lady with 3c curls in a field

The Curly Girl Method: Our Guide to Living With Your Best Curls - Part 1

Love the Curly Girl Method but find it overwhelming?

Don't despair! Your best curls are a few steps away..

Written with passion and first hand experience this blog has one purpose - to simplify the 'Curly Girl Method'. Often thought to be a bewildering and complex hair technique - we're here to set the record straight!

I mean curly...

You know what I mean!

Jokes aside, i'll be the first to admit, figuring out the curly girl method was overwhelming. Exhausting at first, and very confusing, let it be known there were plenty of tears when things went wrong.

With that said, it was, by far the BEST THING I ever did for my curly hair.

In fact, it was the most liberating part of my personal development when I hit my thirties.

Lady styling 4a curls

For years, like many curlies who grew up in the 90s, I quickly became best friends with my hair straightener (revolutionary to any frizzy mess of the 90s) and, consequently, treated my hair like garbage! Not to mention, hands up, who remembers the pre-hair-straightener stage where we even (desperate to fit in) ironed our hair- yes, that's right - WITH A CLOTHES IRON! What were we thinking!!!!!

Curly Girls of the 80s and 90s, I SEE YOU! 

Trying to find your way in a world where Cosmopolitan pages were filled with straight, frizz-free bob cuts and blow-outs. They were tough times!

Thankfully, we’ve evolved. Times have changed.

Women (and men) have started to embrace their naturally textured hair rather than resist it, and there has been a massive demand for cutting and styling education

So What Is The Curly Girl (CGM for short) Method? 

The curly girl method was originally created by hair stylist and curl expert Lorraine Massey, writer of Curly Girl; The Handbook.

Quite literally a manual for learning how to get really great hair by using (and avoiding) specific techniques and styling products. Over the years, there have been a lot of variations to Massey’s message, and curly culture has become a big deal. However, the concept remains the same- the correct technique and styling products can transform your hair. 

Curly girl method steps

The CG method has five basic steps. 

  1. Final “reset” wash 
  2. Cleanse 
  3. Condition
  4. Style 
  5. Dry 
  6. Repeat 

Step 1. Reset wash 

How is a “reset” wash different to a regular hair wash? Before you start your CG journey (and it is that, a journey), you want your hair to be free of silicones and build-up. A reset wash is the first step in stripping your hair of these things that will eventually prevent your hair from absorbing moisture and curling. 

Typically, the CG method calls for a “sulphate-free shampoo for curly hair”. However, the final reset wash must include sulphates to clarify the hair. 

Once you’ve completed your final wash, you can start using your CG-approved shampoo that's FREE of sulphates and silicones. 


  • Final “reset” shampoo = Sulphates, YES!
  • Normal wash day shampoo = Sulphates, NO! 
Shampoo lathering in ladies curly hair

Step 2. Cleanse/Co-wash

Once you've completed your reset wash, use your CG-approved sulphate-free shampoo or a low-poo cleansing conditioner to cleanse your hair. There are two ways you can do this, and sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to figure out which method works best for your hair type. 

Method 1. AKA “low-poo”. It refers to being low in shampoo. The sulphate-free shampoo contains gentle detergents that help break down scalp oils and build-up without stripping the hair. 

Method 2. Cleansing conditioners, known as “no-poo” or “co-washing”, are essential lightweight conditioners that are also used as shampoos. This method is particularly good for dry curl types, coils and more mature hair as they don't need a tonne of detergent to cleanse the hair, just water, moisture and a good scalp massage. When trying this method, you should look at massaging the scalp for at least 60 seconds to get a thorough clean. 

Pro-Tip: This method is generally not recommended for hair types prone to oiliness. Hair that becomes greasy needs a good cleansing shampoo to rid it of oils and build-up. 

curly girl method

Step 3. Condition

For healthy, hydrated curls, moisture is KEY! One of the fastest and easiest ways to get moisture into your hair is by using a CG-approved conditioner and KNOWING how to apply it. 

Most of us whack a bit of conditioner in, top to bottom, rake (or rub) it through and wash it straight out. Other than detangling your hair a bit, this is actually doing very little. 

