The Curly Girl Method has never been as popular as it is now. A method that helps you achieve luscious bouncy curls without harsh chemicals? Yes, please! But the Curly Girl Method is not just for big curly hair. It is absolutely also for those with wavy textures. Some of the results we have seen are absolutely astonishing! So if you have fine wavy hair and want to have stronger, healthier curls, read on for a full breakdown of how you should follow the Curly Girl Method.
Fine wavy hair textures can benefit immensely from following the Curly Girl Method. Not only will your hair get stronger and healthier, but your waves will become more defined and who knows, you might just turn into a straight-up Curly Girl.
In fact, this is exactly what happened to me. I had fine wavy hair and my hair is now curly! The Curly Girl method absolutely works!
My hair before the Curly Girl Method:
My hair now with minimal amount of product! All I’m using in this photo is a handful of mousse:
What is the Curly Girl Method?
The Curly Girl Method was developed by Lorraine Massey, the author of Curly Girl, The Handbook.
The method teaches you how to get the best out of your waves and curls without the use of strong chemicals and heat stylers. The method uses conditioner only for washing and occasionally cleansing products which do not contain sulphates.
The rules of the method are:
- No sulphates
- No drying alcohols
- No silicones
- No heat styling
- No brushing
- No towels
This may seem daunting, but it’s really not. Once you get the hang of your routine, you’ll never go back to the old way of washing and styling your hair!
The Curly Girl Method framework allows you to achieve healthy hair the natural way and by doing so, your hair becomes soft, glossy and your curls will form much more naturally than they ever did before.
Yes we still style it, yes, of course, we still use chemicals (conditioner), but we don’t use harming ingredients which are often found in regular shampoo and conditioner.
Let’s break down each individual rule:
Sulphates are found in regular shampoo and this is the chemical which cleanses your hair.
It is the ingredient that makes shampoo ‘lather’, meaning it creates bubbles. Sulphates can be very harmful to your scalp as it essentially strips your hair of its natural oils. We, therefore, have to use conditioner in order to regain moisture.
Regular conditioner contains silicones. By shampooing with sulphates and applying silicones afterwards, you’re essentially going around in circles, stripping your hair of oils and chemically replacing its natural moisture.
Most shampoos and conditioners contain alcohol. Some are not harmful, like Cetearyl alcohol, but many are very drying and cause your hair to break and become brittle.
This is why it is important to read the ingredients list when you shop for conditioners, or simply use this list of approved Curly Girl products.
As mentioned above, a lot of regular conditioners contain silicone. Silicone attaches itself to each hair strand, coating them while preventing moisture from entering the cuticle.
The cuticle is the outer layer of the hair and is made up of overlapping blocks. Imagine a roof with tiles laid out. The more of these blocks you have, the harder it is for water to penetrate.
If you use regular conditioner, your hair becomes coated in silicone. If you also use hair straighteners, the silicone melts into your hair strands which is very difficult to remove.
It also makes it very hard for any product or water to be absorbed and this is why we need shampoo to remove the silicone.
As you can imagine, this puts a lot of stress on your hair and that is why the Curly Girl Method promotes the use of non-sulphate and non-silicone products.
When you use high heat on your hair, you’re essentially ironing it, breaking down those tiles of the cuticle and exposing the cortex, the middle of the hair strand.
The cortex is mainly made of protein and as the cuticle wall becomes destroyed, the cortex loses its integrity and you can experience loss of protein and water.
It is, therefore, best to avoid any kind of heat styling to ensure the optimal health of your hair.
The Curly Girl Method strongly recommends that you do not brush your hair, particularly when dry.
This is because brushing causes breakage and interrupts the natural structural elements of your hair.
The best way to detangle knots is to use a wide-tooth comb when conditioning your hair. This can even help you to achieve much better curls and of course, get rid of old hair.
Now, of course, you need to dry your hair after stepping out of the shower, but regular towels are actually damaging to your hair.
