Managing your child’s curly hair can be a difficult task. Not only do you have to deal with tangles and knots on a daily basis but you also have to work out how to best protect and care for your child’s hair. If you’ve heard about the Curly Girl Method, you’ll be pleased to know that it is easily adapted for kids!
The Curly Girl Method has been used by hundreds of thousands of curlies all over the world to transform their dull curls into bouncy locks! By changing a few things to your regular routine, you can easily modify the Curly Girl Method for kids and I’ll show you just how to do it!
What Is The Curly Girl Method?
The Curly Girl Method was created by Lorraine Massey, the author of ‘The Curly Girl Handbook’. The method revolves around using non-sulphate and non-silicone hair products whilst also avoiding heat styling and the use of regular towels. By using products and practices that are kind to your hair, you can achieve the most incredibly bouncy, strong and vigorous curls.
Here’s a quick overview of the rules:
❌ No sulphates, silicones, drying alcohols, waxes and parabens. Sulphates can be very harsh on your hair and strip your scalp of natural oils. It’s best to avoid sulphates completely when/if using shampoo. Silicones and waxes are often used in conditioner to make your hair soft and shiny. Unfortunately, silicone wraps a layer of wax around the hair strand and can be difficult to wash off completely.
❌ No brushing. Brushing hair when dry can cause breakage and split ends. Brushing disturbs the natural flow of the curl pattern so you should avoid all dry hair brushing. You can, however, use a wide-tooth comb to brush through hair when soaking well and well-conditioned.
❌ No use of regular towels. Regular towels will cause friction with your hair and can lead to further damage. It is therefore best to use a microfibre towel or an old t-shirt.
❌ No heat styling. Heat damages hair so it is encouraged to use cold or lukewarm water as well as a cold setting when drying your hair. No hot stylers or hairdryers are recommended.
This may sound overwhelming but it’s honestly super easy! Just follow my kids guide below and use the products I mention and you’ll be just fine.
You can also take a look at my Curly Girl Method easy step by step guide for adults if you fancy a go yourself. Otherwise, read on for the modified kid’s version.
Curly Girl Method For Kids
If you follow the Curly Girl Method yourself, you’ll know that patience and willingness is key to success – two words which don’t go hand in hand with kids 😊
It is therefore important that we try to make the process as comfortable for them as possible while also caring for their hair the best way we can.
This means adapting the CG method to its most basic form, avoiding a complicated and time-consuming routine.
My Curly Girl Method for Kids mantra goes as follows:
✔️ Use CGM child-friendly products
✔️ Focus on health, not appearance
✔️ Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise
✔️ Make it fun
The simpler you make the process, the better your child will respond. Make healthy curl care a part of bath time and try to teach your child how to take care of their own curls the best way they can.
I also think it is important to teach young girls that curly hair is beautiful!
For so long, straight hair has been the standardised ideal of beauty and it is so vital that we encourage diversity and individuality in today’s crazy world.
CGM Check List
Before you start, make sure you have the following to hand:
- Sulphate free shampoo
- Silicone-free conditioner
- Wide-tooth comb
- Microfibre towel or old t-shirt
- Spray bottle
- Styling product
- Satin pillowcase
- Satin scrunchie
If you don’t know which products to use, don’t worry, I’ve written a list of recommendations down below.
A simple Curly Girl Method for Kids routine looks like this:
- Cleanse or co-wash.
- Condition (squish to condish).
- Style (optional)
Follow the rules the best you can and don’t worry so much! The most important thing is to ensure that your child’s hair is healthy, manageable and clean.
Let’s get to it.
Step 1. Cleanse Or Co-Wash
Grab a CG friendly sulphate free shampoo or a CG friendly conditioner if you choose to co-wash only. Johnson’s baby shampoo works great here.
If you’re a strict follower of the CG method, you’ll know that shampoo is normally not advised. This is because shampoo tends to contain harsher cleansing agents which can be damaging to your hair. Instead, it is recommended to ‘co-wash’ your hair, which essentially means conditioner washing only.
It is completely possible to rinse out dirt and product build-up with conditioner, however, many Curly Girls choose to use sulphate free cleansers or natural cleansers.
The choice is completely yours, but bearing in mind that kids spend a lot more time outdoors and they easily get dirty, it might be worthwhile using a sulphate free shampoo, to begin with.
I would recommend any of the following sulphate free and CG friendly shampoos:
1. Soak your child’s hair through with water and apply a good dollop of CG friendly shampoo. It is normally recommended that you use cold water only for the Curly Girl Method but this won’t be applicable for kids. Wash their hair during their usual bath routine and focus on making it an enjoyable experience for them.
