Curly Hair Series: A beginners Guide to the CG Method

Many people swear by the CG (Curly Girl) Method to bring their once-curly hair back from being damaged, brittle, dry or frizzy. It’s perfect for curlies who have spent years straightening, bleaching or wrestling with uncontrollable frizz, or those that just want to gain a more defined curl pattern.

It’s easy, doesn’t cost much and you should start to see the benefits immediately.

So if you’re feeling fed up with your hair and close doing a to 2007 Britney shave – don’t give up yet! Give the CG Method a try.

What is the CG Method?

The Curly Girl Method (referred to as CGM or CG Method) was created by Lorraine Massey and became popular following the release of her book ‘Curly Girl, The Handbook’. Her approach is to stop using damaging chemicals and shampoo (‘No-Poo’) and instead just use apply conditioner and gel to the hair.  Many people have heard of No-Poo before but have been put off by the idea that it would make their hair greasy. The CG method however can be adapted to suit you, so that you don’t have to go through that phase.

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So, the basic (but flexible and adaptable) rules are;

Where possible, don’t use:

  • Shampoo
  • Heat styling tools
  • Combs & brushes
  • Products containing sulfates, non-water soluble silicones, waxes, non-natural oils, damaging alcohols and fragrance (here’s a list)

Basic hair starter routine:

  1. Rinse hair with water and apply a ‘cleansing conditioner’ (co-wash) in replacement of a shampoo. This can be pretty much any CG-friendly conditioner. A lot of gentle scalp massaging must be carried out to clean the hair before rinsing off.
  2. Apply a (usually more moisturising) conditioner to the ends, leave on for 5 minutes, finger comb and rinse. If you have super curly or dry hair, you may want to ensure that you leave a little product in.
  3. Wrap hair (plop) in a t-shirt or microfibre towel for 5-10 minutes.
  4. (Optional) apply conditioner as a leave-in to the ends, followed by a good amount of CG-friendly gel.
  5. Gently crunch hair upwards using your hands and leave to air dry. Some people prefer to use a diffuser (search ‘The Pixie Method’) with a silicone-free heat protector.
  6. Once hair is 100% bone dry, it should be hard and crunchy in it’s gel ‘cast’. Simply get scrunching again to reveal soft, luscious curls!

A strong emphasis is placed on trial and error with methods and products to find out what works best for your curly hair.

The Curly Girl method does get more complicated with various recommended tips and tricks. Once you have got to grips with the basics you can start to incorporate some more frizz fighting, curlifying techniques.

A few more tips:

  • Sleep on a silk pillowcase to prevent frizzing up your hair in the night, or use a silk night cap.
  • Use the ‘pineapple hair technique’ at night to keep your curls intact. This involves loosely tying your hair in a ponytail at the very top of your head.
  • Try not to wash your hair too often. To refresh hair in the morning, most curlies find it useful to their spray hair with water mixed in with a little conditioner, scrunch and leave to air dry.
  • If your hair gets greasy or dirty, it might be worth giving it a shampoo in place of co-washing once a week, but ensure the shampoo is gentle and sulphate-free.
  • When you first begin the CG Method, it is often beneficial to cleanse your hair of any build up beforehand. Do this by replacing co-washing with a stripping shampoo (with sulfate’s in it) – baby shampoo works perfectly.
  • It’s worth doing some research into the hair protein-moisture balance, and using your products accordingly.
  • If your hair is wavy rather than curly, you might want to use a low poo once a week or every-other wash, to ensure your hair doesn’t get greasy.
  • If you find your hair goes stringy, skip step 3 above and ensure you apply the products in step 4 to soaking wet hair.
  • You can also use CG-friendly curl creams, natural oils and mousse if you wish.
  • For best results, deep condition your hair once a week.
  • Those who live in hard water areas may find they get a lot of build-up. Invest in a chelating shampoo for monthly use.

Which products to use?

