8 March, 2024

Our Editor Tries The Curly Girl Method: Curly Hair Tips, Tried-And-Tested Products & More

8 March, 2024

After watching countless “Curly Girl Method” tutorial videos, trying out different curly hair products and tools, and learning how to “plop” one’s hair, our Editor Nicole shares her year-long journey to embracing her natural curls.

At the start of last year when the team shared their New Year Resolutions, I declared that I would learn to embrace my natural curls. Growing up, I wished I was born with straight hair. I really admired my mum’s perfectly coiled locks, but because my hair is thinner, it would tangle easily and was more prone to frizz. So, naturally, I fell into the routine of blow-drying and straightening my hair with a flat iron. This became such a habitual practice that some of my closest friends and family forgot my hair was naturally curly.

I started seeing a lot of reels on Instagram of girls trying out the “Curly Girl Method”. Many of those girls, like me, grew up thinking their hair was too frizzy and unruly to wear – and that got me wondering, have I just been doing it wrong all this time? Trying out the famous method for the first time showed me that there was some potential in it, but it took a bit of trial and error (and upgrading my arsenal of hair tools and products) to get the results I wanted.

After a year of watching several tutorial videos, asking advice from friends with curls I envied, trying out different curly hair products, learning what “plopping” meant, and discovering my specific hair texture, porosity and curl type, I have many tips to share to those who are also looking to unleash the hidden potential in their curly or wavy hair.

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Curly Girl Method, Curly Hair Tips, Tried & Tested Curly Hair Products And Tools, Natural Curls

First, Let’s Talk Brushes

In the past, whenever I was stuck in a position where I had to wear my hair natural (eg. swimming at the beach or travelling and discovering that your hotel room doesn’t include a hair dryer), I would brush and brush my hair flat as it dried, hoping to tame my curls. This was a rookie mistake. I’ve since learned that you want to avoid brushing your hair as and after it dries if you want to maintain your curls.

But that doesn’t mean you should toss all your beloved brushes in the bin! I like to use Janeke’s Superbrush to brush out my curls before washing my hair, the soft bristles prevent breakage but still do a good job of detangling. I also like to keep a comb in the shower, which I use to detangle my hair during the conditioning stage.

Then, I use a brush (curly girls swear by Denman brushes) to evenly distribute styling products into my hair (more on this below) and separate my locks into smaller clumps of curls while they’re still wet. Lastly, if you’re wearing your hair up in a ponytail or bun, and are going for that sleek, slicked-black look, a boar bristle brush and a bit of gel can help to smooth out the top of your hair.

Curly Girl Method, Curly Hair Tips, Tried & Tested Curly Hair Products And Tools, Natural Curls

My Holy Grail Curly Hair Products

Another important lesson that I learned is that using the right products make all the difference. I used to think that hair mousse was sticky, that gel would make my hair crunchy, and that curl cream would only weigh down my hair. Boy, was I wrong.

It turned out that I wasn’t cursed with frizzy hair, I just wasn’t giving it the moisture it needed. During my first attempts at the Curly Girl Method, I encountered the dreaded “wet frizz”, a delightful affliction where your hair manages to frizz even when it’s soaking wet.

A bit of Googling taught me that the typical cause of wet frizz is lack of moisture, product build-up and high-porosity hair (that is, hair that attracts and loses moisture easily). I’ve really been enjoying using the Pineapple Curls Curl Defining Shampoo and Conditioner by Pacifica, and I like to also use Aussie’s 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner (which I’ve been using for years) when I feel like a need an extra boost of hydration.

Olaplex’s No. 4C Bond Maintenance™ Clarifying Shampoo came highly recommended as a product to remove product residue and excess sebum (the No.4 Bond Maintenance™ Shampoo is supposed to also be great for nourishing high-porosity hair and reducing frizz), and I use it around once a week for a deep clean. Since keeping my locks conditioned and warding off product build-up, wet frizz (and consequently, dry frizz) is now a problem of the past!

