Three steps to better, fuller, healthier curls
They say we’re bound to want what we don’t have, but when I look at naturally wavy locks or adorable ringlets or cascading curls, I know that it’s more than just that. As someone who has had limp, flat hair for almost all my life (bleaching my locks to hell and back for a pink-to-blonde transformation last year finally gave me some volume), I’ve always been intrigued by those who have that god-given oomph. I mean, imagine being able to work curly bangs or a fluffy, curly head of hair a la Tracee Ellis Ross or Harling Ross. The power.
Like all wonderful things in the world, though, curly hair requires hard work. Constant care and a tireless regimen, I’ve learned, are the key to getting that full-bodied mane. This regimen, in fact, has a name. Introducing the Curly Girl Method (CGM).
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When we learned about the Curly Girl Method during one of Ellana Cosmetics’ beauty livestreams, speaker Ria Fernandez made it clear: CGM is one of those things that gets worse before it gets better. However, being the founding force of Curly Girls Philippines—an online community for shared tips, tricks and moral support when it comes to all things curls—she stressed that CGM also happens to have an entire community of women to back it up.
The Curly Girl Method takes root in three key steps: cleansing, hydrating and styling. It sounds almost like any other hair regimen on the surface, but before cutting to the chase, there’s plenty of unlearning that needs to be done.
Ingredients to avoid
There’s a considerably lengthy list of no-no’s when it comes to taking care of curly hair, and as Ria broke down each no-touch ingredient, I couldn’t help but think of how many experience a similar learning curve with skincare. The first instinct is to “treat” oily skin by drying it out—with cleansers that leave skin squeaky-clean, astringent toners, drying clay masks, you name it. It’s a shame that I tried all those things before I finally learned that what my skin needed wasn’t to be stripped dry. All I needed was a healthy dose of hydration.
CGM banks on this same philosophy: when it comes to curls, hydration is key. This means no sulfates and no drying alcohols—oil-stripping ingredients that can be frequently found in your run-of-the-mill commercial shampoos. Instead of the usual shampoo-and-conditioner pairing, CGM relies on co-washing (or conditioner-only washing). This means that you’re better off throwing out products with silicones, wax, heavy hair butters and any water-insoluble ingredients that cannot be removed with solely co-wash.
Practices to avoid
Step away from the straightening iron. Heat styling—that’s blow drying, curling, straightening—goes against the bible of CGM. If quick styling fixes are against the rules, you can imagine how off-limits chemical treatments like rebonding and relaxing are. Downright blasphemy, I tell you.
There’s more unlearning to be done beyond mere hair styling. Even the daily task of brushing and towel-drying hair needs to be reassessed under the Curly Girl precept. That’s right: even brushing your hair and drying with terry cloth towels can get in the way of bringing your curls to life. Instead, let your curls air dry, use a diffuser with your hair dryer, or invest in ultra-smooth, microfiber towels.
After all the unlearning comes the three-step CGM routine. Cleansing, in the CGM playbook, equates to co-wash, or using replacing shampoo with conditioner. It’s less harsh on the scalp, kinder to the locks, and better for drawing out the full potential of those curls. Another option is to use low poo, or a gentle shampoo without all the aggressive ingredients that could break down your hair’s natural protective layer.
Step two of the Curly Girl Method, hydration, teaches us that simply using a conditioner isn’t enough—it’s all about how we use it. This is where the curl-enhancing technique named S2C or squish to condish comes in. Wet hair thoroughly, slather on an appropriate amount of conditioner to get the locks slippery, and plop and squish your curls into the pools of water that trickle down from your hair as you rinse. As Jascmeen Bush of NaturallyCurly emphasizes, “Tighter curl patterns may need to add more conditioner; just be sure to add more water and keep on squishing.”
Styling, the third step, is optional, but is best done with leave-in conditioners, gels and mousses that can be washed off with water and co-wash.
Adapting to all these changes can take its toll on the hair. Ria recounts her experience with CGM: the months of trial and error, the mismatched curl patterns, the limp and scraggly form her hair took on as she navigated her way through the regimen. Perhaps the fourth step to the Curly Girl Method is fighting off curl envy. Hair history, curl type, products used—there are countless factors that could affect how long a CGM journey could take. Whether it’s a few months or a few weeks, one thing is for certain: it gets better, and the effort pays off.
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“If you quit now, you will end up right back where you first started. . And when you first started, you were desperate to be where you are now. . Keep going.” . . #curlyhair #curly #curlygirl #curlygirlmethod #mapmethod #cgmethod #curls #curlynaturalhair #curlfriends #curlycommunity #curlygirljourney #aussiecurlies #pinaycurlies #curlygirlsphilippines #curlypinay #curlygirlsph #curlscurlscurls
Discover more about the Curly Girl Method by joining the Curly Girls Philippines group on Facebook!
Special thanks to Ellana Mineral Cosmetics
Art Alexandra Lara