2. It is important to get rid of as much dirt, oil and build up as possible so consider using a scalp massager like this one from Amazon. It’s safe to use, easy on the scalp and works a lot better than using your nails. The scalp massager looks a bit funny and silly so you can also try and get your child to use it themselves to make it more like a game.
3. Rinse off shampoo with lots of water. Hair should always be soaking wet as hydration is key to healthy curls.
Step 2. Condition (Squish To Condish)
After cleansing your child’s hair, you’ll want to move onto conditioning.
This is a very important step to help form the curls and help them get stronger and healthier. We do this by ‘squishing’ the hair towards the scalp with lots of conditioner and water.
Any of the Curly Girl friendly conditioners below are suitable for kids to use on the CG method. You can also use any other CG friendly conditioner you may already have.
Check out my FULL LIST of Curly Girl Method Approved Products.
1. Apply a generous amount of conditioner to your child’s hair and use your fingers to smooth out the curls. At this point, you can use a wide-tooth comb to detangle the hair. This is the only time you should ever brush your child’s hair. Using a wide-tooth comb helps separate hair strands and remove dead hair without damaging the integrity of the curls.
2. After detangling your child’s hair, ensure that the hair is soaking wet with lots of conditioner in it. It’s good to have a bowl of some kind so you can continuously drench the hair with water and conditioner. You’ll want to ‘squish’ the hair upwards towards the scalp using your palms to cup the bottom of your child’s hair. This not only hydrates the hair but also encourages curls to form. If their hair seems frizzy, add more conditioner and water together.
You would normally flip your hair upside down when you squish in conditioner, but for smaller children, this is too much of an ask.
Again, we want to focus on hair health and we’re not striving for perfection. Showing your child how to squish at an early age will encourage them to do it themselves as they grow older and it will become a natural part of their haircare routine.
Here is a video explaining the squish to condish method:
3. ‘Squishing to condish’ is an integral part of the Curly Girl Method and is equally important for kids.
So make it a game. Create a wash routine around bath time. See how many squishes you can get in before they’ve finished counting to ten or brush their hair while they count to twenty. Perhaps sing a song for one minute while squishing and conditioning your child’s curls. Children can quickly become impatient so making it a game will make it more fun for them.
Step 3. Rinse
After conditioning, you’ll want to rinse out the hair to remove excess product.
1. Completely soak hair and scrunch out excess water and conditioner while trying to form curls as you scrunch. Repeat this process a few times and then reapply a tiny bit of conditioner and conditioner and repeat the scrunching process to encourage curls to form again. Conditioner can also function as a styling product if you’re not comfortable using gel or mousse to seal in the moisture.
2. At this stage, you can also use a detangling product such as the SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Kids Detangler to help separate your child’s curls.
3. Once excess product and water have been scrunched out it is either time to apply a styling product (mousse or gel) or time to dry.
Step 4. Style (optional)
It is completely up to you whether you want to use a styling product after washing. Gel or mousse help lock in moisture and when left to dry, they normally form a cast around each curl. When hair is completely dry, you then ‘break’ the cast, by scrunching your curls together again and reveal soft, bouncy locks.
The downside to using a styling product and breaking a cast is that your child might need more regular washes due to product build-up. Product weighs down hair and can also cause an itchy scalp. Some prefer to use a small amount of gel and so even though your child doesn’t get a cast, they still get more defined curls.
It is also important to remember that your child’s hair has not experienced years of bad treatment, colouring or heat styling so their hair should be in excellent condition. I would recommend you try to use conditioner as your styling product first and then experiment with gel or mousse along the way.
1. After rinsing and scrunching the curls upwards again with a little conditioner, switch to gel or mousse.
For a strong hold mousse that helps combat frizz, try the Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse
2. Rub in half a golf ball-sized amount between your palms and apply to hair using the same upwards scrunching motion. Don’t run your fingers through the curls or use a brush. Only scrunch!
3. Each curl should now begin to form more easily as they become coated in product. Once you’re happy with the curls, you can either let the hair air dry, diffuse for quicker results or wrap the hair in a microfibre towel for 10-15 minutes. This is also called plopping and helps the curls form better without frizz.
Step 5. Plop
Plopping is essentially just wrapping your curls for a little while before starting the drying process. Plopping helps keep curls intact while they dry inside either a microfibre towel or a t-shirt. By shielding the curls from humidity, you end up with much less frizz and the fabric removes excess water and product, leaving you with a shorter drying time as well as softer curls.
Your child may not want to do a whole lot of plopping as they’ll probably just want to get on with it. But if it’s the weekend or bedtime isn’t looming around the corner, you can make it fun for them.
1. After applying your styling product and having removed excess water, use either a microfibre towel or an old cotton t-shirt to wrap your child’s hair. You cannot use regular towels as they cause friction and damage the integrity of the curls.
