I want to tell you about something that is changing my life. No, it’s not Jesus (though, he is!), and no, I am not trying to sell you anything. I want to tell you about my hair.
Three months ago, I stopped shampooing my hair.
I know you’re thinking, “Yeah, me too — when I had kids. I also quit showering!” While true, that is not what I’m talking about. Let me back up a little bit. I have wildly curly hair. When I say wild, I mean triangle-shaped head, embarrassing frizz halos, and tears over painful tangles and merciless peers. When man invented the CHI straightener, I thought I had died and gone to curly-girl heaven! My hair sizzled and smoked and I cheered with delight as my chaos smoothed to curl-free.
I perfected the art of hair transformation. No one suspected the mess laying beneath the surface of my flattened coiffure. Hairdressers gasped with regret when my Dr. Jekyll turned into Mr. Hyde after one wash. New friends begged to see my hair in its natural state — one even plucked a few unsuspecting hairs and took them home to test in water! I felt as though I had stuck it to genetics and made myself a more acceptable me.
After spending the last year in counseling for postpartum depression, my heart and mind have unraveled in ways that, while painful, have liberated me. I am learning to love myself in all of the undone-ness of being human — it only seems natural that my hair should follow suit.
One Google search three months ago sent me down a rabbit hole of new information. Women who had fought their hair for years were embracing their curls! Support groups and product methods, strange acronyms and rules, flooded my browser tabs. Pages and pages of before-and-after pictures convinced me, and I dove hair-first into the curly girl method.
Curly Girl Method
Based on a book by Lorraine Massey, the curly girl method is about caring for textured hair. Women around the world have adapted this method to suit their needs. Put simply: It is rocking my world! Whether you’re a curly girl or you are raising one, maybe this will help you, too.
I am still learning, but I will summarize what I have gleaned from the piles of information out there! (Note: I am basing this solely on what I have done and not on any one resource.)
Products. It’s time to think differently about hair products. Curly hair is THIRSTY hair. You need to up your moisture and reduce drying, harsh chemicals. The majority of conditioner and styling products contain silicones (and other harmful ingredients). Shampoos contain sulfates, which are required to remove the non-water-soluble silicones. It is time to quit both! That’s right . . . no more shampoo.
Choosing products can be overwhelming! Start with these basics: a natural conditioner with no silicones and/or a co-wash (a conditioner-based cleanser . . . I personally use a co-wash once or twice a week and a separate leave-in conditioner), and gel with no silicone or sulfates.
Styling. No more heat, hair brushes, or towels! Yes, all of those things your mother taught you. Stop. Heat damages, brushes break curls, and towels cause frizz. Get a hair dryer with a cool or low heat setting and a diffuser. Use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers in the shower to detangle. Try a microfiber towel or an old t-shirt to dry those bouncing tresses.
Vocabulary. When you jump into this world, you will learn a new language. Here’s a mini-primer:
- Final Wash: When starting the curly girl (CG) method, you will do one last shampoo (many use baby shampoo for this!) to remove all silicone build-up.
- Plopping: Wrap your hair in a t-shirt to aid in drying.
- Scrunch Out the Crunch (SOTC): The act of scrunching dry hair with that infamous crispy look and feel. Gel is your friend, but who wants to look like a wet poodle? Take a t-shirt or your hands and work hardened curls to break the cast and reveal those beautiful bouncy ringlets. (Note: Hair must be 100 percent dry!)
- Squish-to-Condish (STC): Use hands full of water and conditioner to scrunch conditioner into wet hair (usually done in the shower, with head upside down).
- Lo-Po/High-Po: This is a descriptor of the porosity of your hair. This will help determine product usage later on, but don’t worry about it for now!
- Curl Type (1a/2b/3c, etc.): Your wave or curl type and pattern are categorized. This helps you choose products, get advice from women with hair like yours, and find resources that fit your needs. This article has pictures to help!
No Matter What!
There are a lot of new rules to follow in this hair routine, but the most important is this: Love your curls no. matter. what.
Your hair will change, it may seem, for the worst at first (there’s a natural transition period), then for the better! Be patient; you are undoing years of hair abuse!
Rock that curl sass regardless of how it looks, and know in time the love will be worth it!
Note: CG will not transform naturally straight hair into curly hair.