Intelligent Beauty

How to nail the Curly Girl Method

by Ava Welsing-Kitcher

With more and more of us not only embracing, but celebrating, our {curls}, there’s never been a better time for the Curly Girl Method to shine. More affectionately known as CGM amongst its devotees (I promise it’s not a cult), it’s a set of rules and vetoed products designed to restore your curls to their full glory. Whether you’re well versed in the curly do’s and don’ts, or are looking for an enlightening rebirth, don’t get swamped by the endless information Google has to offer – we’ve outlined the basics in routine order so you don’t have to, whilst ironing out some common misconceptions. 

beautiful woman with afro hair

The easiest way to follow the CGM is to learn the don’ts – there are many, many more examples of what not to do and things to avoid. Ingredients that are said to be detrimental to the hair’s health but are in so many products take the prime spot: think stripping sulphates, drying alcohols, and silicones and sticking oils that build-up on the hair over time, locking out moisture from getting in. In fact, avoiding these two is imperative for CGM followers; while the absence of sulphates in CGM-approved shampoos saves strands from drying out, it also means coating ingredients aren’t properly removed from the hair – think of how sulphate-rich washing-up liquid blasts grease from plates, whereas our nourishing shower oils might not work so strongly. 

But that’s not to say that sulphates are completely eradicated from the CGM journey; a single, initial deep cleanse with a gentle formula is recommended to give your hair the cleanest, freshest foundation (although I prefer some diluted apple cider vinegar to rebalance both scalp and strands). When it does come to cleansing, the first step in your routine, the CGM way is to avoid any foam action unless your hair is wavy, with curly and afro textures opting for cleansing conditioners or co-washes instead. There’s been some debate around how healthy a creamy formula is for your scalp wash after wash, and the risk of clogging and irritating the skin is there. Our advice? Opt for a no-lather formula like Boucleme’s {Curl Cleanser}, that’s rich in plant oil to nourish while gently cleansing, and alternate with the tingly {Scalp Exfoliating Shampoo} every other week.

After forbidden ingredients comes tools: the hot ones which irreparably ruin curl patterns with every blast and sizzle, and the innocent-seeming ones that we rely upon to detangle. Combs and brushes are believed to snag and tug at your strands, disfiguring the curl pattern away from how it natural forms, with fingers preferred. While I’m a big advocate for using your fingers for most of the time, not everyone can afford the time and energy it takes to dismantle the gnarliest knots strand by strand. If you prefer tools, then opt for a wide-toothed comb or a brush with gentle, flexible plastic bristles that won’t rip through knots- Wet-Brush Pro’s {Go Green Detangler} has been my go-to for the last year, and although it’s at the end of its remit, I can toss the biodegradable handle into my food waste bin with zero guilt over plastic waste. 

When you do detangle, do it on wet hair that’s saturated in a mask or conditioner. Nourishment is the key to bringing out the curl pattern, especially when hair is wet and malleable, and a powerhouse formula is a must. Bread Beauty Supply’s {Hair Mask: Creamy Deep Conditioner} employs vitamin C-rich kakadu plum with strengthening starflower oil to give optimum slip while feeding both scalp and strands. For extra CGM points, help it penetrate deeper with a shower cap or microwaved damp towel, and rinse it out with cool water for optimum shine. 

And now for the final step – styling. The first rule is to leave any further detangling at the shower door; raking those fingers through will break up the curls and lose their definition as they dry. Apply a good dollop of Ouai’s silicone-free (and divinely lemony) Curl Creme to wet hair using your hands in prayer formation, gliding them down each curl. For extra definition, especially on humid or rainy days, scrunch in Aveda’s {Be Curly Curl Enhancer} gel, which houses a wheat protein that expands on wet hair and contracts as it dries to create a flexible hold. Twirl any undefined bits around your finger and scrunch them up individually to help them curl up. Gently scrunch hair upwards with Kitsch’s {Microfiber Hair Towel} to minimise friction and damage, add a few drops of Living Proof’s lighter-than-air {No Frizz Vanishing Oil}, then leave to air dry or diffuse with cool air. Preserve all that hard work while you sleep with a non-cotton (read: non-drying) pillowcase – Kitsch’s Satin {offering} is vegan and super affordable considering its buttery softness. 




Writer and expert