Image of women with curly hair

Published 7th December 2021

What Is The Curly Girl Method? A Guide

If you have naturally curly, frizzy hair, it can be difficult knowing how to tame your locks. There’s no simple online handbook to follow when it comes to having a head full of crazy curls.


This is where the Curly Girl Method might come in handy for you. This method was designed by a hairstylist called Lorraine Massey. She wrote the Curly Girl Handbook, which encompasses a range of tutorials, tips, tricks, and products that make your life much easier as a curly-haired woman.


Even with years of knowledge being collected into one handbook, the Curly Girl Method can still be pretty difficult to get your head around. Especially if you’re a beginner at styling your hair.


To help any fellow frizzy-haired women out there, here is everything you need to know about the Curly Girl Method. This article is going to teach you exactly what this method is, a step-by-step on how to follow it, and some top tips to get the perfect curls.


Let’s get started!

what is the curly girl method?

The Curly Girl Method comes from Lorraine Massey’s handbook of the same name. It was created to help curled-haired women get the most out of their luscious locks.


Whether you realised it or not, your hair has a natural curl pattern. The Curly Girl Method helps you to bring out this natural curl.


The general idea behind the Curly Girl Method is to enhance your hair’s natural curl without using certain damaging ingredients. Compounds like sulphate and silicone are often found in shampoos and conditioners, but they can cause your hair to become dry and brittle.

what are the curly girl method rules?

Whether you’ve got super-tight coils or gentle waves, you can benefit from this method. Although, the exact guidelines that you should follow will differ depending on the type of hair you have.


It’s all about finding the exact combination of hair care products that work for your specific hair type. This way, you can feel as confident as can be showing off your gorgeous, frizz-free curls.


Despite there being slight differences to the method based on your individual needs, there are certain rules that everybody using the Curly Girl Method should follow.


Here are some of these rules:


• Avoid shampoos that contain sulphate, silicones, parabens, and drying alcohols.

Co-wash (completely skip the shampooing and use conditioner only)

• Avoid using heat to style your hair

• Don’t brush your hair or dry it with towels


Many shampoos contain sulphate, which helps them to lather when combined with water. These sulphites can damage your hair and strip it of its natural oils.


Skipping the shampoo, as you do in the Curly Girl Method, reduces damage to your hair and allows your natural curls to form.

women with wavy hair

easy step by step guide to the curly girl method

The Curly Girl Method might sound complicated, but it’s simple once you wrap your head around it. To help you out, here is an easy step-by-step breakdown of the method.

Step 1 - Washing Your Hair

A nice, simple step to begin with! If you’re new to the Curly Girl Method, it’s likely that your hair has built-up a layer of sulphates and silicones.


The first step is, therefore, to get rid of this build-up so you can start with a ‘blank canvas’. You can do this using a Curly Girl approved clarifying shampoo and conditioner.

Step 2 - Co Washing

Short for conditioner-wash, co-washing involves using exclusively conditioner to wash your hair and avoiding shampoo. It goes against everything you’ve ever been taught about hair washing, but trust the process!


To co-wash, wet your hair when you get in the shower and rub some Curly Girl approved conditioner into your scalp, similar to how you would with shampoo. Rinse the conditioner out and apply it to the tips of your hair, like you would with a normal conditioner.


Note that you won’t get that lather effect like you do when you use shampoo, but that’s a good sign! It shows that your hair is retaining its natural oils.

Step 3 - Conditioning

The next step is to hydrate your hair. Grab your conditioner and scrunch it into your hair (a process referred to as ‘Squish to Condish’.


The scrunching action maximises the amount of product and water that your hair can absorb, leaving it super hydrated. Make sure to gently rinse the conditioner out of your hair with water after you’ve finished scrunching.


You want to fully coat your hair so that you can feel your frizz decreasing with every scrunch. If your hair starts to feel dry, add more conditioner. There’s no set amount that you need to use because it depends largely on your hair length and type.

Step 4 - Styling

The next step might vary slightly depending on your needs and preferences. After you’ve co-washed your hair, you need to apply gel or mousse.


Apply the gel in the same scrunching action as you did for the conditioner. It locks in moisture, reduces frizz, and protects your hair from external factors, such as humidity and wind.

wavy hair products

Step 5 - Drying

After applying the gel, clip your hair up (if it’s long enough to do so), and allow your hair to dry completely.


The gel initially forms a hard cast around your hair, but this will disappear when your hair is fully dry. You can let it dry naturally or use a diffuser if you’re in a hurry.


A diffuser is a small device that fits into the end of your hairdryer and disperses the hot air. It’s a cheap and cheerful tool that can massively speed up the hair drying process.


If you do use a diffuser, you might get a little frizz and less defined curls than if you let your hair air dry.

Step 6 - Repeating The Process

For the best results, you’ll need to repeat the Curly Girl Method every few weeks. When you repeat the process, it’s your chance to try out some new products.


Your current products might be working just fine but to get the best results you need to use products formulated for wavy hair, like the Merwave range.


And that sums up the Curly Girl Method! Simple, right?

top tips for the curly girl method

To sum up the Curly Girl Method, here are some top tips that will ensure you get the perfect, softest, bounciest natural curls.


• Always use a soft microfibre towel if you’re dabbing your hair. This avoids any damage or breakages.

• Practise makes perfect. You might not get it spot on at first, but after a few goes, you’ll be a pro!

• Find fellow Curly Girls. There are lots of Facebook groups that you can join to get advice and support from others who are following the method. Merwave have their own community group.

• Have fun with it. Yes, it’s a process that has a bunch of rules, but it shouldn’t be scary. It’s all about learning how to embrace your natural curls and being confident!

• Everyone is different. You might need a different quantities of products, or a tweaked routine compared to others who are following the Curly Girl Method. Don’t let this put you off and stick to what works best for your hair.


To summarise everything you need to get if you want to follow this method:


• Clarifying shampoo

• Sulphate and silicone-free conditioner

• Leave-in conditioner

• Gel & mousse

• Microfibre towel

• Hair clips (optional)

• Diffuser (optional)


You can buy all of your Curl Girl necessities online at Merwave. None of the required products are too expensive, so won’t need to worry about spending a fortune!


At Merwave, we have a range of products that are perfect for wavy hair. From our repair conditioner to our protect gel, our hair care products will leave you feeling confident and ready to face the world!


We’ve even got a full wavy hair kit that has everything you need to embrace your natural curls and awaken your waves!

why should you follow the curly girl method?

If you’ve always had naturally curly hair but you’ve never known how to properly style it, the Curly Girl Method might be just what you need.


Following this method will give your hair a much-needed break from the endless chemical-containing hair care products and heat styling tools. This will leave your hair feeling soft and looking super healthy.

Instead of using heat to try and curl or straighten it, you can instead embrace your hair’s natural state with confidence.


There’s no doubt that you’ll look and feel amazing when you follow the steps above and become a Curly Girl.

You now know all of the essentials of the Curly Girl Method. All that’s left to do is buy your products and give the method a go for yourself!

how is merwave different?

The Curly Girl Method is designed for women with curly hair. Although there are some similarities wavy hair does require different products and process. 


Firstly, wavy hair products are lightweight and contain less heavy oils normally found in curly girl products. This ensures they don't weigh down your waves. Keeping your hair lightweight and soft.


The method is also slightly different. Co-washing isn't as common (although it can be used still). The rules also aren't as strict. You can watch a full breakdown of the Merwave wavy hair routine here.

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