Sunday, December 14, 2008

All in One Guide for the Curly Girl Method


So perhaps you were on naturallycurly.com, the de facto headquarters of the method and an absolute treasure trove of information, and you just wanted some product recommendations or a cut that would help you tame your curly hair. Maybe you heard about the Curly Girl method from a friend or coworker. Maybe you eagerly looked at the WikiHow article on how to follow the method or went to your library or bookstore to pick up the book that inspired it all.

No matter how you found out about the Curly Girl method, I guarantee that once you found out about it, you had some mixed feelings. You heard about not shampooing and no silicones, about sulfates and surfactants, and probably got a little overwhelmed unless you happen to have a degree in chemistry.  I want to straighten everything out in one place. Read on, and perhaps you'll find out that the Curly Girl method is exactly what you and your curls have been looking for.

WHAT DOES CG MEAN? WHO CAME UP WITH IT?
"CG" is the abbreviation for the Curly Girl method of caring for curly hair. It was developed by Lorraine Massey, owner of Devachan Salon in New York City. She's considered one of the foremost experts in curly hair care.  She wrote the book on the method.

WHAT DOES THE METHOD DO TO YOUR HAIR?
CG does not work for everyone, but when it does work, the results are absolutely startling. Check out the Before and After thread on the CurlTalk forum on naturallycurly.com. Many find that when they follow the CG method, their once frizzy, dry damaged curls transform into well hydrated, glossy, soft, bouncy curls that are every bit as healthy as they look.

Here is my own personal before and after comparison.


On the left, my hair in 2008.  On the right, my hair in 2012.  The results didn't take that long to show, but I thought these were really great comparison shots since it's roughly the same length and cut shape.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND CURLY GIRL
Here is why the method works so well. It is completely scientifically based.

Most commercial shampoos contain sulfates. Check the ingredient label on your shampoo bottle. Odds are, it contains something like "sodium lauryl sulfate" or "ammonium laurel sulfate." 

What you probably don't realize is that if you check the ingredients list on your favorite dish detergent, odds are it also contains one of those ingredients very high on the list.

That's right. One of the primary ingredients in your shampoo is the same as one of the primary ingredients that is in your dish detergent. The same stuff you are putting in your hair is the same stuff you're using to scrub the meatloaf off the dinnerware.

A fun comparison: Here is the shampoo I used before CG, next to a bottle of the dish detergent I use.
Below is a comparison of their ingredient labels. You'll see the first two ingredients are exactly the same. These two ingredients make up most of the product.

So why would they put dish detergent ingredients in shampoo? It's simple: sulfates are surfactants. Surfactants are molecules that can reduce tension between oil and water. To put it simply: they are highly effective grease fighters. They can cut through oil and grime and leave the things they touch oil-free.

Well if it cuts grease, I suppose it's ok for my hair. Wrong. And here's why.

Curly hair is fundamentally different from straight hair. Ever wonder why your friends with straight hair have glossy, shiny hair, while yours is dull and frizzy in comparison?  Straight hair is naturally better moisturized. Straight-haired people have a head start on us curlies in terms of moisture! This is because the oil secreted by the sebaceous glands in your scalp can't travel down your spirals as well as it can for straight hair. The results? Straight hair looks glossy and healthy, while curly hair looks dry and frizzy, often with an oily scalp to boot.

The overall result of using sulfate-based shampoos to clean curly hair is that your hair looks dull and dry because it is completely starved for oil and moisture, while those with straight-hair can use sulfates and still look well moisturized because they have a moisture head start and the sulfates have a harder time penetrating the hair shaft.

How can we fix this problem?

HOW CAN YOU GET YOUR HAIR CLEAN WITHOUT DESTROYING IT WITH SULFATES?
There's really good news for curlies. We can simply not shampoo our hair. We still wash it and it still gets clean. It doesn't smell and your scalp won't be oily.

How?

By replacing your harsh sulfate-based shampoo with a gentle conditioner wash, or a "co-wash".

HOW DOES CONDITIONER GET YOUR HAIR CLEAN?
Conditioners contain surfactants, just like shampoo. The difference is that the surfactants in conditioners are not anywhere near as harsh and drying on your hair as sulfate surfactants are. These gentle "secondary surfactants" will lift off dirt, oil, and grime from your hair and scalp and leave them perfectly clean with the use of manual friction. Scrub your scalp and hair with conditioner, and it will get clean.

SO IF GENTLE SURFACTANTS CLEAN YOUR HAIR, WHY DO SHAMPOOS USE SULFATES IN THE FIRST PLACE?
First of all, the harsh sulfates in shampoos and dish detergents are really cheap.

Another reason that shampoo companies put sulfates in their shampoos instead of using more gentle cleansers is that most hair products that you use to condition and style your hair contain molecules called silicones.

Silicones are all around you. They are in cookware, doctor's offices, lubricants, electronics, insulation, and hair care products.

Silicones are used in hair products because they coat the cuticle of the hair, making the layers that compose the cuticle lay flat against the hair shaft. This means that silicones can be effective quick fixes for frizz and flyaways.

WHY ARE SILICONES BAD?
Solving frizz seems like a good thing, right? So why are silicones bad?

They do not dissolve in water. Therefore, just stepping in your shower will not get rid of them. You need to use a sulfate to remove them completely. It's an endless cycle. You wash with sulfates, use silicone to calm the cuticle because the sulfates made your hair dry, then you need to wash with sulfates to get rid of the silicone.

If you simply try to cut out sulfates without cutting silicones, you won't like the result.  The silicones, which have sealed your cuticle shut, will result in build up (greasy gunk) and even such extremes as hair loss if you continue to fail to remove the silicone.

ELIMINATE SILICONES SO YOU CAN ELIMINATE SULFATES
Fortunately, there are lots of products for conditioning and styling curly hair that are sulfate free and silicone free.

This is the basis of the CG method. Get rid of sulfates and silicones, moisturize your curls, and see results.

