When it comes to perfecting one’s curls, the Curly Girl Method (CGM) is one of the most well-known curl techniques for helping one’s curls look their best. To briefly recap, the CGM involves avoiding brushes, heat-styling tools, shampoos, and any products that contain waxes, alcohol, sulfates, or silicones. This means avoiding pretty much anything that will dry out, cause build-up, or risk damaging your hair in any way. For many curlies, this method can be a life-changer.

However, there are those of us who have found that this method hasn’t really gotten our curls to be their very best. If there’s anything to take away from this article, it’s this: Your curls are one-of-a-kind, and therefore, when using this method, it is important to understand those qualities that are unique to YOUR hair. There are always ways to tweak and experiment with whatever method you use, outside of the Curly Girl Method, to make it work best for your curl texture! All you need is a little patience, and an open mind!

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1. Do the method in parts

Just because the method as a whole isn’t giving you the results you want doesn’t mean you can’t still use the parts of the method that DO work for you! For example, if cutting out shampoo all together is making your curls fall flat, try a shampoo that is sulfate-free instead, and continue following through with the rest of the CGM, such as avoiding the heat tools, damaging products, and brushes. This could work the same for the reverse as well. For example, you could use a cleansing conditioner to cleanse instead of a shampoo, but keep a brush or heat-styling tool incorporated in your routine, as long as they are altered to be curl friendly! As an example of making a heat-styling tool curl-friendly, you could try to only use a hair dryer with a diffuser attached, and wait for your curls to be 70% percent dry; then, use your heat-styling tool. For brushes, always use a wide-tooth comb on your hair while it is conditioned and soaking wet, and always brush from the ends and work your way up.

2. You are not, by any means, locked into this method

If all else fails and the CGM just isn’t working for you, DON’T USE IT! Life is too short, and hair to be frank, should not be added to your list of stressors. In fact, there are some curlies like curl YouTuber Hair Romance who pride themselves on breaking the “curl code”. There is nothing wrong with using a shampoo, sulfates or not. If that’s what gets your curls looking your best, then do you! Personally, I do not use the CGM because, like Hair Romance, I find the method limiting, and I don’t get nearly the same volume that I desire in comparison with the times when I use a diffuser and wide tooth comb. I also use a sulfate-free shampoo like Carol’s Daughter, but I often like to switch between using a shampoo and a co-wash. I usually co-wash more in the summer, as that’s when I need to cleanse my curls more often.

In the end, I do think that whatever product or tool you use (a shampoo, blow dryer, brush, etc.) should be curl-friendly. Using products that are sulfate and silicone free will help your curls feel soft, moisturized, and defined. However, if you don’t mind your hair potentially feeling brittle and dry, and you find that your non-curl-friendly product or tool works for your hair, use it! There is nothing wrong with that!

3. Embrace your texture

As stated at the beginning, I think the biggest thing to understand about the CGM method is that it does not work for everyone, and that is absolutely okay. Your curl texture is unique to you, and I think it is important that you not compare your hair with others for that reason. It may just be that your hair does not respond well to that kind of technique, and therefore more experimentation on your end may be needed. Be curious and experiment! There is no wrong method, as long as it works, right?

Is there a product or technique that works often for others, but not for your hair? If so, share it in the comments, along with what you’ve found that does work for your curls!