How to Start the Curly Hair Method Without Getting Overwhelmed

You’ve heard about this thing called The Curly Girl / Hair Method on social media.   Maybe a friend told you about it. Or you’ve noticed that your hair is just never straight without heat intervention.  You know it is naturally wavy/curly but you have no idea how to take care of it.  This is where the Curly Hair Method can help!

Where Did the Curly Hair Method Come From?

For a little background: taking care of naturally curly hair has been around forever.  People of colour have been embracing and rocking their natural hair for hundreds of years.  Much of what we know about best practices for caring for all types of curls is because people have passed their knowledge down through generations.

Back in 2001, a British stylist by the name of Lorraine Massey published a book called Curly Girl: The Handbook.  This book was about using no sulfates or silicones, but it also coined many of the terms like "cowashing" (washing with conditioner) and "CG approved".  This is where the Curly Girl Method got it's name. I follow a few groups who have dropped the "Girl" part of the Curly Girl Method because the Method is for everyone.

For the most part what was discussed over 20 years ago is still the basis of this method today.  Lorraine kept the Method super simple with a cowash, conditioner, and leave in.  In fact if you look at her product line up at Curly World that is all the products they carry.  She popularized and trained thousands of hair stylists on  the method of dry cutting curl by curl to create shape around the same time she started DevaCurl (salon and products).  She hasn't been associated with DevaCurl since 2013 but has her own brand (Curly World) now. 

How I Started on the Curly Hair Method

A business associate noticed my hair was similar to hers. I said I have no idea what to do with it so she sent me to her stylist.  This person sat me down in her chair, did a dry Deva cut, and applied products.  Then she handed me Lorraine’s book and said you can read and borrow this book.  I was in all honestly blown away and haven’t looked back since. 

Keep It Simple

I think most of us who arrive here now notice that the many products and techniques available and all over social media it can be overwhelming.  The Method that Lorraine created (that many still follow) is simple but it is strict in that there is no shampoo, low poo, deep conditioners or even clarifying shampoos.  So know my first piece of  advice is to start simple and keep it simple.  There are years in front of you to try new products and practice techniques so be patient and kind with yourself.  If you just scrolled over 50 videos and read 23 articles over a day or two, it will seem unnecessarily complicated.

There are 4 easy steps to follow:

1. Pick a Shampoo.  If you want it to be more traditional as in a cowash,  you can do this.   In my experience, though, most scalps like a shampoo.  It may also be easier if your new products and routine are similar to what you are doing now.  if your hair is used to a lathering shampoo, there are many out there that are gentle plus sulfate- and silicone-free but may still lather.  Like these ones:

2. Pick a Conditioner.  The easiest thing to do to just grab the matching conditioner to the shampoo you chose.   Here are the conditioners that go with the options above:

3. Use a Leave-in or Primer. You can use a little of the above conditioner as a leave in or you could try a priming product.  This is one that gives your hair a little moisture and volume.  Here are a few primers to consider:

4. Choose a Styler. Pick a gel or, if your hair is super fine, a mousse/foam works too.  These are some great stylers:


That is it. 

And should be all you will do for the first 1-3 months. 

You will shampoo and rinse, conditioner and rinse, then rake the primer and styler raked into your wet hair, scrunch, and dry it.  You won’t worry about clarifying, pre-pooing, or deep conditioner.  That can all come later.

This gives you time to experiment to get the most of your wave and curl. You will want to take some pictures and keep track of what techniques you tried and the amount of product you used to get your favourite results.   Products considered Curly Girl / Hair Method Approved are gentle so if you want to practice daily, you can.  Or wash less often and practice refreshing your hair with product or water or both. 

Once things are going well and you are feeling good about the results you're getting, then you can add other products to keep it interesting, fun and fresh.  

Give Your Hair Time

I think sometimes people arrive at the decision to try the Method and then they try so much that it becomes hard and the results are not there.  I am positive that it will take 3-6 months just to get your routine going.  This will also depend on how much damage your hair had before you decided to stop using a flat/curling iron or chemical straighteners.  It might be up to a year before you can for certain know the products and techniques that work (or don't work) for you. 

Don’t let these words sway you into changing your mind to start the Method.  Let them show you that you will need some patience right from the start.  Everyone is different: what results do you want?  Balance that with how much time and effort you want to put into this.  I know for sure if that if I take my time on wash day I can pull off more refresh days; ultimately I am hair lazy so I want the most for the least effort. Remember the Method will enhance your natural waves/curls but not change them.

Is a Curly Haircut Necessary?

I don’t feel you have to get a curly cut to start the Method but a good haircut always helps.  If you haven’t had one in over 6 months or longer, jumping into this Method probably won’t give you the results that you want.  A fresh haircut really is the basis for success.

If you want to try a dry cut, which is the type of cut most often recommended for curly hair, ask in your FB/Insta pages or groups and get some referrals for your area.  Be prepared to pay more than an average cut as this is a specialized area of expertise.  The stylists who advertise cuts for curly hair have paid for that training and practiced to do it right.  You should expect and receive a cut and a demonstration of how to style and dry your hair. 

Choosing the Right Products For Your Hair Type

If you go for a haircut, your curl-trained stylist may recommend products that will suit your hair type.  The ones suggested above are suggestions that seem to work for many different types of curls.  Here at Curl Warehouse, we offer in store product/technique consultations and recommendations and email advice on everything we carry.  You can email me directly at products@curlwarehouse.com for recommendations based on your hair.  Many of our brands also offer quizzes on their websites to help you narrow down your choices.

We look forward to helping you start your Curly Hair Method journey!