Where to Start
We’ve talked about what the Curly Girl Method and the Wavy Girl Method are, you’ve learned your hair stats, and you’ve chosen a method. But what’s next? Where do you start? There is so much information it can get overwhelming. Here is my quick guide to beginning the curly/wavy girl method.
Stop Using Heat
The goal of the curly girl and wavy girl methods is healthy hair. Using high heat on your hair with tools such as curling irons, flat irons, and blow dryers cause damage. To begin the healing process for your hair, the best place to start is to cut out heat altogether. Using a diffuser on your blow dryer is ok, however, try to avoid using high heat while diffusing. Looking for a diffuser? Check out the Xtava Black Orchid, a fan favorite in the textured hair community.
Lose the Brush
Lorraine Massey, author of Curly Girl: The Handbook, suggests those with curly and wavy hair completely quit brushing their hair. She states that brushing causes too much damage to textured hair, and you should only finger detangle while your hair is wet and fully saturated with conditioner to avoid breakage. This is where WGM comes in for me. I use a Wet Brush instead of finger detangling, as well as to distribute the product, and form curl clumps. While many who follow WGM avoid dry brushing, I do brush my hair when dry before washing as well. I find this helps reduce hair fall and shortens my wet detangling time.
The first step many curlies and wavies take when they begin the curly/wavy girl method is to do a final wash. Many do a final wash with a sulfate shampoo. A very popular shampoo and my personal favorite is Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo. It’s cheap and it gets the job done. Because I am less strict with my hair I use this monthly to clarify, though a more strict version of CGM and WGM would suggest only using it for the final wash and never again.
Ditch the Bad Ingredients
Some ingredients are good for your hair, while others aren’t so good. You don’t have to run out and buy all new products. Replacing one at a time is beneficial so you can see how your hair reacts to each new product. You will however notice more change as you switch to healthier ingredients. Something that will help your curly/wavy girl journey is learning how to read the ingredients on the back of your products. Ingredients you will want to avoid while following CGM and WGM are Sulfates, Silicones, Drying Alcohols, and Waxes. Here are some ingredients to avoid.
Check the label on your products, just because the bottle says sulfate-free does not mean it is in fact sulfate-free. Many manufactures slap the tag on the label even though the product contains sulfates. Here are some of the most common sulfates found in shampoos.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate/Sulphate
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sulphate
- Ammonia Laureth Sulfate/Sulphate
Look for ingredients ending in sulfate, sulphate, and sulfonate.
There is some debate as to whether silicones are ok or not, though in the curly girl world silicones are generally avoided as they can be a little more difficult to remove without a harsher cleanser. Some common silicones found in hair products are
Like sulfates, many manufactures will advertise their product as silicone-free, while still including silicones in the ingredients. Look for ingredients ending in cone and conol. Water-soluble silicones are up for debate, many curlies and wavies chose to use water-soluble silicones because they can be washed out with a co-wash. I do allow water-soluble silicones in the products I use. Look for PEG, PG- and PPG. This means the silicone is water-soluble.
Short-chain alcohols can be found in many hair products and are believed to have a drying effect because they evaporate quickly. Because of this, they are avoided in the curly girl and wavy girl methods. Some of the more common short-chain alcohols are
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Benzyl alcohol
- Ethyl alcohol
On the flip side, there are many long-chain or fatty alcohols that you do want in your products. Fatty alcohols are naturally derived and have molecules that are too large to penetrate the hair shaft and are used for hydration and to prevent drying. Look for these approved and encouraged alcohols
- Lauryl alcohol
- Cetearyl alcohol
- Cetyl alcohol
- Stearyl alcohol
Waxes and Heavy Ingredients
Waxes and other heavy ingredients can coat and weigh down your hair. They also cannot be washed out with a co-wash or gentle surfactant. Because of this, they are avoided in CGM and WGM. However, many less strict curlies and wavies do not mind an occasional wax right before a clarifying treatment.
- Bees Wax and Paraffin Wax
- Mineral oil
There are a few fantastic tools at your disposal that can help you determine if your products are curly girl friendly. Check out
- Curlscan.com - an online database with over 4000 curly girl approved products. This page allows you to scan the barcode and will let you know if it is approved or not.
- Curlsbot.com - an ingredient analyzer where you copy and paste the ingredients from the products into the system and it will tell you not only if the product is approved, but what ingredients are unapproved and why.
- Isitcg.com - another ingredient analyzer with a copy/paste format. This analyzer also lets you know which ingredients are approved and not, and why.
Create a Routine
Your hair care routine is just as important as your products are. Finding a routine and products that work best for you will help bring out the full potential of your hair. Start simple with one or two products outside of your low poo/co-wash and conditioner. A leave-in conditioner, a curl activator, and a gel or mousse are more than enough to start with. Keep in mind that all you may need is one or two of the above.
Balance is Key
Remembering to maintain the moisture and protein balance in your hair is incredibly important. Those with tighter curl patterns tend to have drier hair thus needing more moisture. However, everyone needs both moisture and protein in their routine. Listening to your hair and learning how to maintain that balance is key to keeping your curls and waves happy and popping. Dry, brittle hair is begging for moisture. Mushy, limp hair that has lost its texture needs protein.
Enjoy the Journey
It’s easy to get excited and hope for instant results, however, the reality of the matter is it takes time for your hair to recover from years of damage. It's easy to get discouraged when following the wavy girl method when you don't see as much progress as you had hoped for. Remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint.
Check Out Some of My Current Favorite Products
Final Wash/Clarifying Shampoo: Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo
Low poo: Giovanni Tea Tree Tripple Treat
Conditioner: Biolage Hydrasource Conditioning Balm
Leave-in Conditioner: Curls Blueberry Bliss Leave-in Conditioner
Moisturizing Deep Conditioner: Garnier Fructis Smoothing Treat 1-Minute Mask With Avocado Extract
Reparative Protein Treatment: Zotos All About Curls Divine Treatment
Curl Activator: AG Re:coil Curl Activator