‘’Straighten your hair, and you might be happy for a day. Learn to love and care for your curls, and you’ll be happy for life!” – Lorraine Massey
Chances are that you’ve come across the term, ‘Curly Girl Method’ on your Instagram feed, accompanied by a picture of a person with gorgeous, seemingly natural curls. Curious? Wondering how to attain them yourself? Look no further as we decode the #CGMethod for you right now.
The Curly Girl Movement
Did you know that 60% of the global population has naturally curly, wavy or coiled hair? Curly hair is anything but a minority, especially in India. Ironically, the Indian media, especially Bollywood, has always portrayed lead actors with silky, straight hair and darker roles with wild curls. Even abroad, curly hair has faced its own share of backlash.
Finally, in the early 2000s, Lorraine Massey stepped up and pioneered what would become known as the ‘Curly Girl Movement’ with her book, ‘Curly Girl – The Handbook’. This was a detailed yet concise doctrine on the Dos and Don’ts of naturally curly hair. Soon a wave of appreciation and recognition for curly hair was seen all over the world which eventually made its way to India.
This was a welcome change, given the unhealthy obsession that mainstream media has had with straight hair. The Indian blogger community has also stepped up and are encouraging girls and women to embrace their naturally beautiful curls that run deep in their DNA.
To sum up CGM in Lorraine Massey's own words:
"The CGM follows three simple steps: cleanse not wash, like laundry this preserves the health and integrity of the curls; condition, protect, hydrate and organize curls; and style, to keep curls groups moisturized and intact to maintain them as you wear them daily."
"The Curly Girl Method brings out the best of your hair's natural texture once you stay in process and consistency—whether that is curly, corkscrew, wavy or swavy, coily, spiraly or anything in between. In other words, what it's meant to be.’’
"The CGM is a bit like cultivating a botanical garden—the more you tend to it, the more you see results."
We especially agree with the last quote as a well-tended CGM routine with all the TLC it requires will bloom like a bountiful garden and leave you with a head full of happy, lively curls!
Decoding the CG Method
While there are thousands of guides and articles to help you transition to the healthiest form of naturally curly hair, all this information can get a bit overwhelming. To simplify this, we’ve laid out a few guidelines to help you transition with ease.
Knowingly or unknowingly, the standard hair care methods adapted by curly haired people have only caused more harm than good and rule #1 is to break free from those practices.
List of ingredients to avoid in your products
Sulphates: Repeated usage of products with harsh sulphates has been linked to cell damage and excess stripping away of natural oils and hair proteins. This is detrimental to the natural structure of curly hair. E.g., Sodium lauryl sulphate, Ammonium laureth sulphate.
Silicones: This ingredient usually renders temporary smoothness to hair but has a bad reputation for making natural hair dry by forming a waxy layer on the hair thus blocking moisture. They also cause build-up and irritation on the scalp. E.g., Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Amodimethicone.
Parabens: Parabens are added to hair care products to promote hair growth but are known to have a drying effect on hair which causes frizz. They also permeate the skin on your scalp and could lead to irritation and itching. We’re glad the CG method shuns this ingredient. E.g., Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben.
Drying alcohols: As the name suggests, these ingredients suck moisture away and cause the hair cuticle to roughen, leaving the hair dry, brittle and frizzy - a huge bane for curly hair. E.g., Ethanol, Isopropanol
Waxes and Mineral oils: Wax and mineral oil are also not CG approved as ingredients, as they create a film over hair that can only be washed out with a sulphate shampoo. E.g., Petroleum jelly, Beeswax and Carnauba wax
Petroleum: Petroleum should be avoided as the chemical structure of this component is large and causes pore-clogging on your scalp. E.g., Toluene, Benzene
Heat styling tools
You do not want to direct blow dryer air on one spot of your hair for any length of time or use any styling tools such as flat and curling irons. Heat and heat products will cause severe damage to your hair and ‘blow-fry’ rather than blow-dry. If you absolutely must use a hair dryer, use the diffuser attachment on a warm to cold setting to cut down on heat damage to your precious curls.
Fine-toothed combs & brushes
Curly hair breaks easily and combing it when it's not wet or with fine-toothed combs leads to breakage and split ends.
Terry towels while drying
Traditional terry cloth towels absorb too much moisture, which curly hair needs. The harsh fibres also ruffle the hair's cuticle, causing frizz. Opt for an old cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel instead while drying curly tresses.
The initial weaning-off products that your hair has been accustomed to can be difficult, especially with your scalp feeling extra greasy, but the trick is to find a balance with what works for you.
Do use products which are sulphates, silicones and parabens free.
Products with moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter, mango butter, argan oil etc,.
Wide toothed combs or your fingers for detangling wet conditioned hair in the shower or leave-in conditioner applied hair outside the shower.
Microfiber towels while drying.
Let’s break this down a little further and explore the steps for a successful CG when you are a CG newbie and have started the journey but are still transitioning.
