It’s been 1 entire year of wearing my hair curly and applying the methods of the curly girl method into how I take care of and style my hair. I am absolutely blown out of the water at how my hair has changed. It is healthier, shinier, stronger, and (of course!) curlier. Never did I ever think that I would have spirals and ringlets in my hair. It’s certainly not all over my hair, but I have gone from a type 2a/2b barely wavy to a pretty consistent 2b/2c wavy with some 3a curls.
The Curly Girl Method
I wrote a blog post on how to start the curly girl method, but a basic summary is:
- No sulfates
- No silicones
- No drying alcohols
- No heat tools
There are some girls (and guys) who are extremely strict in following the method and not straying. I fall into the category of sticking to the method, but I stray a little in the fact that I do “clarify” wash my hair about once a month or more to remove product build-up and minerals from our hard well water. One of the things that I learned the most over the last year is you have to do what works best for your hair, and what works for someone else’s hair might not work for you.
What Works For My Hair
Playing off of that last thought, this is what works for my very fine, low density, high porosity waves living in Alberta:
- Using a low poo and conditioner — I have tried cowashing (conditioner washing) more than a few times, and it’s just too moisturizing for my hair that craves protein. I love using DevaCurl Low Poo Delight and One Condition Delight, they are my wash day staples. I use Giovanni Triple Tea Tree Treat shampoo and conditioner sometimes too
- Styling on soaking wet hair — I have tried many a times to style on damp hair to cut down drying time, but my waves and curls fall apart and I have very little definition. If I style on soaking wet hair, my clumps stay intact and my curls last much longer, even if it takes a bit longer to dry
- Diffusing with heat — I absolutely have to at least use the diffuser to set my curls if I’m going to air dry at all, but 9.5/10 times I diffuse on medium and low heat. My high porosity hair takes forever and a day to dry, I don’t have time to follow all the rules and use low heat and cool air to diffuse my hair, it’s just not happening. I get a bit more frizz, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay
- Washing every other day — Even though I’m over a year into this, I cannot do an easy refresh. A handful of times in the last year, I sleep absolutely perfectly and don’t have to do anything to my hair, but that’s a pretty rare occasion. With shorter, wavy hair that doesn’t hold it’s curl pattern very easily, I just have to wash every other day and I’m totally fine with that. The goal for me isn’t to go as long as I can without washing my hair…I like to shower and can’t imagine going 6-7 days without one!
- Wet refresh — I have to almost completely soak my hair with my Flairosol bottle and style my hair like I do on a wash day. Yah, it’s a lot of ‘work’ and some won’t have the time for it, but with short hair, it’s what I have to do, I can’t just throw it up in a pony tail and ignore it
- Styling with cream and gel — I cannot get mousse to work for my hair, I hate the sticky feeling (though I know so many love and only use mousse and foam), so what works best for me is using a curl cream or balm for definition and then a hard hold gel to lock that definition into place
- Microplopping — I might revisit a full plop (using a cotton t-shirt or towel to wrap your hair to take away excess moisture) in the near future, but it generally takes away too much moisture and product out of my hair and my waves will fall quickly throughout the day. What works best is using a t-shirt or my Hair RePear towel to gently squeeze out extra moisture section by section, then diffusing
My Favourite Products
Now, keep in mind—these are the products that work best for my hair. I highly recommend keeping it simple and introducing 1 new product at a time. I am a recovered product junkie, so I understand if you’re going through the same thing, but to simplifying my routine has helped tremendously.
- DevaCurl Low Poo Delight & One Condition Delight — these are formulated to be light weight for high porosity, wavy hair. I love that my hair feels clean after using the low poo and the conditioner is light and doesn’t weigh down my hair. I’ve gotten used to the scent of the conditioner, I think you love it or hate it, but at least it doesn’t linger around after. I buy mine from Chatters, they go on sale quite often, especially around the holidays
- Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Leave-In Conditioner — I need to use leave-in to help tame frizz and add moisture into my hair. This is my absolute favourite because it is moisturizing and also has a nice protein in it, smells amazing, and is light in my hair. I originally bought mine from Cloré, but haven’t needed to buy any because I only use a little amount every time. I have about ¼ bottle left after a whole year. I’ll buy more from Target when I go to the States in the new year
- Design.Me Bounce.Me Curl Balm — Canadian company, which is a bonus for me, this curl balm is absolutely amazing to layer under my gel for definition. Smells absolutely fantastic too! You only need a small amount at a time
- Ecoslay Orange Marmalade Flaxseed Gel — made right from her kitchen in Georgia, Adria’s gel is my ultimate holy grail. It gives my hair strong hold so my curls don’t fall and the shine it gives is amazing. It is expensive to get to Canada (shipping), but it lasts a long time and is so worth it, especially if you buy on a sale, which she predictably and generously offers on most holidays. I’ve been tinkering with trying to copycat her formula, but for now I’m leaving it up to her! Currently there is no Canadian retailer, which absolutely blows my mind because it’s an amazing product
- Kinky Curly Curling Custard — Sometimes I use this custard instead of my curl balm for even more hold and I add a neutral protein filler to add protein which my hair absolutely loves. This is a wonderful light gel for refresh days too!
