If you are reading this, chances are you’ve stumbled on or were referred to the curly girl method to help revive your curls.
There are dozens of inspirational transformations on Instagram that can give hope to people who have never completely embraced their curls.
….and after a bit of research you have concluded that the curly girl method is a little bit confusing.
You’ve probably heard terms like, pre-poo, co-wash, loc method, and apple cider vinegar rinse, tossed around and you have NO idea what they mean.
I’m here to tell you that the curly girl method is quite simple once it is broken down, and anyone willing to fully embrace their natrual curl pattern can harness the power of it.
With a little bit of trial and error and alot of consistency, you can have a beatiful curl transformation that people won’t be able to help but notice. See mine here.
Before I break this seemingly difficult method down into 5 simple steps, I want you to quick download and print out this Curly Girl Method cheat sheet.
I desigend this sheet as a guide to break down the curly girl process and make it managable.
Now, on to the nitty gritty, surpriingsly simple……
Curly Girl Method Steps
You will find dozens and articles on the curly girl method containing all different types of products and techniques.
While many of them do work and are useful, they are not relevant to core curly girl method process.
I recommend starting with the basic steps below, and once you have mastered them, slowly incorperate one new tehnique or product at a time.
A note on techniques and products: Having great curly hair takes a lot of trial and error.
Any time you try a new techniques, it’s important that you research and learn about it and try it many different times before you give up.
It’s the same with products.
My rule of thumb is to use an entire bottle of products before you decide weather you like it or not.
This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning that If you purchase through clicking a link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
The 5 Core Steps To The Curly Girl Method
That’s right, that super complicated curly thing you’ve been reading about can be summed up in 5 simple steps.
Step 1: Washing Your Curls
Washing your curls the right way is crucial on a curly girls journey. There are a coupl different washing methods that each have a seperate purpose.
Clarifying Wash: A shampoo desigend to cleanse hair folicle from oils, styling products, dry shampoo, residue from shampoo and conditioner
The first step in washing your curls is doing one final clarifying wash.
This will cleanse your curls of any product build up and allow you to start with a clean slate.
You will also want to incorperate a clarifying wash into your routine because product build up can cause your curls to become weighted down.
Clarifying will also help give you an idea of your hair’s natural ph level and will help determine whether you need more moisture or more protein.
How often to clafity will depend on your hair type. So you will need to experiment a bit.
I do a clarifying wash the first of every month.
Skipping Shampoo: The traditional Curly Girl Method
In Lorain Massey’s curly girl book, her theory on shampoo is to skip it all together.
Many shampoos contain sulfates and surfactants that are too harsh for our hair and tend to strip our curls of moisture.
So skipping shampoo and just conditioning may be an option for you. It all depends on how your scalp reacts.
Co-Wash: Short for “conditioner-only washing.” It means skipping shampoo and relying solely on conditioner.
Many curlies use a co-wash to replace the traditional method of shampooing your hair.
Since shampoo’s are harsh on your hair and can damage your curls pattern, a co-wash is a gentle way to give your hair that clean feeling without damaging it.
Low-poo: These are shampoo’s designed to cleanse curly hair without interfering with your natural curl pattern. It contains low or no lather.
Low poo shampoo’s are for curlies who just can’t seem to fully ditch shampoo completely. If you struggle with an oily scalp, a low poo may be a good option for you.
- Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse: Raw apple cider vinegar (ACV), packed with nutrients, can help with tangles and frizzy hair, bring back body and shine, decrease residue and clarify, stimulate the scalp.
This is my favorite way to clarify. I do an ACV rinse once per week and a full clarifying wash once per month.
Step 2: Condition Your Curls
Conditioning is one of the most important steps in the curly girl process (if not the most important step).Conditioning can be broken down into 3 phases.
Conditioning: Designed to moisturize your hair and rinse out completely before stlying.
Apply a good amount of conditioner after completely wetting hair through. Section hair in 1-inch sections and apply throughout hair strand.
Let sit for 5 minutes and rinse well.
Note: Some curlies will recommend leaving a bit of conditioner in your hair. I do not recommend this because if your conditioner contains protein it can damage your hair.
Leave-in conditioner: A light conditioner designed to stay in your hair and keep it moisturized without weighing it down.
Wavy and 3a curlies should use a light leave-in conditioner while people with curly to coily hair can use curl butter or curl smoothie.
If your hair feels heavy or your curls are stringy after they dry, it is a good indication that your leave in conditioner is too heavy.
Deep conditioning: the process of treating (healing/restoring) your hair with a moisturizing or protein-based conditioner.
Apply liberally to 1 inch sections of hair and twist to encourage curl clumping. Let sit for 20-20 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
Depending on how damaged your hair is, you could deep condition once per week or once per month. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find out exactly what your hair needs.
Step 3: Styling Your Curls
Don’t let this step trip you up.
You will find dozens of products and techniques out there that can be overwhelming. All you need to get started is leave in conditioner and gel.
Leave-in conditioner: Chose a leave-in that works for your hair and apply using praying hands method.
Section hair into once inch sections and apply leave-in conditioner by smoothing through hair.
Gel: Chose a medium to max hold gel to seal in moisture and lock in your curl pattern.
Apply liberally to wet hair and scrunch upward toward your head.
This love both of these gels to get started with.
Step 4: Drying Your Curls
Drying curly hair is completely different than traditional hair drying methods. Curly Girl drying techniques are broken down into four types.
Air Drying: After you are done styling, let your wet curls dry naturally.
This can be a great method but reduces volume in your curls and can take a long time.
Plopping: A method using a T-shirt or microfiber towel to scrunch your curls up toward your head and tie.
This allows your curls to dry while encouraging curl pattern.
Diffusing: Using a diffuser attachment to distribute airflow evenly without causing frizz.
Hybrid Drying: A combination of the above three. I typically plop my hair for 15 minutes, diffuse for 20-30, then finish with air drying.
Note: To create more volume, clip hair at the roots.
Step 5: Preserving You Curls
One of the many benefits to having curly hair is that if you are taking proper care of it, you will only need to style it 1-3 times per week.
Use this two-step process to preserve your curls throughout the week.
Pineapple: is a way to protect your curly hair when you sleep.
Gather all your curls to the very top of your head (almost to your forehead and secure with a nondamaging hair tie.
Night Protection: Always sleep on a silk pillowcase or with a silk bonnet.
Silk helps hold in moisture and cause little friction which can lead to breakage and frizz.
Though it can seem overwhelming, when you break the curly girl method down into these 5 simple steps, it’s fairly simple.
Keep in mind that the curly girl method is different for everyone.
It takes a good amount of patience and trial and error to find out what works best for your specic curls.
Don’t give up because the curly girl method it is worth it.
I suggest joining a curly comminuty on Instagram where you can ask questions and learn from other curlies.
Follow me on instagram for daily curly girl tips.
….& don’t forget to sign up for your Curly Girl Method cheat sheet here.