I've always dreamed of my waves being ringlets and getting amazing curls all over my head, but always thought my hair just wasn't that curly. My Mum's hair is stunning ringlets and I had such hair envy, so when I saw Curvy Wordy mention the 'Curly Girl Method' I was intrigued. Her hair is absolute goals, so maybe mine hair would like this method too! I did a bit of reading about it but it was when I found the Facebook group 'Curly Girls! Conditioner only washing' that I really got to grips with understanding what it entailed. I highly recommend joining the group and reading all their files for way more info than I could possibly share in one blog post.
This is my 'before' hair on a good day. It has some texture to it, and some waves, but no real curls. Every now and then I'd get the odd ringlet and be hopeful for more, but this is a photo from a pretty standard good hair day for me.
The first step of going CG is the prep. You'll want a good shampoo for your final wash, and a CG friendly conditioner, and a CG friendly gel. The general aim is to avoid all sulphates, silicones, drying alcohols and various other 'bad' ingredients. Your final wash is the last time you'll use shampoo on your hair, and the aim is to remove all the silicones from your hair using a sulphate shampoo. A baby shampoo will work a treat, or even a diluted washing up liquid. You'll want to really scrub and cover your hair to try and get rid of all the silicone build up you have.
Then, it's time for your first co-wash. Co-washing is short for conditioner only washing. Instead of using a shampoo, you use just a conditioner to clean and condition your hair. You'll get through a lot of conditioner! My personal method is to put a big glob of conditioner in one hand, and use my other hand to really scrub it into my scalp, starting at the front of my hair and working back, making sure to also get all round my ears and fully scrub my whole scalp. I spend about 15-20 minutes doing this to make sure my scalp is really clean. Once I've done that I give my hair a really good rinse out whilst finger combing through my hair to get rid of any knots. Then it's time for the second condition, this time I do the 'squish to condish' method. I take conditioner and I scrunch it into my hair from the ends up, leaving my roots till last. I tend to leave this on my hair while I do everything else someone might need to do in the shower, and once I'm done, I dunk my head under the shower, but do not fully rinse my hair out. The aim is to leave a milky dewy sort of look to my hair so that the conditioner is left in. Then I wrap my hair in a microfiber towel and leave it to take the bulk of the moisture out.
When it comes to picking your conditioner, different products work differently for different hair types. They key thing is that you need to avoid certain ingredients. These tend to end in -cone, sulphate, certain waxes and oils and drying alcohols. This Wikihow has an extensive list for you, it can be tricky to find good products but don't worry that you'll end up using super expensive products, there are own brand Superdrug, Sainsburys, Aldi and Tesco products that are CG friendly for example! I'm not going to recommend specific products in this blog because unfortunately products are reformulated so often that they might be CG friendly as I type this, but in a week's time they might not be. The CG Facebook group I recommend are always happy to help you determine if something is CG friendly, and they have a list of approved products too.
Once my hair has been in the towel for a little while, I then add gel to my whole hair. I worried at first that this would weigh my hair down but it doesn't. I apply the gel using scrunching motions and make sure all my hair has some gel in it. Then it's time for to 'plop'. A plop is the term for a way to let your hair dry and get volume in the roots without crushing your curls like a towel wrapped around your hair might. The YouTube video below shows how best to do it, and you'll need a 100% cotton t-shirt to avoid creating frizz in your wet hair. I bought a long sleeved men's t shirt from Tesco for this, super cheap and works a treat!
I tend to sleep in my plop overnight because I usually wash my hair at night, in the morning it's not 100% dry, so I then use a diffuser on a hairdryer on the cool setting only. No heat! Heat is bad for your hair. This usually leaves a crunchy look to your hair that is called a 'cast'. Once your hair is totally dry you can then 'SOTC', or scrunch out the crunch. A micofibre towel or cotton t shirt is fine to use for this, and you'll be amazing at how different your hair looks after!
This is my hair after my second ever co-wash and my first successful cast. Look how ringlety my hair is! The difference is amazing. I never knew my curls could be this defined and well.... curly! I'm easily getting 3 days out of my curls without having to wash them. In the mornings I refresh my hair using a spray bottle I've filled with water and a good blob of conditioner and then diffuse to dry. Super easy and quick for those mornings I'm in a rush!
One of the other things I do to protect my curls is sleep on a satin pillow, as a satin or silk pillow will create less frizz, and I sleep in a 'pineapple'. To make a pineapple, flip your hair upside down and pile your hair into a pony tail right at the top of your head and put it in a very loose bobble or scrunchie. I've been using a bandana so far as I don't actually have much hair, but I need to invest in a scrunchie! It helps keep all the volume in my hair and means I'm not squishing my curls. Other key things to note are that to really optimise your hair, you need to avoid all heat on your hair, and not brush or comb your hair. Finger comb only when you are washing your hair with conditioner to avoid breakages. Microfibre towels are much better for your curls than regular towels and can be bought from most sporting shops or online easily.
I'm so excited to see how my curls improve over time, most people experience a transition stage for 4-8 weeks and I've been pretty lucky in my opinion, but I need to work on less frizz at my roots and being less afraid of using gel in my hair. All your products need to be CG friendly, from any mousse you might want to use to hairsprays etc. While I use gel currently, there are CG friendly mousses people use instead, but as gel is so cheap I'm sticking with that right now as it seems to be working well for me!
If you've got any questions do feel free to ask away and I'll do my best to answer them, but I highly recommend the CG Facebook group, everyone is friendly and helpful and there is all the info you could ever need in it. This is a method that women of colour have been using for a long time to look after their hair that was introduced to the masses via various books. I think it's important to acknowledge that this method of hair care has it's roots in Afro hair care, and comes from women of colour.