They cause friction, encourage frizz and are not very absorbent. The best thing to do is to get a microfibre towel. They’re cheap, very absorbent and kind of cute!
Of course, you can always just use a regular old t-shirt. They work just as well.
Determining your hair type
It is always good to be sure of your hair type before starting the Curly Girl Method. This is so that you can get a better idea of which products are suitable for you but also so that you can know what to expect.
This Curly Girl Method tutorial is for fine wavy hair but can be followed by any hair type.
I use the Andre Walker curl type system to determine curl types. The system operates by numerical order of 1-2-3-4 and then by an A-B-B suffix. If you have straight hair, you’re a type 1.
If you have wavy hair you’re a type 2 (ABC). Type 3 is curly (AB) and type 4 is kinky (AB).
As mentioned in the introduction, at the beginning of my own Curly Girl journey, I was a 2A. I am now a 2C, even without any products in my hair!
So that is why I know the Curly Girl Method works because it has literally changed the texture of my hair.
I would also recommend you try to work out if you have low or high porosity hair.
Low porosity means that your hair is not able to absorb moisture very well and high porosity means your hair is capable of taking in a lot of water and product. It might sound better to have highly porous hair, but this is often caused by chemical damage. As you colour your hair or use heat styles, you break down the outer layer of the cuticle.
By doing so, chemicals and water are able to penetrate the hair much easier which can both be a good thing as well as a bad thing. It’s great for using hydrating deep conditioners but too much water can cause hygral fatigue which can make your hair limp and flat.
The best way to figure out your hair porosity is to take a shower and wet your hair. Do you feel that your hair easily becomes soaking wet? Does it absorb water?
Also, ask yourself whether your hair likes thick creamy consistencies. There’s really no specific test you can take.
Don’t believe the ‘strand test’, where you would take a strand of hair and place it in water. The test claimed that if the hair strand floats, you have low porosity hair as moisture doesn’t penetrate.
However, if you have heavy product on your hair that contains oil, your hair will always float. This doesn’t mean you have low porosity hair.
I know that I have low porosity hair because my hair doesn’t do well with thick, rich, oily consistencies. It also takes a little while for my hair to feel drenched in water when I am taking a shower.
If you have low porosity hair, you should aim for non-oily and light consistencies and if you have high porosity hair, you can try thicker conditioners for additional moisture. Check out my post on Approved Curly Girl products for a full list of approved conditioners.
Protein sensitive or moisture overload
The final thing to watch out for is whether or not you are sensitive to protein or experiencing moisture overload.
This is often something which you’ll figure out as you progress on the Curly Girl Method, but if you know right off the bat then you’re already halfway there to healthier curls.
I wrote an article about protein treatments vs hydrating deep conditioners. This should help you determine exactly what treatment your hair needs.
Now let’s dive into the method that transformed my hair from a 2A to a 2C.
Curly Girl Method for Fine Wavy Hair
First thing first. If you have fine wavy hair, you cannot expect to get 3C curls on the Curly Girl Method. It’s just not going to happen. However, if you have been straightening your hair for years, you might not even know what your real hair type is. You could be a Curly Girl but think you are a wavy girl.
That is why it is important to follow the method so that the true structure of your hair can be determined.
An important note. When you start the Curly Girl method, you do NOT need to do a final wash with shampoo. You’re just prolonging the process. Jump straight into co-washing and you’ll be absolutely fine.
With that said, let’s look at the Curly Girl Method routine for fine wavy hair.
The first step of the Curly Girl Method is to co-wash. Co-washing means to wash your hair with Curly Girl approved conditioners only. This eliminated the use of sulphates (from shampoo) and the use of silicone (from regular conditioners).
For fine wavy textures, I would highly recommend that you start off with a lightweight conditioner such as the Organic Shop Hair Conditioner Treasure of Sri Lanka or the Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yoghurt Hydrate + Repair Conditioner. They both smell great and won’t leave your hair feeling heavy.
