The Curly Girl Method is the Ultimate Hair Hack to Bring Lustre Back to Your Curls!

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Let’s flip the narrative, and hopefully in the future, no curly-haired girl will ever have the same bad story to tell.

If you have naturally curly hair, I’m pretty sure I can narrate the story of the relationship you’ve had with it in your life. (And if you haven’t heard of the Curly Girl method, keep reading till the end. You’ll thank me for it.)

Let me guess… When you were younger, you hated it for any of the following reasons: you had no idea how to manage it, people made fun of you for it, you just wanted to fit in with your straight-haired friends, or all of the above. And now that you’re older, you have probably taken to regularly straightening it, chopping it off, just plain giving up on it.

I know this because it’s the story of practically every single curly girl I’ve ever met. I know this because I lived it too.

Growing Up With Curly Hair Is Rough

You see, I had big adorable ringlets when I was a child and it never crossed my mind that they were ugly or that I even looked any different from people.

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Little me and my moptop.

Fast forward to becoming an adolescent in an all-girls Catholic school, and I was suddenly so aware of how much I stuck out. Other girls made fun of how I looked, teachers included. I was repeatedly told that I looked unkempt. I even had a teacher who wouldn’t let me in the classroom until I “fixed my appearance”.

And so I did what curly-haired girls do when they are young and want to fit in: reached for the brush and tried to tame my mane by straightening the hell out of it. It’s also worth noting that I was sporting braces on my teeth and a back brace during this period, so I was way more self-conscious and self-loathing than the average tweener. I remember more clearly now the heartbroken look on my mom’s face while she watched me do this to myself.

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My adolescent years, when all I wanted was straight hair.

I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice. Growing up in the Philippines with curly hair is rough. It’s the hairdo of telenovela and movie kontrabidas (villains). It’s the hair of the “before” girl in transformation photos.

This is a physical attribute that is seen as inferior and ugly, along with society’s skewed views of dark skin and flat noses. In a country where shampoo commercials feature only silky straight hair cascading down the shoulders of light-skinned models, it’s a tough environment for a curly-haired brown girl who just wants to feel normal.

There was nowhere to go to for help, either.

Every curly Filipina has heard the phrase, “Pa-rebond mo na yan(“Get your hair straightened already”) literally every single time we’ve gone to a salon, and sometimes even from total strangers! Finding a hairdresser who knows how to cut and style curly hair is infinitely harder than finding a husband, you can quote me on that.

When all I’d seen and heard made me believe how hideous and inadequate I was, I went to great lengths to change that entirely. From there, I went through several phases with my hair. I brushed my curls out into oblivion and lived in ponytails up until high school. I chopped it all off and sported a boy cut all throughout college.

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I chopped my hair off in college, which saved me the hassle of trying to manage it.

Then I grew it out in my twenties, got negligent, then dyed it in crazy colours to mask the damage. Looking back, the more I tried to fix what I thought was wrong, the worse it got.

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My crazy color phase. All that bleaching did more damage than all the brushing.

Fast forward to one night last April 2018, now at 31 years old. I was brushing my teeth and found myself taking a long look in the mirror, and thought: okay, enough. I was tired. This had gone on far too long and surely there had to be a way to take care of this problem, right?

So I did something I should have done a long, long time ago. Something so incredibly simple that I can’t believe I didn’t ever think of doing it before. I googled “how to take care of curly hair.” 

From there, I discovered the Curly Girl (CG) Method and I was never the same again.

What I found was more than just products and routines. I discovered I wasn’t alone after all. There was an entire community I had no idea existed – thousands of women sharing the same bad experiences and now sharing a vast wealth of knowledge.

This was a huge network of women with different curl types from different ethnicities living in different parts of the world lifting one another up.

This was life changing and it opened my eyes to the fact that I had subconsciously bought into two lies society had taught me: that my natural curly hair was something to be ashamed of, and that my outside appearance is somehow tied to my worth as a person. I have since shaken off these beliefs and have been much better off for it.

As of this writing, it has been three months since I started practising the CG method exclusively and the results have been nothing short of amazing. Like any rehabilitation process, the initial stage was a struggle as my hair started to heal. With time and proper care, the transition clicked and started showing its benefits.

My curls are finally back to their natural state and they’ve never felt more alive. They’re not always picture perfect, but they’re softer and healthier, plus they’re a great reminder that you can’t control everything in life.

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Looking better than ever!

It’s just hair, I know. Thing is, I think the deeper part of the CG journey is learning to finally be at peace with yourself and being content with what you were given. What I used to think was a curse is now a gift. It started as a process of self-acceptance and eventually evolved into therapy.

The curls that bloomed are just a manifestation of the change that took place inside. Feeling beautiful is just the cherry on top. This is what I wish to share with countless others who have been in the same place. So toss out that brush, girl. Drop that hair iron. Cancel that rebonding appointment.

It’s okay to be different. You are already beautiful the way you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, don’t let anybody make you feel otherwise.

I guess the only thing I wish is that someone had taught me this when I was younger. On the bright side, there’s still an opportunity to change things for others, especially young girls. Let’s open up that door and flip the narrative, and hopefully in the future, no curly girl will ever have the same bad story to tell.

The Curly Girl Method: Tried & Tested

You’re probably asking by now, “So what is the curly girl method and how do I get started?” The Curly Girl Method (CGM) is a hair care approach invented by Lorraine Massey specifically for curly girls.

It makes use of certain washing, drying and product application techniques along with the usage of sulfate-free, silicone-free and alcohol-free hair products.

Here are some quick pointers on the Curly Girl Method:

1. Change your washing products

One of the initial steps to the Curly Girl Method is using the proper products to care for your curls. Most shampoos and conditioners contain a lot of ingredients that are harmful to your curls. Sulfates, the same ingredients you can find in dishwashing liquid, strip your hair of natural oils, causing your curls to go dry.

Silicones coat your hair strands, giving your hair a temporary “shine” but end up preventing further moisture from getting in. The method actually discourages the use of shampoo. Gross? Not really.

The saying goes “cleanse the scalp, not the hair.” A good conditioner properly applied can cleanse your scalp and hydrate your hair at the same time.

2. Use styling products to define and hold your curls

If you have tight curls that need only a light hold, you can use mousse and apply it to your damp hair. If you have looser curls that need a harder hold, you can apply gel (yes, gel!) to your soaking wet hair after conditioning.

This ensures that the moisture is sealed into your hair and reduces frizz.

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The Curly Girl Method works! Incredible “before” and “after” transformation pictures

3. Change the way you dry your hair

Rubbing your hair on a terry cloth towel is highly damaging to your curls. It destroys the curl’s definition and creates a ton of frizz! Try scrunch drying your hair using a microfiber towel or try plopping – which is wrapping your hair with a cotton t-shirt. This causes less frizz and keeps your curls intact.

After this, you can choose to air dry your hair or use a diffuser.

4. Say goodbye to bad habits

Stop using brushes and fine combs. Also, stop using intense heat. Don’t use hair iron and hair dryers. And, stop shampooing every day.

Stop detangling when your curly hair is dry. Only do this in the shower when your hair is covered with conditioner.

5. But before all of that, you need a final wash

Your hair is probably full of sulfates and silicones at the moment. So you need to get those out before you start your CG journey. Silicones can only be removed by sulfates, so you’ll need to cleanse your hair thoroughly with a sulfate, but silicone-free, cleanser.

You can do this using dishwashing liquid and then use a deep conditioner right after.

There are heaps of resources available online on the Curly Girl method. Here are some links to useful info to help you get started:

(All images courtesy of the author)