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The Curly Girl Method and How I Follow it for Healthy Curls

How I Follow the Curly Girl Method

I’ve been a follower of the Curly Girl Method for many years – since my teens! I remember when the book came out and I read it cover to cover. It has helped me to embrace my curls and has beautiful, healthy curls as well!

The Curly Girl Method was started by Lorraine Massey in her book, “Curly Girl: The Handbook.” Here are the basics of what it is and how I follow it!

How I Follow the Curly Girl Method

There are 7 things she says not to do to have super healthy curls:

  • ? No sulfates (sodium laureth or lauryl sulfates being the biggest ones)
  • ? No silicones
  • ? No blow drying (namely, without a diffuser) and no curling irons or straightening irons (disrupts the curl pattern and really damages the hair)
  • ? No brushing the hair when it’s dry
  • ? No alcohol
  • ? No fragrance

According to the Curly Girl Method, she says to treat your hair like cashmere – wash with cold water and handle it delicately. She also says to stop using shampoo altogether and to wash with conditioner instead (called co-washing). This doesn’t work for many of us and instead, we use sulfate-free (no-poo) shampoos instead. And several of my products do have artificial fragrances (wish they didn’t but it’s super common in the hair industry). She also talks about not washing for 10 days…wowzahs! ? I’ve never done that long but it would be nice! Do it if you can!

Just Say No to Sulfates

Sulfates are detergents and surfactants that are very effective cleaners. The problem is that they strip oils like sebum from our skin and hair. So then our skin goes to work overtime to produce more oil. This can lead to oily skin and very dry, damaged hair. Look out for products that contain sodium laureth sulfate, or lauryl sulfates. Anything that ends in sulfate!

If you’re worried that your hair might not get clean if you aren’t using strong detergents like sulfates, then I’d like to introduce the concept that oil dissolves oil (I talk about this in my oil cleansing post for face washing). Many of the no-poos have gentle soaps in them that clean the hair very well, but do not strip the natural oils. And cleaning with conditioner does work well when you’re using water soluble (aka, silicone-free) hair products. The act of massaging the scalp and hair with conditioner loosens excess oil and dirt and then it’s washed out.

Here’s a list of sulfates to avoid:

  • Alkylbenzene sulfonates
  • Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate
  • Ammonium laureth sulfate
  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate
  • Ammonium Xylenesulfonate
  • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
  • Sodium cocoyl sarcosinate
  • Sodium laureth sulfate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
  • Sodium myreth sulfate
  • Sodium Xylenesulfonate
  • TEA-dodecylbenzenesulfonate
  • Ethyl PEG-15 cocamine sulfate
  • Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate

Here are gentle cleaners that are safe:

  • Cocamidopropyl betaine
  • Coco betaine
  • Cocoamphoacetate
  • Cocoamphodipropionate
  • Disodium cocoamphodiacetate
  • Disodium cocoamphodipropionate
  • Lauroamphoacetate
  • Sodium cocoyl isethionate
  • behentrimonium methosulfate
  • disodium lautreth sulfosuccinate
  • babassuamidopropyl betaine
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Olaplex to the rescue! I have been doing the #curlygirlmethod (or so I thought) for about 20 years BUT I left out a few key things. I wasn’t straightening or blow drying my hair, and I was using high end, really good products like @devacurl and @innersenseorganicbeauty. So I couldn’t figure out why my hair was still sooo dry the past few years. I blamed it on pregnancy, but didn’t know how to fix it.
⠀ Then I was introduced to @olaplex at @southerncurlatl and thought maybe I’d found my magic ticket! It helped, but I didn’t want to keep going back to the salon to get more treatments. So then I heard about the at-home Olaplex treatment no. 3 from @hairromance and bought 3 bottles! I noticed a big difference the first time I used it a few months ago, and then didn’t anymore. I was bummed.
⠀ So back to what I was missing from my CG routine – I never clarified and was using a styling product that contained a ton of silicones! I learned a lot about clarifying from and set it to make things right. I finally understood why Olaplex wasn’t doing much for me – my hair was coated in silicone plastics and the products (including DevaCurl and InnerSense) couldn’t penetrate the hair follicles to heal and moisturize them!
⠀ So after 3 protein treatments from @aphogee, clarifying washes, deep conditioning and OlaPlex treatments, my hair is getting healthy again. It’s a process curly friends – but so worth it! I think I’ll stay ahead of the curve and do 1-2 olaplex treatments a month. More about olaplex in the comments! #olaplextreatment #olaplex #healthyhaircare #curlon

A post shared by Sara McFall (@mymerrymessycurls) on

All About Sneaky Silicones!

Silicones are synthetic resins and are found in many hair products due to their ability to add shine and condition the hair. Sounds good, right? Well, the problem is that they are not water soluble, so they produce build up on the hair and scalp that no-poo shampoos cannot remove. There are many different names for them, but to keep it simple, anything ending in: “cone,” “conol,” “col,” or “xane,” should be avoided. The only exceptions here are those ingredients with the abbreviations “PEG” or “PPG” in front of them. This abbreviation will alert you that they were made to be water-soluble, and won’t produce the build-up other silicones are known to cause.

Here are some to avoid:

? Cetearyl Methicone
? Cetus Dimethicone
? Dimethicone
? Dimethiconol
? Stearyl Dimethicone

These are a little better but still can cause buildup:

? Amodimethicone
? Cyclomethicone/Cyclopentasiloxane
? Trimethylsilylamodimethicone

Here are some water-soluble ones but do cause buildup over time (just slower):

? Behenoxy Dimethicone
? Stearoxy Dimethicone

See my curly hair page for all of my curl posts and a list of some of my favorite products! Make sure also to follow me on Instagram @mymerrymessycurls to get daily tips and tricks to have shiny, healthy curls!

Shhh…I don’t Follow the Curly Girl Method Perfectly

I’m a rebel at heart and I don’t follow other people’s rules simple to follow them. I follow them if they resonate with me and feel right to me – I use my intuition. So, I love love love that Lorraine Massey came on the scene and gave curly girls everywhere HOPE that we could embrace our curls and not have to straighten them just to have pretty hair. The Curly Girl Method and her ideas were groundbreaking and have paved the way for curly-friendly hair products and hairstylists.

But not all of my products are fragrance-free, and I do use heat to dry my hair sometimes because my hair can take 6 hours to dry. Nope, just nope! So I just dry on low heat for 15 minutes and my hair dries completely in an hour or so. Compromise.

It’s all about doing what works for you and your lifestyle. It’s not as if the Curly Girl police are gonna show up on your doorstep and haul you off to frizz jail! Use your intuition, do it how you wanna do it and use this advice for education and to get you started!

See my curly hair hub here with ALL of my posts!

How I Follow the Curly Girl Method for Healthy, Hydrated Curls


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