair is dry in a gentle way. It has definitely made a big difference in my hair routine.

Bamboo bonnet - Sleep into beautiful curls

Many have often heard of bamboo pillowcases, but few have heard of a bamboo bonnet or also called a sleeping cap. It ensures that your hair is collected all night and your fine bamboo fibers wear minimally on the hair, in contrast to, for example, a regular cotton pillowcase. You will find that your hair will be less filtered and frizzy in the morning. The product is especially widespread among African Americans who often protect their hair at night with a sleeping cap.

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