THERE IS NO WAY I CAN WASH MY HAIR WITH CONDITIONER! IT'S TOO GREASY!
Odds are, you're wrong. There are relatively few people who truly have naturally oily scalps to the point where their hair is truly greasy without frequent sulfate cleansing.

The reason that many curly haired people believe that they must wash their hair with shampoo everyday is that their scalps are crying out for help.  When your hair is completely stripped of its natural oils by sulfates each and every day, your scalp goes into hyperactive mode. Your cells flip on a switch that says, "Help! The scalp has no oil!" and your glands dutifully respond, producing gobs of oil to compensate. Your glands don't realize that all of the extra oil they put so much effort into making is just going to be stripped again anyway the next time you shampoo.

HOW DO YOU START CG?
Before you do anything else, you must do one last wash with a sulfate-based shampoo to completely cleanse your hair of any silicones and product buildup. If you skip this step, you'll end up with gunky buildup. This step is critical.

After you've washed your hair with a sulfate shampoo for the last time, it's time to do your first cowash. This can be done in the same shower that you do your last sulfate wash in, or you can wait. If you wait however, just remember that you can't put any silicones into your hair.

HOW CAN YOU TELL IF A PRODUCT IS CG FRIENDLY?
You read the ingredients label! Silicones are very easy to spot with practice. A silicone ingredient with end with -cone, -conol, or -xane. Examples include: dimethicone, dimethiconol, amodimethicone, cyclomethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, and trimethicone. None of these are water soluble, so you cannot use them with the CG method.

Make sure you don't confuse silicones with preservatives, which frequently end in -one (rather than -cone). Methylchloroisothiazolinone, while a mouthful, is a water soluble preservative, and is perfectly CG friendly.

Another little complexity about silicones is that scientists can modify their structure to make them water soluble. These 'cones are CG friendly. They can be removed with cowashing. If a silicone ingredient (-cone, -conol, or -xane) is prefaced with PEG or PPG, it is water soluble. So PEG-12 Dimethicone is water soluble, and CG friendly.

Sum up: CG products will be silicone free conditioners, stylers, creams, gels, pomades, sprays, etc. The way to spot a cone is to look for -cone, -conol, or -xane. If there isnt a PEG- or PPG- in front of that cone, it isn't water soluble, and therefore isn't CG friendly.

I DID MY LAST SULFATE SHAMPOO AND I'M READY TO COWASH. NOW WHAT?
Pick a light, silicone free conditioner. The most popular and readily available conditioners to cowash are the Suave Naturals conditioners (many like Suave Naturals Coconut) and the VO5 conditioners (these are lighter than the Suave line). There are plenty of other options, but these are good starter cowashes because they are cheap and easy to obtain.  I've got a list at the bottom of this post with conditioner and product recommendations.

Here's how to cowash. Take a large puddle of the conditioner and use the pads of your fingertips (not your nails) and scrub your scalp just as you would have done with shampoo. If you need more conditioner, use it. The amount each person will need will vary. If your hair feels dry, use more. If your hair soaks it all up, use more. Don't be afraid of it.  The key is to really scrub. Scrub until your arms are tired. Scrub all over your entire scalp. Enjoy the massage!

After you've scrubbed your whole scalp with conditioner, take another small puddle and scrub the length like you would with shampoo.

When you rinse it out, keep scrubbing. Scrubbing while rinsing ensures that all the grime and oil is being lifted and carried away.

Now you've cowashed and your hair is clean but moisturized!

AFTER COWASHING, NOW WHAT?
After cowashing, you'll want to use a thicker, richer conditioner to moisturize your hair. The key to success of the CG routine is moisture. This conditioner can be either entirely or partially rinsed out (if you partially rinse out, the remainder functions as a leave in).

There are lots and lots of conditioners that are CG friendly.  I've listed some links at the bottom of this post with some good stand-bys.  You just have to know where to look.  More and more stores have organic sections now which carry lines with silicone-free conditioners. Organic stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's also carry several CG conditioners. Sally's Beauty and ULTA carry some. Then, there is the wide world of conditioners available online. Check down below for some starter ideas! Also, most of the users of naturallycurly.com's forum CurlTalk list their favorite products in their signatures, so find a member with hair like yours, and see what they are using!

PUT DOWN THAT BRUSH AND STEP AWAY FROM THE TERRY CLOTH!
Never ever ever ever EVER comb or brush curly hair dry! This is begging for damage and breakage! Bristle brushes and brushes with little balls on the end of the spokes break up your curl pattern and cause frizz. Wide toother combs are more gentle, mimicking your fingers.

Terry cloth causes frizz in curly hair because it takes off so much of that moisture you're working so hard to put into your hair! Many products are much more effective when applied to soaking wet hair, so don't get rid of the extra water! You'll get less frizz if you use things like old t-shirts or microfiber towels on your hair rather than terry cloth because they are absorbent but not super absorbent.

STYLING CG CURLS
Now your hair is conditioned, wet, gently combed with hands or a wide toothed comb, and ready to be styled! I couldn't list all of the CG products on here if I tried, and as the population is starting to demand more natural products, more lines are popping up here and there offering you CG alternatives. There are products of every type for every price range. Do some research on naturallycurly.com, read my reviews, ask questions, and read ingredients labels to find fabulous silicone free products! Experimentation is the name of the game. Everyone's hair is different. Something that gives one curly bouncy, glossy curls, could cause dryness and breakage in another curly. When you are starting CG, I recommend keeping it simple. A leave in and a clear gel should do it for the first month or so. 

METHOD MADNESS!
There are lots of methods for applying products to and styling your hair.  Here's a rundown of my favorite tips.

CLARIFYING
Sometimes no matter how careful you are with avoiding silicones, your hair will get build up and need to be clarified. This could happen because of a product you're are using, which might have an ingredient our hair doesn't like. For example, many avoid castor oil because it builds up. Some people have build up issues with polyquats. When buildup happens, you can use a sulfate wash to nip it in the bud, or you can try a gentler alternative like a sulfate-free shampoo.

