The Curly Girl Method, also known as the CGM, is an approach to hair care designed specifically for naturally curly and naturally textured hair. The method is specific for hair that has not been chemically or heat straightened.
In 2001 the Curly Girl Method was introduced to a wider audience by hairstylist Lorraine Massey, in her bestselling book, Curly Girl: The Handbook. As a professional hairstylist and curl specialist, Lorraine has travelled the world sharing her passion and knowledge for the natural beauty that is curly hair.
The Curly Girl Method is a specific approach to the care and maintenance of all types of curly hair to enhance the natural beauty of the hair without the use of synthetic or cosmetic enhancements. Curly hair is a beautiful and natural human feature that deserves to be admired and embraced.
The Curly Girl Method has proven that many conventional approaches to hair care and hair styling are detrimental to the natural health of curly hair.
Curly hair is more prone to dryness and frizz caused by atmospheric conditions than straight hair. Therefore, the basic aim of the Curly Girl Method is to ensure that the curls are always adequately hydrated allowing the curls to be naturally healthy, shiny and bouncy.
Hydrated curly hair will look fuller, cleaner, healthier and shinier without any unsightly frizz or fluffiness. So how do we keep curly hair hydrated?
The foundation of the Curly Girl Method is to treat curly hair with the utmost respect using specific techniques designed to work with the curl not against it. These techniques have been created to work with the hair gently, minimizing damage to the hair cuticle and keeping the hair sufficiently moisturised at all times.
We know that curly hair is more prone to dryness than straight hair. We also know that adequate moisture obtained from water combined with the right curly hair products will accentuate rather than interfere with the hair’s natural curl pattern. Curly hair bliss really is achievable!
Modern day hair care products currently available on the market contain many ingredients that may be harsh to human hair and evidence shows that curly hair is easily disturbed by these seemingly simple ingredients. It is common for regular hair shampoo to contain detergents and cleaning agents, known as sulfates, in order to clean away the dirt, grease, sweat and skin cells from the scalp and hair.
Some of these sulfates are so strong they are found in industrial cleaning products and engine cleaners. When used to clean human hair, these harsh cleaning agents cause two major issues; firstly the harsh ingredients disrupt the natural state of the hair cuticle causing it to be rough which in turn causes frizz and dryness;
Secondly the use of harsh ingredients in hair care products like shampoo can strip away the natural oils produced by the body to moisturise the scalp and hair.
These two issues alone are the reason why conventional shampoo is not recommended for those curly hair people seeking to bring their curls to life. The avoidance of sulfates, along with any other harsh ingredients is an important part of the Curly Girl Method that should not be ignored.
The use of high quality hair care products that are sulfate free is a step in the right direction when reducing the impact from harsh synthetic ingredients.
Another common approach with mainstream hair care products currently available on the market is to include ingredients that are designed to give the hair an improved cosmetic appearance.
Most commonly it is hair conditioners, hair treatments and hair styling products that include cosmetic enhancements however, shampoo can also be included in this group.
Some hair care brands add specific ingredients to the formula of hair care products with the sole purpose of dramatically improving the appearance of hair that is damaged and unhealthy.
These ingredients give the illusion that the hair looks healthy when in fact it is masking the hair with a coating. This process is causing long-term problems for a short-term gain.
These masking and film forming ingredients are most commonly silicones. There are many forms of silicone found in hair care products and this short list below shows some of the most common types.
The following list of silicones are not Curly Girl Method approved and should be avoided in hair care products:
When silicones are used in hair care products, they form a coating on the hair that needs to be removed the next time the hair is washed. To be removed from the hair, silicones require harsh detergents like sulfates and this harsh washing action causes damage to the hair.
It becomes a vicious cycle of washing the hair to remove the silicones yet to have more silicone deposited in the hair by the conditioner which then needs to be washed out yet again. The cycle goes on and the condition of the hair deteriorates rather than improves. Curly hair is particularly affected by this process.
The Curly Girl Method also incorporates key guidelines to help achieve the ideal level of hydration by removing anything that may cause the hair to dry out prematurely. This includes the removal of ingredients known as drying alcohols from the hair care products.
These ingredients are generally included in the formulations of hair care products because they help the product spread evenly through the hair and they evaporate quickly once applied.
This can be helpful in some cases, but this action is quite drying to curly hair and works against the principles of the Curly Girl Method:
Not all alcohols found in hair care products are bad, there are some alcohols that are considered good for curly hair. The good alcohols are known as fatty alcohols, or moisturising alcohols, and work in a different way to the drying alcohols we want to avoid.
These fatty alcohols work particularly well in hair care products that are designed for curly hair and are approved for the Curly Girl Method.
The function of the fatty alcohols is to draw more water into the hair and smooth the surface of the hair cuticle.
The following list of fatty alcohols are great for improving the health of curly hair and are Curly Girl approved for the use in hair care products:
Curly Hair is easily damaged by excessive heat from hair styling tools such as blow dryers, curling wands and straightening irons.
For many years the fashion trends have focussed a shining light on perfectly straight hair with many celebrities being famous for their curl-free hair. A sad fact is that many everyday curly haired women felt the pressure to straighten their natural curls with the use of these heat styling tools in an effort to fit in and be seen as ‘normal’.
The detrimental effect of repeated use of heat styling tools is significant and can take many years for the hair to repair. The Curly Girl Method advocates for very slow and gentle drying of the hair, preferably in a natural fashion without the aid of added heat. When heat is required to speed up the process it should only be with a hair dryer that has a low heat setting and a good quality diffuser attached.
The Curly Girl Method includes a very popular technique known as ‘plopping’ which involves a soft jersey cotton t-shirt being used to cover the hair while it dries naturally.
Similar to heat damage, curly hair can be damaged by the use of brushes, combs or regular bath towels. These items can damage the hair, remove the vital moisture of the hair and potentially create frizz.
The Curly Girl Method advocates for minimal contact with the curls and it is best to use the hands in a gentle fashion to encourage the curl. When the hands are used, special techniques are recommended to apply products such as shampoo, conditioner and styling gel. These techniques are known as ‘praying hands’ and ‘squish to condish’.
CPR Curly Solutions was developed, tested and manufactured right here in Sydney, CPR is an Australian owned and operated hair care company with over 57 years of expertise in making products for hairdressers and their clients. When setting out to create their new curly range, they wanted to make the best products you could find worldwide for all types of curly hair.