What is the CG Method?
This is short for "The Curly Girl Method" which is also referred to as "The No Poo Method." It originated years ago in a book written by Lorraine Massey (also the creator of the Devacurl line) called Curly Girl: The Handbook. The book helps people embrace their natural texture and explains a new and revolutionary routine to get healthy, well-behaved waves, curls and coils.
There are essentially three main "rules" to the CG method: No poo/sulfates, no silicones, and no heat.
What are the Curly Girl Method benefits?
Less damage, less frizz, better curl definition, better manageability, softer hair and the potential to grow even longer hair for starters! Please keep in mind, everyone's hair is different so of course it may take some trial, error and experimentation for you to get the Curly Girl method down pat and figure out exactly which was it works for you. But I promise once you do, consistent good hair days and an increase in confidence will make it all worth your while.
"You'd never dream of washing a good sweater with detergent. Yet most shampoos contain harsh detergents (sodium lauryl sulfate or laureth sulfate) that one also finds in dish washing liquid. They're great for pots and pans because they cut grease so effectively. Your hair on the other hand, needs to retain some natural oils, which protect your hair and scalp. Stripping them away deprives the hair of necessary moisture and amino acids and makes it look dry and dull." -Lorraine Massey
No poo means not using traditional shampoos full of sulfates. Why? Sulfates are very harsh. They strip the hair of its natural oils causing it to be extremely dry. Because textured hair is porous, it is virtually impossible to rinse out all traces of shampoo and that leftover residue can contribute to frizz. It is highly recommended before starting the CG method to clean your hair one final time with a clarifying shampoo to remove any product build up, residue, and non-water soluble silicones that were living in your hair so you can truly start with a clean slate.
The Curly Girl Method suggests cleansing hair with a "Conditioner Wash", also known as a "Co-Wash" or "Cleansing Conditioner". Most conditioners contain mild surfactants that, paired up with a little manual friction, are capable of lifting off dirt, debris and excess oil from the scalp and hair.
Consider these ingredients while selecting your no-poo (or co-wash):
- Natural Emollients--which soften, smooth the hair and give it shine. Natural oils and butters are excellent options.
- Proteins--these will temporarily repair damaged hair and protect it. Note that some people's hair are protein sensitive and the protein can build up. Usually the healthier the hair, the less protein you need. If you happen to be protein sensitiv, make sure to use a protein-free conditioner. Otherwise look for a conditioner with protein. Examples of proteins include silk, soy, wheat, keratin or individual amino acids (components of proteins).
- Humectants--which absorb water and hold in moisture. They are absolutely crucial in a conditioner for curly hair. Panthenol, vegetable glycerin, sorbitol and honey are just a few humectants to look for on the label. Moisturizers soften and control to curly hair. Amino acids and aloe vera are two great moisturizers.
There is great debate as to whether silicones are beneficial for hair or not. As far as the CG method is concerned, they are bad and should be avoided. Aside from silicones, the CG method also says to avoid waxes, non-natural oils, or any other non-soluble ingredients in your conditioners and any styling products. Most silicones can only be removed with shampoos that contain harsh sulfates. This is why they can be a problem. Avoiding such ingredients is essential so they do not build up on your hair which can lead to frizz and added dryness.
How do you identify silicones?
A silicone is any ingredient that ends with the suffixes -one, -conol, or -xane. However, sometimes you may see "PEG-" in front of the silicone, in which case they are water soluble and will not build up on the hair. Example: Dimethicone is non water soluble and will cause build uo. PEG-Dimethicone is water soluble and alright. Waxes are easily identified because they have "wax" in the ingredient name (usually).
You also want to avoid drying alcohols, if at all possible, in your conditioners and stylers. Drying alcohols are commonly found in conditioners, leave in conditioners, gels, mousses, and hairsprays as fillers. For products that you are going to rinse out, this is not as big of a deal, but for products that are going to sit in your hair all day, or for several days, they should not contain drying alcohols. There are also moisturizing or fatty alcohols however, that sound similar, so be sure not to confuse those with drying alcohols.
When following the CG Method, it is best to avoid heat styling tools. That being said, if it is the middle of winter and freezing, by all means do not go outside with your hair wet! There is a proper way to blow dry hair and that is with an attached diffuser which spreads the heat more evenly on the curls.
It is highly encouraged to let your hair air dry naturally as often as possible on the CG method. This is easier to do in the warmer months. You do not want to direct blow dryer air directly on one spot of your hair for any length of time and do not use any styling irons such as flat irons and curling irons. Doing so will cause severe damage to your hair. Ms. Massey affectionately refers to blow drying as "blow frying" because you are frying your tresses.
Some other things to consider with The Curly Girl Method
- More Frizz - Some people may experience more frizz at the beginning of the Curly Girl Method than before. This is because your hair is finally able to "breathe" and is not trapped under silicones and bad stylers. With proper use of co-washes, hydrating conditioners and silicone free stylers, it should subside within a few weeks.
- Mushy Hair - If your hair feels mushy, soft, and frizzy, you probably have over conditioned hair. While curly hair tends to be dry and need a lot of moisture, some products can overload hair, especially if it is fine or less dry. If this happens, clarify with a sulfate free shampoo and using lighter conditioners and moisturizers on your hair. Make sure not to deep condition too often.
- Seasonal Care - Different seasons call for different care methods. In the summer, use more liquid-based products so you do not suffocate the hair. Leave less conditioner or leave-in cream in your hair to prevent frizz and increase definition. In the winter, it is the opposite. Use a heavier, creamier products and more conditioner or leave-in to combat dry, wintry air.
Not everyone follows the Curly Girl Method 100% all the time. Not even me. I consider myself to be "mod CG" or "modified CG" meaning while I use the Curly Girl method as a base, I may wind up using products with castor oil or a non water soluble silicone for product testing purposes. And it's okay. Over the years though I have learned that, for me personally, following the CG method as close as possible makes my hair its happiest. The biggest thing for me is avoiding sulfates because they do dry my hair out terribly. But my hair is longer than it has even been thanks to it not breaking off from excessive flat ironing and being properly hydrated. When I am strict about avoiding cones, I notice my 2c/3a curly wave definition is increased and frizz is decreased.
If you decide to try the CG Method (or even take some principles of it), let us at NaturallyCurly know how it works out for you.