- DevaCurl Deep Sea Repair & Melt Into Moisture Deep Conditioners — These are my go to deep conditioners. I mix them together and use more of the Deep Sea Repair if I need more protein or the Melt if I need more moisture or vice versa. Buy on the odd sale from Ulta or Chatters
- Xtava Black Orchid Diffuser — This is the absolute best diffuser I’ve ever owned. It can be fickle to pair it with a hair dryer that fits, but once you do, you’re golden!
- Flairosol Water Bottle — This water bottle is a must for refreshes and adding a little bit of water at a time to fix wonky curls
- Denman Brush — Love this brush to apply my deep conditioners and Olaplex evenly through my hair, plus…I love brushing my hair! I bought the 7 row and removed 3 of them for my fine hair and it works great
My Other Favourite Products
These are products I still have because I really like them, they’re affordable when you can find them at Winners/Marshalls/Home Sense or Sally’s and my hair really loves them and seems to dry really fast when I use them, so I do a Giovanni wash day when I don’t have as much drying time.
- Giovanni Triple Tea Tree Treat Shampoo & Conditioner — This shampoo and conditioner smells amazing (to me) and so so so refreshing, your scalp will love this. The shampoo is definitely more on the clarifying and drying side, so use sparingly. I absolutely love the conditioner, it’s very light weight and doesn’t over-moisturize my hair. Lots love this as a cowash, but I don’t cowash
- Giovanni Hair Styling Foam — This is the only foam/mousse that I actually like and will use in my hair because it’s light, dries fast, adds volume and isn’t sticky
- Giovanni LA Natural Styling Gel — This gel is super thick, you need to emulsify it in lots of water, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an amazing gel
- Biotera Alcohol-Free Gel — This is an amazing refresh gel for me, I don’t really know why, but my hair loves it and I can use a fair amount to reform clumps and it dries in my hair pretty fast. It’s not strong enough hold to use on it’s own on wash day for me
- All About Curls — You can buy this line at Sally’s and I’d describe it as a step or two below DevaCurl at a discount price. I bought a trial size pack of the no poo, conditioner, curl cream and gel, and it’s a nice, cheaper option. I would buy the low poo instead, but it didn’t come in the trial pack. The curl cream is a bit difficult to work with; the gel is nice but not strong enough hold for me
What I’ve Learned; My Advice To You!
In point form for all the people that have made it this far and just want me to get to the point:
- BE PATIENT AND GIVE IT TIME. Seriously. That is the best piece of advice, yet it’s so hard to “get it” until you’ve invested enough time and can look back and see how far you’ve come and how much your hair has improved.
- Don’t go crazy buying all the products. I was told this and didn’t listen and I don’t blame you if you buy all the things trying to find your holy grail product, but if you do find a gel or a cream or a mousse that works great—just stay with it and don’t keep buying more. I’ve sold a ton of stuff that doesn’t work for me, and in hindsight I really didn’t need to buy it all to begin with. If you do want to buy a lot, make sure you introduce a new product 1 at a time and use it for a few washes and use a few different methods to see if it works.
- Styling method is just as, if not more, important than the styling products. For me, I have to style on soaking wet hair. I like to glaze/graze my products on all over, flip my hair off my scalp and then scrunch it all in until my hands and fingers hurt! However, in time, as my hair gets healthier, I have just recently found I can do a damp refresh which I never would have been able to do a year, or even a few months ago. Watch YouTube tutorials to get ideas on how to do different styling application methods to see what works best for you.
- Learn your hair’s protein/moisture balance. This is one is tricky, and you’ll just learn to recognize the signs as you get to know your hair. In the dry Alberta climate, especially in the winter, I need to deep condition my hair every week or two, but also need to make sure I’m using lots of protein, because my hair loves it. Protein helps me with curl definition and I know I need a protein boost if my curls are falling flat and limp. If my hair has too much protein it gets a bit stringy, and I know I need more moisture next time.
- Follow curly girls on Instagram and YouTube. This is where I’ve gained the bulk of my information from. I find girls that have very similar hair porosity and curl type to mine and it has been so helpful to see what they do and how they style their hair.
One Year Progress Photos
So I started this journey with very blonde and heat-damaged hair. I used a blow dryer and flat iron almost every single day to tame my barely-waves into straight submission. In the past year I have had 3 curly hair cuts, gained quite a bit of length, and cut off almost all of the hair colour damage. I haven’t straightened my hair in over a year and I honestly don’t ever want to. I might gently blow dry my hair straight, but not use a flat iron to see what it looks like, but I’m a curly girl now and I don’t think I’d feel like “me” with straight hair!
Good luck on your journey, should you choose to partake, and of course—only do this if it brings you joy!