What happened when I tried the ‘curly girl’ haircare method

It’s been a good few months now since I first adopted the ‘Curly Girl’ method of haircare, so I thought it was about time I shared my experience with the world! The curly girl method, or CGM, is a set of rules for taking care of curly hair so as to best preserve curl, strength and shine, whilst keeping frizz and dryness at bay. It was created by hair stylist Lorraine Massey in her book ‘The Curly Girl Handbook’, and it has quite the following nowadays. If you already know about CGM and you’re just wondering about my experiences and routine, then skip this next part! But if you’re new to the method, I’ll start with a quick intro…

Of course I’m also going to pepper this blog post with plenty of photos of my hair, after all, you need to see the proof, right?!

The main rules of CGM

No sulphates or harsh cleansers – these strip the hair of its natural oils and cause dryness. They can be found in almost all shampoos, even ones for dry hair! Use conditioner to wash instead, or one of a select number of shampoos that contain only the most gentle cleansing ingredients.

No harsh alcohols – alcohols can be broken down into two main types; long chain and short chain. Long chain or ‘fatty’ alcohols like stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol are moisturising and nourishing to the skin and hair, whilst short chain, like ethanol, isopropyl and others are very harsh and must be avoided.

No silicones, mineral oil or waxes – these coat the hair, which stops moisture from penetrating it, and can weigh it down. These ingredients also need to be washed out with a sulphate, so are incompatible with CGM cleansing techniques. Luckily there are LOADS of suitable styling products out there, for all budgets. You just have to know which to buy.

No chemical processes, heat or straightening – these weaken the hair and cause breakage, frizz and dryness. You can use a diffuser on a low or medium setting, or a soft t-shirt to dry your hair.

No brushing – this can lead to breakage and split ends. Detangle with fingers instead, and distribute product with a wide tooth-comb.

It can be confusing at first because there are lots of different techniques you can try, and you’ll probably have to replace almost all of your products and start a completely new routine. You also need to start becoming aware of ingredients lists, but there is a website called curlsbot.com that you can use to help you. It might seem like an effort, but it’s so worth it. For me, I’ve always worn my hair curly, so I didn’t really need to change my styling techniques, but I was using a shampoo that was far too harsh, as well as some products that contained silicones and waxes. I was shocked to learn that my ‘dry remedy’ shampoo contained a harsh sulphate, and that my argan treatment oil contained more silicone than oil!

My favourite Curly Girl Method approved products

So, here’s a quick rundown of my routine and the products I use…

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo Review
Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Treatment Masque Review
Garnier Hair Food Review
Tangle Teezer Curly Hair Review
Shea Moisture Raw Shea Extra Moisture Detangler Review
Twisted Sista Dream Curls Gel Review
Curly Girl Method Products UK

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo

This shampoo is what’s known as a ‘low poo’ – which means that it contains very gentle cleansing ingredients instead of sulphates. It removes product build-up and grime without stripping the hair of natural oils. I absolutely love this product, it’s amazing how it leaves my hair feeling super clean but not dry or stringy at all. I wash my hair about once a week, so I can get away with using this every time I wash. Lorraine Massey encourages you to try co-washing to begin with, but it doesn’t suit everyone, and it definitely doesn’t work for me. This shampoo is the perfect alternative. (Buy it from Boots – £12.99)

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Treatment Masque

Because I only wash once a week, I use a really rich moisturising mask to make sure my hair is nourished and softened. This is a really thick mask, and it’s very, very hydrating. I love the smell, and it leaves my hair feeling silky smooth when I rinse it out. I apply a big glob of it to soaking wet hair, and then squish it into my hair (using a technique called ‘Squish to Condish’). When I rinse it out, I try to leave a little at the ends. I also find it to be surprisingly good for detangling! More on that below… (Buy it from Boots – £12.99)

