Something that’s important to understand about your unruly, beautiful curly hair is that at it’s base your hair is created different than any other hair texture. An uneven distribution of keratin amino acids from root to tip giving it the kinky, spirally texture you’ve come to love and hate.
Since curly hair is molecularly different than the rest, we should take care of it differently also, agreed? Agreed! Let me introduce to you my much loved curly girl method. This method is best used for people with naturally curly hair, whether you wear your hair curly or not (although, your hair structure makes your strands extremely susceptible to dehydration so I would second guess that flat iron for a second) to maintain and restore the health of your hair and scalp. I’m going to give you a step by step guide as if you would be starting from scratch, make product recommendations, and insert my own personal experiences with the method as well. Before I jump right into this one of the main features of this method is that it is a “no-poo” method, meaning you will not be shampooing your hair. Yes. That’s right. Goes against everything you thought you knew, right?
Step One: Do your “final cleanse” with a clarifying shampoo. If you’re looking for a less harsh option, my best recommendation is using an apple cider vinegar based shampoo. The vinegar will help to strip away any residue and silicones left on the hair and scalp, giving you a clean slate. To save money, and not have a semi-used shampoo lying around, you can also shampoo twice with a regular shampoo, ensuring to give your scalp a good massage. After this initial shampoo, do not shampoo. Chemicals commonly found in shampoos tend to be too harsh and drying to sensitive, parched curly hair. By tossing the shampoo, you give your hair a better chance of retaining any moisture you give it.
Step Two: Prep your arsenal. You want to be well equipped with silicone, parabens, and sulfate free styling products and conditioner. I like a good thick conditioner for daily “cleansing”. I start at my ends and work the conditioner through my hair, ending with a scalp massage to help stimulate circulation to keep my hair follicles healthy. I then like to have a heavy leave in conditioner to keep my strands hydrated during the day and my curls smoother. A couple other optional additions are a intense hydration mask to use 2-3x a week and a serum if you are concerned with your hair looking lack lustre.
Step Three: Lose the dead weight. Go get a hair cut. I know it’s painful to cut ANY length off as curly hair takes what seems like forever to grow; however, split ends and breakage will actually hurt you more in the long run. As the hair breaks and frays, the damage moves up the hair shaft making your strands shorter over time and it will appear as if your hair is not growing. Get your stylist to trim off enough to get rid of any breakage so you can start fresh with healthy hair.
Step Four: Get your co-wash on girl! To make the co washing (washing with conditioner) effective you need to put effort into your scalp massage. You can loosen any dirt and lessen the accumulation of natural oils by giving yourself a firm, thorough scalp massage using conditioner. This will also stimulate the blood circulation, keeping your hair follicles healthy and your hair growth at it’s maximum. This method is also good for those who suffer from minimal to moderate dandruff. Since you are eliminating products that dry out the scalp and cause dermatitis or reactivity, any residue that may turn into dandruff is minimized and the health of the scalp is dramatically improved.
Step Five: Keep your comb in the shower. Never brush or comb dry curly hair. You are asking for frizz, heartache, and pain. Invest in a good wide toothed comb and keep it in the shower. When you have fully saturated your hair with conditioner, starting at the ends and working your way up, gently detangle you hair. Be thorough but do so with care, do not pull or tug. This also gives you a chance to monitor your hair loss. As weird as it sounds, if I notice more hair in my comb than normal, I take it as a hint that a new stressor has been introduced in my life and it is time to take a step back and do some self care/make some changes.
Step Six: Don’t waste time and get those products on! You want to apply your styling products when your hair is almost still soaking wet. Emulsify the products in your hands first then gently “rake” the products into your hair separating your curls as you do so. This will encourage your natural curl pattern as your hair dries. If you are planning on straightening your hair, remember to use a good heat protectant as well as your curly hair products.
Step Seven: Scrunch girl, scrunch! To continue to encourage your hair to curl naturally, use your hands or a t shirt to scrunch the hair. A normal towel will absorb water from the hair and too fast of a pace, making it frizzy and causing friction to undo the natural curl pattern. The softness of a cotton t shirt or your hands will not take away the water but will continue to help lift and develop the curls.
This just happens to be “my version” of the curly girl method, there are definitely more steps you can add but I find this the most “do able” on a daily basis. A few things to note is that you need to commit to this routine – it takes about 1 – 3 weeks to see a noticeable difference. Think of it as a lifestyle change! Also, get a good stylist on your side. Especially if you are trying to grow out your hair, you’ll want to get trims every 3 months or so to keep hair healthy and prevent any breakage.
Another addition I do with my routine is an pre-shower scalp massage using almond, jojoba, or avocado oil. I also mix in essential oils like eucalyptus, birch (if I have a head ache), and rosemary. This is my go-to as part of a pamper session or if I’m feeling like I had a rough day. You can either jump into the shower after using this mixture, or sleep with it over night. Make sure you drape your pillow with a towel you’re not terribly attached to.