A bit over a week ago, I stumbled across the concept of the “Curly Girl Method”, a hair care routine which is supposed to be better for curly and wavy hair. Uncharacteristically for me, because I’m not usually a “hair and beauty” hobbyist kind of person, I quickly became intrigued. I may not have curly hair, but I definitely have wavy hair, and (while this might surprise you if you think the photo on my site’s front page is a live, up-to-the-minute image of me) now that it’s growing long again it’s annoying me in all the ways it always did: it’s frizzy, it’s “poofy”, it takes approximately one million years to dry when I wash it… the Curly Girl Method offered an explanation, and a solution, to at least some of my woes.

There are a lot of different aspects to the method, and I’m far from a seasoned pro, but in its fundamentals the method is this:

  • avoid hair products with silicones (which build up in your hair and cause grease), alcohols (which dry it out) and most of the time sulfates (which are overly stripping for frequent use, although once every few weeks is OK, and you need to use a sulfate-containing shampoo right at the start for a “reset” wash). There are websites like Is it CG?(external link) and Curlsbot(external link) which can tell you, from an ingredients list, whether a specific product is OK for this method.
  • never brush your hair with an actual brush – unbeknownst to me this is likely one of the major reasons I’ve always struggled with frizzy and poofy hair. Hairbrushes draw your individual strands of hair out apart from one another, and if your hair is not straight, this is what leads to that dreaded “triangle hair”. Instead you should just detangle it in the shower, when it’s wet and full of conditioner.
  • when you wash your hair, you should go with a method like: wash (with a “low-poo”, i.e. shampoo without sulfates, or a “co-wash” which is basically conditioner used as shampoo); condition (with an absolute fuckton of CG-approved conditioner) and detangle (with your fingers or a wide-toothed comb); then finally, style (with gel or mousse or styling cream or…)
  • there are some other technique things but most of them seem to revolve around “scrunching” your hair being the ideal application method for nearly everything you want to put in it. At least at the beginner level.

If you are curious about the Curly Girl Method, this article(external link) is where I started, and this Google Doc(external link) is packed with information if you want to dig deep into the nitty-gritty.

For me I’ve been working at it for a bit over a week – three washes. And so far, I haven’t fully worked out a routine that works well with my hair. I feel like most of the method – the “low-poo” and ultra-generous conditioning, and the combing-when-wet instead of brushing – is going fine; my hair feels soft, looks glossy, and actually isn’t tangling (something I was scared of!). But where I am absolutely going wrong is the “styling” step, which is leading to me just rewashing my hair and skipping the styling step the second time, and then I end up with hair that looks and feels nice but isn’t really any wavier (or less frizzy) than it was before I started doing this.

My stumbling block seems to be gel. Despite Curly Girl Method advocates being really really keen on gel, I am this close to declaring that it does not and will never work for me. Every time I’ve tried it so far I have issues with it: mostly, it causes my hair to stay wet and not dry for hours and hours and hours even if I grab a diffuser and hold that against my head for freaking ages, and then also because of the way gel dries, my hair looks and feels dry to me long before it actually is dry, apparently, and then I end up with disgusting sticky, tangling hair that I have to wash again to stop my skin crawling right off my body. I know it’s only been a week but I’m not inclined to give it more chances because so far I hate gel so much.

I feel like it is theoretically possible that I could make it work. If I could crack the code to how much water to add to how much gel to get the exact perfect ratio. If I then had any freaking clue how to apply this water-gel mixture to my hair in such a way that it will go evenly through, instead of 90% at very first place on my head that my hand lands. If I were willing to spend three straight hours every wash-day drying it with a diffuser. But, to be honest, I’m getting so fucking pissed off with it and drying gelled hair is such a godawful hassle that I think there’s about a zero percent chance of me sticking with it long-term. I also think it’s maybe a bit surplus to my requirements – a lot of people who write stuff about the Curly Girl Method online seem to want perfect crisp curls that need to be gelled in place, but all I really want is a way to stop my hair frizzing and poofing, with the encouragement of its natural waves being a really nice added bonus, but not mission critical. So I’m thinking a mousse might be a better fit.

Another problem I’ve run into is product availability. I’m used to just buying $2 shampoo and conditioner (and when I had short hair, the $2 two-in-one!) at the supermarket, but those are definitely not CG-approved. Indeed, not everything I needed was available at the supermarket at any price: I could get a “reset shampoo” and CG-friendly conditioner there, but I needed to go to the chemist for “low-poo”. CG-friendly gel and mousse have also been tough… in the end I think I’ve been able to find both at either the chemist or the supermarket, but it takes a lot of pouring over ingredient lists. Even if you find a page online that’s like, “CG-approved products available in your country!” that doesn’t mean those products will be available in your local stores, specifically. It’s not insurmountable but the research and sourcing of items is a hassle.

So yeah. This post may not exactly be a great sales pitch, but I’m going to persist with this strategy for at least a little while, and hopefully I’ll hit upon a combination of products and a routine that work for my hair. It’d be so nice to be rid of my frizzy, poofy “triangle hair” – without having to cut it short again!