Garnier Papaya Hair Food

This is a fairly new addition to my routine, but one that I am already in love with. The Hair Food masks (there’s also Banana, Aloe and Coconut versions) are ultra moisturising, and a LOT lighter than the Shea Moisture Masks. I like to use this if I’m going for a bouncier curl, knowing that my definition won’t last as long, but that my hair will have more body. I use it on washday in the same way I use the Shea Moisture Mask. I also use it as a leave-in when I want to refresh my hair – to do this I use a technique where I scoop a bit out, wet my hands, and then smooth it over the curls. It takes a while to dry, but it looks gorgeous afterwards! (Buy it from Boots – £3.49)

Tangle Teezer

Not CGM, so if you want to follow it to the letter, skip this part. But because of the amount of hair I have, I would be spending hours upon hours detangling by hand, and I don’t have time for that! I detangle my hair upside down in sections, and make sure to keep both my hair and the brush soaking wet – this makes the conditioner more ‘slippery’ and helps the tangles to come out without breakage. I find that the Tangle Teezer is the gentlest of the three ‘curl friendly’ brushes – the other two are the Denman Brush and the Wet Brush. I’ve used all three a lot, and I find the Wet Brush to be totally inept (the bristles bend) and the Denman to be almost impossible to get through my hair. If you’re going to brush, go for the Tangle Teezer. Another popular use for a brush when you have curly hair is to use it to define your curls – you’ll find loads of tutorials for this on YouTube, and they’re usually done with a Denman Brush, but I find that the Tangle Teezer works amazingly well for that, and I love it when I want to make my hair form big, luscious curls. (Buy one from Boots – £11)

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Extra Moisture Detangler

Whilst this has probably the worst product name in cosmetics history, it’s actually my FAVOURITE product EVER. This is a super super moisturising leave-in, which completely eliminates tangles and deeply hydrates the hair. It eliminates frizz without being heavy, leaving smooth, soft, really well defined, gorgeous curls. Seriously, I have so much love for this product it’s bordering on ridiculous, but it leaves my hair feeling SO GOOD. I apply it to soaking wet, freshly rinsed hair, and I do it in one of two ways. If I want smaller, bouncier curls I smooth this through all of my hair using a technique called ‘praying hands’, and then squish it in to get every hair coated. If I want sleeker, longer curls, then I flip my hair right side up, and smooth it over each curl individually, and again I squeeze it in to make sure it gets on all of the hairs. I was using Lush R&B for years before this, which was a sticky, heavy, waxy leave-in, and it’s such a joy to get all the benefits of that, without the gross residue. If you only buy one CG product in your whole life, make it this. (Buy it from Boots – £10.99)

Twisted Sista Dream Curls Gel

I use a small amount of this soft gel to seal in all the goodness from the rest of my products. It works brilliantly to maintain soft definition, but it’s also really good for getting a ‘cast’, which is basically where your curls are defined to the point of being crunchy. If you use enough to get a cast, you can scrunch it out once your hair is dry (apply some oil to your hands first), and by magic, you get defined, soft, bouncy, frizz free curls! (Buy it from Superdrug – £5.89)

blonde curly hair

My experience

Even though I didn’t make particularly huge changes compared to a lot of people who start doing CGM, I’ve still seen amazing results and I’m over the moon with how my hair looks now. I’ve never been so happy with it! One thing I used to struggle with a lot was how quickly my hair would tangle, and since switching up my styling products, I now no longer have that problem. I don’t have any breakage or split ends, and my hair itself is extremely strong and very healthy (I can say that because my hairdresser told me lol). My hair was doing okay before I started CGM, but I absolutely freaking LOVE IT now. I really recommend giving the Curly Girl Method a try – it will help you to truly understand and enjoy your hair!

a white woman with long curly hair wearing a green cardigan

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Moroccanoil Curl Collection* Review

Hello reader! Thank you for visiting my blog. Before you read about this range, I wanted to give you the opportunity to read about my updated haircare recommendations. I wrote this blog post a long time ago, and have since found products that are FAR better than this one. Read more here
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Late last year I was delighted to be invited to Morccanoil’s launch event for their Curl Collection range. Moroccanoil is obviously a very popular choice with curly people as their treatment oil is super nourishing and fantastic for anyone who’s hair is frizzy, dry or damaged – all common problems for curls! This new range is formulated to support the Moroccanoil Treatment Oil, with an innovative curl wash, styling creme and moisture spray. Let me tell you more about them!