TRANSITION PERIOD
There will likely be a time period in which your hair looks worse right after switching to CG. This is caused by your scalp not adjusting to the lack of sulfates as fast as you are changing what you are doing to your hair. Try to keep the routine very simple at first. A cowash, rinse out, leave in, and clear silicone free gel are all you need.  The transition period can last anywhere from a couple of days to up to 6 weeks (this is rare). Don't give up hope. Your scalp will likely settle down, and you will see the results you want.

WAVIES AND MODIFIED CG
Wavy hair is in between curly and straight, and so while CG may work for some wavies, it sometimes does not work for others. Wavies are not as porous as curlies, and they often have more moisturized hair to start. This places them at risk for overconditioning, which is where they hair has too much moisture. It becomes impossibly soft and fluffy. Many wavies find that this can be avoided with the occasional or consistent use of a sulfate-free shampoo (low poo).

HOW TO FIND PRODUCTS THAT WORK FOR YOUR HAIR TYPE
I used to have a section here about hair porosity, hair texture, etc, but I wanted to simplify this page a little bit.  This info is now contained in my post about finding the right products for your hair. Part 1 and Part 2.

Some Good Starter CG Products:

I have tried and enjoy all of these products!


Conditioner Washes:

Sulfate Free Shampoo:

Heavier Conditioners ("Rinse Outs"):

Leave Ins:

Deep Treatments:

Styling Products:
Styling Tools

112 comments:

Sarah said...

Hello! I've been on naturallycurly.com for just over a month. I wish that you had written this a month ago. It would have been so helpful. It's been only in the past few days where I've felt confident on the boards, understanding the methods and CG in general. Thanks for this! I'm still struggling with finding the right CG products for myself. Your list of no-no silicones is much shorter and easier to understand than anything else I've found! : )

Laura Lee said...

I'm so happy you found it helpful! Don't give up hope though. I know I couldn't have written it a month ago because I was still clueless! I've been CG since Nov 1st. Once it clicks and you get a good round of products going, it's so much easier. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

thanks for writing this, i was getting so overwhelmed!!!

Girl with Curl said...

Good article and summary. CG is overwhelming at first but, now that I have my own routine it is a lot easier.

Laura Lee said...

Happy to help :D

- B said...

This is an amazing article! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. It helps a ton. I'm just starting CG and am so glad you wrote this!!

soul-serenity said...

I have been cowashing for a while now but it seems I have been missing a step. I use Suave Naturals Aloe and Waterlily cond. and it works great but I don't use another conditioner after that.

Also, I didn't know about the silicones and my leave-in that I use which is Fructis leave-in cond. cream, I just saw has amodimethicone in it. Do I need start my co-wash routine over. I am a 4a hair type and I do have loads of frizziness in my hair. Do I need to go buy another conditioner or can I stick with just using my Suave and leaving a tad in for the leave-in. Please help me, I'm on NatCurl forum to under Mzmillion so you can reply to me there or email me personally so I get your reponse. Thanks...

gracefulvintage said...

Thanks so much for writing this, I was a little confused with the CG site....TOO Much info to absorb. You've done a great job breaking it down in an organized way. I have already have conefree conditioner that was on your list and I have made the flaxseed gel. I will try it tommorow. I just wish it didnt take weeks to look good after one starts, but I will be patient...Thank You Again!!!!

gracefulvintage said...

Thanks so much for writing this, I was a little confused with the CG site....TOO Much info to absorb. You've done a great job breaking it down in an organized way. I have already have conefree conditioner that was on your list and I have made the flaxseed gel. I will try it tommorow. I just wish it didnt take weeks to look good after one starts, but I will be patient...Thank You Again!!!!

gracefulvintage said...

oooops!

Ariel said...

Thanks for writing this! I've been looking around reading about all this but like you said - it's all spread out and overwhelming! It's also nice that weren't any abbreviations.

Jamie said...

Laura Lee, your post has helped me tremendously. I felt lost reading all the information on naturallycurly.com and her forums. I just didn't know where to start. Right now I started the co-wash and plop, and on my quest for a thick conditioner and curl hold products. This is my first day, and sleeping in my plopped hair brought out some good curls, but after a few hours they fell. Here's my site: http://www.we3dements.com/MomMom/cg.html if you are interested.
Thanks again for this page!
LadyJai

Laura Lee said...

Ariel--I'm so glad it helped you! Make sure to keep us all updated about how CG is working for you!! Nothing better than a success story

LadyJai--I'm glad the post helped you as well!! The hair is looking lovely! My best advice for newbies is to just keep things simple while you adjust. I spent a good 2 weeks with cowash, a rinse out, and a clear gel. Of course, if you can pick up more and it works for you, rock on!

Meggy said...

I just started today. Please tell me if i did things correct. I washed my hair with my normal shampoo-- with sulfates. Then i used suave natural cond and massaged my scalp , then washed the ends. I used my hand to get out a lot of the water. Then i used a tee shirt and blotted it. Then used some deeper cond and left it in. I massaged that through my whole hair. Then once hair started to dry i used herbal essance gel- with no silicone.
My question - what is plotting? i tried to look at the video but it would only play like 2 seconds.

RawBin said...

Thanks for putting this out there! I've had wavy hair for years but it usually looks frizzy and I always noticed that my hair was at it's best after 4 days of not shampooing. For the past year I've only shampooed once a week. I've been worrying about the chemicals going into my body thru my soaps and lotions and found this site to be helpful
http://cosmeticsdatabase.com/splash.php?URI=%2Findex.php
I met a woman, Happy Oasis(founder of Raw Spirit Festival), who has straight shiny hair, but hasn't shampooed her hair in 8 years. I used a vinegar rinse to get out some of the build up but it made my hair smell like salad dressing.
Anyway, I'm now in my 3rd week of not shampooing. No itching, no oily yuck. More curls. I thought I was a "wavy" but maybe I'm a "curly" and just didn't know it!

Donna said...

