The Complete Guide to the Curly Girl Method

The Complete Guide to the Curly Girl Method

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Embarking on a journey to embrace and enhance your natural curls? Look no further! Welcome to the Bellissima Italia guide to the Curly Girl Method, your go-to resource for navigating the ins and outs of this transformative hair care approach. Whether you're a Curly Girl Method novice or a seasoned enthusiast, this comprehensive guide will unravel the secrets to unlocking the full potential of your curls.

From understanding the curly girl method to decoding the mysteries of product ingredients, styling techniques, and the art of drying, we've got you covered. Join us as we deep dive into the principles of the Curly Girl Method and provide practical tips that will leave your curls feeling healthier and more defined.

What is the Curly Girl Method?

The Curly Girl Method was originally created by hairstylist and curl expert Lorraine Massey. She is the author of the book “Curly Girl: The Handbook”, which is a guide to achieving perfect curls using specific techniques and styling products.

Over the years the curly girl method has evolved and much of the guidance around achieving flawless curls can vary depending on the texture of the hair and the type of curl pattern. However, the general idea behind the Curly Girl Method remains the same.

In a nutshell, the Curly Girl Method is a hair care routine that emphasises avoiding harsh chemicals, such as sulphates and silicones, while promoting hydration and natural curl definition through gentle techniques and suitable products. 

The Curly Girl Method can take some time to master as each person's hair is unique and there is an element of trial and error involved to find the right products and techniques that work for your hair. The overall aim of the Curly Girl Method is to achieve naturally healthy and defined curly hair.

Will my hair work with the Curly Girl Method?

The Curly Girl Method can be effective for a wide range of hair types and textures, including wavy, curly, and coily hair. It focuses on enhancing the natural curl pattern, reducing frizz, and promoting overall hair health. The method is designed to work for people with naturally curly or wavy hair, regardless of whether the curls are loose or tight.

It's important to note that the success of the Curly Girl Method can vary from person to person. Factors such as your specific curl pattern, hair porosity, and individual preferences play a role in determining how well the method will work for you.

Continue reading to find out which products to avoid and which products to use to your advantage when practising the Curly Girl Method.

What should I avoid when it comes to the Curly Method?

When adhering to the Curly Girl Method, we recommend prioritising the health and definition of your curls by steering clear of harsh ingredients in your washing and styling routine, and minimising the use of heat on your hair.

Hair care ingredients to avoid

When following the Curly Girl Method, it's recommended to avoid certain ingredients that can be harsh on curly hair or contribute to product buildup. Here are some common ingredients to avoid:


1. Sulphate 

Sulphate is an ingredient found in many shampoos and is known for its effectiveness in removing excess oil from hair. However, for individuals with curly hair, sulphates can prove detrimental, as they tend to strip away an excessive amount of natural oils, leaving the hair feeling dry and fragile.


2. Silicones

Silicone is a common ingredient found in many hair care products. Although some silicone based products offer a smoothing effect, they tend to create a barrier on the hair that is challenging to wash out without the use of sulphates. Using silicone may result in product buildup, causing your hair to feel weighed down and your curls to lose their natural bounce, appearing heavy and flat.


3. Mineral Oils

Mineral oils are often added to hair products to help form a protective layer around your hair. However it is now believed that this protective barrier actually prevents moisture from being absorbed by the hair. This can also result in product build up and the hair feeling dry.


4. Alcohols

Brands up and down the high-street have been adding alcohol into their hair products to try and make your hair feel softer, but using these types of products can lead to dehydrated, frizzy hair that can seriously affect the results of the Curly Girl Method. You should instead look for hair care products that contain natural ingredients that are scientifically proven to moisturise hair.

Hair tools to avoid


1. Damaging heat tools

When practising the curly girl method, you should try to avoid using heat tools whenever possible. Hair straighteners and heated curlers can cause heat damage, which can disturb your natural curl pattern and leave your hair feeling dry. 

That being said, there are some hair styling tools that use minimal heat and are designed to enhance your curls. Hair dryer diffusers are the ultimate solution for curly hair as they use a gentle heat along with anti frizz technology to simultaneously dry and style your hair.  

