Curly Girl Basics: the three products you need to start

If you’re new to the Curly Girl Method and you’ve been watching videos or reading articles, you’re probably really overwhelmed.

Co-washing? Low poo? LOC method? LCO? LCEG? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? WHERE DO I BEGIN?

Before you go out and raid your local hair care aisle, let me offer some advice.

You only need to start with THREE items.

Sulfate-free shampoo

Silicone-free conditioner

Gel

This is just to get your hair wet with the curly girl method.

See what I did? Get your hair wet, not feet. Ha ha, I crack myself up.

Will you use these products forever? Maybe, maybe not. You will probably do a lot of trial and error, and that’s okay.

But wait, which products should I get? How can I be sure what I’m getting is curly girl friendly?

There are four ingredients I personally avoid: sulfates, silicones (non water soluble specifically), drying alcohols, and mineral oil. I go into more detail in this post.

While I will make my own recommendations, keep in mind that these work for MY hair, which is wavy-curly, thick, somewhat coarse, and very dry.

Sulfate free shampoo

shampooimage
Horeagrindean | © Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

This will probably be the product you’ll spend the most on out of the three. The companies that produce sulfate-free shampoos are usually catering to a specialty market.

My personal favorite budget friendly shampoos have come from Shea Moisture.

ALL Shea Moisture shampoos are completely sulfate free and are otherwise curly girl friendly. There are so many product  lines from Shea Moisture that there can be a shampoo for any kind of curly.

My current favorite is the Kukui Nut and Grapeseed Oil Damage Rehab Shampoo. It’s in the purple bottle (did I mention that I love purple?). I also like the African Black Soap shampoo for when I want a deeper clean.

While you can find Shea Moisture products almost anywhere, you might be limited in your selection depending on the store, at least where I live. I personally have to do a fair bit of online shopping.

Other budget friendly brands that carry sulfate free shampoos include: Cantu, Maui Moisture, Renpure, Hask, Burt’s Bees, Say Yes2 (most often found at Target), As I Am, Eden Bodyworks, By Made Beautiful, etc.

Although this may be the most expensive product you buy, the good news is that it may last a while because you really only need to use the shampoo on your scalp.

Conditioner

conditionerhands
Sonechka | © Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

It’s actually pretty easy to find a CG-friendly conditioner for cheap. Which is good, because if you’re anything like me, you go through A LOT of conditioner.

For now, I’ll focus on normal rinse-out conditioners. I’ll talk about leave-in conditioners and deep conditioners another time.

Suave Essentials conditioners are all silicone free and at 94 cents a bottle, cannot be beat. The V05 Herbal Escapes conditioners are also less than a dollar as well. Bonus: they are EVERYWHERE

Tresseme Botanique Nourish and Replenish (not the detox or curls conditioners) conditioner is $4 for a huge bottle. The Garnier Pure Clean Conditioner is also CG-friendly.

If you want to go to Sally Beauty Supply, they have a generic version of Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm. It’s under the name Generic Value Products (GVP) Conditioning Balm. The bottles are black and white.

Having difficulty keeping track? Here’s a list:

Suave Essentials conditioner

V05 Naturals conditioner

Tresseme Botanique Nourish and Replenish

Garnier Fructis Pure Clean

GVP Conditioning Balm.

The brands I mentioned in the shampoo section also have CG-friendly conditioner.

Gel

HAIRSTYLE
Ziprashantzi | © Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

So your hair is cleansed and conditioned, and presumably looks awesome. Don’t walk out that door! And please put that terrycloth towel down.

Gel (or mousse if you prefer) is what helps keep your curls defined and protected. I prefer a hard hold gel myself, and you want to be sure it’s free of drying alcohols and non-water soluble silicones.

Some good inexpensive CG-friendly gels include

LA Looks

La Bella

ECO Styling Gels

Aussie Instant Freeze

Herbal Essence Totally Twisted (mousse too)

Herbal Essence Set Me Up (and mousse)

Garnier Pure Clean (and mousse)

I will list others when I remember them.

Once you get out if the shower, squeeze some gel into your hand, rub your palms together, and gently scrunch the gel into your hair. Scrunch in more gel as needed.

Then I like to squeeze the excess moisture out with a t-shirt.

“But, the gel crunch! I want soft curls!” 

That crunch you’re referring to is called a cast, and it’s actually a good sign that your hair is getting enough hold. The other good news is that you don’t have to walk around with that crunchy, gelled look. There is a trick that you will swear is like magic.

Wait until your hair is 100 percent dry to do what I’m about to tell you. If your curls are even the slightest bit wet, you’ll have frizz.

Ask me how I know.

So, once your hair is totally dry, flip your head upside down, and gently scrunch your hair with your hands until you break the cast. It may take a few minutes, so be patient!

This is called scrunching out the crunch, and it has saved many curlies from a crunchy, wet-looking fate.

Then you’ll have beautiful, soft, defined, non-crunchy curls.

Conclusion

So there you have it! Some product and brand ideas for starting your curly hair journey! There will be much trial and error along the way, but with patience and persistence, it will all be worthwhile!

Curly Girl Basics: The four ingredients I avoid

If you’re just getting started at the curly girl method, keeping track of everything to avoid is overwhelming, especially if you’ve got a tight budget. I know it was for me! Plenty of curly girls may end up spending more money than they want to or else they give up altogether.

Now, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about when I refer to the “curly girl method”, it’s the method outline in Lorraine Massey’s book The Curly Girl Handbook. Now, some parts of her method I think are a bit extreme (especially if you’re on a tight budget) like avoiding parabens and phthlatates. Now, if you want to avoid parabens and phthlatates, that is totally cool, but be aware that it could be expensive.

