The “Curly Girl” method, most commonly referred to as the ‘CG method’ is probably the most popular and the most effective way of caring for curly hair. Many of you have probably heard of this method as it was first popularised by Lorraine Massey, owner of the DevaChan hair salon in New York, in her curly hair care book ‘Curly Girl’. She is considered one of the foremost experts in curly hair. I’m sure that a lot of you are familiar with co-washing and the conditioner-only method, but ‘CG’ is by far the most effective method I’ve tried and certainly gives the best results!
Essentially the CG method entails:
– Cutting out all harsh sulphate shampoos (most shampoos commonly available on the high street)
– ‘Washing’ your hair with a silicone free conditioner 2-3 times a week. This is known as ‘Co-washing’
– Doing a deep treatment once a week – be it a moisturising treatment or a protein treatment
– Cutting out ALL hair products or stylers that contain silicones or polyquatariums
If you are not aware of what silicones actually are and the effect they can have on your hair, here is an explanation. Silicones are substances that can be identified in the ingredients list on the back of the hair product by their endings –CONE, -CONOL and –XANE. They are often referred to as ‘cones. The reason silicones should be avoided in your hair care regime is that they build-up in your hair and cannot be removed by conditioner only or by ‘co-washing’. They can only be removed by sulphate shampoos which should be cut out of your routine as they are far too harsh for curly hair. Effects of sulphate shampoos can include dryness, breakage and excessive shedding and the dreaded… FRIZZ!!
The reason why silicones are actually added to curly hair products is that they do seal moisture in. But this comes with a down side as they also seal moisture out. So it is best to avoid these all together. Silicones also coat the hair producing a shiny effect, but this can be achieved using the CG method as you will be getting more moisture into your hair and not using harsh shampoos to remove silicone build-up.
Common silicones used in hair care products include:
The effects of polyquatariums are similar to those of silicones, however, it has been reported that polyquatariums, or ‘polyquats as they are often referred to are harder to remove from the hair than silicones and cause more build-up and block moisture out to a larger extent.
Polyquatariums are far easier to identify than silicones. On the ingredients list, they are simply listed as ‘polyquatarium’ followed by a number.
Exceptions to the rules
However, there are, of course, exceptions, which can sometimes make things a little difficult. You may use silicones if it has the word PEG- (then a number) next to it. This denotes that it is water soluble and the higher the number, the easier it can be dissolved in water. PEG – modified silicones can be removed with only conditioner and water.
Also, polyquats -10 and -4 are known not to cause build-up and also do not need to be removed with shampoo – just conditioner and water.
Sulphates are surfactants found in most conventional shampoos. These are the ingredients used to create the foamy lather produced by sulphate shampoos. Sodium Laurel Sulphate, Sodium Laureth Sulphate and Ammonium Laurel Sulphate are probably the most commonly used sulphates in the personal-care business.
Now, go and check the label of your dish detergent or your washing up liquid! That’s right, they are they same chemicals found in shampoos! If we avoid these sulphates found in shampoos, we will damage our hair less as they are extremely drying. But in order to avoid these, we MUST not use silicones or polyquariums as they need sulphates in order to be removed. It’s a vicious cycle!
But why do they use the same ingredients in our hair care products as they use in washing-up liquid? Simple! Because sulphates are what are known as surfactants. They are molecules which reduce tension between water and grease. They cut through all the dirt and grime and leave whatever they touch grease free. This is fine for straight hair, but they are simply too drying for our delicate curls.
However, wavy hair types and looser curls find that they may still experience build-up, but there is no need to reach for that harsh sulphate shampoo! There are shampoos in the Curly Emporium which gentle surfactants which aren’t damaging to curly hair, so wavies and loose curlies use these shampoos or as they are known as ‘low-poo’s’ instead of co-washing or alongside co-washing. I would recommend Kinky-Curly Come Clean, Curl Junkie Curl Assurance Shampoo and CURLS Cleansing Cream. I know a lot of wavies and curlies who have used these and they have received fabulous reviews. Of course there are others in the Curly Emporium, you can just browse and see what takes your fancy!
For co-washing, I would suggest using a conditioner that is of a thin consistency so it can be distributed evenly through the hair and provides a lot of detangling. From the Curly Emporium, I recommend Kinky-Curly Knot Today and Curl Junkie Curl Assurance Conditioner. I have used both with great results and I am still using the Kinky-Curly Knot today. There are also some other conditioners available from the high street such as Original Source conditioners and Superdrug Naturals conditioners which are good for co-washing.
Following your co-wash, you should condition with something a bit richer and more moisturising than what you use for your co-wash. I recommend Curl Junkie Hibiscus and Banana Deep fix. It is extremely rich and moisturising. I have also used Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner which is very thick and moisturising – Aubrey Organics do a great range of natural conditioners, all of which are CG friendly.
For styling, I suggest a simple method of a curl crème and a gel or just a gel – it’s really a personal preference. I definitely recommend Curl Junkie Coffee-Coco Curl Crème and Curl Junkie Aloe Fix Gel. Both of these products have a light hold so I recommend using a gel on-top of them to hold your style. They are also both extremely moisturising and nourishing for your hair. One of my favourite gels is Kinky Curly Curling Custard – it provides a great hold without crunch and it’s all natural and great for your hair. In fact the entire Kinky-Curly line is CG friendly! On the high street Boots essentials do great gels in a variety of strengths to suit your hair type, as do ShockWaves. Many Curlies are fans of Biosilk Rock Hard Gelee which is a strong hold gel and can be purchased at Sally’s Beauty Supply. It is always better to use a gel which is alcohol-free, as alcohols found in gels can be drying for your curls.
After you have conditioned and styled your hair you’ll need to dry it in a way which preserves your curls and prevents frizz. After applying all of your styling products blot or scrunch excess moisture out with a Curlease towel, which is available in the Curl Emporium. This is different from other towels because the fibres are much finer and will not rough up the hair cuticle like traditional towels, which cause frizz. Another alternative to this would be to use an old t-shirt or a microfiber towel although not as effective. After this hair can be left to air-dry or diffused.
Remember, before starting this method, it is very important to do one last sulphate shampoo to cleanse your hair of all the silicones that may be lurking in there and to have a clean slate!
This method is the best thing I’ve ever done for my hair, as a lot of Curlies who use this method know, it can take some practise and things can worsen before you see the brilliant results, but in the end, it really is worth it. For me and many other curly girls out there, this method has provided frizz-free, healthy curls and the quick, easy styling we thought we could only ever dream of! However going CG is not for every Curlie. It works for most Curly Types but not for every Curlie, each Curlie responds differently and each Curlie has a choice to try this method or not