Question? I won't ever have to shampoo again? What about going to the salon? Does coloring your hair matter (PM Shines)? How often do I co-wash? Do I condition/rinse every day?

Laura Lee said...

Donna-I highly suggest you join the CurlTalk forum on naturallycurly.com. You'll find a lot of good information there.

Whether you shampoo again, how often you cowash, etc really depends on your hair. Shampoo with sulfates has not touched my hair since Nov. 1 2008. I have, however, used a "low poo" (a shampoo that is sulfate free) about 5 times in the time span.

I cowash every day or every other day depending on what kind of time I have. Some curlies on CurlTalk go 3,4,5 days, even a week in some cases between cowashings (those people often water wash).

I don't color my hair, so I know absolutely nothing about how hair color affects CG. Luckily, there is a whole forum on CurlTalk about coloring your hair!

I use a Deva salon, which means that the stylists there have been trained by Lorraine Massey, the founder of the Curl Girl method, so getting my hair cut is not an issue. If you have a good relationship with your stylist, some curlies bring their own products with them when they get their hair cut. If you don't feel comfortable with that, you could wash your hair right before you leave and show up and ask not to be shampooed, just cut. Of course you could let them do your hair however they want, but if the products contain silicones, you'll need to sulfate poo them out after the cut

Donna said...

I have dry scalp every winter and it is driving me crazy. I have been CG for about 2 weeks now and the flakes and itching are still there. I have very, very thick, somewhat coarse hair and it is to the middle of my back. I have been CO every other day. Any idea how to get rid of it? I have read about AVC rinse, but not sure where to do this in the routine.
Thanks

Laura Lee said...

Donna: I'd try a brown sugar scrub. Use 3 tablespoons of your co-wash conditioner to one tablespoon of coarse grained brown sugar and scrub your scalp very thoroughly with this mixture. The sugar exfoliates and gives you a little extra cleaning power and takes care of white flakes well for me.

Also, check and double check your products for silicone (end in -cone, -conol, or -xane) to make sure you haven't given yourself a case of silicone build up on accident!

Sarah S said...

Wow this is great! I feel like these are all the questions new users ask on NC. I'm going to link to if from my wiki:
http://www.wikihow.com/Follow-the-Curly-Girl-Method-for-Curly-Hair

It'd actually be amazing if I could use the images--they would have to be relicensed under creative commons however. If you want the full spiel and don't mind you can email me at the address on my profile. :)

Laura Lee said...

Sarah S: I certainly wouldn't have any problem at all with being linked on your wikihow. If you're talking about using the images that are in this one post (as in, not other images from other posts), that would be fine as well.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this really helped me. I just saw some girl talking about how she just quit shampooing and it sounded more whimsical than realistic.

I just had a few questions. How often do you deep condition? As often as you cowash? I have really frizzzzy hair. I went on naturally curly, but most of the people there are transitioning from relaxing to natural. I've never relaxed my hair (though i have seriously considered it). I just want to transsition from shampooing to no silicones or silicates. I have 3b-3c hair. I've been using a leave-in conditioner by it has the "bad stuff" in it. DO you use a leave-in and then a gel? Would that help to control major frizz?

thanks so much!

Laura Lee said...

To anon:

Definitely don't need to deep condition as often as you cowash. Cowashing is replacing your shampooing. A lot of people when starting out have to do it every day. If you deep conditioned that much, you'd become over conditioned very quickly. A good rule of thumb for really dry hair starting out is once weekly. Then you'll scale it back.

I think you must've gone to the transitioning section of the nc.com forum. If you go to just general hair discussion, hardly anyone on there is transitioning and it's just curly girls trying to make their curls better.

A good starting routine while you adjust is cowash, leave in, gel. Your cowash can actually function as your leave in if you want. After you cowash, just take a little puddle of your conditioner and run it through your hair. Rinse it out but not all the way. Free leave in. Of course, going out and getting a leave in works just fine as well. I love Kinky Curly Knot Today as my leave in. You can get it at some whole foods stores or online.

A store bought one that a lot of curlies like is Giovanni Direct Leave In. You can get it at Target (in the same aisle as the burts bees stuff), Rite Aid (general hair care aisle), Whole Foods (hair care aisle), and Kroger, and now some walmart (in the organic section, you may have to ask for help in finding it).

There are lots of inexpensive gels to try while you adjust to CG. The Herbal Essences line of gels (ranked in order from most to least hold: Set Me Up, Body Envy, and Totally Twisted) is CG friendly. I personally used Totally Twisted while I adjusted but I have a loser curl pattern than you so you may want to experiment with Body Envy or Set Me Up

Lemme know if you have more questions! I'm glad the blog has helped :)

Andrea C said...

This article has helped me soooo much. I'm just starting CG and it's very confusing at first. I spent hours in the store looking at conditioners and hair gels and just kept second guessing everything. Your list of silicones helped me tremendously. I read the Curly Girl book and it said nothing about one last wash with a sulfate shampoo, but it makes sense. So tomorrow, I'm going to do that and start my CG all over again. But thanks to you I feel sooooo much more sure of myself and my curls. :)

Stacy said...

Thanks so much, it helps a lot. One question though, I notice some lines have sulfate-free shampoos but the accompanying conditioner has a cone. An example is alterna Hemp with organics straight. Shampoo is sulfate-free but condish has Cyclopentasiloxane and , Dimethiconol.

Doesn't this mean overtime you would end up with buildup on your hair? Or am I not understanding this well..

Thanks! Current Frizzy girl hoping to transform with CO method.

Anonymous said...

Hello Laura ~
Thank you for your guide to going CG... I have been reading through the CG site for a couple of days, and I have to say I have never been more confused. I want to start the process of going CG - so I have a question... I see you recommend some suave products and other products I can easily get my hands on... but what about the Deva Curl line - I mean, isn't that what the CG process is all about? I was about to order the whole line to get started - but after your blog, I am just wondering if I should - OR if I should just buy the products you are using? Help me pick some products.
Currently - not CG - I shampoo and condition my hair daily with moisturizing shampoo and conditioner... use a leave in conditioner... and then apply gel or mousse and air dry. I can't exactly decide what my hair is but I am guessing 3A - it's curly, but fine.
Thanks again for your help and I am looking forward to your advice!!
~Debbie

Anonymous said...