Lorraine Massey’s own products (Devacurl) are no longer recommended – the formulas have changed since she sold the company. Fortunately there are many CG Method approved products online and in the drug stores. Here are a few recommended brands:

  • Aubrey Organics
  • Shea Moisture
  • Jessicurl
  • Boucleme
  • Moptop
  • Curls
  • Trepadora
  • Avalon Organics
  • Giovanni
  • Briogeo
  • Mixed Chicks
  • Innersense
  • Ecostyler

Check out some more of the most popular UK CG products.

Do check the ingredients of products from the above brands, it isn’t uncommon for companies to change their ingredients and sneak some drying chemicals in there! This app is a great help.

It’s important to note that if you’re on a budget then you can just start by purchasing a cheap conditioner (try this one) and gel. Home-made flaxseed gel works brilliantly and is very economical.

How long until you can see results?

Immediately! Some claim to have up to 50% less frizz after their first wash and then further improvements around 6 weeks in.

It’s common to then have a ‘big chop’ to get rid of damaged ends and encourage new growth.

After a year most CG followers boast glossy, manageable, moisturised and frizz-free hair, as long as they follow the method and avoid damaging their hair.

It’s worth checking out the CG method forum for more information, or leave any questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help. You can also read my 50 tips and tricks for curly hair, as well as my CG survey findings and tips from hundreds of curlies.

Have you followed the CG method? I’d love to hear your views or experiences – please leave a comment below!

Evie Garnett

Evie is the Head of Beauty for Suit Your Look, specialising in hair and skin products. She loves nothing better than natural haircare and learning all about the science behind beauty ingredients!

  1. I have a noticable decrease in hair fall since starting cg 6 weeks ago. My hair is very long 80/90% silver grey 2c 3a curls and is now very soft. Still some frizz but so much less. I bleached out my blondish colour to match my silver grey (before cg) and cg has saved my hair from that damage. I will never go back to ‘normal’ hair care regimes. I just need a cg cut now.

    1. That’s great news! I agree – I can’t believe I never knew that sulphates were the cause of my frizzy dry hair!

  2. I am just discovering this method and just bought some DevaCurl products but with my current products see improvement in my over all frizz. I need to wet my hair everyday since I work out at the gym 6 days a week. Is this damaging to follow the same process of conditioner, leave in conditioner/cream and gel daily with NO POO shampoo 1 time per week.

    1. The process you describe will not be damaging for your hair. The frequency of washing hair is unique to each persons lifestyle, and as long as the products you use are CG friendly (which they are) then you should be fine 🙂
      EDIT: Lorraine Massey’s own products (Devacurl) are no longer recommended – the formulas have changed since she sold the company.

  3. Hi Evie,

    Thank you for your detailed and informative blog.I am about to start the CG method. You did mention that “When you first begin the CG Method, it is essential to cleanse your hair of any build up in your hair. Do this by replacing cowashing with a stripping shampoo (with sulfate’s in it) – baby shampoo works perfectly.” now after this step is the next step the conditioner or a round of CG approved shampoo?

    1. You can use either a sulphate free shampoo or co-wash with conditioner, followed by conditioner. Those with fine hair tend to prefer sulphate free shampoos, and those with thicker hair just co-wash with conditioner. Let us know how you got on!

  4. I just started the curly girl method. My hair is really flat and stringy on top. How can I fix this? Happy to send a picture.

    1. Hi Sheri! It takes a while for your Hair to adjust and may feel oily or stringy for a while. A few tips:
      – style hair upside down using a diffuser
      – use conditioner only on the ends and mid lengths
      – make sure to really scrub your massage or low poo into your scalp
      – plopping can make some people’s hair a bit flat on the top, so you might want to try skipping this
      – cutting in layers can help to boost volume at the sides
      – some people like to use dry shampoo sparingly for the first month or so
      – if cowashing isn’t cleaning your hair well, try a low poo

      If you send me a pic I may be able to offer more advice 🙂

      Good luck on your curly girl hair journey!

  5. What can I apply to my hair throughout the week? Should I use leave in conditioners? That’s really all I have since I can’t go out(Quarantine).

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