Okay so this is different from all my other posts but a lot of people ask me about my curls, “my secret” so to speak. So instead of making a Facebook post for each person, I’m just going to put this up for everyone’s convenience as well as mine. Feel free to share it with all your curly friends!
I have found a lot of great sites, blogs and youtube videos that have taught me all about the method and how to take better care of my curls. I’ll list them at the bottom. Naturallycurly.com is a great place to start.
For the Pakistani curly girl reading this, the products I use and those easily found here are at the bottom of the post.
I will go into as much detail as I can but feel free to ask for further clarifications or just skim over and read the bold parts.
Lesson no. 1: NEVER, I repeat NEVER brush your dry hair. A big no-no for curly girls!
Step 1: Figuring out what type of curls you have (your curl pattern). Check out the pictures here and compare with your curls. (Note: This is not the way your curls are once you’ve stretched them out by brushing them)
I have 3B curls with a few which can be 3C.
Lesson no. 2: Curly hair is drier than straight hair because of its construction hence requires more moisture and is prone to breakage and frizz. Frizz happens when curly hair is crying for moisture from the atmosphere. Using sulfate shampoos strips your hair of its natural oils essentially removing the protective barrier on the hair which is keeping the moisture locked in.
Lesson no. 3: The sulfates used in most shampoos (i.e. sodium lauryl sulfate and/ or sodium laureth sulfate) are chemicals/ detergents used in for example, liquid hand soap and dishwashing liquid. YUUP. The stuff that you use to clean your grimey dishes is also what you’ve been using on your hair which is actually damaging the hair and stripping it of its natural moisture! No one’s hair can be THAT dirty unless you fall into a vat of motor oil or something …then you might want to use a sulfate shampoo…
Step 2: The Curly Girl (CG) Method.
A. You CANNOT use conditioners with silicones in them or you will need a sulfate shampoo to get the silicones off. (No silicones!)
Lesson no. 4: Silicones are the chemicals they put in conditioners that coat the length of hair without providing any moisture. A band aid, not the cure for dry/ frizzy curly hair. Plus because they are not water soluble, washing with just water or even conditioner won’t get them off. Only a sulfate shampoo will. It’s a vicious cycle.
B. Chuck out the evil sulfate shampoo and instead, you will co-wash (conditioner wash) i.e. simply cleanse your scalp by massaging it with conditioner. (Bonus: This will also fix your dandruff issues, if you have ’em.)
C. Condition the length of hair with a more moisturizing conditioner than the one used to cleanse your scalp. Then, finger comb your hair.
While Curly Girl drying and styling techniques vary, the primary focus is to be very gentle with hair. For Type 3, my hair, you should,
D. Apply a silicone-free gel evenly through length of hair .
E. Plop with a cotton t-shirt or a microfiber cloth to dry. Do NOT use a towel, they suck up the water from curly hair and cause frizz.
F. Use a satin pillow case to sleep on.
Lesson no. 5: Cotton pillow cases cause too much friction which disturbs the curls and pulls moisture from them leaving you with, you guessed it, frizz!
The frequency with washes will vary but with the CG method, you will not have to cleanse your hair every day because you don’t have silicones weighing it down and making it feel grimey and gross. According to Naturallycurly.com, “most CG followers cleanse hair somewhere between twice a week and once every ten days.”
In between washes you can spritz hair with a little water or mixture of water and conditioner and/ or apply gel to revive curls and restyle a little.
The Process Explained:
First, wash your hair one last time with a sulfate shampoo to get the silicones from your last conditioner/ styling product out. Length and scalp. Then,
Allow the water to run through all layers of your hair. Next, take about a tablespoon or two worth of conditioner in your hand. You will need more or less depending on the thickness and dryness of your hair.
Pick up a little at a time with your fingertips and massage it into your scalp, gently rubbing to remove dirt and oil. Fingertips, NOT your nails. Spread it all over your scalp, then give yourself a scalp massage. Massaging your scalp is relaxing and promotes hair growth.