To REALLY get moisture into the hair, start with wringing wet hair and glaze the ends of your hair with the bulk of conditioner, then work your way upwards with what you have left on your fingertips. Using a FLEXI BRUSH to work the conditioner through will help distribute the product through your hair and help to get the moisture deeper than just the surface. 

3a curls before and after treatment from maidenhair salon

Step 4. Styling 

Your textured hair needs two things—product and Styling technique. One without the other will only give you half the results. Trust me - I’ve tried! (not on purpose, I just had ZERO clue what I was doing!) Remember how I mentioned, in the beginning you make loads of mistakes? Well, the most common mistake a curly girl will make is either having great products and not knowing how to use them- or knowing how to style their hair with low-quality products. (usually full of silicones and sulphates). 

You can apply your products in dozens of ways (more about that in part two of the

blog). However, most applications involve layering products and squishing them into your hair- commonly known in the Curly Girl world as the “squish to condish” technique. This method helps gets an even distribution of products. It helps to retain hydration and also encourages natural curl patterns to form. See this tutorial for a helpful visual.

Jonina founder of Yeshair Australia styling a curly girl

Basically, you want to use a 20c size amount of a CG-approved Gel or foam and scrunch it into your washed and conditioned hair. Squishing as you go, you can do this by flipping your hair from side to side or tipping your head upside down. (We curlies spend a lot of time with our heads upside down!)

Step 5. Drying 

Again, this comes down to preference, time and what you have on hand. There are several ways you can dry your hair once you've applied your products. You can plop your hair - either in a microfibre towel or an old T-shirt. This will help your hair dry naturally while your curls stay intact. You can, of course, air dry your hair- don't touch it while it drys.

Or you can diffuse your hair using a hair dryer with a diffuser attachment. (this is my personal favourite because it gives the most volume and gets the job done quickly!) 

3c curls that have been diffused and air dried

Once your hair is 100% dry, use your hands to scrunch out the crunch “SOTC” you can even use a bit of oil, such as the HUSH oil, for a soft result. The scrunching helps eliminate the “crunchy” feeling that a strong hold gel will leave, resulting in soft, flawless curls. 


Some Do’s & Dont’s When It Comes To Washing, Styling & Drying. 

Do - use a Shampoo with Sulphates for your FIRST and FINAL RESET wash only. 

Do - Use curly girl-approved products

Do - Educate yourself! 

Do - Invest in styling tools. A good hairdryer and diffuser will be your best friend!

Do - find yourself a good hairdresser who KNOWS how to cut curls. 

Do- Brush hair when it's soaking wet and has a good amount of conditioner for slip. 

Do- Protect your hair at night time- a good bedtime routine is a game changer, and there are many great alternatives for bedtime protection. Silk pillowslips, sleep cozy, buffs—no need to wake up with knots and frizz after a restless night's sleep. 

Do - Brush your hair dry- There needs to be more clarity around brushing curly hair, and brushing your curly hair dry is encouraged for detangling and prep for wash days. 

Don’t - expect instant results. 

Don’t - use cheap (chemical-filled) products and expect the same results 

Don’t - use heat - remember low heat takes longer but protects your curls

Don’t - was TOO often. Washing daily will strip your hair of those natural oils that curls need for hydration. 

Don’t - use sulphates, silicones, waxes or mineral oils. As well as drying alcohols, these will strip your hair of natural oils and take you back to step 1 very quickly. 

Don’t - leave it too long between washes- you’ll know when it needs a wash because your curls will feel flat and lifeless. 

So that's it. Not that hard, right? Well, it's certainly not as intimidating as you might have first thought. The curly girl method can seem like opening up a pandora's box of information and not knowing where to begin. Sticking to these simple “rules” above is a great way to start. 

brunette with type 2c curly hair

Once you’ve been doing the CGM for a while, you might find that one thing works better or doesn't and then it's time to find out what works for YOU. This is where you will make a lot of mistakes. It's OKAY! Switching it up and trying different products and applications and all part of the fun. 

Part two of our two-part blog series will help guide you through the next steps of the curly girl method, including product application, styling and maintenance. 

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