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How to use the Curly Girl Method to transform your curls

How to use the Curly Girl Method to transform your curls

I never thought I’d write a beauty post. Me. A woman whose morning ‘beauty’ routine consists of the following:

  • Wash face
  • Slap on generic moisturizer
  • Wet hair
  • Scrunch some hair gel into it
  • Put on some mascara, purchased sometime circa 2014
  • Rub off mascara smears under my eyes

I own exactly one mascara, one lip gloss, one eye shadow palette (unopened) and two eyeliners, one of which I bought so I could draw cat whiskers on my kid’s face for Halloween.

But I’m really excited about something. Something that’s changed my hair from a dry, frizzy hurricane mess into decent waves.

The Curly Girl Method.

What’s the Curly Girl Method?

The Curly Girl Method is a haircare regime for curly hair that involves ditching damaging habits (like over-shampooing and heat styling) for healthier ones (like washing with just conditioner and using sulfate-free products).

So what do you do?

Actually, it’s more about what you DON’T do:

  • Shampoo – or at least, shampoo often. When you do shampoo, use one that’s sulfate-free. Sodium lauryl sulfate, the key ingredient in most shampoos, is a cleanser that’s too harsh for most curls.
  • Style with heat. Curly hair is already dry, and hairdryers make it even dryer. I shower at night and plop my hair afterwards, which means dropping my wet hair into a t-shirt, tying it up and keeping it like that overnight. The Natural Curly site has a great post on how to plop and why it’s a better way to dry your hair than using a towel or hairdryer.
  • Use products with silicones, proteins, alcohol, mineral oils or waxes. Most silicones aren’t water-soluble so they cause build-up that weigh your curls down – the same goes for mineral oils and waxes. Proteins and alcohol can make curls dry and brittle.
  • Use a brush – you can use a wide-tooth comb to detangle after the shower, but that’s it. That’s curly hair 101, really. I haven’t brushed my hair in years.

Instead of regular washing, you can co-wash (wash with just conditioner) your hair in between shampoos. I shampoo about once a week with a sulfate/silicone-free shampoo and co-wash at least once in between.

You only shampoo once a week? Doesn’t your hair smell?

Yeah, it smells – like the conditioner I use.

So if I start using the Curly Girl Method, my curls will be instantly transformed?

Errr, no. Your hair will probably look worse at first. It can take a few weeks for your hair to adjust to going without shampoo.

And getting the length of time between shampoos takes a bit of trial and error. I just went with the “wash when it feels nasty” approach, which seems to be about once a week for me.

Which products can I use?

Finding the right products take a bit of trial and error too. Personally, I’m a big fan of the the Shea Moisture range. Here’s a list of other good products for curly hair.

Does it really work?

Judge for yourself. Here’s what my hair used to look like:

A woman sitting on a train wearing a blue shirt with stags on it

A woman and a man sitting with beers in a pub

And here’s what it looks like now:

A woman with curly hair and glasses with a big smile wearing a white jumper

Woman with curly hair and glasses in a white jumper

Wow – it really does look curlier.

I know – though I should warn you that even the Curly Girl Method is no match for the Scottish wind.

A woman in a green scarf with the wind blowing hair in her face

11 thoughts on “How to use the Curly Girl Method to transform your curls”

  • As a fellow curly girl I’ve read about this and it makes sense to me I have started cowashing. I’ve stopped using straighteners recently and embraced my curls again so I’m definitely going to try this approach and I’ll be on the lookout for a non sulphate shampoo. Thank you for sharing ?

  • I have loads of curly hair. Long curly hair. People ask me how I do my hair. I tell them I try not to anger it! I don’t shampoo all the time. I do condition. I need to. Otherwise, I can not get a comb through it. I have a comb that looks like a garden rake. All excellent advice! Curly hair girls unite!!!

  • Interesting method and I’m wondering if it would be worth me giving it a go on my hair which is getting curlier by the day. I don’t know why but ever since I had Dexter my hair is curly. It looks lovely when I give it a nice curl blow dry but if I leave it to dry naturally it tends to have random curls and straight bits.


  • I have very straight hair but am s mother of two very curly haired girls which often leaves me at a loss. I clicked here immediately! Will be trying #fortheloveBLOG

  • Love love love! As a curly girl, I’ve always looked at the curly girl method and wanted to give it a go – I in fact gave it a go a year or so ago, but my hair got so greasy and didn’t see an improvement after about 3 or so weeks so gave it up. What do you do about going to the hair dressers, or putting your hair up? Do you have to never brush it? (Yes, I often break the cardinal sin). Great post, thanks for linking up to #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Hi!
    Nice hair. You have much better curl definition now. I experienced the same after starting the curly girl method. My curly hair journey is still young and there’s already been a lot of trial and error. But I’m happy to say I’ve finally zeroed in on what I want to do consistently for the rest of my journey. I will continue using silicones since I need them for detangling and I love the soft smooth feel they impart to my hair. I’m probably going to go completely sulfate-free or maybe use a sulfate shampoo just once a month for a proper. cleansing and to get rid of any build-up. I might even completely switch over to low-poos… I dunno, haven’t really decided on that part yet…doesn’t really matter since I’m going to shampoo only once a month. I do the following every other day-
    1. Rinse my hair thoroughly with water.
    2. Apply a conditioner that’s got lot of slip all over my hair. Let it sit for 10 mins. I don’t mind using even a thick creamy deep conditioner for this.
    3. Part my hair in the middle and slowly and gently finger detangle both sections.
    4. Pour water over my head making sure I don’t rinse out all the conditioner completely.
    5. Squish to condish utilising the conditioner-water mix flowing down my hair. I scrunch till my curl clumps feel super hydrated and squishy like seaweed.
    6. Blot out extra water using a cotton tee or just scrunch out excess water with my bare hands.
    7. Immediately apply my leave-ins with further scrunching. I use leave-in creams or serums and aloe Vera gel for this.
    8. By this time my hair is just very damp, not wet for I’ve scrunched out almost all the excess water. That’s why I don’t plop/diffuse my hair or even further scrunch with a tee. I just let it take its own sweet time to air dry.
    I have lovely defined curls, very little breakage, no frizz and I curse my luck for not getting acquainted with the curly girl method much much much earlier in life. When I could have had divine curls all my life…..

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