How To Start The Curly Girl Method – Beginner’s Guide

Firstly, what is the Curly Girl Method*?

The CGM* is a method of caring for your waves, curls or coils in order to achieve healthy and beautiful hair.

It calls for cutting out of silicones, waxes, mineral oils and parabens. When you see a product described as “Curly Girl Approved” or CGA, this means the products are free from those ingredients and therefore safe to use with the method.

Click here for a brief guide of commonly used terms

Let’s get started!

To start the method, it’s advisable to know your hair type. You can take the QUIZ HERE!


STEP 1: Final Wash – a clean slate

Before you start the Curly Girl Method, you’ll need to do one final wash with a clarifying sulphate shampoo that contains no silicones.

This step is important because it gets rid of any silicone or waxes that may have built up from your previous product use. Over time, product build-up can leave your hair looking dull, flat, and can affect your curl pattern.


STEP 2: Cleanse 

This is an important step to keep your scalp clean and healthy and remove any oils and dirt fro your hair. How often you cleanse your hair (and with what products) will vary depending on your specific curly type. Some curlies can go 10 days without cleansing while others need to cleanse a few times per week.

It’s important to experiment and find out what your specific needs are.

We recommend starting with cleansing once per week using a gentle curly girl approved shampoo, and doing a full wet refresh once per week (about 3-4 days after you cleanse). You will need to do some experimenting to see what works for you.

Cleansing Options:

a) Co-wash:

Short for “conditioner-only washing.” It means skipping shampoo and relying solely on conditioner.

Many curlies use a co-wash to replace the traditional method of shampooing your hair.

Since shampoos are harsh on your hair and can damage your curl pattern, a co-wash is a gentle way to give your hair that clean feeling without damaging it.

b) Low-poo:

This is a shampoo designed to cleanse curly hair without interfering with your natural curl pattern. It contains low or no lather.

Low poo shampoos are for curlies who just can’t seem to fully ditch shampoo completely. If you struggle with an oily scalp, a low poo may be a good option for you.

c) Clarifying:

Using a deep cleansing shampoo to remove buildup from the hair. A clarifying shampoo helps to restore shine and bounce to curls by removing residue, but should not be used more than once every week or two, since it is more intense than regular shampoos.

STEP 3: Condition

Conditioning is one of the most important steps in the curly girl process (if not the most important step) and is designed to moisturise your hair and keep it hydrated to create beautiful curls.

Conditioning Options:

a) Wash Out

b) Leave-In

c) Deep Conditioner / Treatment Mask

It’s usually a good idea to deep condition your hair once a week (or more in the beginning).


Note: Some curlies will recommend leaving a bit of regular wash out conditioner in your hair. We do not recommend this because if your conditioner contains protein it can damage your hair.


STEP 4: Style, Define & Hold

This is where the magic happens. How your style your curls will determine wether your curls last 1 day or 5 days.

Styling can be broken down into three parts. Moisturiser, hold, and application. Each of these is just as important as the last.


a) The first step in the styling process is to use a leave-in conditioner:

It’s important to choose a leave-in that is right for your hair. If it is too heavy it will either make your hair oily or weigh your curls down causing them to be stringy.

b) The second step in the styling process is applying a gel to hold your curl pattern:

What type of gel you choose completely depends on your curl type. We recommend starting with a medium to max hold gel to seal in moisture and lock in your curl pattern.

  • CREAMS/MOUSSE/OTHER (OPTIONAL): The drier and damaged your hair is, the more you may want to try a curl cream or other moisturising product, and the more of the product you may need to use. You’ll likely find as your hair gets healthier, you’ll either be able to use less of the product or do away with it altogether.
  • GEL: Gel is the single most important styling product. You may want a hard hold or medium/hard hold gel, depending on your hair.


STEP 5: Drying

Drying curly hair is completely different than traditional hair drying methods.  Curly Girl drying techniques are broken down into four types (we’ve added the pros and cons for each).

a) Air Drying: After you are done styling, let your wet curls dry naturally.

+ Natural heat free drying

– Reduces the volume in your curls

– Can take a long time

b) Plopping: Using a T-shirt or microfibre towel to scrunch your curls up toward your head and tie. 

+ Allows your curls to dry while encouraging curl pattern

+ Speeds up drying time

– Can disrupt natural curl pattern

c) Diffusing: Using a diffuser attachment on your hairdryer to disperse heat

+ Distributes airflow evenly without causing frizz.

+ Speeds up drying time

– Make sure to use a low setting to minimise heat damage

d) Hybrid Drying: A combination of the above three. For example: plop hair for 15 minutes, diffuse for 20-30, then finish with air drying.

+ Combine methods to discover what works best for you

– Could seem a bit confusing in the beginning


Let your hair air-dry or dry with a diffuser. Do your best not to touch it while it dries.

When your hair is 100% dry, you should have a gel cast around your curls.

Tip your hair to the side or upside down again, and scrunch your hair until the gel cast is gone, and you’re left with soft, frizz-free curls. (AKA “scrunch out the crunch.”)


STEP 6: Preserving

The last step in the curly girl method is preserving your curls overnight.One of the many benefits of having curly hair is that if you are taking proper care of it, you will only need to style it 1-3 times per week.Use this two-step process to preserve your curls throughout the week.

  • Pineapple:is a way to protect your curly hair when you sleep.Gather all your curls to the very top of your head (almost to your forehead and secure with a non damaging hair tie.
  • Night Protection:Always sleep on a satin pillowcase or bonnet.Satin or silk helps hold in moisture and cause little friction which can lead to breakage and frizz.


  • Because part of the curly curl method is avoiding heat, you definitely don’t want to be using a straightener, curling iron, or blow dryer.
  • Air drying is best for this method, but if that just isn’t practical, use a blow dryer ***with a diffuser*** on low.
  • Avoid towels. They take too much moisture out of your hair. If you find your hair is dripping wet after you get out of the shower, use an old t-shirt or our gentle cotton curl towel to get rid of any excess water.
  • Avoid thin elastics. They can cause breakage. Instead, use cloth or satin scrunchies or coil ties.
  • Swap your regular pillowcase for a satin one. Traditional pillowcases take a little too much moisture out of your hair, and if your hair is on your pillowcase for 6-8 hours a night, that’s a lot of time to let your hair dry out.

All of this may take some time in the beginning, but the longer you do it, the healthier your hair will get, and the less time/product you’ll need.



It can be a little overwhelming starting the curly girl method but once it is broken down into steps it’s fairly simple.Keep in mind that it does take experimentation and consistency to see significant results so don’t get discouraged.If you want to get started and are not sure which products to purchase, I highly recommend The Starter Kit. It is affordable and is the perfect size to experiment with.

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