2. I really like these cute microfibre towels from Amazon. They are soft and fun and your child will be much keener to wear them than a regular towel.
3. Be careful not to disturb the curl patterns when applying the towel over your child’s head. Let the towel sit for 10-15 minutes (or as long as they’re willing) and afterwards, you can begin the drying process.
Step 6. Dry
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the final step. Drying! You have a few different options here.
You can diffuse your child’s hair which will cut the drying time much shorter. If you can get them to sit still or if bedtime is around the corner, this may be the best way to do it.
You can get a cheap diffuser like this Hairizone diffuser from Amazon. It’s very sturdy, fits onto most hairdryers and really does the trick.
Simply attach it to your hairdryer, put it on medium heat setting and begin to dry your child’s hair by ‘cupping’ the curls.
Here’s a great video on how to diffuse curly hair:
2. AIR DRY
You can also simply choose to air dry your child’s hair if you have the time. Depending on how thick and long their hair is, expect it to take around 2 hours. This would work great on a weekend where you have plenty of time. If you plop, this waiting time cut be cut shorter.
One of the benefits of air drying is that since you’re not applying air or heat to your child’s curls, the hair will be less frizzy. It’s completely up to you whatever method you decide but time is often the deciding factor.
But that’s it. That is my adapted Curly Girl Method for kids! Not too difficult I hope and the results are definitely going to be worth it!
Taking Care of Your Child’s Next Day Curls
Now, you won’t be washing your child’s hair every day, so what do you do on those other days? You do what is called a refresh!
A refresh is a simple ten minute routine where you spruce up the curls with either a bit of water or hair product to make the curls springy and bouncy after a good night’s sleep.
There’s a few different ways to approach a refresh:
1. Use conditioner. Simply dampen your child’s curls and apply a small amount of conditioner mixed with water. The hair shouldn’t be too wet, just damp enough for the structure of curls to form properly again.
2. Use gel. Dampen hair and scrunch a small amount of gel into the curls. This can sometimes cause frizz if the hair is not wet enough but it’s a great way to add bounce and definition to those next day curls.
3. Use mousse. I’ve become a real fan of mousse lately as I find it to be so much lighter than gel. Sure, it doesn’t hold up as well but it also doesn’t weight down your curls as much. You might not even need to wet the hair to get great results. Trial and error is key here.
4. Finally, you can aid your child’s next day curls by having them sleep on a satin pillowcase or tie it up in a pineapple with a satin scrunchie. This helps protect the hair at night and might reduce the time needed the next day.
CGM Child-Friendly Products
The most important thing when following the Curly Girl Method is to ensure your products fit the bill. This means no sulphates, silicones, parabens and drying alcohols.
Here are a list of Curly Girl friendly products to try out:
Sulphate Free Cleansers
Silicone free Conditioners
Curly Girl Method For Kids Top Tips
Be Less Strict
Don’t use only cold water and don’t ask your child to flip their hair over when squishing to condish. It’s an unreasonable ask for a small child and their hair will turn out just great without these steps.
Only Use Styling Products If Your Child Is Comfortable With More Frequent Washes.
Hair products leave residue and build up and the more product you use, the more you will need to wash your child’s hair.
If you use mousse or gel, be prepared to wash your child’s hair every two days, maybe even every day. Kids get dirty, they play and they don’t care. They also stick touch everything and stick their fingers in their mouths so be wary of using hair products if you think they might do so.
Focus On Healthy Hair Rather Than Beautiful Curls.
At least at first. Experiment with products if you don’t think your current ones are working. Some hair types don’t do well with coconut. It may cause your child’s hair to go flaky or even itchy. Some children don’t do well with oily hair products. The hair gets weighed down and more frequent wash days are needed. Just like you would yourself, try different products for your child.
Make Haircare Fun & Exciting.
Play games with your kids when washing their hair. Often detangling knots can lead to crying but if you can make the process fun and invite your child to participate themselves, they’ll soon forget how irritating washing their hair really is. Sing songs, encourage them to use the scalp massager themselves and see if they can get curls to form using the ‘squish to condish’ method.
Be A Teacher, Not A Perfectionist.
By adapting the Curly Girl Method for kids, you’re passing on essential tools to help your child manage and care for their curls. The most important thing is not get the perfect curls, but to teach your child to follow a routine that will help them for years to come.
Many of us wish that we had known about the Curly Girl Method years ago instead of using hair straighteners on a daily basis.
We need to encourage young girls and boys to embrace their beautiful curls and the best way we can do that is to teach them how to care for them in the right way.
I hope you have enjoyed this Curly Girl Method guide for kids. Any questions, let me know in the comments!