1. Drench your hair from scalp to tip. Hair has to be dripping wet.
2. Apply conditioner to all of your hair and wash thoroughly. Use a scalp massager for optimal effect.
I really can’t live without mine which I bought from amazon. Scalp massaging is so important when following the Curly Girl Method. As you are no longer using shampoo to cleanse your hair, product build-up can stay on your scalp if you do not rinse it properly.
Allow yourself around two minutes when scalp massaging.
3. Rinse out the conditioner.
1. Apply either the same conditioner again or a thicker conditioner like the Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner for additional moisture. This is still not a heavy creamy product but it has amazing ingredients such as Argan oil and Shea butter.
2. Flip your hair forwards and use your hands to ‘cup’ your curls and just move them up towards your scalp as you ‘scrunch’. This allows the maximum amount of product to stay on your curls for as long as possible whilst also being drenched in water.
3. You should start to see curls forming in clumps. The bigger the better. Add more conditioner if you feel it is needed. Remember at this stage, you’re conditioning your hair.
This means you’re providing a lot of moisture as well as product to your curls. Keep squishing your curls until they form curls that you’re happy with.
Once you are happy that your hair is clean and you have formed some big juicy clumps, it’s time to use some styling products.
The traditional way is to use gel but you can also use mousse.
1. Simply take a handful of gel (yes a handful) and rub between your palms.
2. Scrunch your dripping wet curls, still upside down of course) so that the gel begins to coat the curls.
Do this until you’re satisfied and have eliminated most of the frizz.
By using gel while your hair is still soaking wet, you lock in the moisture of each curl. As your hair dries, the curl will stay intact, protected by the gel.
1. With your hair still flipped upside down, take your microfibre towel or an old t-shirt and wrap around your hair. This is called plopping.
2. Leave your hair like this for up to 20 minutes while you get dressed or apply makeup.
I don’t like to plop for too long as I feel that the towel absorbs the moisture and product from my hair, but 10-20 minutes works well.
After plopping, carefully remove your hair from the towel and again, flip it upside down. Get used to being upside down if you’re following the Curly Girl Method….
Scrunch your curls with an old t-shirt or the microfibre towel and apply more gel or mousse. Your hair should no longer be soaking wet but it’s still very wet.
You will need more product than you think but this all depends on how defined you want your curls to be.
The purpose of gelling your hair is to get a hard cast. Once your hair dries, the gel will seal in each individual curl.
Once the cast has dried, you break it by scrunching your hair.
Some Curly Girls prefer a really hard cast as it gives them super springy and defined curls. I personally like a softer look, so I switch between gel and mousse. You just need to experiment to find out what you like the most.
This is the result I got when I used to use a lot of gel
Now I already don’t like this photo…not sure if it’s the angle but my face looks so wide! Anyways, as you can see, my curls are super defined but they also shrunk a lot.
This is the result I get when I use mousse:
I much prefer this look. My curls are softer and yes also frizzier, but I don’t mind.
I get absolutely amazing results with gel but I didn’t like the springy curl look. My curls had shrunk so much and I didn’t think it suited me.
Maybe when my hair has grown longer I’ll use a lot of gel again!
All of this is completely individual and you do whatever you think suits your face shape. It’s your hair after all!
There are two ways to dry your hair on the Curly Girl Method. Air dry or diffusing.
Airdry. Undoubtedly the method that takes the longest. It can take HOURS to air dry but the results can be amazing. When you air dry, you avoid any disturbance to your curls and the cast will seal hair without any flyaways.
Use root clips to lift your roots so that you get more volume when your hair has finished drying. Also, dry your hair with your parting flipped to the wrong side. This will also give you an added volume boost.
Diffusing. A diffuser is an attachment for your hairdryer which allows air to flow through small holes.
