Saturday, May 16, 2015

Starting the Curly Girl Method

Posted by Jen Lennox at 11:08 AM
This is a fairly concise overview of the CG Method. I HIGHLY recommend if you're interested in doing it that you either purchase the Lorraine Massey Book  or check out, which has a great article with more detail.

The CG (Curly Girl) Method is based on the complete removal of sulfates and silicones from the hair.  Why do you need to do this? You may not. I know a lot of ladies who use regular shampoo and conditioner all their lives and have delightfully perfect curls. Most of us, however, do not, and it's not because your hair can't form curls, it's that you're (probably accidentally) doing it all wrong.

Curly girls need almost everything the opposite of girls with straight hair. Because our hair shaft is not straight, the oils our scalp generates (called sebum) don't find their way all the way to the bottom of our hair. This often results in an oily scalp and there rest of our hair a dry, puffy, frizzy mess. To combat the oil, we wash our hair. A boatload of shampoos (almost all of them, unless marked) are loaded with sulfates. These are usually labeled "sodium laurel sulfate" or some such other title ending in the word "sulfate,"and we then style our hair with products loaded with silicones (anything ending in the word -cone or conol on the label). This method works great for girls with straight hair. Not so much for us curlies. Why?

The sulfates found in shampoos are often the exact same sulfates found in dish soap. No lie. Dish soaps often list "sodium laurel sulfate" as the 2nd or 3rd ingredient. Which means, they are great at cutting through grease, but they strip precious moisture out of curly hair. Curls NEED moisture to form, and depriving the curls of moisture gives us that oh-so-lovable frizzball we love to hate.

This is Dawn dish soap. Check out the second ingredient. Chances are, that's the same stuff in your current shampoo, if it's not marked sulfate-free.

Now for the 'Cones. Silicones are excellent for straight styles because they coat the hair with a moisture barrier that keeps moisture from penetrating the hair shaft, keeping frizz at bay and making styles look smooth and sleek. However, they are very heavy and can only be removed with sulfates. If you are attempting to go CG, make sure your styling products are CONE-FREE (no -cone, -one, or -onol at the end) because if they aren't, you'll get a nice gunky buildup on your hair within a couple of weeks. No good.

Thus begins the vicious cycle: Use sulfates to strip the hair of silicones, use silicones to tame the frizzball caused by the sulfates. Our hair is constantly dry, our curls never form to their full ability due to lack of moisture, and eventually we pick up a flat iron and swear off our curls forever.

If you want to try the CG method, know two things: 1) You'll be doing a lot of label reading. I've become an expert at finding silicones and putting those products back on the shelf. 2) You need to give it some time to start working. Believe it or not, you can get clean, oil-free hair by using only conditioner (known as co-washing) and no shampoo. It sometimes takes the hair a few weeks to get the memo, so don't give up. Also, there are excellent online resources to help you find good products. I love and have found some of the best advice there.

This is me after about a year of using this method. Occasionally I will straighten if I feel like it, if the mood strikes. I just remember to use a "real" shampoo to get all the junk out of it before I return to CG. My hair is starting to respond very well, with defined curls instead of a ball of frizzy POOF. I'm currently growing out my bangs, which is a pain in the rectum of epic proportions. Not looking forward to the next 6 months or so as they start to blend in with the rest of my hair.

My next entry will focus on things like curl pattern, density, and porosity. The best way to find products that will work best with your hair is to know what kind of texture you have to begin with. This can be a little tricky (I'm still figuring out mine!) but it will definitely help point you in the right direction.



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