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The Curly Girl Method – How to, and is it really worth it?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

If you interact with basically any element of the internet beauty-sphere, you have most likely come across articles discussing the curly girl method (CGM). Cosmopolitan, for example, has its own that discuss the curly girl method (CGM) and a step by step beginners guide (found here). However, the original founder of the CGM has her own book (found here) that details some of the most basic information of the method. With all of this available information, it can be hard to figure out what your specific curly, wavy, coily, or otherwise decidedly not straight hair needs. From the bowl method to squish to condish to finger coiling, I have attempted quite a few curly girl tips and tricks as my hair switched from stick straight as a kid to somewhere in the realm of wavy to curly hair (it truly depends on the day and on the methods I use). Following these attempts, I’ve attempted to collate my most useful tips about the curly girl method and have found that while the curly girl method is generally worth trying, it will take some time to find exactly what works for you.

1. At the start, break down the curly girl method into its bare essentials. As mentioned above, there is an abundance of information and tactics that are available when starting your curly hair journey. At its core though, the CGM is about using sulfate and silicone free shampoos and conditioners (these are enemies of bouncy, frizz-free curls), using a microfiber towel or cotton t-shirt to dry your hair (once again an attempt to mitigate frizz by reducing the stress on hair), and avoiding heat styling tools (especially without heat protectant). Even without some of the more specific techniques like hair plopping or denman brushing, these main tenets should be enough to kickstart your curly hair progress.

2. Find the products that work for you. Depending on your hair type, there is a multitude of online resources that collate which products work best for your hair type, ranging from the ultra-expensive to drugstore brands. Two sources that I find helpful consist of the more general lists of brands and products that work for curly hair, ( find here), and more specific websites that help you find your curl pattern and offer tips dependent on that pattern (find here). It can take some time to find the products and routine that is right for you, but these kinds of websites can be a good starting point, especially in terms of cost reduction and recommended selection.

3. Don’t get too bogged down by all the rules. This is the part of the curly girl method that made it really hard for me to follow in the beginning. When I first started looking into it, it seemed to me that I had to be spending an inordinate amount of time and effort on my hair, which was especially ridiculous given that I was playing a sport that required me to be in chlorine (definitely outside of acceptable CGM approved activities). It’s fun to try new techniques and figure out what makes you feel the best with your hair, but I still blow-dry my hair most days (always with a heat protectant, though!) and sometimes I even blasphemously use a towel to dry it. 

In the end, the curly girl method is really only worth it if it fits into your routine and budget. If the implaneted changes work for you, even if it’s just using a cotton t-shirt instead of a towel and scrunching your hair dry instead of plopping, then there is no reason to dive deeper.

Caitlin Donnelly

St. Andrews '22

Caitlin is a fourth year international relations student at St. Andrews. Caitlin was born and raised in California and has played water polo for many years, continuing the sport at university. Her interests range widely and when she isn't facing deadlines she enjoys reading, baking, and spending time with her dog.