Curly Girl Method - good or bad?

Curly Girl Method - good or bad?

Many curly haired people when they start their ‘let’s-stop-straightening-and-actually-see-what-my-natural-hair-can-look-like’ journey, almost immediately learn about the Curly Girl Method, or CGM as we curlies call it.

Before me move forward and I get to tell you why I don’t like it, let me say this first. MYSELF INCLUDED - I have also started my journey with this method in the absence of another, and I am grateful for what it taught me.

However, methods are called so because they need to be tried. By definition (of Google), a method is the process through which you achieve something; in this case, beautiful, naturally curly hair. It doesn’t mean it’s 100% perfect or fault-free. 

The Original CGM 

Now there’s all sorts of altered versions of the CGM, however the original idea was that you were to follow some sort of rules of curly hair, and amongst those rules were the following:

  • Never brush your hair dry
  • Never use shampoo anymore, only cowash
  • Never use heat in your hair
  • Never use silicones & sulphates (as in, in your hair products)
  • And a bunch more

Tried & tested, here’s my feedback (based on mine and many other people’s testing of this method).


I personally mostly brush my hair when it’s wet, simply because it’s easier and if you brush it dry it goes pooffy and frizy so there’s that. Now, dry brushing is not necessarily a bad thing. Yes it can be more damaging to hair than brushing it wet, because of lack of slip it can cause your hair to rip and of course we’ve got to consider what it does to the pattern of the curl as well. However, many people apply oil before they run the brush through their dry curls, and it gives much better results.

Lessons learnt: you can absolutely brush your hair dry, but it’s safer to do it using an oil to reduce friction damage and frizz.

Cowash only:

The cowash only rule though, has to be the one I have a lot to say about. First of all, nothing is one size fits all, as we are all different in our ways, whether it’s a difference in curl pattern or personal preference or even needs. However, to only EVER wash your hair and scalp using just cowash - and for those of you who are wondering what on earth is that word, it’s basically a cleansing conditioner to use instead of shampoo; it’s usually moisturising and it’s formulated so it doesn’t foam (most of the time). Cowash is not strong enough, nor is it formulated to, strip away leftover products from your styling. ESPECIALLY if you are someone who either uses heavy products eg. oil-based, or styles their hair every washday, you will need to go in with a shampoo as well. 

PUT SHORT: I am not saying cowash is evil, I am saying banning shampoo completely out of your washday is evil. Cowash works great for curls for a number of reasons, but I would highly highly recommend, if you are going to cleanse with a cowash, every 4-5 washes (or as needed), grab a chelating shampoo and get rid of all of that product buildup, to avoid getting an itchy, unhappy scalp. 

Lessons learnt: Cowash is a great option especially for dry curls; be mindful of your scalp health and make sure you switch to a shampoo every 4-5 washdays, or as soon as your scalp doesn’t feel as clean anymore. 


Heat Use:

We’ve got to understand that a lot of us who ended up looking up CGM and going on our curly hair journeys have come from a place of abusing heat. I have personally done it. On top of bleaching my hair as blonde as it could be, I used to also straighten my hair every single day, sometimes multiple times a day because the curls always wanted to come through and ruin the sleek straight hair. I’ve damaged my hair so much that I realised, eventually, it stopped curling. That’s when I knew it was time for a change because my hair was lifeless, stringy and straw-like - hence why I tried the CGM. 

But, we grew, we learnt from that. Abusing heat, like abusing anything else is going to have bad consequences. Heat on your hair isn’t evil, but unproper use of it is. It’s a huge thing in the CGM to never ever EVER straighten your hair again, or heat style for that matter. What I will say to you is, use heat wisely, apply a good amount of heat protectant; and especially if you are at the start of your journey and you’ve got to leave your hair natural but your hair is still transitioning and it doesn’t look it’s best and you feel a little self-conscious, try to avoid the temptation of reaching for the straightener, and maybe put your hair up in braids or something that keeps it in place and makes you feel good. PS: The half up half down is a curly/wavy hair favourite; you can use a gel to sleek the front instead of using your straighteners! Watch this for some inspo; if you have short hair, this video is for you and if you justtt want to learn more about curls, here’s my instagram account! 

