Everything You Want To Know About The Curly Girl Method

Calling all curly-haired girls! Ready to be blessed by the Curly Girl Method? If you’ve never heard of it, the CGM is a hair care method that will help you to achieve the best curls of your life. We’re not telling you to change your entire hair care routine overnight but you may want to take notes!

Lorraine Massey founded the Curly Girl Method along with DevaChan salon and DevaCurl products. To say the least, she’s a curl master and you can even find her book, Curly Girl: The Handbook on the whole process. Her Curly Girl Method works for all curly hair types and it has the power to transform damaged, limp hair back to shiny, bouncy curls. So, what’s so special about this method you ask?

The Curly Girl Method is all about working towards healthier, curls, and waves with a few simple rules to follow. Something as simple as no heat and no sulfates can transform the health of your hair. It’s suitable for tight coils, soft waves, African American curls, and corkscrew curls. The Curly Girl Method is all about embracing your natural hair and texture while transforming it to be the most healthy, bouncy, shiny version of itself.

What is the curly girl method?

The Curly Girl Method is a step by step solution to wash, style and care for wavy and curly hair. Some may go as far to say it becomes a lifestyle change! This sounds daunting but it’s not too far from your normal shampoo, condition and style. The CGM calls for a few, simple tweaks to your hair routine that significantly improve the quality of your curls.

This video by Delilah, the Holistic Enchilada, does a fantastic job at breaking down the Curly Girl Method. She has curly hair and is a great resource for all sorts of curly hair tips and tricks.

Here’s what sets the Curly Girl Method apart from a normal wash and style routine. We’ll call it the golden rules of the Curly Girl Method:

  • Avoid sulfates.
  • Avoid silicones.
  • Avoid products with alcohol & fragrance.
  • Don’t dry brush your hair.
  • No combs! Use your fingers.
  • Avoid heat styling.
  • Refrain from coloring your hair.

This method takes some adjustment but after some time and persistence, the results are plentiful. If you’re wondering what products to start with, Curlsbot.com is a great resource to check the ingredients in your hair care. It will help you find all Curly Girl Method approved products!

How to start the Curly Girl Method

Along with following the Curly Girl Method’s golden rules, starting the CGM means transitioning over to their co-wash and condition method. It’s recommended to start out slow and phase out old products so don’t think you have to cut out your old routine cold turkey! Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy and really beneficial for the overall health and appearance of your curls.

The best part about this method is that it’s designed to help your curls last multiple days without needing to wash your hair. Washing curls daily will only dry them out so when starting the CGM, commit to 4-5 days in between washes. The longer you can go between washes, the better!

Start with a no-poo shampoo.

Cleanse your hair with a sulfate free shampoo or co-wash. Most shampoos contain heavy sulfates which can be drying and damaging to hair. Sulfates are present in dish soap and think of how drying that can be on your hands. Imagine that on your hair? This is especially important for curly hair because it tends to be dry to begin with.

A sulfate free shampoo or co-wash is a gentle alternative. It won’t foam like a normal shampoo but that doesn’t mean your hair isn’t getting clean. Use friction from your fingers to get in there and remove any oils and dirt.

There’s an exception to this rule because sometimes your hair needs a shampoo with sulfates to remove grease and heavy product buildup. If you use dry shampoo, you’ve likely experienced product buildup. If you need a heavier shampoo to help with build up, look for a micellar formula free of sulfates. You won’t need to use this more than once a week so aim for a couple times a month.


Not so out of the ordinary right? For some curls, it’s recommended to wash out 80% of your conditioner. As for the rest of it, the CGM recommends to leave it in your hair for hydrated and longer lasting curls. Sort of like a leave in conditioner!

If you have wavy hair, you may find that leaving the conditioner in weighs down your hair. If that’s the case wash it out! If you have coily curls, a deep conditioner is recommended to lock in moisture, but if you don’t like that, it’s okay! The Curly Girl Method is an outline and all about trial and error so go ahead and do what works best for your hair!

Heat & Comb Free Styling

The Curly Girl Method recommends low manipulation for all hair types. What exactly does that mean? After you’ve washed your hair, you’re going to want to blot and soak up the excess water. Towels are too harsh and can cause damage and breakage to your hair. The CGM recommends using a t-shirt, baby blanket or microfiber towel.

The CGM advises against all brushes and combs. Instead it recommends using your fingers to form and emphasize your natural waves and curls when your hair is wet. Your fingers are the perfect tool to help loosely comb through hair without damaging it.

The Curly Girl Method recommends that girls with coily curls wash and go. If that’s isn’t your go to, style your hair as you would but avoid any heat tools or silicone based products. Curly hair is not one size fits all so do what works best for you!

If you need to use heat to speed up your hair drying, use a diffuser on low heat. No one is perfect and sometimes you need to dry your hair before heading to work on a cold day. While the CGM doesn’t advise using heat, always opt for the lowest setting.


Now is the time to use your styling products. The CGM recommends that you use silicone and alcohol free products to style your hair. Whether that be a gel, leave-in or a finishing product! Some curl friendly brands include Curls, Ouidad, Briogeo, Curl Keeper and Shea Moisture.

This video by curly vlogger, @BianceReneeToday is a fantastic outline on how to find curly hair-friendly products!

How long does it take for the curly girl method to work?

This depends on the health of your current hair! For some, it can be as little as a few weeks after getting the hang of it. And for some, it can take months. If your previous hair routine included intense styling, heat, and dyes, it will take time to get your bouncy and healthy curls back.