While there are some higher end products that I *love*, I firmly believe that you can find good quality products without having to choose between buying groceries or having good hair days.

These are the four ingredients I actively try to avoid while still finding affordable products:

Sulfates

If one of the first ingredients on that label is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, etc…put it back on the shelf NOW! Unfortunately most mainstream shampoos in drugstores will have sulfates. Why avoid sulfates? Well, curly girls already have naturally dry hair and these sulfates only make the problem worse. If you have an oily scalp, sulfates will strip too much oil away and cause your scalp to produce too much oil. Basically, you can’t win either way with sulfates.

So, how does a curly girl get her hair clean without sulfates? You have a few options. A popular one is forgoing shampoo altogether and using a silicone-free (more on that below) conditioner, also known as co-washing. A popular one is the Suave Essentials conditioner line (NOT the shampoos, they have sulfates). The bonus here is that Suave is cheap and available everywhere. There are also dedicated co-washes available, but they can be a little expensive (all for the “co-wash” marketing, really). But BE CAREFUL because some products marketed as co-washes in drugstores can contain silicones.

However, co-washing doesn’t really work for me, so I tend to spend just a little extra on sulfate-free shampoos. Yes, they exist, and yes, the right ones can get your hair clean. The ones I’ve been able to easily find and that aren’t too expensive are Shea Moisture, Maui MoistureKinky Curly, some products from the HASK line, Made Beautiful, Burts Bees, the Say Yes 2 line (most commonly found in Target).

Silicones

Is that Dimethicone up high in the ingredient list? Amodimethicone? Is it a really weird word that ends with -xane or -cone? Put it back. Unless it is accompanied by PEG because that means it’s water soluble.

Silicones are popular in hair products because initially, they are great at making the hair look shiny and feel silky. Key word: initially. Over time, using silicones can cause buildup (making you think you have dandruff) and weigh your hair down. The only way to get these silicones out is with a sulfate shampoo…thus perpetuating the sulfate-silicone cycle.

Drying Alcohols

Basically, these will dry your hair out and curly girls are already prone to dryness. Drying alcohols include: Alcohol Denat., Ethanol, Isopropyl alcohol, SD Alcohol 40, etc. Now, this doesn’t mean avoid ALL alcohols, just the drying ones. Wait, there’s more than one type of alcohol? Indeed there is! Fatty alcohols are the ones you WANT because they are moisturizing. Cetyl Alcohol, Ceateryl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Lauryl Alcohol, and Behenyl Alcohol

Mineral Oil


Now Mineral Oil is something I personally avoid because for *me* it doesn’t do anything good for my hair. It just sits on my hair and causes buildup. For others, this may not be the case. 

Takeaway


I know this all sounds confusing and overwhelming; believe me, I was where you are when I started the “curly girl” journey. I promise though, that it is all doable and it is totally worth it. My next post will be a more comprehensive list of curly girl friendly products.

YouTube Channel?!

I just posted my first YouTube video ever, so go check it out! Feel free to like and subscribe, and be nice if you decide to comment. I recorded it with my phone and I stutter a fair bit (ugh).

I’m still figuring out the whole video thing, so be patient with me 🙂

Basically, I go through my current hair care routine, which I will provide a written description of below:

First off, I am attempting to follow the washing tips in Lorraine Massey’s “Curly Girl Handbook”, specifically for botticelli curls and wavy hair (my hair falls somwhere between).

When I get in the shower, I wet my hair with my back facing the shower water, head leaned back. I do cup my hair with my hands in order to not disrupt the curl/wave pattern. After my hair is sufficiently wet, I cup my left hand and apply a line of Shea Moisture African Black Soap shampoo to my finger tips. I take my other hand and massage my finger tips together, then proceed to massaging the shampoo into my scalp, starting at my temples and working my way through my hair. After massaging for a minute or two, I’ll finish off with my shampoo brush and rinse out.

Then I’ll condition with either Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter conditioner or the Sacha Imchi Deep Conditioner. I also detangle my hair with my fingers starting at the ends and working my way up, section by section. Then I leave the conditioner in for as long as possible and rinse out.

Next up: squish to condish. This method is hard to really explain, so bear with me. I lean forward and let the shower stream over my hair. I apply at least a palmful of Yes To Coconuts and Argan Oil conditioner, until my hair feels like seaweed. I then cup my hands and let the shower water pool in them, and gently squish the water into my hair. I keep squishing/conditioning until I feel satsified. For more info, check out other squish to condish videos on YouTube or similar blog posts.

When I get out of the shower, I squeeze the excess water out of my hair with my Deva towel or a t-shirt and proceed to styling.

I take my Garnier Whole Blends Olive Oil Leave-in Conditioner and gently rake it through my hair (yes, I use A LOT of conditioner, my hair is freakishly dry) and then take a couple of pumps of the Deva Curl Styling Cream and rake that through too, making sure that my hair is clumping nicely. Then I wet my hands and scrunch and squeeze some La Bella hair gel.

After I do all of this, I clip my hair section by section with hot roller clips to the top of my scalp, to encourage volume. I then let it air dry for…however much time I can before it’s time for bed (I wash my hair at night). If my hair is still pretty wet, I’ll diffuse for a few minutes and then put it up in a satin cap. Usually this means good curls in the morning.

So….that’s my routine! I hope you enjoy my video and I hope to make more videos soon.

Products used:

Shampoo: Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo
Conditioner: Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner or Sacha Ichii Deep Conditioner
Squish to Condish: Yes To Coconuts and Argan
Leave-in: Garnier Whole Blends Olive Oil Leave-in Conditioner
Cream: Deva Curl Styling Cream
Gel: La Bella Max Hold

Once again, I am not being compensated in any way for these products. I purchased them with my own money.