Lesson learnt: You are free to use heat tools in your hair; I definitely use my diffuser all the time. If you have a bad habit of using heat tools often, cut it down by putting your hair up. Make sure to apply heat protectors. The ocassional wearing your hair straight won't hurt, as long as you do everything in your power to minimalize damage.

S&S products:

Okay, what’s the deal with CGM approved products? Well, some products have as ingredients silicones (usually found in conditioners and creams, etc.) and some have sulphates (most often seen in shampoos). Shampoos and conditioners are used together, aren’t they? Here’s how they are supposed to work. Silicones build up on your hair, imagine a coating of wax on top of your hair strands. This prevents water and products from absorbing into your hair. It can keep your hair hydrated; however, the downside is, if your hair is naturally dry, you’ve gone and conditioned it; now you’re applying your styling cream or leave in, it might not absorb onto your hair as well as it could do, meaning it might build up and your hair might end up feeling dry or dull, because it’s not actually taking in any of the good stuff from your styling routine. So that’s silicones. Now, for shampoos: sulphates are known for stripping away these silicones, along with the natural oils your hair creates to keep your scalp and hair happy and healthy. I think you can now see why it is said that they are a problem for curly heads. 

Let me give you my opinion. I personally tried both with and without. It is true that when you stop using s&s your hair feels and looks better because it is truly nourished, it really is taking in those good ingredients like it should be, and it’s also not being stripped away from it’s natural oils. So yes, avoiding them, especially when I have had my hair extremely damaged and dry, has been so so beneficial! BUT, the way the CGM talks about it, especially if you ever go on Facebook groups for curly hair, they are made to sound like they are 100/% evil and should be banned from ever existing. A lot of CGM followers go to the extent of checking every single product against s&s and absolutely will refuse to buy a product if they have it listed as an ingredient. I personally agree that it’s not great for conditioners to have silicones in them, and it’s also not great for regular use shampoo to have sulphates in them. However, let’s think about different scenarios:

  • Styling cream with silicones: you’ve nicely washed your hair, you’ve done a deep conditioning mask or a treatment, and you’re now going to apply your heat protector, your styling cream and then topping off with your gel and mousse or whatever it is you’re styling with. All of that hydration and moisturise and goodness from your mask or treatment, is now going to be sealed in by the silicones in the curly cream. It will stay there, it won’t come out. Then on top of that you’re adding gel or mousse or both, which don’t need to be absorbed deep into the hairstrand anyway, as they only serve the purpose of holding your curls in place rather than nourish them. In this case, would the silicones in the styling cream still be a bad thing? 
  • Sulphates in a chelating shampoo: you know how it’s recommended you use a chelating shampoo (shampoo that gets rid of buildup from products and harsh water) every 4-5 washdays (or as needed) - well, a lot of people use normal shampoos that contain sulphates for this particular washday. Think about it, you have all of that buildup of products from styling routines, all of those heavy oils and creams, etc. You will need something stronger to cleanse them off, you will need something that breaks through tough oil buildup to leave your scalp truly clean like a fresh slate. So in this case, are sulphates the bad guy?

I’m sure you see the theme here. CGM has impounded some really harsh rules without properly having thought it through, and the problem is many curlies follow it blindly and end up making their lives harder and struggling with their hair in the long run. The common theme here is that all of those things mentioned to be banned in the CGM, are only bad depending on how you use them. Dry brushing is not bad if you do it properly, using heat is not bad if you use it properly, and sulphates and silicones are not bad if you understand and use them accordingly.

In a way, I am trying to say, YOUR HAIR, YOUR RULES - don’t let a method you found on the internet blindly govern what you do with your hair. You are allowed to experiment and try different things, nobody should tell you otherwise. By all means, the CGM is definitely a good starting point to understand some curly hair principles like curly hair is naturally dry and it needs moisture therefore cowash is for you, BUT it’s also got gaps of information which I hope this blog has filled in (some of them at least). 

Send through any questions that you may have; you can find me on social media here

Happy safe washdays! 



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