First Wash Routine:
Pre-poo simply means the step done before you shamPOO (hence pre-poo). This process entails nourishing your hair with a nourishing oil or blend of oils before you clarify. Go for a blend of moisturising and sealing oils such as argan, jojoba, that will both infuse moisture and keep it sealed into the hair shaft. One must pre-poo for a minimum of 20 minutes to up to a few hours for maximum efficiency.
On your initial CG journey, it is important to start on a clean slate. This is achieved by clarifying which refers to the removal of existing build-up of silicones and other products on your scalp and hair. This is done by using a clarifying shampoo that contains sulphates but NO SILICONES! It is recommended that when following the CG-method one should clarify at least once every 3-4 weeks. Pantene Lively clean shampoo is recommended for Curlies in India.
Moisture is curly hair’s best friend and the one way to ensure that your hair gets enough of it is by conditioning. The curlier the hair, the longer it takes for natural oils to travel from the scalp to the ends, causing the hair to appear dry and frizzy. Once you have a fresh, clean base, use a hydrating, creamy, silicone-free conditioner to quench your curls. Conditioning is the most important step in the CG method and figuring out what strategy works for you will take experimentation but the results are worth it. Popular ways to incorporate conditioner include finger raking, squish to condition etc.
Curl Up curl hydrating conditioner is infused with chia seed and flaxseed extracts and a delicate balance of essential oils that offer good slip for your curls, making it easier for you to detangle them. Conditioning helps moisture seep into your curls to secure and strengthen them and also prevents damage such as split ends and breakage.
The last step of your CG journey lets you embrace the unique nature of your curls by styling them with stylers such as leave-in creams, gel, mousse etc. Again, there are many techniques to apply the products with some of the more popular ones being the ‘Praying Hands’ method, raking etc. Once the products have been applied and scrunched, one must not touch the hair to avoid frizz due to static.
Style your curls with a CG-friendly curl defining cream, leave-in conditioner or gels while your hair is still wet. This helps seal in the moisture and prevents curls from frizzing while dry and adds definition. Do note that each head of curly hair is unique and factors such as porosity and hair structure come into play. Experiment with heavy creams and even lighter gels and mousse, to find what works best for you. Wavy hair usually needs lighter products or gels as compared to curly hair.
To kick frizz away, invest in a light and hydrating leave-in cream like Curl Up’s curl defining leave-in cream with argan oil, shea butter and flax seed extract. Our specially formulated cream packs in the goodness of CG approved ingredients and a whole lot of love to reduce frizz, add shine and offer long lasting hold.
A good way to maintain and sustain your perfectly styled curls is using a gel to form a cast around your ringlets, keep frizz away and maintain shine and definition for longer. Curl Up Ultra Defining Hair Gel which is protein and glycerine free, is packed with flaxseed extract and shea butter to moisturise while adding definition and hold.
Using a leave-in followed by a gel provides a defensive cast by sealing in moisture and provides elasticity for bouncy curls, all day long!
The beauty of the CG method is easy maintenance and sustained curls post drying. Instead of spending time on blow-dryers or other heating appliances, these drying methods work well for well-set curls.
Air-drying: Once you’ve applied your stylers, simply leave your curls to be air-dried. Refrain from touching them until they are completely dry to avoid frizz and maintain your curl pattern.
Diffusing: Using the diffuser attachment to your hair dryer on low or no heat is a great way to form voluminous, defined and bouncy ringlets. Scrunch up your hair in parts and diffuse for a quicker dry and long-lasting definition.
Plopping: When your hair is still wet after styling, simply lay a soft cotton tee or microfiber towel on a flat surface, bend down and place your curls on it and plop it up and secure at the back. This can fasten drying while maintaining your natural curl pattern.
Combing or brushing your hair with a fine-toothed comb is the nemesis of natural curls! Dry combing is an absolute NO-NO. Keep your hands to yourself once you’ve styled your hair to create and sustain gorgeous curls. We know it’s tempting, but resist the urge to touch your curls once they have been styled so as to prevent frizz formation and not disturb the curl clumps. Also, when you use gel stylers a cast forms as your curls dry to create a hold on your ringlets that add definition and shine. You can lessen the hold or give it more life by simply Scrunching Out The Crunch (SOTC) to add some bounce to your set curls.
Second Wash and after-routine:
After pre-poo-ing, cleanse your scalp with a mild sulphate and silicone free cleanser to get rid of the grime on your scalp while retaining natural oils. Curl Up Moisturising Shampoo contains argan oil and chia seeds packed with antioxidants and vitamin E to refresh and renew your scalp while guarding natural moisture.
The rest of the steps for your CG-routine stays the same as above.
On the CG method, you don’t have to wash your hair as often. But as the day progresses, hair keeps losing moisture which in turn causes loss of definition and lustre. To revive this and enthuse your curls with some oomph, try refreshing. To refresh, simply dampen your hair and scrunch in some curl defining cream along the length and not on the scalp, to refresh the curls. A quick DIY refresher would be a blend using water and some conditioner or leave-in cream.