We offer a variety of hair diffusers including the Diffon Ceramic and the Diffon Supreme. The Diffon Ceramic uses ceramic technology to protect the hair while drying it, helping to boost natural curls, while the Diffon Supreme uses argan oil technology to keep hair hydrated, feeling soft and frizz free.


2. Brushes

You should avoid brushing your curls especially when your hair is dry as this can lead to a range of issues including frizz, hair breakages and loss of definition. Instead of brushing, it's often recommended to detangle curly hair when it's wet and conditioned using a wide-tooth comb or your fingers. This approach is gentler on the hair and helps maintain the natural curl pattern without causing unnecessary damage. 


3. Towel Drying Hair

When attempting the Curly Girl Method, a microfibre towel should be used and normal towels need to be avoided. Using a microfibre towel can reduce the amount of frizz within your hair, and can help any hair type that suffers from frizzy hair.

What products will I need for the Curly Method?

Curly Girl Method Approved Hair Products

The specific products you should use as part of the Curly Girl Method can vary based on your individual hair type, texture, and preferences. However, here are some general guidelines on the types of products commonly recommended within the Curly Girl Method:

  • Sulphate-Free Shampoo or Co-Wash: Look for sulphate-free shampoos or cleansing conditioners (co-washes) to clean your hair without stripping it of natural oils.
  • Silicone-Free Conditioner: Choose a conditioner that is free from silicones, as these can create buildup on the hair.
  • Deep Conditioner or Hair Mask: Incorporate a deep conditioning treatment or hair mask regularly to provide extra moisture to your curls.
  • Leave-In Conditioner: Use a leave-in conditioner to keep your hair hydrated and enhance curl definition.
  • Gel or Curl Enhancer: Consider using a gel or styling product designed to enhance and define your natural curl pattern.
  • Styling Cream or Mousse: Depending on your hair type, a styling cream or mousse can help with frizz control and styling.
  • Microfibre Towel or T-Shirt: Use a microfibre towel or an old cotton T-shirt to gently scrunch and dry your hair, reducing frizz.
  • Wide-Tooth Comb or Fingers for Detangling: Detangle your hair with a wide-tooth comb or your fingers, especially when it's wet and conditioned.
  • Scalp Massager or Brush: Use a scalp massager or a brush with wide, flexible bristles to stimulate the scalp and distribute natural oils.
  • Refresh Spray: A water-based refresh spray with a bit of leave-in conditioner can help revive curls on non-wash days.
  • Hair Dryer Diffuser: Using a low heat diffuser, scan dry your hair quickly without compromising your waves and curls. Simply place your curls within the diffuser and hold the product to your roots. Then wait as your hair dries and your curls are locked in and moisturised.

Remember, it's crucial to check product labels for sulphates, silicones, and other ingredients that are not Curly Girl Method-friendly. Additionally, the effectiveness of products may vary depending on your hair's unique characteristics, so some experimentation may be necessary to find the best products for your curls.

Curly Girl Method Steps

1. Reset Your Hair

To set yourself up for success, it’s important to start with a good foundation. Wash your hair with a sulphate free clarifying shampoo to remove any silicone build-up on your scalp. This ensures your hair is squeaky clean and in the best condition to start your Curly Girl routine.

2. Cleanse Your Hair

If you’ve heard of co-washing before, then this is your cue to start!

After your “reset” wash, it’s time to cleanse. Co-washing is washing your hair with a lightweight conditioner and ditching the heavy, sulphate-rich shampoo. Wash your hair with a co-wash suitable conditioner and massage your scalp with your fingertips (no nails!) for a minute or more before rinsing. Enjoy this bit - it helps to remove residue and get rid of dirt.

If you find that your hair gets weighed down with too much conditioner, then consider using a low-poo shampoo every other wash. Low-poo simply means sulphate-free and stops too much build-up in the hair.

3. Condition, Detangle & Style

Once you’ve washed your hair, it’s time for the conditioning. Scrunch another handful of conditioner through your hair until it’s fully saturated, and then gently detangle any knots using your fingers. Scrunch again to distribute the product even more. (This is the squish-to-condish step. You’ll soon notice a LOT of scrunching is required for the best curls.) Rinse most of the conditioner out, but don’t rinse all the way if you have wavy or curly hair. Coily types should rinse completely to avoid a film.

