How To Use the Curly Girl Method

In the middle of January I drastically changed the way I clean and condition my hair opting for the Curly Girl method. Before this point I used to wash and condition my hair either using a Pantene or Herbal Essence product. I liked the way they smelled and never had any complaints about them. But the one thing I noticed as my hair has begun to really grow is that the curls I had in college are not re-appearing. I was sure part of that was due to the fact that I kept my hair short and straight for so many years. It was dried out and unable to really curl. I made sure to truly condition my hair and every other month would sleep with conditioner in my hair to give it the extra moisture it craved. But that wasn’t enough.

At the start of 2014 I decided it was time to reclaim my curly hair and started looking into the Curly Girl routine as a way to do so. I purchased the book Curly Girl – The Handbook from Amazon and read it in one afternoon. It turns out, I was right, my hair is dry – a lot of girls with curly hair have been using products and styling tools that damage the natural curls. But that can be corrected.



The general premise behind the Curly Girl method is to ditch the shampoo entirely and to only use products that won’t damage your hair. Remove products from your repertoire that contain sulfates and silicones. And remove shampoo entirely. You can wash your hair with conditioner (called co-wash) and your hair will be just as clean.

How To Do the Curly Girl Method:

  1. Wash your hair one final time with the sulfate shampoo you are used to using. Do NOT use any other products in your hair that day. (Best to do this on a day that you aren’t going anywhere so you don’t need to worry about styling it.)
  2. Throw out all your shampoos and conditioners that contain harmful ingredients. While you’re at it get rid of your fine-toothed combs and all your brushes!
  3. Buy silicone and sulfate free products, this includes your styling products – gel, mouse, whatever you use. (See a list below of the products I’m using now.) But a large-toothed comb like this Conair Detangling Comb.
  4. Co-wash your hair with a conditioner by applying a small amount of conditioner to the tips of your fingers and massaging it into the scalp. There will not be a lather and that is perfectly okay.
  5. Condition the rest of your hair by applying more conditioner to your fingers and slowly running them through your strands in a down ward motion.
  6. Allow the conditioner to remain in your hair for several minutes.
  7. Rinse the conditioner out with cool water – not hot!
  8. Optional: I apply a little more conditioner to the ends, leave it in for a few minutes and then give a quick rinse so that most of it remains still in the hair.
  9. Scrunch hair dry using an old t-shirt or Microfiber Towel. DO NOT use your normal towel.
  10. Apply a leave-in conditioner to the ends. Try to avoid the scalp area.
  11. Use your styling products to lock in the curls.
  12. Allow hair to air dry. Use a diffuser if you must. (I use the Karmin G3 Salon Pro Hair Dryer when I can’t wait for my hair to dry entirely on its own.)


Products for the Curly Girl Method:

Want even more Curly Girl Method approved products?? I expanded on this post in 2015 with a full list of products and my review of some of my absolute favorites. Read: Curly Girl Method Approved Products.

Wondering what it’s like to be using the Curly Girl Method a year later? Oh, I wrote about that too.


Have a question about this method?

Leave a comment below with your question. I’m going to answer them next week since I’ve been getting a lot of queries lately from friends and readers.

Katy Rose

16 thoughts on “How To Use the Curly Girl Method

  1. Jenna Wood

    I’ve never had ‘curly hair’ but I do have a very dramatic wave if I let my hair air dry. I wonder if I could pull out some of the texture giving this method a try? When I blow dry my hair it naturally falls straight, it’s the oddest thing.

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    1. katyrose Post author

      Dede – It takes at least three weeks to get your hair used to the method. And yes, during that time her hair will look a little greasy. but if it gets really bad, wash it with shampoo and then condition it with the appropriate conditioners. It helps re-start the process. It’s also good to try a few different products because not everything works on everyone based on hair type. – Katy

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