If you’re looking to switch up your hair care regimen, there are no shortage of methods available to us, from Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl Method to the simpler and less restrictive No Poo Method. But what exactly are these two methods and how are they different? Follow me as I walk through each method and where they differ.

The No Poo Method

The No Poo Method is as simple as its title: avoid shampoo. Specifically, avoid the sulfates in shampoos. Sulfates, the most common of which is sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), are surfactants. Surfactants or detergents are attracted to dirt and grease. They bond to them, thus making it easier for water to wash them away.

Surfactants, of course, also bond to the natural healthy oils in your hair, thus throwing out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak. The No Poo Method avoids sulfates entirely, opting for sulfate-free cleansing alternatives that remove excess oils and grease without removing everything. It’s important to remember that though going sulfate-free means your hair will retain more moisture, you also have to be careful about what you add to your hair. Without those handy surfactants, ingredients that aren’t naturally water soluble will be hard to wash away. Most imporantly, this includes silicones, most of which are not water soluble.

Sulfate-free shampoos have flooded the market as the No Poo Method has picked up popularity, the best known of which is DevaCurl’s No Poo cleanser. Co-washing, or washing your hair with conditioner, has also cropped up as a popular and effective alternative to sulfate-based shampoos.

The Curly Girl Method

The Curly Girl Method is a more comprehensive approach to gentle and safe curly hair care, where avoiding shampoo is just the beginning. The Curly Girl Method advises that we avoid a series of hair care strategies that lead to hair breakage, excessive drying and trauma to the hair follicle, coating the hair without moisturizing it, or even removing excess moisture from the hair. This includes sulfate-based shampoos, any heat treatments, combs and brushes, non-water soluble silicones, and drying alcohols.

No Poo versus Curly Girl

Which method is right for you? It really depends! If you’re considering making the switch, you may want to start with the simpler No Poo Method, and then ramp up to the much more comprehensive Curly Girl Method.

Start by slowing phasing out your sulfate-based shampoos, washing your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo every second hair wash and gradually decreasing how often you use sulfate-based shampoos until you’ve made the switch. Expect that your scalp will briefly over-produce oils as it adjusts. This won’t last forever so just wait it out!

Give your hair some time to settle into its new No Poo Method. If after a month you feel that your hair could still use some extra love, start by gradually phasing out other haircare strategies to avoid from the Curly Girl Method list. Examine the ingredients list on your products, hunting for non-water soluble silicones, alcohol, and fragrance. Swap out your products and give your hair some time to adjust to the extra moisture it’s receiving.

If you want to go even further, cut out combs and brushes from your routine, finger combing only and perhaps wearing a satin cap to bed to help keep your hair from tangling on your pillowcase at night. And finally, if and when you’re ready, eliminate any heat treatments from your routine, swapping them for vigorous scrunching and maybe a microfiber towel instead.

As you read about the differences in these medods, keep in mind that the definitions and decriptions of these methods have evolved and changed over the years, and there may be conflicting information out there, including on this website. Part of the goal of this article is to set some standards for how we delineate these methods, going forward.

Remember that we each have an entirely unique head of hair with a unique lifestyle and personal style to match! The No Poo and Curly Girl methods should fit into your life and make you feel wonderful and glowing. NaturallyCurly is here to help guide you through these transitions! Tell us about your experiences with the No Poo and Curly Girl methods in the comments section.