Grab a curl cream, gel or jelly and scrunch a palmful through your hair whilst it’s still soaking wet. Scrunch all the way from tips to roots to ensure an even coating and to start forming curl patterns.

4. Start Drying Process

Once you’re out of the shower, do not not use a normal body towel to dry your hair. Standard bath towels are too coarse and will fray or snap the ends of your hair. Instead, grab a microfibre towel, as these are softer on the hair cuticle, and remove any excess water from your hair.

Now it’s time to “plop”.  “Plopping” is a wrapping technique that helps absorb excessive water and “accordion” your curls to keep their defined shape as your hair starts to dry.

How to “plop” your hair

Lay a long-sleeved t-shirt or microfibre towel on a chair, your bed or bathroom counter with the sleeve end closest to you. Flip your head forward, bending at the waist so that you can position all of your hair in the centre of the t-shirt. Lower your head down so that your curls are scrunched into position, and take the flap of fabric behind your head and flip it over your neck. You’ll then be able to tie the long sleeves of the shirt behind your head in a knot. If you have excess material, you can wrap any extra length round the front and tie for extra security.

Plop for 10–20 minutes (or even longer if you’ve got time!), and you’ll notice the t-shirt will have absorbed a lot of moisture and shortened the drying process. You can untie your towel or t-shirt and either air dry or diffuse your hair on a low heat setting to keep curls luscious and defined (for your ultimate diffusing guide, check out our previous blog here). If your hair feels ‘set’ with gel, scrunch out any crunchiness with your fingers.

This is where owning a low-heat diffuser can save you a large amount of time!

Simply remove excess water from your hair and apply our Diffon Supreme to your curls and so you can enjoy them faster and easier.

5. Rinse and Repeat

Stick to this routine for 4-6 weeks and start to adapt it for your curl type as your curls get used to minimal shampoo, sulphates and heat products. If you find you don’t need as much conditioner in your hair as it weighs it down, go for less product. If your hair still feels dry after a month, try adding in a leave-in conditioner before your curl gel. 

Take note of great hair days, and imitate them to get gradual results. The Curly Girl Method is not the quickest of processes, but boy does it pay off. And when you start getting compliments for your amazing curls, you know you’ve got it right!

Curly Girl Method FAQs

How often should I wash my hair with the Curly Girl Method?

The frequency of washing your hair with the Curly Girl Method depends on factors like hair type, porosity, and personal preference. As a general guideline, start with washing once or twice a week and adjust based on your hair's needs. Consider factors such as porosity, activity level, and how your hair responds to find the optimal frequency for maintaining healthy curls.


Does the Curly Girl Method make hair curlier?

The Curly Girl Method doesn't change straight hair into curls, but it enhances and defines natural curls. By promoting hair health and avoiding damaging practices, it can improve curl definition and texture for those with natural curls or waves. Results vary, but many people experience healthier, more pronounced curls with consistent adherence to the method.

How long does it take to see results from the Curly Girl Method?

Results from the Curly Girl Method vary from person to person. Some individuals may notice improvements in their hair's texture, curl definition, and overall health within a few weeks, while for others, it may take a few months of consistent adherence to the method. The timeline depends on factors such as your hair's starting condition, type, and how well it responds to the changes in products and practices. Be patient, stay consistent, and experiment to find the routine that works best for your hair.


Is the Curly Girl Method suitable for all hair types?

The Curly Girl Method is primarily designed for individuals with wavy, curly, or coily hair types. However, some aspects of the method, such as using sulphate-free products and avoiding certain damaging practices, can benefit individuals with various hair types. It may not be necessary for those with straight hair to follow the method strictly, but adopting some of its principles, like using gentle, hydrating products, can contribute to overall hair health. Ultimately, the Curly Girl Method is most effective for those with natural curls or waves who are looking to enhance and maintain their curl patterns.

How do you dry your hair using the Curly Girl Method?

Drying your hair is an important aspect of the Curly Girl Method, and there are various techniques you can use to enhance your natural curl pattern and minimise frizz. Some of the most common techniques include air drying, plopping and diffusing. 

Using a diffuser to dry your curls has a range of benefits including fast and gentle drying, adding volume and bounce to curls and enhancing your curl definition.

For more information about drying curly hair, browse our range of Hair Diffusers including the Diffon Ceramic and the Diffon Supreme.