Chances are, if you clicked on this article, it's because you have naturally textured hair and have no idea what the Curly Girl Method is. Or maybe you've heard it here and there but have never fully looked into it because you figured it's super complicated and a waste of time.
Believe me, I've been there.
Even though I've only been loyal to this method for almost a year now (10 months to be exact) I can remember a time when I heard the name of this lifestyle (because it's more than just something for your hair, I'll tell you that) and wondered what the heck was the point; but now, I know.
It was definitely hard to take the first steps into this method. It took a lot of back and forth with myself and a lot of unsure-ty if I really wanted to spend money on products that might not end up working on my hair, essentially wasting money. Still, the ultimate deciding factor was the severe lack of health in my hair and my desperate longing for it to get better.
So, if you've read through multiple articles on this method (one of my own included) or watched dozens of videos about it and feel like you're ready to dive right in, here are some of the starter steps that I took to get me to where I needed to be.
Step 1 - Find a good Curly Girl approved shampoo
One of the most important parts of taking care of your natural hair is to not dry it out. Textured hair, whether it's wavy, curly or kinky, is dryer than straight hair and therefore needs all of the preservation of moisture possible. This is impossible to accomplish when you're constantly draining it of all of the natural oils your scalp produces by using shampoos consisting of sulfate cleaners!
Sulfates are harsh detergents often found in laundry detergent, dish soap, and other similar products. Do you really want to put that in your hair? I would hope not.
There are much safer, kinder options to cleanse your hair with, such as sulfate-free shampoos. The brands Cantu, Curls, Sheamoisture, Not Your Mother's Naturals, and Mielle Organics are some of my favorites that don't break the bank too badly, while others such as DevaCurl might also work but will definitely cost you a pretty penny.
The most important thing to remember is to avoid any and all sulfates in the ingredients list. And even if the front of a bottle says it is "sulfate free" make sure you still check the list on the back and search for anything ending in "sulfate" or "sulfonate" because those are no-nos.
When in doubt, paste ingredients list into CurlsBot to check. Or find something else you're more sure about (probably easier.)
Step 2 - Find a good Curly Girl approved conditioner
Hydration is key for textured hair, and if you want any chance at nursing your dry, damaged strands back to health, this is going to be one of the steps to get you there. However, not all conditioners are created equal, and in order for one to be considered "Curly Girl approved" it has to be free of all silicones.
Silicones are similar to plastic in the fact that they coat your hair and prevent stuff from getting into it, such as hydration. Silicones will build up on the hair and prevent any of the good, moisturizing ingredients from hair products from penetrating the hair shaft, keeping your hair dry and damaged for longer.
The worst part? The only way to wash them out is by using sulfates (unless you google them and they turn out to be water soluble silicones, in which case they'll come out within a couple of sulfate-free washes.)
In order to remain Curly Girl method friendly, try to look out for brands such as Cantu, Sheamoisture, Mielle Organics, and Not Your Mother's Naturals for all of your conditioning needs. Or, if you're really pressed for money, consider using VO5 or Suave, seeing as they also have some approved conditioners for dirt cheap that get the job done.
Just make sure you're utilizing CurlsBot, once again, to check what's appropriate and what's not.
Step 3 - Deep condition at least once every week
If your hair has been heat styled for years, if you've dyed it so much that you can barely remember what your natural hair color is, or if you simply feel like your hair is weak and brittle, deep conditioning is what you need to be worried about.
There are various different deep conditioners, deep treatments, and hair masks on the market that cater to different needs. Sheamoisture makes three of my favorite ones, for example: The Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Hair Masque, the 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Rehydration Treatment Masque, and the Raw Shea & Cupuaçu Frizz Defense Masque. Each of these provides different, specific benefits for my hair and I like to rotate my use of them from week to week.
Of course, there are multiple others available on the market from other brands (I hear the Not Your Mother's Naturals Matcha Green Tea & Wild Apple Blossom Nutrient Rich Butter Masque is a good one to use) and as long as you're using them at least once a week, you're doing it right.
If you feel your hair is really dry, though, it's your prerogative to use them as often as you see fit. But if your hair is prone to get weighed down easily, be sure you keep that in mind as well.
Step 4 - Leave-In is key
A lot of people might disagree with me on this, especially if your hair is finer and gets weighed down a lot easier than others (I'm looking at you 2A-2C girls) but leave-in conditioner is life-changing, truly.
If you ever find that your hair seems to become dry easily, even after you've conditioned and deep conditioned for what seems like hours, maybe a leave-in might be what you're missing.
Leave-in conditioners provide extra moisture for your hair, seeing as they are left to sit on the hair until they are fully absorbed as opposed to being rinsed out like a normal conditioner or a deep conditioner. For some, the thought of this might be terrifying, but you'll never know if it works or not without using it.
For me personally, I only use a leave-in on days where I feel my hair is dryer than usual. For you, maybe it'll be needed it every day, maybe it won't.
But you have to try it before you decide.
Step 5 - Pick the right styler for you
Arguably the most important part of any natural hair routine is the end when you style your hair how you want it to look and make sure it stays that way by using the right product. But how do you choose one when there are so many?
The main categories of styles are as follows: Creams, mousses, and gels. Each of them serves a different purpose, and each of them has so many varieties to choose from based on ingredients and benefits so you can find the perfect ones to use.
Creams typically tend to enhance your natural curl pattern. They provide little to medium hold and bring the best results when topped off with one of the other two.
Mousses are used for hold, which can be medium to strong. While some may have specific benefits when it comes to enhancing your curl pattern (based on ingredients) they are best used when mixed with a product from the other two categories.
Gels are what most curly girls swear by, seeing as they provide the most hold. Some gels have benefits to your hair aside from that, but overall they are best used after a curl cream to keep your style and hard-work in place.
My styling routine is as follows: Either Cantu's Wave Whip Curling Mousse or Mielle Organics' Babassu Brazilian Curly Cocktail Mousse, followed by one of my favorite gel (including jellies and custards) products, either Curls Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Jelly, Miss Jessie's Jelly Soft Curls, Kinky Curly Curling Custard, or Garnier Fructis' Curl Treat Jelly.
Once you find your holy grail products from each category, you'll learn that the Curly Girl Method really isn't as hard or scary as you initially thought, and your hair will thank you immensely for finally showing it some love.
So go ahead and take the plunge! You (and your hair) deserve it.