Devised by Lorraine Massey, co-founder of DevaCurl and author of Curly Girl: The Handbook, the Curly Girl Method is meant to act as a lifeline to ladies, like me, who have no idea what they are doing with their thick and unruly hair.
It's a simple(ish) guideline to caring for curls, coils, and waves so that they can look their very best. Lorraine - who, having parted ways with Devacurl six years ago, is now the owner and founder of Curly World and whom I fondly think of as the Queen of Curls - recently took part in an event called Curls Bonding in Dublin with Brazilian born, Irish-based, curl artist Saulo O'Deoraín.
During the event, Saulo led a room of curly girls (and a couple of boys) through a journey of self-acceptance with regards to their hair. He and Lorraine discussed the challenges of not fitting in and learning how to work with their hair to a room of people who were there to learn from their expertise.
Lorraine cut a beautiful head of hair, curl by curl whilst she talked about the importance of keeping it simple with curls; to avoid shampoo, to give the hair extra hydration and to give up any heat treatments.
You can click click through the gallery above to see some pictures of the event.
For professional advice from a curl specialist, you can pick up The Curly Girl Handbook here or visit Saulo in his studio, The Curly Look, in Phibsborough.
For my completely unprofessional - but very much tried and tested - advice, read on.
Step 1: Find out your curl type
Before you start your curly journey, you'll need to know your hair better than you know yourself. I'm talking density, porosity, width, condition - all the essentials.
The types of products you use and the methods you rely on will come down to whether you're a wavy 2B, a curly 3A, a coily 4C or anything in between.
You can take this quiz on NaturallyCurly.com to find out your hair type - click here.
Speaking at the event, both Lorraine and Saulo said that they do not endorse this kind of classification of hair types, and it was not an original part of Lorraine's methodology, but many people have used it to better understand their hair.
Step 2: Find your fellow curlies
There are so many curly communities online, whether it's a 'Curly Girl Method' group on Facebook or a curly-influencer (yep, they exist) on Instagram, there is a treasure trove of tips and tricks out there, although none are endorsed by Lorraine or Saulo.
When I figured out my curly type (shout out to the 3B gals), I searched the hashtag #3Bcurls on Instagram and found a bunch of amazing ladies to follow. From there, I found a select few accounts that I follow regularly including Curly Cailín, Curly n Fab, Curly Barbie, Curly Girl Approved,and My Mane Curls.
If you're wondering what 3B looks like, think of Keri Russell in the 90s.
Step 3: Try, try and try again
Patience is key with the curly girl method. If your hair is heat damaged or has lost its natural curl pattern due to years of flat ironing then, I'm sorry to tell you, you're going to go through some very awkward growing pains.
My advice? Go cold turkey.
Even one blow dry will knock my curls out of shape for weeks so, if you can, wave goodbye to heat styling.
Next, get ready to spend a lot of time and money on finding the right routine for you. I watched Curly n Fab (aka Lisa Moscatelli) go through her full routine on YouTube, ordered the same products, followed it step by step, and then figured out what worked and didn't work for me.
Did this leave me with full bottles of products I'll never use? Yes, yes it did, but it also set me on the path to getting my routine down pat. Now I buy what I need without hesitation.
Step 4: Follow the rules... a bit
The basic do's and don't's of the curly girl method are as follows:
- Avoid products with silicones, sulfates, alcohol, and artificial fragrance.
- Don't use combs or brushes.
- Step away from the heat styling tools.
- Don't use a normal towel on your hair
- Use protein-rich products
- Use moisturising ingredients
1. Cleanse your hair once a week with a low-poo or no-poo product (a type of hair cleanser), as shampoo is too harsh and drying on curly hair. Use your fingers to cleanse your scalp thoroughly.
2. Condition your hair well and use your fingers to comb out the knots.
3. Rinse the conditioner out but don't worry if there's a little leftover as curly hair is thirsty hair.
4. Using an old t-shirt or curly-girl approved towel, dry your hair a little.
5. Style your hair using your preferred method and allow it to dry naturally or use a curl-friendly diffuser.
This may sound simple but, in all honesty, it's really not. There are so many more steps depending on what products and methods are right for you.
For anyone wondering, my own styling routine is as follows:
- I use Umberto Giannini sulphate-free shampoo or LUS shampoo. If I have a lot of product build-up, I'll use Bounce Curl Enzyme Gentle Clarifying Shampoo.
- Condition with Umberto Giannino de-frizz conditioner or LUS conditioner. If my hair is particularly dry, I'll use Bounce Curl Super Smooth Cream Conditioner.
- Gently comb through tangles with a wide-tooth comb or Denman brush, distributing the conditioner thoroughly.
- Slowly rinse out conditioner while squishing the hair to the scalp, keeping the hair soaking wet.
- Using my fingers, I rake Kinky-Curly leave-in conditioner from root to tip.
- Using a spray bottle filled with water, I keep the hair wet and encourage the curls by coiling them around my finger to give them shape.
- To style, I apply a small dollop of Boots Curl Creme using prayer hands or, alternatively, I'll use Bounce Curl Light Creme Hair Gel Lotion.
- I air dry my hair, using a microfibre towel to scrunch out some of the heavy wetness.
- If using gel, scrunch out the crunch once the hair has dried.
Final note: Feel free to break the rules a little (sorry, Lorraine) if it suits you. For example, finger-combing is just too much work for me so I use a curl-friendly comb while my hair is full of conditioner.
Step 5: Learn the Lingo
Squish to condish, gel cast, scrunch out the crunch, prayer hands, roping, raking, plopping, pineapple... have I completely lost you?
There are so many ways to care for curly hair, but I have found that watching girls on YouTube and Instagram demonstrating their methods is the handiest way to pick up terms and tips.
Here are just a couple of terms to get you going:
While your hair is wet, apply a curly-approved gel - this will leave your hair with a crispy gel cast. Then, allow it to dry fully, either naturally or by using a diffuser, before you gently 'scrunch out the crunch' with your hands.
This is when you coax your curls into sticking together to get fuller, bouncier, more structured curls.
Rake and Shake
This is where you rake the product through wet hair with your fingers, working from root to tip. Then, gripping the end of your hair, you shake it so that the curls fall back into their natural pattern.
First, apply product to your hands. Next, put your hair between your palms, placing them together as if you were praying. Glide your prayer hands down your hair so that the product is applied gently, without breaking up the curl.
Turn your hair upside down and use an Invisibobble or banana clip to loop your hair into a loose bun at the top of your head, keeping your curls safe while you sleep.
Squish to condish
When you're in the shower rinsing conditioner out of your hair, step away from the water from time to time and push your hair from the ends towards your scalp, squishing it as you go so that the conditioner gets a second round.
Step 6: Don't give up
It will be worth it in the end, I swear. There will be split ends, sweat and tears but I promise that if you stay patient and get through the growing pains, your hair will rewards you. At the same time though, don't be kicking yourself if you succumb to the odd blowdry - this journey is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you need some inspiration, check out some of these amazing transformations below:
Best of luck, curlies!