I’ve had a number of questions recently about my hair and my hair care routine. Since I began growing my hair out several years ago and taking my curly hair seriously, I’ve been using some version of the Curly Girl Method. In brief, the Curly Girl Method means throwing out your shampoo and using conditioner to both cleanse and condition your hair. It isn’t just removing shampoo from your routine. It is a matter of removing a number of harmful chemicals that make their way into hair products. It also means changing the way you dry and style your hair.
While there is a really specific method to follow for each and every curl type, what I’ve also found is that each curly girl needs to find what works best for her. No two curly gals are the same. Some of us have tighter curls, others workout more and therefor sweat more frequently. Others have dry scalps, or damaged hair from color and styling. So it’s a matter of finding the products and method that work best for you.
So, here’s how I care for my curly locks:
Cleanse my hair as infrequently as possible. I try to go as long between ‘washes’ as possible. Sometimes that means three days, sometimes that might mean seven. It all depends on my workouts for the week and the amount that I touch my own hair (which I’m trying to do less of). I kept track of it during the month of January and ended up only wetting/cleansing my hair 5 times the whole month.
Use shampoo sparingly and only on the roots. If my hair is looking greasy around the hairline I’ll use a small amount of shampoo just on the root areas. I never, ever massage it all the way through to the tips. Most shampoos dry out the hair, which is why I use it as little as possible. If I am resetting my curls but they didn’t look greasy, I’ll cleanse with a cleansing conditioner and skip the shampoo entirely.
Condition liberally. I switch between a number of different conditioners that are approved according to the Curly Girl Method. (You can find a full list of curly girl approved products here.) I pour a large amount of conditioner into my left hand and then with my right hand I use a little at a time running it through my locks in a downward motion. I focus most of the conditioner on the ends, staying away from the scalp area. Once the locks are all loose and well conditioned, I let the conditioner set for a couple minutes and then rinse it out quickly. I don’t worry about getting all the conditioner out since I’m only going to add more.
Add a leave-in conditioner. It doesn’t even have to be a conditioner that is officially a leave-in, any conditioner will work. I add about a quarter-sized dollop to my palm, run it between my hands and then scrunch from the tips up to the roots. If it sounds a little squishy, like seaweed, there is enough conditioner, if not, add a little more.
Apply styling product. I flip my head over and apply the styling product from tips to roots, making sure to spread it evenly, without too much right at the forehead scalp area because that is the first place to usually look greasy. I use different styling products depending on the kind of curls I want. I’ll admit I don’t only use Curly Girl friendly products, since those tend to leave my curls less structured, and sometimes I like them to be more defined and less beachy waves. (Another post to come on the styling products I use.)
Allow to air dry or use a diffuser to remove some of the water. I never dry the entire thing with a diffuser since the heat tends to dry out your hair and make it brittle. Often I will diffuse it for a couple minutes and then hair plop so the curls keep and it continues to dry. Or I’ll take a 100% cotton tank and scrunch my hair from tips to roots to remove excess water before letting it dry naturally.
Never ever use a comb or brush. Beyond the rare occasions when I straighten my hair, I never take a comb or brush to my hair. The conditioner applied through my locks in the shower is enough to detangle my hair.
Moisturize between washes. Each night before going to bed I apply some kind of repairing or nourishing oil to my locks. Again I move the oil between my palms and then scrunch it from ends upward, avoiding the scalp area, which already has its own natural oil and doesn’t need more. In addition to caring for my hair, this also helps reset the curls bringing a little spring back into them.
Are you a curly girl? What do you do to keep your curly locks looking fresh?