I've been using a sulfate free shampoo (made by Whole Foods the 365 series) for almost two years now. Do I need to go back and use a wash with a shampoo that has a sulfate in it before I start trying the CG method? Please help! tartseam@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Oh Laura Lee, I think I just figured out my problem. I've been using the sulfate free shampoo for two years but I haven't been able to rid my life of 'cones yet. But that all changes tomorrow.
Since I have still be using products laced with 'cones, I still need to use a shampoo that has sulfates to get the 'cones out before I start my CG life? Yes? Let me know, since I probably sound really confused.
tartseam@yahoo.com

Sarah S said...

Laura Lee: Thanks! I meant the images in this post, yes. I'll be adding them to the wikiHow soon. Thank you! :)

This is the official wikiHow message:

"We license everything on wikiHow with a Creative Commons License, so other people can freely copy and redistribute our work, therefore guaranteeing that wikiHow will always be free. See our "Terms of Use" for details. http://www.wikihow.com/Terms-of-Use "

Dori said...

Amazing post, thank you for this! I just decided to stop Japanese straightening my hair so your advice will be coming in handy very soon!

Any transition styling tips?

Renata said...

Double check that 365 brand, At least last year, the shampoos had sulfates in them. Even some products that say SLS-free still have sulfates.

Mègan said...

Thank you SO much for this article! I now understand my hair better, and I understand the CG method better! THANK YOU! =]

Anonymous said...

Hi is PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate a secondary surfactant ?

Rachel said...

Great explanation--thanks!

Arie said...

HI. i swim daily will this mess up the CG method??
How often should i co-wash and condition??
thanks

ChrissyD said...

Hi Laura,
I'm so glad I found your blog! I'd been surfing around trying to find a solution for my hair and my daughter's hair. We had already made some changes, but I didn't really understand what our hairdresser explained to me & now I do.
After only a few days we've seen a dramatic difference! My daughter's hair especially is back to being shiny curly and managable.
I can't thank you enough!!!

Kellie said...

Hello! I was wondering if Burt's Bees super shiny grapefruit and sugar beet shampoo is okay to wash with if I use a non sulfate conditioner after?

Laura Lee said...

Kellie: I think you are a bit confused (totally understandable!)

What you need is a non-sulfate shampoo (called a "low poo") or a conditioner wash (serves the same purpose as a shampoo or low poo but is far more gentle). What you need to avoid in conditioners is silicones.

I'd suggest trying the full CG method first (cowash, non-silicone conditioner to rinse out, and a clear, silicone free gel).

A good starter routine would be something like:
1) Conditioner wash (called cowashing) with a Suave Naturals Conditioner (many like the tropical coconut variety).
2) Rinse out with Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition (the one with 3 oils)
3) Apply a clear, silicone free gel like Herbal Essences Totally Twisted, Set Me Up, or Body Envy. I prefer the tubes rather than the spray gels. Apply this by scrunching (see the right side of the blog for a video tutorial on scrunching in products).

If you want, you can also find a silicone free leave in. There are lots and lots available online, like from Curl Junkie (just google it), Kinky Curly, etc etc. Check out Naturally Curly's CurlTalk forum for lots more ideas for leave ins, curl creams, gels, conditioners, and other Curly Girl products :)

Martha said...

So so so helpful! Thank you very much. I've been CG since July 2008 but of course it's been quite a journey. I just last week clarified my hair with Giovanni 50-50 (low) poo for the first time since I started CG. Then I carefully read through Tiffany's step by step, and I followed it EXACTLY. And low and behold - I had perfect hair. 2nd day hair was amazing. I also pineappled overnight for the first time ever. I think that really helped-kept my curls from getting squashed and kept the crown protected from more friction and friz.
Anyway, I've been trying to wrap my brain around dew points and porosity - your synthesis is VERY helpful!

Anonymous said...

Hey Laura Lee, I have got to say, I have printed out most of your directions and follow them rather than following NaturallyCurly.com. You are so much more clear about things and explain it in ways that I can understand. I just made one mistake so far in my hair gel selection, but I am going to rectify that with Herbal Essence Totally Twisted. I looked at it and got so bogged down in the ingredients that I did not think it CG friendly! Thank you for taking the time to do this! I feel like you really care and you are much nicer when answering questions than some on NC.com have been! I appreciate your effort and your dedication to this blog! Thanks again! Robin B., South Carolina

Anonymous said...

Hey... what a great post! I have naturally curly hair and am just beginin to accept it! my first time with ot straightning, need a bit of getting use to , i must admit! just one question....i don't like to wash or co wash (haven't co washed yet!) or wet my hair everyday...was wondering what do you do for 2nd day curls?

Krysta said...

I know I'm really late with this, thank you so much for this post!! i didnt even know this curly girl thing was that in-depth.. i've been using a flat iron for years when i get tired of trying to manage my curly hair, but now im missing it - the curls are not as they used to be, very limp and borderline wavy :(:( i think i've done a number on my hair, at least now i've started to revive them by NOT using the flat iron anymore...i'm starting this method tomorrow, and ive just thrown all my products away! very informative, clear and concise! :)

kristi71 said...

In your updated version you gave info on the texture. My daughter who is 21 mnths, has fine hair, I believe. You said to use protein. At what point do I need to do this? Can I still co-wash? Etc...
Thanks so much for the info I been searching so long for.

**Anyone w/info please chime in. :)

Claire said...

Hi :)
I loved this article it was very helpful.
I was wondering what the difference between a cowash and regular conditioner is?

Roswenthe said...

This guide has been really helpful to me in sifting through all the information on the site. I had short (pixie-length) hair for 10 years, and now that it's growing out, I didn't know what to do with it. I am planning to try the steps in the guide and see how my hair turns out. I think I'm a 3a, but I'm letting it dry as I write so I can take a pic and let people help me figure it out.

rra-h said...

