Two novices take on the 'curly girl method'
I've always had curly hair. Mum has tight ringlets but mine is much looser than that. It's very thick so needs to be cut and layered to keep the curls bouncy. The longer it gets, the more the curls struggle due to the weight of the hair.
I used to plait it a lot to make waves, and often curled it using tongs for events/nights out too - so I didn't really ever rely on my natural curls.
However, in March 2021 my housemate Ayesha looked into the 'curly girl method' which uses certain products and techniques to bring back curls to make them as good as they can be without the use of heat.
It's pretty overwhelming at first because there's SO MUCH out there explaining the science behind it all. I don't have the patience for that so I stuck to @hanzcurls and @curly.robbo on Instagram to give me ideas of what products to use and routines to follow.
I watched a few videos, ordered some products, and the journey started...
Products I used to start with (in this order):
Noughty 'To The Rescue' shampoo and conditioner
Noughty intensive care leave-in conditioner - put this through your wet hair
Umberto Giannini curl jelly scrunching jelly - final step before drying
Other tips I was following:
Use a cotton tshirt rather than a normal towel when you get out of the shower to get rid of the 'drippiness' of wet hair
Use a diffuser on a low speed/heat when drying your hair - start with the roots
Pineapple my hair on a night means you basically tie it loosely on top of your head with the curls free pointing forward
Sleeping on satin pillowcases/using a satin bonnet to avoid frizz and keep the curls from being ruined and drying out
My hair before: I've plaited this to create waves but as you can see there weren't really layers and it was just thick and flat
April 2021: After the first wash -
My curls are already improving. Using the bonnet and cotton tshirt even before I've used the products means I can wear my hair down more and just let the curls do as they want instead of plaiting it/wearing it up.
One thing though - I need a haircut. The layers need to be brought back and I need it thinning down as it's getting so long and heavy that no matter what you do, the curls struggle. Few of inches shorter and the curls will reach another level I think!
May 2021: After a haircut, a month into the curly method
This hair cut was dissappointing to be honest. Although she took a lot of my hair off the length like I asked, she didn't cut in the layers - so I definitely won't be going back there! The thing with curly hair is that without layers cut into it, the top layer is going to weigh everything else down no matter how good your curls are. In the photo, the curls were great underneath, but I was doing the half up half down style to show off the curls. So I took things into my own hands - bought a pair of scissors and headed to YouTube tutorials!
There are two layer techniques - unicorn and ponytail. Both use the techique of tying your hair up in a certain way, and then cutting the end off. The position of how the hair is tied means that layers form. I also shaped the hair around my face too. The outcome wasn't bad for a first go. I'll definitely do this from now on. I know there are good curly hair salons out there, but I can't pay those prices right now, so I'll do it myself instead for a while. Practice makes perfect!
Here are the video tutorials I used:
May 2022: More than a year into the process now. I cannot believe this is all natural!
August 2022: I'm in the swing of things now and loving my curls. I know how to look after them and never really wear my hair up/in plaits anymore!
This is the routine I've settled on:
Shampoo + conditioner (washing once a week)
Tshirt dry to get rid of the 'drippiness'
Leave-in conditioner raked through with prayer hands then 'squish to condish'
Brush style - twisting to create curls
Scrunch in curl jelly to hold the curls
Diffuse dry (roots first, very slowly)
Serum to seal and scrunch out the crispy element
For daily styling - bit of water and curling cream to revive the curls
My favourite products:
John Frieda 'Dream Curls' shampoo and conditioner
Cantu leave-in conditioner and curling cream
Umberto Giannini scrunching jelly and serum
I feel like I'm set on this method now as it gives me the curls I want. It's probably not the end of my 'curly girl' journey but for now I think I'll sign off because I can't see myself changing anything soon. This just shows how products and styling really helps though - I've not touched my curling tongs in over a year now and I never really wear it up/in plaits.
What I will stress is that I still have good and bad wash days. Sometimes the hair just doesn't curl as nice as the week before even if you've done the exact same thing to it. The accounts I follow for advice find this too, so you're not always going to have perfect curly hair but mine is a BIG improvement compared to how it was a couple of years back when I never would have gone out with natural hair down because it would have just been a fluffy frizzy mess.
By 'curly girl journey' I mean using ‘cleaner’ shampoo and conditioner - products with no sulphates, silicone, or 'nasties'. Look into the curly girl method for more info - I didn’t 100% follow this as it’s quite strict. I also did a lot of research to find out what my hair type is - it’s texture and porosity (your hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture) which was helpful to know. I found out my hair is medium texture, low density, low porosity. According to these things, I found out what kind of products my hair likes - mainly between moisture rich vs protein rich (lots of research out there! So I’d suggest looking into it yourself if you want to know more). All wavy/curly hair needs moisture, but it can easily be over-moisturised so be mindful of that. I found my hair loves moisture and doesn’t need that much protein (I once went into protein overload and my hair was so straw-like and was like a bird's nest). It’s been a long process filled with A LOT of trial and error, and it’s been slightly pricey for me as I did buy many products to find what works for me. It’s been worth it though - my hair is SO healthy now and I love it so much. The process of washing to diffusing is lengthy, but once that’s done, I don’t have to think about my hair until the next wash day.
Ayesha's routine: 1. Shampoo + conditioner - squish to condish, brush hair to de-tangle when it’s got conditioner on, wash that out after and then add leave-in conditioner/curl cream (both do similar things so I wouldn’t use both together) 2. Keeping your hair wet (I use a spray bottle) section hair into three and brush style (use a brush to comb through which will create the curl clumps)
3. Scrunch gel into hair gently, and keep scrunching gently until I’m happy with what the curl clumps look like
4. Do this for all sections, maybe go over all hair upside down with a strong hold gel (my hair needs strong hold)
5. Diffuse to dry
6. Scrunch the crunch from the gel out with some hair oil or serum - very important step! I protect my hair at night be using a satin bonnet, not always though. I do use satin pillowcases though. I always put my hair into a ‘pineapple’ too.
My hair before: I would always style my hair using straighteners. This was with no product and it had air dried.
April 2021: I stopped using straighteners in November 2020 and this was a month into the curly girl journey.
May 2021: This was after my first proper curly haircut.
May 2022: More than a year into my curly girl journey, with culoured hair.
My favourite products:
Curls Hair Gel Goddess Glaze Curl Gel - soft hold gel, glycerine free so good for humid/wet days
Curlsmith Curl Defining Styling Souffle - strong hold gel
Pantene Defined Curls mousse - use this between gels
Noughty 'To The Rescue' shampoo and conditioner
OGX Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo - good to clarify
Garnier Cocoa Butter Hair Food - deep conditioner, good for hydration