If you’ve committed to the CGM for a few months and still don’t notice a difference, your hair may be too damaged. You can help hydrate and repair damaged hair but if you have breakage, you cannot reverse that. So, trimming damaged, split ends will help to speed up the transition process and allow you to experience healthy hair sooner.

How to prepare for the Curly Girl Method?

There’s no necessary preparation to start the Curly Girl Method. Infact, it’s recommended to start off slowly and wean out your old hair products. The Curly Girl Method will really help to improve the quality and health of your hair but be patient!

If you want quicker results, trim any damaged ends off your hair. If you want to try and salvage your length, just know that it will take longer to repair damaged hair and see results. We tend to want to hold on to length even if it’s damaged and this leads to more damage and stunted hair growth because it breaks off.

If you’re planning to start the Curly Girl Method, start slowly. You don’t need to toss all your current hair products and add 8 new ones into the mix to make this work for your hair. Start with the basics; a co shampoo wash and a conditioner and from there, see what’s working for you!

Different Curl Types

Your curl type and hair density and porosity will all play a role in what products work best for you! There are 3 types of curl patterns:

2 is for wavy hair types:

  • 2A: Slight wave. Fine and thin.
  • 2B: Soft waves that are straight at the roots and fall to an ‘S’ shape. Usually medium texture with some frizz at the crown.
  • 2C: Defined waves that start at the root. These appear like curls or ringlets.

3 is for curly hair types:

  • 3A: Big, loose spiral curls. Well defined with an ‘S’ shape. These curls tend to be the circumference of wide, sidewalk chalk.
  • 3B: Tighter curls that resemble spirals. They are voluminous, coarse, and dense. These curls have a circumference like a sharpie marker.
  • 3C: Corkscrew curls. These have the most volume but also the most shrinkage. The circumference is like a straw.

4 is for coily curls:

  • 4A: Dense and springy coils with a fine or wiry texture. 4A curls have a circumference of a crochet needle.
  • 4B: Tight, ‘z’ shaped, zig-zag like curls. These curls have a circumference of a pen.
  • 4C: Densely packed, similar to 4B but very delicate. Less definition and more shrinkage.

What’s Hair Porosity and Density?

Hair porosity is a measure in how thin or thick your hair is. It also has to do with how your hair retains and holds moisture. High porosity hair holds moisture and takes a very long time to dry. Low porosity hair is difficult to get wet and thus dries very quickly. Once you figure out your hair porosity, it can really help you to nail down the correct products to fit your hair needs best.

Density is how much hair you have. If you have high density hair, it’s thick and full so you don’t need to worry about product weighing it down. If you have low density hair, you don’t have a ton of hair and heavy creams or conditioners can weigh your hair down. Is your scalp easily visible? If so, you most likely have low density hair.

Finding out your hair’s porosity and density can help you pick products that are best suited for your hair type. Just because your friend uses one product and swears by it doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same for you! The Curly Girl Method is all about reviving curls and creating healthy curls! But, if you’re not using the right products for your hair type, this will definitely hinder your results.

The right products make a world of a difference! So, do some research on your hair type and find the right products for your hair’s porosity and density. Switch out your hair products one at a time and see. It’s all about trial and error but when you find the right one you will know immediately!

Final Thoughts

Ready to fully commit to the Curly Haired Method? If you’re looking to try, founder Lorraine Massey’s book is a good starting point. Once you decide to fully commit to the CMG, your best hair days with shiny, healthy and bouncy girls are just around the corner! Even the most damaged and straightened hair can have bouncy curls again.

At the end of the day, curly hair will never be 100% frizz free. So if you’re planning to adopt the Curly Girl Method, embrace your natural curls and texture and find what works best for your hair!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Makes a Good Curling Iron for Thick Hair?

Curling irons for thick hair must have a high-temperature setting (heat up to at least 400F) to hold thick hair into curls all-day if not for a few days!
The best curling irons for thick hair use an advanced ionic or infrared technology to reduce frizz and keep your hair moisturized.

What size barrel is best for thick hair?

For thick hair, a curling iron with a barrel sized 1.5 inches is the most suitable option for everyday use.
Depending on your desired hairstyle, you can section your hair into smaller or thicker sections to create both tight and loose curls.

How do you make curls last all day with thick hair?

Use a mousse and heat protectant before you blow-dry in order to give the hair more hold. Prepping with a setting spray is also great for locking in your curls. Many of them offer heat protection, too!

Does Curly Girl Method work on wavy hair?

Yes! The Curly Girl method works for all curl types; wavy, curly and coils. The CGM works for wavy hair curl patterns, 2A, 2B and 2C. Whether you want to define your natural curl or get your curls back after years of heat and damage, the CGM is a great way to help revive your curls.

What products are recommended?

Ouidad, Shea Moisture, Curls, and Briogeo are brands with curly hair-friendly products! Curlsbot.com allows you to check any ingredient in your products to see if it is Curly Girl Method approved. They also have a list of CGM approved brands and products for more guidance.

Can I color my hair while I use the CGM?

Of course you can… but at your own risk and accord. Coloring your hair goes against the CGM because hair dyes are very damaging to curly hair. Bleaching and dying curls leads to dry hair, loss of shine and you may even lose your curls. Coloring your hair negates all your hard work, damages your hair and reverses all your hair progress.

There are clean hair coloring options like henna dyes that dye hair without causing damage. Some henna brands on the market are made with heavy sulfates so make sure to find a clean option. Ancient Sunrise Hennas are a great, natural, and non-damaging option for coloring your hair.