Martha made reference to Tiffany's step by step. Can you tell me where I would find this? I am just beginning the CG process and need all the help I can get.

Thanks!

Fairyjasbeauty said...

very very useful and so much info :) really helps as i've just decided to go CG. I've thought about it before but have just seen the thread on naturallycurly.com and seen all the lovely before and after pics from the cg method...i hope i get the same with my damaged curls! (too much straightening).

beautiful disaster said...

Hi I am so happy I found your blog and know about CG now! I used to have beautiful naturally curly hair that was perfect ringlets and spirals. I used to have people complimenting my hair all the time and was the envy of my family. All that changed after I started coloring, bleaching and getting extensions in my hair. :(( Now my hair is a little wavy but not curly :(( Do you think my curls will ever come back?? It is heart breaking for me because my curly hair was a part of my identity and without my curls I don't feel like me. Thanks and starting today I have hope...I am going CG and hopeful it will bring my curls back .

Mirage Laviolette said...

This sounds like fantastic advice! I've been waiting to find a method that actually had some science behind it, and this is pure chemistry. <3 I will have to give this a try on my dry, frizzy mess.

Anonymous said...

Now i see a silver lining for my clowning glory or crowning agony of a hair. I feel hope :-) thanks, you've summarized and cleared out CG method for me. Many many thanks

The Keylors said...

You are awesome! I got SO overwhelmed by the cg page (even though I appreciate that they started all of this very much). Thank you so much for the breakdown, the easy instructions, and for the cheap starter products. It's really hard to dish out $15 a product when you are in the "trying" phase. I love that I can go to Wal-mart tonight and get started tomorrow.

I did have two quick questions...
Is it possible for hair to be coarse and fine? ha!! I can't figure out which one I am, which is a problem since fine hair needs protein and coarse needs to avoid it. : )

When you say "needs protein", what do you mean? Can you give me some examples?

Thank you!
Ashley

Anonymous said...

I have a question.

It says that the conditioners contain low sulfates, (or something like that)

Couldn't you use silicone, and wash you hair with conditioner to get the silicone out?
Thanks

Anonymous said...

I have very long, curly, dull, dry hair that I flat iron every single day. I want to try this no shampoo thing but I still want to straighten my hair. Can I do the curly girl routine and still have awesome looking straightened hair?

Miwako chan said...

Hello! Thanks for the info, i arrived to your blog because a friend told me about you.

I am the admin from a spanish forum about curly hair, and I think this information is very usefull. I would like to know if I can translate all this information and post it in the forum (of course, saying where I found it)

Thank you very much -you can answer me in my blog if you have any trouble-

Ann said...

What if you already have cone overload? I went to a new hair stylist who colored my hair with Chi hair color- Horrible stuff! It left my hair heavy and slippery and weighted. The color apparently has ionic charged cones that actually enter the hair cortex! I have already washed with a clearifier and baking soda /ACV to remove but it turns my hair to straw and the cones are not budging! Any advice?

Ginger said...

First off, you are an absolutely brilliant girl. Your info is very clear and well written. I have a question for you because I have searched all over the internet trying to find an answer that isn't an assumption. On one restorative conditioner that I found in the shower (Redken Extreme Rescue Force) has a cone called Divinyldimethicone/Dimethicone Copolymer. While Dimethicone Copolymer is a water soluable silicone, its slashed with the Divinyldimethicone. Does that mean that the Divinyldimethicone is water soluable as well? Would you happen to know this? Thank you so much for this blog. You have changed my hair forever.

Chilidog said...

This is amazing, I am just getting started with the CG method my self, and this is a treasure trove!
My question is how often do people do the "co wash" and condition. I have what I think is a combination of 2b and 2c hair, and its pretty fine.

Anonymous said...

Just started this and your guide is PERFECT! Thank you..Now off to do my first CG method steps :)

Melanie said...

Thanks a lot for taking the time to make this post. I've read the Curly Girl handbook but found this blog to be much more useful. Wish me luck!

Anonymous said...

I have straight hair thats fine and flat. To fix the flat look I permed my hair. But i keep it in pony tail cause i dont like the frizzy look. I want my perm to have the wet look through put the day n not frizzy. Would the CG method work for me or no since my natural hair is straight?

MaryBe said...

It's incredible that, all these years after writing this, it's still an excellent how-to guide! I just went CG at the beginning of this month and love it. Your post has so much useful information. Thanks so much, hope you are well

פורום הסרת שיער said...

Some things never change :) great guide! thanks!!

CurlyGirl said...

Thank you so much for all of the information you provided on your site-- I am just starting the curly girl method (DAY 3!) and I actually started my own blog too to share my journey with others who may be struggling with the method-- you can check it out at curlygirlmethod.blogspot.com

thanks again for all your help!

Anonymous said...

How do you make the flaxseed gel.??

~smoothsoulsistah~ said...

Wow! I have been natural for a month and a half now and I must say this has been the most informational read I've come across! I have learned so much! I'm trying the CG method and I'm exited to see what's going to work for me. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

can black women do the curly girl method to

plumbing supplies said...

I found this blog really helpful. Thank you so much for sharing it. I think my friends will like too.

angelita23 said...

Ok, I have a question. I bought the Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Conditioner and it contains amodimethicone. Did it not previously contain that silicone, or did I buy the wrong thing?

Anonymous said...

Yep--they changed it. It now has cones. I found this out the hard way, too! (I use the conditioner instead of shave cream to shave legs so it wouldn't go to waste.) I like Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner for co-wash; Suave Tropical Coconut conditioner for conditioner/leave-in; Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Gel. All pretty cheap! Good luck! BTW-I'm a 2B.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info! I needed this when in college a few years ago. I would have saved so much time going curly. Seems now a lot of people are going with the Mixed Chicks curly style. I am! Thank you again, and go curly college girls!

Maddy said...

