The craziest thing happened when I was pregnant — my hair got curly! When I was kid, I had pretty curly hair, but as I got older, my curls didn’t curl as much anymore, and I was left with frizzy and somewhat wavy hair. I wanted curly hair — I’ve even gotten it permed several times in the last 15 years or so. But, when I was pregnant with Grady last year, I noticed my hair getting curlier. It was the weirdest thing. Now, a year later, I’ve finally decided to lean into my new hair and see what happens.
I have a friend who did the curly girl method several years ago. I remember her talking about it and being envious because she didn’t have to style her hair each day to make it look good. I began researching this method, and I’ve been following it for about a month now. I’ve been really pleased with the results, so I thought I’d share.
My Modified Curly Girl Routine
The best part about the curly girl method is that it combines several things that I love…
An excuse to dive deep into researching something (I’m talking YouTube videos, blogs, Instagram posts, the whole thing).
The chance to purchase new beauty products.
The ability to be able to fix my hair quickly with minimal work.
Okay, so there’s a little caveat to the last one…it can be a lot of work. But the work is more of being intentional how you wash, dry, and style, and what you wash, dry, and style with.
STEP ONE: Find out what kind of hair you have.
Before you get started, it’s best to find out what type of hair you have — low, normal, or high porosity. You can also try to identify what type of curl you have, but I have not done that since my curls aren’t super consistent in their shape, yet. Here’s a video to show you how to test for what type of porosity hair you have.
Based on my test results, I have low porosity hair, which means that it takes more time and effort for my hair to absorb moisture, and moisture is vital to having good curls. With low porosity hair, it’s recommended that you wash your hair with shampoo about once a week to clean any build up, especially at your scalp. All other washes should be with conditioner.
STEP TWO: Prep hair with lots of moisture.
To start the whole curly girl process, I deep conditioned FIRST. I used the Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask on my damp hair. This was a product that I already had, so I was able to start this process before I’d gone too deep into my researching hole. I’ve learned that flipping my head over to do just about anything with my hair helps to develop and preserve its natural curl, so to apply the deep conditioner, I got my hair damp and then worked the mask through my hair from the root to the ends, upside down.
Once the mask was in my hair, I used my Drybar The Morning After shower cap inside out (with the vinyl part touching my hair). Then, to help the mask soak in more, I used my Norwex Hair Wrap on top of the shower cap to create a little heat — kind of like a greenhouse. I let everything sit for about 30 minutes. After that half hour, I jumped in the shower, rinsed out the deep conditioner, and I was officially on my way to the curly girl method.
STEP THREE, PART ONE: Shampoo and deep condition.
I only wash my hair with shampoo my hair about every 7-10 days. If I were being really rigid about the curly girl method, I wouldn’t ever use shampoo. But, for low porosity hair it’s suggested that shampoo is used as infrequently as possible just to help remove any build up, especially near the scalp, since low poro hair doesn’t soak in our natural oils and stuff very well. If you have high or normal porosity hair, you can use a co-wash conditioner, like the Shea Moisture co-wash conditioning cleanser.
I already had a “curly girl approved” shampoo and conditioner from Target, Renpure Curl + Shine. I also bought a pre-shampoo that I use first, the Shea Moisture Bamboo Charcoal Pre-Shampoo Scalp Scrub. I like the shampoo and conditioner I have, but I want to try the Shea Moisture Baobab & Tea Tree Oils Low Porosity Protein-Free shampoo and conditioner once I run out of what I already had on hand. I also bought a little scalp massager to work in the pre-shampoo and shampoo on my scalp really well (plus it feels really good, haha).
Once I pre-shampoo and shampoo, I put in my deep conditioner. I have two deep conditioning masks, and I just kind of alternate between the Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair and the Professional Series Hydrating Argan Oil Mask. I try to let the deep conditioner sit as long as I can while I shower and I try to do something that takes a little more time like shave my legs while the mask sets in. While the conditioning mask is in, I use a wide tooth comb to brush my hair. This is the only brushing I do, so I have to make sure to get all of the tangles out then, or my hair will be really knotty later on (ha, get it?!).
When it comes time to rinse the mask out, I actually make the water cooler to wash out the deep conditioning mask. I wasn’t sure what that did before I began writing this, but a friend had suggested doing that, so that’s what I’ve been doing. I realized as I was writing that it was kind of silly to tell people that read this to do that if I wasn’t sure why I did it, so here’s what I found out…
If you’re keeping track, here’s a recap of how I wash my hair:
Massage pre-shampoo into scalp, rinse out after a few minutes
Work lots of shampoo throughout my hair using scalp massager, rinse
Apply deep conditioning mask; let sit for a while
Turn water to cooler temperature, rinse
STEP THREE, PART TWO: Wash hair with conditioner only.
