The Curly Girl Method

Curly Girl, CGM. You keep hearing about it, but what is it? The Curly Girl Method is a hair care method based on the book Curly Girl: The Handbook written by Lorraine Massey. You could call Massey the mother of curls. The basis behind the method is to help people discover, care for, and enhance their natural hair texture. Whether it be wavy, curly, coily, or kinky. The book outlines the dos and don’ts for curly hair. Massey believes that by following the do’s and getting rid of the don’ts you can not only improve the health of your hair but encourage and enhance those beautiful waves and curls you may have hiding behind the frizz. Massey says, “frizz is just a curl waiting to happen”.

So what are the don’ts?

  • Don’t use shampoo. Traditional shampoos are filled with harsh ingredients, such as sulfates and drying alcohols, that are known to dry out your hair and lead to damage.
  • Don’t wash too frequently. Washing too much strips your hair of its natural oils and dries it out.
  • Don’t brush your hair. Brushing causes damage, split ends, and can pull out your natural curl pattern.
  • Don’t use silicones. Commonly found in conditioners and styling products, silicones coat your hair, preventing it from absorbing moisture. Silicones also can only be removed by using harsh sulfates.
  • Don’t use terry cloth towels. Terry cloth absorbs too much moisture from your hair and roughs up the cuticle, causing damage.
  • Don’t use heat. Heat opens the cuticle of your hair and causes damage. The more heat, the more damage.
  • Don’t color or bleach your hair. The chemical process of coloring or bleaching severely damages your hair.

Ok, so that is a lot of don’ts. So, what CAN you do?

  • Do use gentle conditioners and cleansing conditioners to wash your hair. Co-washing is not as harsh as shampooing and does not dry your hair out as much, leading to less damage. Make sure you scrub your scalp really well with your fingers or a silicone scalp scrubber. Failing to do so can leave buildup and oils on your scalp which can lead to scalp issues and hair loss.
  • Do use frequent moisturizing deep conditioner treatments. Curly hair by nature is much drier than straight hair as the natural oils do not travel down the hair shaft as easily.
  • Do use regular protein treatments in your hair, moisture and protein are in a constant battle in your hair. By using protein treatments, you can assure your hair is healthy, strong, and prevents moisture overload.
  • Do finger detangle your hair while wet and fully saturated with conditioner. Massey believes that this method of detangling your hair is much more gentle and less likely to cause split ends and breakage.
  • Do scrunch in your conditioner (squish to condish), to encourage moisture absorption. Scrunching your conditioner into your hair forces moisture into the cuticle and helps encourage curl pattern.
  • Do use high quality, water-soluble products, natural emollients, and humectants that help trap in moisture and are easily washed from your hair.
  • Do use a cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel to gently dry and or plop your hair.
  • Do use satin or silk pillowcases, scarves, sleep bonnets, or buffs to protect your curls while you sleep.

There are many curl types as well as various care suggestions for each type. While it is not required, learning your curl stats, including your curl type, texture, density, and porosity are encouraged. Knowing these will help you find the right products and routine for your hair as low porosity 4c curls are going to have different needs than high porosity 2a waves. If you are curious as to what your stats are, head over to to take their quiz. Learning your stats can also help you decide if the curly girl method is right for you and your hair.

There are many routines you can follow and products you can use in the curly girl method. A quick internet search will bring up countless routines and products you can use. It can be incredibly daunting to decide which routine and products are right for you. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, a great tip is to look for someone with similar hair stats to yours. While it may not be a perfect fit, chances are at least part of the routine, and or products will work for you.

The goal behind the Curly Girl Method is to treat your hair with the utmost care, to heal it from years of heat and chemical damage, as well as harsh products and brushing. The method is a process and can take months and sometimes years to see progress depending on the extent of the damage. Many curlies and wavies jump into the method and end up disappointed by the slow progress they are faced with. It is important to remember that the damage didn’t happen overnight and it is going to take time for your hair to heal. Remember, it’s not a sprint, its a marathon.