Oh my gosh! I had no clue what i was washing my hair with! Thank you!

Quelin Sepulveda said...

Hi!!

i loved your blog, it has been very helpful. I have a question though, L'Oreal has released a sulphates/silicone-free line which includes a nourishing shampoo/cond. and a smoothing serum. However, I noticed that the serum contains silicones and it doesn't seem to be water soluble but because its part of the same line of products I don't know if I should just use it? Surely it doesn't make sent to put a product there if it cant be washed out by the shampoo from the same line...right? (if that makes sense haha)

Thanks!!!
Quelin

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Helen B. @ Blue Eyed Beauty Blog said...

I am one of those girls who fell in love with the curly girl method and out of love with my straightener! So glad I found that book!! I now take really good care of my hair and never use heat on it! I actually write a lot about what I do for my hair on my blog.

Helen
Blue Eyed Beauty Blog

free car ads said...

I am thoroughly convinced in this said post. I am currently searching for ways in which I could enhance my knowledge in this said topic you have posted here. It does help me a lot knowing that you have shared this information here freely. I love the way the people here interact and shared their opinions too. I would love to track your future posts pertaining to the said topic we are able to read.

TAMMY NOEL said...

I am so glad I found this information, its very informative and easy to follow. I AM also reading the Curly Girl handbook. Pls continue to update us on the CG method

Thank you,
Natural54

natural54 said...

Great work!!!!"

Melissa Bennett said...

This is amazing! I am so glad I found all this information in one place. Many thanks. I was going no-poo with backing soda and apple cider vinegar, but I was told to brush my hair twice daily with a boar bristle brush and all my waves were going away! One side of my hair had no wave to it at all! I wanted my hair to be more wavy and curly, not less! I will be trying many of your suggestions and have bookmarked the site as I know I will be coming back often for more. Thanks again. You must be made of awesome or something.

Kristý said...

Hello, great article! Please, do you know If divinyldimethicone/dimethicone copolymer is water soluble? I have no idea and it would really help me.. Thanks!

Laura said...

Kristy: Off the top of my head, I would guess that ingredient would take more than water or conditioner washing to remove. If it's in something you love, you could try to see if you can get away with using a sulfate free shampoo maybe once a week without experience buildup from whatever product it is.

Anonymous said...

I really, really enjoyed reading this blog post, and I want to start the CG method. However I was wondering if you knew some of the cleansing ingredients in conditioners because I want to get one that will for sure get my hair clean. My hair is more on the wavy side, so I don;t want it to go uncleansed! Thanks for your help!

Laura said...

Anon: Look for ingredients like behentrimonium methosulfate, behentrimonium chloride, cetrimonium bromide or chloride, stearalkonium chloride, or stearamidopropyl dimethylamine. These will usually be found with a fatty alcohol (cetyl-, cetearyl-, stearyl-, or behenyl- alcohol).

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Laura! I have found a perfect conditioner!

Nicole said...

Wow, this is by far the most important article I've ever read about curly hair. The hair mask i am using seems to be perfect for CGM. I must ditch the mousse and curl cream I am using because they contain silicons and I didn't even know. I love putting olive and coconut oil on my hair then wash it. Is the conditioner able to get rid of these oils? Also, is the conditioner enough to wash my hair after dyeing it? I will start CGM by the next wash and I will surely write a post on my curly hair blog to share my experience. Thanks for this wonderful post. This is the first time I am reading this, even though we are in 2013 :) better late than never.

Laura said...

I'm glad this post has been helpful for you!

Conditioner should definitely be able to take care of the olive and coconut oils with enough physical scrubbing action.

Hair dyes are a little trickier. I would follow the manufacturer directions for your hair dye. So if they say to wash with shampoo, I'd wash with shampoo (once won't undo all your work).

Sarah said...

Let me just say...wow. I LOVE your blog! I've never seen curly hair explained so fully! I'm actually writing this post as i am in quite a hair predicament, and hope that you can help. I live abroad in an area of Africa that stays in-between 60 degrees and 85 degrees all year long. My hair is 3c curls (mostly) and 3-4 inches longer than shoulder length. It is fairly porous (when i slide my finger up a curl, it frizzes), and somewhere between medium to course. The problem is this: The first 3 or 4 months after i moved here, my hair was near perfect. Apparently i didn't appreciate it enough, because now i'm lucky if it looks ok twice a month. My guess is my hair got used to the climate and the products I'm using. That leads me to the next problem. I can't buy hair products here (no availability), and i can't get them shipped either. Consequentially, i can only buy hair products twice a year when i am in the US. I also can't get my hands on anti-humectants such as olive oil, as they are very expensive here. So far, the only product that seems to be of any use to us curlies, and is cheap here, is apple cider vinegar. I clicked on the link in one of your posts, but it looks like people are very confused about the ACV process. Should i try that and hope it works? Currently i am using John Frieda conditioner, John Frieda Curl redefining mousse (i have used the gel, but it makes my hair really crunchy), a Garnier Fructis smoothing cream/leave in conditioning cream that has now been discontinued (no idea what I'm going to do about that) and a Garnier Fructis frizz creme. I wash my hair every other day--usually after school around 4pm because it literally takes 4 hours to dry, and if i go to bed with it wet, it's a mess in the morning. My other option is to wake up at 4 am and wash it then. It actually turns out better when i do that, but if i wake up that early for half the week, i won't be alive by the end of it. My hair is also very unpredictable. I have no idea how it's going to look after i've slept on it, or when i get home from school. My hair tends to frizz mostly on the top near my part (during the night), which makes it difficult to do any sort of hairstyle. It also gets continuously frizzier throughout the day. Any ideas? Any hairstyles, product recommendations or tips would be absolutely amazing! Thank you!

dandy lion said...

Your after pic looks great! The curls look more formed, soft, and frizz free!

dennisa said...

I want you to thank for your time of this wonderful read!!! I definately enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog!!!!

Meha said...