Go Deep with Conditioning:
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, moisture is curly hair’s best friend. Deep conditioner is a more efficient way to condition as it is high on moisturising ingredients and works better due to the duration of application. Indulge in a deep-condition once a week or a month as per your hair needs to keep your curls plump and rejuvenated. This process includes letting a leave-in conditioner seep in by covering your curls with a bonnet with minimal heat( A heat cap works well but you could simply cover your hair with a heated towel and shower cap for similar results) for about 30 mins after you have shampooed your hair. You could even convert your regular conditioner into a deep conditioner by adding a tbsp of olive oil and whisking it well.
While the CG Method is a broad set of guidelines for all curly hair types, someone with tight kinky curls might have to turn up their routine as compared to another with finer waves. CGM calls for a bit of experimenting as well. Try out different products and techniques to ascertain what suits your unique hair type best. This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank and hoard up on products. Be patient and try out each for a few weeks at least to see if they’re a good fit for you. Once you achieve that, your natural curl, wave or coil pattern will replenish and be more pronounced and troubles such as frizz, dryness and breakage will also reduce.
With all this information around the CG Method, some newbies are probably wondering if these techniques will make your hair curlier. Well, this depends on your natural hair type and texture. The CG Method basically brings out the best in your natural curls. Your waves and curls will eventually be more defined, fuller and healthier as a result of the products and practices.
What about all the products available in the curly hair market?
If you’re befuddled by all the product choices or confused if there are any ingredients in your products that are CG or not, the internet is here to the rescue. You can always reach out to the curl community or simply type your ingredient in http://www.isitcg.com/ to clarify your doubts.
What about all the different methods and techniques on CG?
Again, experimentation is key. Try a technique at least five times before you try another one. Experiment with different product quantities, varying water wetness levels and styling techniques to determine what suits your curls best.
If you’re still confused about making the right product choices for your curls, look no further than Curl Up! We have an easy-peasy 3 step Curl Care Bundle for fresh, nourished curls and a great start to the CG Method.
Curl Up’s range of products have been created to pamper and shower your tresses with the love and care they deserve. Our curly hair products have been tailored specifically for Indian hair, keeping in mind our environment, conditions, and our treasured tresses’ natural texture. It’s time to break free of stereotypes and flaunt your curls!
All our products result in better conditioned, moisturised hair, voluminous curls, and waves that offer lasting shine and have no harmful chemicals.
Our cruelty-free natural curly and wavy hair products are crafted with botanical ingredients and are 100% sulphate, paraben and silicones free and infused with Shea Butter, Argan Oil, Flax Seed, and Chia Seed Extracts that gently enthuse life into your curls.
Will the CG Method cause more hair fall?
We’ll begin with a solid NO. CGM is a holistic way to nourish and pamper your curls with the right ingredients and no baddies such as sulphates and silicones that ultimately cause more damage and hair fall.
At the beginning of your CG journey, you might feel like you’re losing more hair, but fear not for this is not the case. On an average a person loses about 50-100 strands a day. Since the hair is not brushed between wash days, the fallen hair gets accumulated and sheds together on the wash day giving the impression that one is having hair fall. But if the numbers are within the above range then it’s perfectly normal.
Here are a few additional tips, to smoothen your CG Journey:
- SOTC, No-Poo, LOC and Smooching - these are just a few terms among the glossary of words in the CG world. Don’t be daunted but take it slow and keep an open mind to have a less-frustrating CG journey. Rather than being baffled, keep up with blogs and CG Guides on these terms to not only learn the techniques behind them but also slip ‘em into your Curl Talks with suave!
- When it comes to curly and wavy hair, products work best on soaking wet hair. Curls are more receptive to moisture while wet and help hold the product in as they dry later. Be it conditioner, leave-in or gel, use on dripping wet hair for best results. Air-dry or diffuse after to flaunt your gorgeous curls and waves.
- While CG products are an investment that definitely pays off, it is also acceptable and fun to play around with DIYs in the comfort of your home. Some common and easy prep ones include Flaxseed Gel, ACV rinses and homemade Deep Conditioner. Get creative, read up on home DIYs and pamper yourself!
- While styling is important, focus on techniques to sustain it and keep it popping for as long as possible. A simple silk bonnet goes a long way in preserving curls at night or while travelling. If you’re uncomfortable with tying up your curls and prefer letting them down, simply swap your cotton pillowcase for a satin or silk one. You could also use a satin bonnet or scarf to ‘contain’ your curls to wake up to bouncy curls sans unwanted frizz. Read up and apply these nifty tips to carry your curls through it all!
It can be hard to break-free from what tradition has dictated all these years as you embark on your CG journey. Bid farewell to old wives’ tales about greasing down your hair with oil and running a comb through it every day.
Consistency and Patience is the key to achieving your CG goals. Listen to your hair and experiment to see what suits you and your needs. Embrace the journey with an open mind.
Good things come to those who wait and trust us, the best is yet to come!
That’s it, Curlies! We’ve spilled all the tea about the celebrated journey into the world of luscious, natural curls! Still confused and have questions? We’re all ears.
Reach out to us at email@example.com, +91 9945373597 or @letscurlupdotcom on Instagram to answer your questions or even just be a part of our #letscurlup community!