The Curly Girl (CG) method is an approach to hair care designed for naturally textured hair that has not been chemically or heat straightened. In 2001 the CG method was introduced to a wider audience by hairstylist Lorraine Massey, in her bestselling book, ‘Curly Girl: The Handbook’.
The basic aim is to care for naturally curly hair gently, minimising damage to the hair cuticle and keeping the hair completely hydrated at all times. Curly hair is more prone to dryness than straight hair and with adequate moisture and water the CG method will accentuate rather than interfere with the hair's natural curl and wave pattern.
To protect the moisture in curly hair the idea behind the CG method is to remove all harsh ingredients and any ingredients that unnecessarily coat the hair shaft. When these ingredients are removed there is no need for strong sulfates to clean the hair and this leaves only the ingredients that can easily be washed away with water.
The first major step to the CG method is to remove ordinary shampoo containing sulfates or harsh surfactants from your hair care routine which is described as going "no poo". A no poo cleanser provides virtually no lather enabling a light cleanse that will remove dirt, oils and build up without causing the hair to tangle or dry out which can happen due to harsh detergents found in ordinary shampoo.
A very common approach by curly girls following the CG method is the use of a cleansing conditioner in place of shampoo and this is called "conditioner washing" or "co-washing". This process can't be undertaken with any variety of conditioner, the formula needs to be capable of performing a light cleansing action whilst conditioning.
The CG method also incorporates key guidelines to help achieve the perfect result for curly and wavy hair such as; no sulfates, no silicones, no waxes, no oils, no drying alcohols and no film-forming ingredients that may block moisture from penetrating the hair. When blow drying, the use of a diffuser is mandatory and no brushes, combs or regular bath towels are allowed. There are even special tips for how to apply the right leave in creams, foams and hair gels.
The basics of the Curly Girl (CG) method can be summarised in 4 major steps, each coming with their own special techniques and some unusual terminology described briefly below:
CLEANSE – sulfate-free cleanser or co-wash with a botanical conditioner to cleanse away dirt, oils and build up.
CONDITION – with preferred amount of conditioner. Tip: A little bit goes a long way with the Clever Curl products (common techniques are the ‘squish to condish’ and ‘roping’ methods).
STYLING – most commonly with creams, foams and strong hold gels (common techniques are ‘praying hands’, ‘raking’ and ‘scrunching’).
DRY – slow gentle drying is imperative (common techniques are to ‘plop’ and then air dry or gently blow dry with a diffuser). Once the hair is 100% dry, apply the ‘scrunch out the crunch’ technique to reveal soft, bouncy curls.