On the days that I wash my hair and I don’t use shampoo, I basically do the same thing except no pre-shampoo and no shampoo. Instead of a deep conditioning mask, I use my regular conditioner, the Renpure Curl + Shine. I try to let it sit for as long as I can, but most of the time my showers have to be really short on these days because I have a toddler and infant, so if (that’s a big if) I have a chance to shower and wash my hair, it has to be super fast.
Also, I do think that the curly girl method has helped me look more put together on days when I either don’t have a chance to shower or don’t have a chance to wash/style my hair. Even if I put it up, I have a lot more volume so it looks more styled, even if I just throw it up in a bun or ponytail.
STEP FOUR: Dry and scrunch.
Once I’m out of the shower, I wrap my hair in a very loose turban on top of my head using a microfiber towel. I’ve heard that terrycloth towels add frizz, and I’m trying to avoid that at all costs! I already had a Norwex Bath Towel and it’s worked really well, but if you go to Target and look in the hair section, there are several options to choose from. Here’s one of the biggest difference from my usual routine to my new curly girl routine — I don’t leave my hair in the towel long. I really only put my hair in the towel to keep it from dripping while I’m getting dressed, so probably less than 5 minutes. Then, I use the same towel to scrunch my hair to get as much water out as I can. Here’s where I start to see the curl start to form.
STEP FIVE: Put in products upside down.
Once I’ve gotten some of the water out of my hair, I lay out the products I want to use, flip my head over, and start applying. I read somewhere that if you have low porosity hair, you should do 1) leave in conditioner, 2) curling agent, 3) some sort of frizz control.
So following that formula, I first scrunch in my Monat Restore Leave-In Conditioner or spray in Ouai Leave-In Conditioner (aka possibly the best smelling product I have). Next I put about a quarter size of my Monat Curl Defining Cream in my hand and scrunch that in as well. I usually start in the middle and work my way to the ends, then move up to my scalp. I just got the L’Ange Thick It Cream, and I really like that too. So I’ve been adding that on at the end of this little routine.
You can use a curl gel instead of a cream if you choose to. When you do this, it will create a “cast,” which is what we all use to do in 2006 when we would “scrunch” our hair and it looked wet…remember?! Well…after you plop your hair (keep reading to see what I’m talking about), you’re supposed to scrunch your hair so much that it breaks the cast, and leaves you will full, soft curls that high school Jessica would have been envious of (I wish I could insert the face-palm emoji).
I opt to just use a cream instead of a gel so I don’t get a cast, but it is a really good option if you already have a gel on hand or want frizz-free curls. To learn more about creating a gel cast, here’s a good explanation.
STEP SIX: Plopping.
Okay, so the first time I did this I felt really silly, but it’s actually become a really helpful step.
I “plop” my hair with an old t-shirt that has kind of a soft, vintage-y feel. It helps my curls stay shaped better, decreases frizz, and it takes the place of letting my hair dry in a towel while I put on my makeup. I leave my hair “plopped” anywhere from 10 minutes and for 2 hours. The longer, the better, but it doesn’t really make a huge difference, in my experience.
If you’re interested in learning how to do this technique, here’s a really good blog post with really instructive photos about it, and also a video…
STEP SEVEN: Spray and style.
After I take my hair down from the t-shirt, I spray my hair with either my Not Your Mother’s Sea Salt Spray and/or L’Ange Spray Laminate. Then I turn my head over (again) and run my fingers through my scalp. Then I put about a dime size of L’Ange Sorbet in areas that are typically kind of frizzy and continue to scrunch the ends. If it’s day two hair, I’ll spray a little L’Ange Conditioning Spray and scrunch in some of the sorbet to decrease frizziness. I have to kind of work my curls out so that they don’t look wet or too tight. I like a larger curl that looks more beachy and wavy. Most of the time I just stop at step seven, but if I have to go somewhere right away, I’ll go on to step eight…
STEP EIGHT: Diffuse and dry.
So, I rarely do this because I’m not very good at it, but if I need to go somewhere right away and I don’t have time to let my hair air dry, I’ll diffuse my hair on the coldest setting. I really would like to buy the DevaCurl DevaFuser Attachment because I think it would distribute the air more evenly. It’s really the only thing I haven’t bought for this little experiment because it’s $50 for something I already have a version of (I have a regular diffuser that came with my hair dryer).
It’s been a little over a month since I’ve been following this version of the curly girl method. So the big question, will I continue?
Yes, I think I will. I like how quickly I’m able to get ready. Even though it seems like a lot of steps, each step only takes a few minutes, or even seconds. On the flip side, blow drying and then straightening or curling my hair with a curling iron is less steps, but each step takes so much longer. I also really like how healthy my hair feels without putting heat on it and using products that are healthy for my hair.
I do think I’ll start putting some heat on my hair occasionally. Last night my sisters and I went out for a sister night and I really wanted to curl my hair with a wand for just a little bit of a different look. Truthfully, though, I ran out of time so I ended up not doing that, which is another benefit of this method because it’s a great plan B when I inevitably run out of time.