If you’re looking for a more wallet-friendly alternative to the products mentioned above, I would recommend The Ordinary’s Sulphate Cleanser and Behentrimonium Conditioner. The shampoo does the trick of clarifying my hair (plus it even doubles as a solid cleansing body wash!), and the conditioner leaves my hair feeling super soft and hydrated.

Read More: Hair Porosity 101 – What To Know And What To Do

Curly Girl Method, Curly Hair Tips, Tried & Tested Curly Hair Products And Tools

The Curly Girl Method

I tried several variations of the Curly Hair Method and this is the one that work best on my hair.

  1. Cleanse and condition your hair.
  2. Before stepping out of the shower, flip your hair upside-down and then rake through a large dollop of mousse and curl cream using your fingers or a brush.
  3. Once the product is distributed evenly and your hair has separated into smaller clumps, cup and scrunch up sections of your hair with your hands (your hair should still be dripping wet at this stage) to bring out its natural curl pattern.
  4. Apply holding gel with prayer hands (gently sandwiching your hair between two flat palms and sliding your hands down from root to tip) and scrunch again for good measure.
  5. If your hair is still sopping wet, you can use a cotton T-shirt to squeeze out the excess water, using the same scrunching motion.
  6. Gently flip your hair upright and leave undisturbed as it air dries.

If you’re in a hurry you can dry your hair with a blow-dryer and diffuser (set to low and cool), but I found that air drying yielded the best results. A gentler way to speed up the drying process would be to “plop” your hair for 15 to 45 minutes and then continue to let it air dry. To plop, you simply wrap your hair up in an T-shirt or microfibre towel after styling and scrunching (head here or look up a plopping tutorial on YouTube if this is still unclear). This keeps your curls undisturbed and intact as they dry.

As you are air drying, it is imperative that you resist touching your hair and try not move around too much – otherwise all that hard work you did to reduce frizz and create beautiful, clean curly clumps will go to waste. Once your hair is fully dry, you can scrunch your curls to soften the crunchy gel cast.

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Curly Girl Method, Curly Hair Tips, Tried & Tested Curly Hair Products And Tools, Natural Curls

The (Lazy) Curly Girl Method

Yes, that is a whole lot of effort to achieve a curly head of hair. These days, I rarely go through the entire process. To save on time, I start by squeezing the excess water out of my hair with my hands so that it’s not dripping wet. Then, I apply some curl cream (if my hair is feeling dry, I like to spritz a bit of leave-in conditioner or work in a bit of hair mask) and comb that through to distribute the product evenly and separate my curls into smaller clumps.

Then, standing upright, I would scrunch my hair and set the curls with a bit of hair gel, using those prayer hands again. This would give me softer, looser – but still defined and bouncy – curls.

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Curly Girl Method, Curly Hair Tips, Tried & Tested Curly Hair Products And Tools, Styling Natural Curls

Make Those Curls Last

Now, you’re probably wondering, how long will these curls last, because that’s a lot of work.

My advice would be to avoid brushing your hair (I suggest raking your fingers through your hair to get rid of any tangles) and sleeping with a loose top bun (it’s worth investing in a satin scrunchie and pillowcase if you want to avoid waking up with frizzy hair).

If your curls are still looking a little flat the next day, don’t lose heart; you can spritz your hair with some curl refreshing spray or apply a bit of curl cream to revive your curls. Zara just launched a new range of hair products and I’m curious to try out their Hair Curl Activator. A good hair oil can also help to tame frizz and add a bit of shine, but apply it sparingly so you don’t weigh down your curls (I like to dilute the oil with a bit of water so it distributes easier).

So, there you have it! I hope that was helpful. It’s a constant learning process, and I am constantly tweaking my routine and discovering new products. Sometimes I do get lazy and go back to blowing out my hair and straightening it, but I’m happy to say that my friends and family are no longer strangers to my curls and I will wear them proudly when I do.

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Images courtesy of Nicole Moraleda for Sassy Media Group.

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