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Curly Hair

Curly Girl Method: Products v Technique


I have been doing the Curly Girl Method (CGM) since August and I am by no means a expert, but I have seen great improvements over just this short time. 

I see a lot of people when they are just starting out with CGM especially start buying loads of really expensive curly hair products and mixing and matching them and becoming disheartened because they are not seeing the results they want. So I thought sharing my findings so far might help newbies and people at the early stages of their journey as it might just help someone who is struggling with their journey back to curly.

My 1st attempt at CGM

I tried CGM for around a month a few years back, but gave up as my hair, although wavy, was not showing any progress despite using the products and implementing some of the CGM guidance. My hair was flat and lifeless and looked like what i term as ‘spaniels ears’ with a lot of effort and no better than when I used to just let my hair dry with some hair oil in when I couldn’t be bothered to style it. I also just didn’t get how to refresh it and it seemed more work than wash day to get day 2, 3 and 4 looking anywhere near ok.

My 1st wash day on the CGM in August 2020

Starting my curly hair journey again

Fast forward to this year and starting again, I already had some Cantu styling products, but was debating buying alternatives due to my previous results, but was worried to invest lots of cash in the wrong thing for my hair. I decided instead to first watch videos, read up on products, techniques, hair types etc. to have the knowledge first to make an informed choice about products. I watched Youtube videos from the likes of Manes by Mel, Janelle O’Shaughnessy, Swavy Curly Courtney and I also followed curly ladies on Instagram with very similar hair types and read their posts and videos. 

Then I decided instead of jumping in with buying loads of products and mixing it all up, I would just stick to a low poo, co-washing isn’t enough for my low porosity fine hair so I get a lot of product build up without clarifying regularly, and then a CGM approved conditioner alongside my existing Cantu products. Then I would focus on trying out different amounts of products, application methods and techniques to see how they effect my results. If I was changing the products and the techniques it would be very hard to pin point what worked and what didn’t. 

Curly hair techniques

I have tried soaking wet application and damp product application, praying hands, raking, siding , squish to condish (STC), creating curl clumps with the Denmans brush while wet, upside down styling, right way up styling. Wet plopping, dry plopping, micro plopping, hoover diffusing, micro diffusing. Clapping out the crunch, scrunching out the crunch (SOTC) with and without a jersey towel and with our without hair oil to eliminate movement and frizz. More recently I also discovered curl training twisting my curl clumps while soaking wet and applying my curl activator and that was a game changer for me. 

All have helped me to understand more about my hair, and keeping with the same products has enabled me to see what techniques work and also whether those products work for me or not. 

End of August



My current curly girl routine

My personal routine is now:

  1. Wash with a low poo shampoo such as Tropic Clarifying Wash to clarify and clear build up, I also use my Tropic head massager to help clean and invigorate the scalp
  2. Condition with a natural silicon and paragon free conditioner, I use Faith in Nature or Tropic Nourishing Hair Cleanser, I put a generous amount on my hair, brush through with a tangle teaser and then leave on while I complete the rest of my shower routine. I then apply some extra water to my hair using my hands cupped and then scratch the water in with the conditioner know as ‘squish to condish’ this helps to get the moisture into my very low porosity hair and then gently rinse out the conditioner.
  3. When I want to do a co-wash routine I use my Tropic Nourishing Hair Cleanser and then when I want to do a deep conditioning treatment I use either Tropic Hair Feast Deep Conditioning Treatment or something like Garnier Banana Hair Food along with my heat cap.
  4. I then brush my hair through with my Denmans Brush while wet
  5. I then use my Cantu Curl Activating Cream emulsified in my hands and applied upright with a mixture of gliding and raking
  6. I then section my hair and clip up the top and middle section, starting with the lower layer curl training my hair by twisting it with Curl Activator on my hands, I do my whole head in 3 layers basically
  7. Next I apply a generous amount of the Cantu Define and Shine Curl Custard by scrunching it up into my hair while upright. I scrunch for a good amount of time
  8. Next I dry plop with an old t-shirt for 20 mins to an hour depending on what I am doing
  9. Then I take my hair down and use the same t-shirt to micro plop gently for a minute or so to take out any excess moisture
  10. I leave my hair to air dry and form a cast for a good 4 hours (sometimes when in a rush I defuse), I get a really good cast like this now too
  11. The last step is to scrunch out the crunch (SOTC) using either my T-shirt or a tiny bit of Tropic Hair Oil to eliminate as much frizz as I can and then let it settle

This combination of the same products and techniques really seems to work for me. I get big ringlet curl clumps over most of my head now and my results are more consistent each wash day. I can also still see progress in my results each time.

Refreshing my curls

Day 2 hair refresh – October

I now find I barely have to refresh and certainly on day 2 I usually wake up, let my hair settle a bit after removing a hair Bonet that I sleep in and then use a tiny amount of curl activator to redefine curls that have stretched out. If it really isn’t looking it best either I spray it down with war water and re-scrunch using the product that is still on the hair to revive it as it dries and SOTC once dry or I put it up in a pineapple or bun.

Testing my techniques

Results of my hair test not doing my usual hair routine

As an experiment I decided to use my same products but left out the curl training and didn’t put so much effort in to my usual techniques to see how it would turn out and it was flat and lifeless and the next day was beyond a refresh and had to pineapple it. If it looked like that everyday I would have given up. So technique really matters, in a way more than product. I think I will try other products, but just try adding or swapping one at a time, that way you know if that thing works for you. It’s actually like a/b testing in marketing, keeping everything else the same and just changing one thing at a time, seeing the influence on the results and then adjusting the next test accordingly. 

If you got this far, then I hope this has helped. If you are new or struggling, go back to basics, just use the smallest selection of products that you think work for you, and try out different quantities, applications and techniques until you see a result that you like. If you think something is causing problems eliminate that one product and swap in a replacement that you think works for you. You don’t need to buy loads of expensive products to begin with, go for the cheaper ones if you can and stick with them for a while. I kept a record of each wash day for a while to document what and how I used the products and what techniques so that you have a reference and can see what is working.



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