Welcome back to Curly Girl Method 101! This four-part series will teach you everything you need to know to master the Curly Girl Method that matters most, and achieve (and maintain) stunning curls, regardless of your hair type, lifestyle, or gender!

In Part 2, we’ll take you through each step of the Curly Girl Method. Discover what products you’ll need, how to wash and condition effectively, and how frequently to apply your new hair care routine. Continue reading to become a curly connoisseur!

5 Steps to the Curly Girl Method Infographic

Step 0 Final Reset Wash

Step 0: The Final—or “Reset”—Wash

The road to incredible curls begins with a clarifying shampoo infused with sulphates. This sacred ritual eliminates any traces of silicone build-up that may have invaded your locks. Repeat this step whenever you unintentionally encounter a product tainted by silicone or wax.

What products will you need when washing your hair with the Curly Girl Method?

Now that you know what hair products to avoid for the Curly Girl Method, let’s explore some of the products you’ll work with when starting the CGM, particularly if you’re a beginner. There’s no definitive list of “must-have” products since everyone’s curly type differs. Your hair porosity and other factors may impact the right choice. Nevertheless, here’s a basic CGM product routine that you can follow after your reset wash:

  • Simple CGM product routine Cleanser – Depending on your hair’s thickness, this can be a sulphate-free shampoo, a lightweight conditioner used as a cleanser, or a nourishing co-wash. Keep reading if you’re unsure how a conditioner can function as a shampoo.
  • Conditioner – Once again, depending on your hair type, you may require a separate conditioner. Alternatively, you can use the same one you used as a cleanser.
  • Styling Product – Some individuals with ultra-fine or wavy-curly hair achieve better results with mousse, but we love the Crown of Curl Bundle (below). The hair and scalp naturally absorb this combination of natural sea spray and curl cream, helping you avoid the crunchy hold of a gel or product build-up.

Try the following line-up to get started:

Final "Reset" Wash Product

Nothing But Clarifying Shampoo

Nothing But Clarifying Shampoo

Co-Wash or Cleanse Product

Cantu Shea Butter

Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Sulphate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo

Condition Product

Maui Moisture Coconut Oil Conditioner

Maui Moisture Coconut Oil Conditioner

Style Product

 Step 1 Cowash or Cleanse

Step 1: Co-Wash or Cleanse

Time to wash your hair with a CGM-friendly cleansing conditioner or a sulphate-free shampoo. Give your scalp some love with a 60-second massage using your fingertips or a shampoo brush. Rinse it all out and feel that freshness. Curly Girl Method Robyn McNamara Before After

Can you use any shampoo for the Curly Girl Method?

The Curly Girl Method advocates for two “shampoos”: a one-time-only “reset” shampoo that contains harsh, stripping sulphates to clarify the hair and a regular sulphate-free cleanser that is highly moisturising and gentle. It’s worth noting that, depending on your hair type, this cleanser could be a moisturising shampoo or a creamy conditioner used for cleansing (yes, it may sound peculiar, but please stick with us).

“Reset” shampoo

Before embarking on the Curly Girl Method, it's essential to eliminate any silicone and wax build-up from your hair. Otherwise, you could pull the rug from under the CGM. Importantly, during your initial shower, as part of the CGM journey, you will require a “reset shampoo” containing sulphates to provide a clean foundation. After that, sulphates should be avoided (unless you inadvertently use a product containing unapproved silicones or waxes, in which case you would need to “reset” again with the clarifying shampoo).

Regular cleanser​

Once you have completed the initial reset wash, sulphates are officially out of the equation (unless, once again, you accidentally use products with silicones or waxes). Going forward, one of the best products to maintain a clean scalp is a gentle, moisturising, sulphate-free cleanser, which is essentially a conditioner within the realm of the Curly Girl Method. You read that correctly—a conditioner used as a shampoo/cleanser!

Step 2 Condition

Step 2: Condition

Get ready to pamper your locks with a handful of CGM-friendly conditioners! Squish it through the lower half of your hair until it feels all “slimy” (code: it’s well-coated), then use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to detangle those strands. Rinse away most of the conditioner, or if you prefer, all of it.

 Psst, have you heard of the “squish to condish” technique? Give it a try!

Curly Girl Method Before and After Closeup

How do you wash your hair with conditioner?

With the Curly Girl Method, the conditioner takes on a new role as a magical cleanser. It may seem like a wild concept, but conditioners possess gentle cleansing agents that make it easier to rinse them out. This isn’t some haircare sorcery, but a tradition passed down from the natural-hair community, known by many names like “cleansing conditioner,” “no-poo,” or the enchanting “co-wash.”

Curly hair, naturally blessed with enchanting curls, tends to be drier. It dances harmoniously with the universe and doesn’t require the harsh touch of mighty cleansing agents, especially if your locks are coarse, thick, or coiled. However, for those with hair as fine as gossamer or strands that tend to become greasy in the blink of an eye, the path of conditioner cleansing may not lead to satisfaction. Fear not, for this is where the mighty sulphate-free shampoos make their grand entrance, ready to cater to your hair’s unique needs.

So, let your curls embrace the gentle caress of conditioner, or embark on a quest with the sulphate-free shampoo if your hair’s nature demands it. With the Curly Girl Method, the choices are endless, and the magic of haircare awaits!

Step 3 Style

Step 3: Style

Let’s style those beautiful curls! There are many ways to do it (more on that below). Still, most involve layering and squishing your chosen styling products into your wet hair. If you’re starting, grab our CGM-friendly sea salt spray and curl cream and scrunch a generous spritz and palmful (more than you need) from roots to tips.

Curly Girl Method Before After Example Photo

Step 4 Dry

Step 4: Dry

Time to let your hair dry and reveal its final form. Plop it by wrapping it in a towel or T-shirt for 5-15 minutes, or gently cup and scrunch out the excess water with a soft cotton tee or a handy natural-fibre towel. Now, you have a choice: let it air-dry without touching it or use a diffuser on low heat and mid to high force. Once 100% dry, give those curls a gentle scrunch to say goodbye to any crunchiness if you used a gel.

Step 5 Repeat

Step 5: Repeat!

Once you’ve got the hang of it and experimented with different styling methods, feel free to switch up your products and see what results they bring. Embrace your curls and have fun on this hair adventure!

Curly Girl Method Success Story

How often should you wash your hair using the Curly Girl Method?

Many guides suggest shampooing or cleansing your hair only once a week, but that may not be the best approach for everyone. Each scalp and hair texture is unique, so the frequency of shampooing or cleansing is a personal choice. Moreover, the notion that you can train your scalp to be less greasy lacks medical accuracy. It can worsen issues like dandruff or scalp inflammation.

As long as you use gentle, moisturising products, the frequency of your cleansing routine shouldn’t be a concern. However, here’s a handy guideline: if you have curlier hair, consider co-washing once a week; for thicker, coarser curls or waves, aim for 1-3 cleansing sessions per week; and if you have fine, oil-prone waves or curls, try cleansing every other day.

Curly Girl Questions Answers

You have Curly Girl questions? We have Curly Girl answers!

Thank you for reading Part 2 of our Curly Girl 101 series! Up next! We’ll fill in the gaps in your CGM knowledge with a helpful Curly Girl Method FAQ. Stay tuned!