Are anti frizz serums healthy for the hair? Such as Dove's Hair Nourishing Anti Frizz Serum?

romano said...

hello, does anyone know how we are meant to dry the hair after applying product to soaking hair? If you leave it it will take hours? Please let me know?

romano said...

many serums contain bad alcohols that dry out your hair, even high end ones like l'oreal :/

Alexa said...

Hey, do you know if the Organix hair products are good for curly hair? I have been using those recently. And which of these products come with the most product? because I'm going to college soon and don't want to constantly buy stuff for my hair

AJ said...

Many use the "t-shirt method" or "plopping" for drying hair. Google it, it's really easy. You simply take a towel and roll or turban your hair into. I haven't used a towel on hair in forever....http://www.wikihow.com/Follow-the-Curly-Girl-Method-for-Curly-Hair

Brython said...

My hair is similar to yours in length and curl. How do you get it looking so neat? I've been no-poo for years but have just gone full CG in the last week, and my hair looks horribly messy without combing or brushing. I like a tousled look, but this is bad! Any ideas? And THANK YOU for this great site!

ZeldDanielle said...

Old T-Shirts or microfiber towels

ZeldaDanielle said...

She says you can use wide-toothed combs or fingers :)

Jessa said...

Organix are okay, but if memory serves the conditioners contain silicones. As for heading off to college, the bottles are pretty small and (at least to me) fairly expensive.

These may not work for you, but I have fine, low to normal porosity, wavy-loosely curly hair and my favorite low-cost, lots-of-product options are:

Suave for co-washing (look for bottles marked "33% more" -- they are bigger for the same price! also, I find that if I dilute my co-washing conditioner before using it, it works just as well and I can get more use out of the same bottle)

Tresseme Naturals Moisturizing Conditioner with Aloe Vera and Avocado is my moisturizing conditioner of choice - $5 for 25 oz, and it is really thick so you can use less than you'd have to with other brands. To conserve product, don't wash it all out so it can double as your leave-in.

LA Looks Sport Xtreme Gel (or another in the LA Looks line; they have a lot of affordable options, many of which are silicone-free) - 20 oz./$2 on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Looks-Sport-Xtreme-Level-20-Ounce/dp/B000A3V2BI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374768665&sr=8-1&keywords=la+looks+sport+gel).

Jessa said...

Once you dry it with a t-shirt or microfiber towel, you can either leave it to air-dry (it will probably take at least an hour) or with a hairdryer, preferably set on cool. If you use a hairdryer, use a diffuser - without that, it's way too rough for curly hair.

Me said...

Did you use gel in the after picture?

maureen said...

I must tell you that I am well beyond "dorm room" age but was thrilled to find your guide, two years ago, when after almost half a century, I decided to embrace my curls! Your guide has been invaluable! I have forwarded the link to a large number of friends and family. I have even recommended it to strangers on the street who have complimented my curls! Thank you for all the research (and translation) you have done.

angie said...

I know personally for me anything that has Cetrly Alcohol in it as an ingredient, especially if it is closer to the start of the ingredient list it kills my hair! Alcohol should not be used on your hair! it is so drying! I've switched myself over to a fully natural tea shampoo with tea leaves right in the bottle ! its been fantastic

Laura said...

Cetyl alcohol isn't a drying alcohol, actually. It comes from coconut oil (or palm oil) and it's a very fatty acid, making it a great conditioning agent for most people. I would double check and make sure that there isn't some other possible culprit. Of course, it could just be a bad ingredient for you, but it certainly doesn't act like say ethanol or propanol or other truly drying alcohols.

Here's some info on cetyl alcohol for you: http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com/2011/01/ingredients-dictionary-cetyl-alcohol.html

Sammy said...

Your post is wonderful! I came across it one day while searching the internet for solutions to my frizzy-wavy-mess. I have pretty wavy hair that has an irregular curl pattern and has been so dry lately. I read your post, found the DevaCurl products you recommended at my local salon and have tried them out for a week. So far, the results are AWESOME! I've noticed my hair has been much more moisturized and I'm getting more of a curl than I normally have. Co-washing makes my hair feel smooth and I love the Angel (has a new name now...) DevaCurl Styling Gel. Thank you!! Definitely following your blog for more hair tips in the future.

Anonymous said...

The curly girl works particularly for me being a black girl. My hair now has the most amazing definition. I share my experience on www.blackcurlygirlmethod.com

nidhi said...

Hi! Okay, to start off i really like your blog. :) I have kinda- curly, kinda- wavy hair and after reading your story, I'd love to switch to the CG method. Do you know of any good natural hair products available in India? (I'm Indian by the way :D )

Fajar Sinteniki said...

The article in this blog, especially about tips for curly hair is nice/i good. will use this blog for refference my blog http://www.bestcurlyhair.com can i use it?

curlshairs said...

That's right. One of the primary ingredients in your shampoo is the same as one of the primary ingredients that is in your dish detergent. The same stuff you are putting in your hair is the same stuff you're using to scrub the meatloaf off the dinnerware. Thank you for this article!

http://www.curls.biz/

curlshairs said...

Some good steps are care naturally curly hair. Many people are required healthy and natural curly hair products.


http://www.curls.biz/

Sai Khatri said...

Unable to understand why I have dry n frizzy hair after co wash n leave in. Using Enliven as co wash conditioner n leave in. Please help.

Sai Khatri said...

Hi nidhi ! I am facing the same problem. Unable to find good CG product in India. Please let me know if you have found any products or ordered anything online that really works for Indian weather n curls. Thanks.

curlshairs said...

I really liked reading this blog post, and I want to start the CG method. However I was thinking if you knew some of the washing components in conditioners because I want to get one that will for sure get my hair clean. My hair is more on the wavy side, so I don’t want it to go uncleanness! Thanks for your help!

www.curls.biz

Allison said...

I'm not sure if you have already answered this question but .... is there such a thing as a CG suitable colour range? I'm pretty sure my hairdresser doesn't use one, but I love how she cuts my hair. Soooo, I was going to try & colour myself :) Thanks in advance.