This prevents your curls from being blasted with air, ruining the cast. It is recommended to dry on cold although you can dry on medium. This method is much much quicker, but it can produce frizz if not done properly. I got my diffuser from Amazon and it’s amazing. It’s called the Hairizone Universal Diffuser and it’s cheap, sturdy and fits almost any hairdryer.
You should never diffuse your hair more than 90% dry. Let it rest for the last 10% and once it has dried, break your cast using your hands to scrunch your hair. It is an extremely satisfying feeling!
You can then style your hair as you wish and that is the Curly Girl method!
Additional Curly Girl method steps for fine wavy hair
As mentioned above, your hair may be in a condition where it’s lacking protein or moisture. It’s important to figure out which but generally if your curls are feeling soft and limp, you need a protein treatment and if your hair feels like straw and breaks easily, you need a moisture boost. Check out my article on the best protein and moisture treatments you can use on the Curly Girl method.
It’s good to do weekly deep conditioning in any case. This helps keep your protein and moisture balance level. I always recommend you use a deep conditioning heat cap as heat activates the product and your hair cuticles open up. This way they are far more sucseptable to the product.
Clarifying (ACV rinse)
As you are no longer using shampoo on the Curly Girl method, sometimes you may experience product build-up. You can get an itchy or dry scalp and it’s not a comfortable feeling. Firstly ensure that you have a good wash routine. Many Curly Girls try to go as long as possible without washing but that’s not the purpose of the method. The purpose is clean, healthy hair.
If you feel that your scalp is becoming itchy or dry, try doing a clarifying rinse. This is also known as an apple cider vinegar rinse (ACV).
Simply add a couple of spoonful’s of ACV to 200ml of water. Drench your hair with water and apply the mixture. Thoroughly massage into your hair and leave for several minutes. Afterwards, you can apply a deep conditioning product or rinse out with a regular conditioner.
The ACV rinse helps restore the PH in your hair and really did wonders for my hair as you can read about in this post.
If you suffer from protein overload, an ACV rinse is a great place to start!
One of the benefits of the Curly Girl Method is that you won’t need to wash your hair so much. This is because when you stop using sulphates, your scalp doesn’t lose its natural oils. It, therefore, doesn’t overcompensate by producing more sebum and your hair will stay fresh and clean for longer.
Many Curly Girls therefore simply do a curl refresh on day two, three or even four.
This is a simple method of using a bit of conditioner mixed with water and then spritzing onto your hair using a hair water bottle. Scrunch your hair and dry with a diffuser or let air dry.
Some hair types love a wet refresh and curls can stay fresh for days.
Other Curly Girls prefer to do a dry refresh and this can simply be done with a handful of mousse of a refresh product such as a mist or a cream. I like to use xx and xx.
Curly Girl Method products for fine wavy hair
I would always recommend getting a light conditioner for a co-wash when you have fine wavy hair. The last thing you want is product weighing your hair down.
These are some of my favourites:
I like to go a bit creamier when it comes to conditioning.
I don’t bother with super expensive gels. I prefer to layer gel and mousse now but in the beginning, I swore by the Eco Olive Oil gel. It’s not overpowering but gives a great hold. If you fancy splashing out on a popular high street brand, I can thoroughly recommend Umberto Giannini Curl Jelly Scrunching Jelly. It’s vegan formulated and a Curly Girl favourite.
Having said that, I also really like the Boots essentials strong hold gel and you can’t really go wrong with 99p!
And that is all you really need to start the Curly Girl Method if you have fine wavy hair.
You can try other products such as the Cantu Curl Activator which is very popular. A small pea-sized amount is enough to get the best out of your curls and the cream helps define and shape your curls.
But don’t overdo it with products. Start simple. Get a co-washing conditioner and thicker product for conditioning. A gel and perhaps a mousse but the latter is definitely not necessary to begin with.
Remember, the most important part is just to get your hair back to a healthy state. Don’t worry too much about how your curls look. I know, easier said than done. But whatever you do, don’t give up!