Now, allow the water to run through hair, removing the conditioner. If you feel the need, gently massage your scalp under the water to make sure there’s no conditioner left.
Condition and finger comb
Now, take one to two golf ball sized amount of your moisturizing conditioner and spread it on the length of your hair starting from the tips. This conditioner will only go on the length of your hair, not your scalp. Don’t be stingy with the conditioner. The more saturated the hair, the easier it is to comb through.
Once saturated, take a section at a time, and use your fingers to comb through. You can also use a wide toothed comb but finger combing is recommended.
Now that you’ve got the tangles out, turn the shower to cold and down to just a drizzle. Flip your head upside down and hold it under the water for a few seconds.
Turn the water off, gently scrunch out some of the excess water. Just enough to stop major dripping and not more! There should be conditioner left in your hair. This is your leave-in conditioner.
Lesson no. 6: Hot opens up the hair follicle allowing whatever you’re putting on the hair to be absorbed easily, cold closes the follicle therefore keeping it from losing moisture. Keep this in mind when washing your hair and when using a hair dryer!
Styling and drying
For Type 3 curly hair, the recommended way to style is to apply a silicone-free gel evenly through the hair. Some rake it through sections, some smooth over the length. I do the latter. It saves me time. Just tilt your head to the side and smooth the gel over the length. Two tablespoons worth of gel for my length is good. This will vary depending on length and thickness of hair, of course.
Now for drying, plopping with a cotton t-shirt or microfiber cloth and air drying is recommended and the best way. I plop, you should plop too.
I just use a cotton t-shirt. It’s easier than getting my lazy butt to go around town looking for a microfiber cloth. I leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes which is the perfect amount for my hair. Any longer and I get frizz because the t-shirt sucks up too much moisture. You’ll need to play around with your plopping time to see what your hair needs.
In summers, I demand that you only air dry. Just wash and go!
In winters, you can use a hair dryer with a diffuser. NOT without it or you’ll lose the wonderful curl definition. I use the pixie curl method. This post explains with pictures. Get your hair 80% dry, then using this method go around all over just once more with the cold setting to close the hair follicle. Then let the rest dry on it’s own. To ensure a no-frizz finish, do not touch your hair as it dries!
That’s it. Go on and make your hair proud, young padawan.
My Products/ Recommendations:
Co-wash: I use Suave Naturals Conditioner. Suave Naturals and VO5 conditioners are silicone free/ Curly Girl friendly and light hence perfect for co-washing. Both are available at Shaheen or D.Watson, FYI.
Condition: I use Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner. It is silicone-free and the best drugstore moisturizing one available to me in my city. You can find it at Shaheen or D. Watson.
Styling: Aussie Instant Freeze Gel, Herbal Essences Totally Twisted and Set Me Up gels, and Pantene Curly Hair Gel are some of the silicone-free gels I have been able to find easily here and they work well for me. Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curl Boosting Mousse is also silicone-free if you prefer mousses to gels.
I used to hate gels but now that I know how to use them, I’m a convert.
Get ready to start reading the ingredients list of the stuff you put in your hair. Here’s a helpful list of what sulfates and silicones to avoid:
As a general rule though, ingredients with “sulfate” or “sulfonate” are sulfates to be avoided.
Remember that a silicone is any ingredient that ends with the suffixes -one, -conol, or -xane e.g. “dimethicone”, “dimethiconol” and “cyclopentasiloxane”.
Waxes are easily identified because they have “wax” in the ingredient name (usually). Waxes, mineral oil and petrolatum should also be avoided.
Variations on this CG method may work better for you, and the best fit will be based on a lot more than just your curl type/ pattern. There’s also porosity, density, width and length to contend with. Here’s a link to explain what all that means:
For Type 2 curl styling tips, you should check out Shalimarcat‘s youtube channel and this link for the wash-and-go:
For Type 3 curls, the above CG method and WaterLily716‘s youtube channel.