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Moroccanoil Curl Cleansing Conditioner – £26.85

This is a super interesting product. I was so surprised when I first used it! Designed to work as a shampoo and conditioner, the product is free of any harsh cleansing agents that can strip curly hair of precious natural oils. Instead of foaming up as you massage it in like most shampoos, this product foams as it comes out, like modern foaming facial cleansers do! I think that’s super clever, and looks really cool. The product distributes through the hair really easily too. It contains tea tree oil to cleanse the hair and scalp, as well as Moroccanoil’s signature argan oil. I’ve found that my favourite way to use it is to apply it first to my scalp and massage it in to remove buildup, then rinse it off and apply more to the rest of my hair, followed by a generous helping of the Moroccanoil Treatment Oil.

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Then, I detangle my hair with a Tangleteezer while the products are still on, and finally rinse. Doing it this way leaves my hair feeling really soft, and I found that the Cleansing Conditioner and Treatment Oil together are fantastic detanglers! I don’t find the Cleansing Conditioner to be nourishing enough on its own, but I think for a lot of other curly haired people definitely will be – my hair gets very dry. I find it great for holidays, hiking and swimming too – it’s the perfect way to wash out salt, sweat or chlorine at the end of the day without disturbing the natural oil balance of your hair. I can’t wash my hair very often because it turns to straw, but with this, I can finally do activities where my hair might get dirty, without worrying!

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Moroccanoil Treatment Oil – £29.50

I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to using this cult product. I am obsessed with it and use it all the time now, when I wash my hair, when I style it, and when my hair is getting a little frizzy as washday approaches. It nourishes the hair so effectively and it is completely effortless to use. Every curly haired person NEEDS this in their life! They do a lighter version for people with thinner hair, but I find that the original actually has a really light texture too (though just to clarify; I have thicker hair than anyone I’ve ever met so make of that what you will) and doesn’t weigh my hair down at all. It leaves the hair shiny and soft for days after using it.

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Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream – £25.45

This is a really, really good styling cream. I combine this with the Treatment Oil too, and it leaves my hair very, very soft and well conditioned. The end result is a little bit less defined than I would usually go for – it’s much lighter than my usual products, but I thought it looked great. For me, this bouncy look is perfect for going out, when I want my hair to be a little bigger and more noticeable than it does on an everyday basis. I loosely twist it through each curl strand when wet, to define them and tame the natural frizz. Another thing I really like about the styling products is that my hair seems to dry naturally a lot quicker than with other products I use. I can’t use heat on my hair, so this makes it super convenient as well, and means that if I am going out in the evening, I can wash my hair in the morning and know it’ll look perfect! If you do use heat on your hair, this product is supposed to work with the heat to create a more set curl look, which makes it a multitasking product too!

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Moroccanoil Curl Re-Energizing Spray – £17.85

This spray is great – I use it to finish off my styling routine as it gives a lovely shine, and I also use it to refresh my curls during the week. It smells lovely, and is really, really effective at getting rid of frizz. I think it works better than pretty much any anti-frizz spray I’ve tried before, and that’s saying something! Used alongside the Treatment Oil you won’t believe how smooth and shiny your hair will be.

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I’m so impressed with Moroccanoil’s new Curl Collection, it seems like they’ve created products with curly haired people in mind – they’ve really thought about what we need from our haircare and what will make life more convenient for us. I highly, highly recommend it, and I can’t wait to try more of their products soon!