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So you’ve decided to give the Curly Girl Method a go. Fantastic! Congratulations on starting your journey. But where should you start? You may have heard that you need to do a final wash on the Curly Girl Method before beginning, a rinse-out-all-the-bad-stuff last wash before you can begin. Not true!
A final wash has never been part of the Curly Girl Method. You won’t find it in Lorraine Massey’s book ‘Curly Girl, The Handbook’ but you may have seen the term in online forums, blogs or Facebook groups.
What exactly is a final wash?
A final wash is a term that has developed in the Curly Girl community and it supposedly means the very last wash before you begin a new life without shampoos, silicones, sulphates and hair straighteners.
If you really think about it, the idea of a final wash is a bit silly. It’s like saying ‘one more doughnut before I start my diet’ or ‘one more cigarette before I quit smoking’.
Why have I been told to do a final wash on the Curly Girl Method?
The thought process behind the final wash is to remove product build-up, dirt and silicones so as to ‘reset’ your hair.
Most people suggest a clarifying shampoo which contains only one of the ‘bad’ ingredients, sulphates, which is the only substance that will get rid of years of dirt…supposedly.
Sulphates are one of the major chemicals to avoid on the Curly Girl Method as it strips your hair of its natural oils. Why would you do a final wash with something that is bad for your hair?
Furthermore, the advice that is often given with a final wash, is to deep condition after washing your hair with a sulphate shampoo. Why? Because sulphates dry out your hair and you need to restore the loss of moisture.
Isn’t that just repeating the same process you’ve been doing for years?
Sulphates is the lathering agent found in most shampoos and this is why the CGM encourages co-washing with conditioner only. Lather is the cleansing effect or essentially what creates bubbles and these are not used on the Curly Girl Method.
There are some shampoos called ‘low-poo shampoos’ which do not contain sulphates but have added chemicals to replace sulphates. These are not recommended either as these chemicals can be even more damaging than sulphates or silicones.
Check out this post I wrote about why you shouldn’t use low poo shampoos when following the Curly Girl Method.
So how do I get rid of silicones?
Still worried about the silicones? Well, think of it like this.
You have used regular conditioner for…all your life?
You have straightened your hair for…years?
Regular conditioners contain silicone and hair straighteners apply heat. Together this is not a great combination. You have spent years frying your hair, melting silicones into your hair and no final wash is not going to rectify this.
Using a shampoo containing sulphates will absolutely remove dirt, build-up and grease from your hair and scalp. After all, it is a cleansing agent.
However, it simply cannot ‘reset’ your hair in one wash. If that was the case, why would we need the Curly Girl Method at all?
During a regular shampoo/conditioner routine, you first clean your hair of dirt and build-up and your hair gets that squeaky clean, almost rough texture. This is the work of sulphates removing your natural oils.
You then apply a conditioner that usually contains silicone and your hair feels soft and luscious. Then you straighten it for extra effect.
Think about that for a second:
When you start your CG journey and switch to co-washing only, you’ll notice that your hair will probably feel worse. If not, you’re one of the lucky ones and you’ve basically won the lottery! However, for most of us, the transition period is real and what you’re feeling is years’ worth of coating your hair in silicone.
It takes time for these chemicals to leave your hair and patience is key.
What to do instead
The very best thing you can do when starting your Curly Girl journey is simply to co-wash. Co-washing means to wash your hair using conditioner only. Give my Curly Girl Method Step By Step Guide a read if you’re just starting out.
A good co-wash should be light in texture and not too creamy and heavy. Save these for regular or deep conditioning.
My absolute favourite co-washing product is the Pantene Hair Biology Cleanse and Reconstruct Conditioner. It is so light and smells divine.
You can get many others directly from Amazon like As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner or Eden Bodyworks All Natural Coconut Shea Cleansing Co-Wash but you don’t need to spend a fortune. You can get supermarket brands such as the Sainsbury Apple conditioner. It’s only 75p!
As mentioned above, your hair may at first seem worse when starting your Curly Girl Journey. Years of damage caused by hair straighteners simply won’t go away overnight and your hair may feel brittle, waxy or heavy.
If co-washing and conditioner alone don’t seem to make your hair any better, I would strongly recommend you try clarifying with natural products.
You can try an apple cider vinegar rinse which is simply a few tablespoons of ACV mixed with water. Massage the mixture into wet hair (best done when having a shower) and just let it sit for a few minutes. The acidity of the ACV will help restore the natural balance of your hair strands and is far more kind than a final wash using sulphates.
Give your hair a good condition afterwards or even a deep condition and carry on as usual.
Remember to use a scalp brush whenever you co-wash your hair. This thing is a life-saver and it really helps so much with not only removing grease and build-up but also hair growth. They don’t cost a lot and I bought mine from Amazon.
It is of course completely your choice whether or not to do a final wash. Remember, it’s just hair! It’s yours and no one can actually tell you what you should and shouldn’t do.
However, if you’re determined to follow the Curly Girl Method, then a final wash is not recommended.
Do remember that many Curly Girls start out very militant, but as they progress and try different tools and products, they begin to understand what works best for them. Some low poo, some use high heat when drying and some only follow a few rules. It’s completely up to you!
Personally, not having used shampoos for over a year now has really improved not only the health of my hair, but it’s curlability!
I don’t have 3abc curls but I am seeing a huge difference since starting the Curly Girl Method and I am using as many natural products as possible.
Once you start seeing changes, you’ll never want to go back to your old ways.
Good luck on your journey and if you have any suggestions for new posts or products you’d like for me to review, please leave a note in the comment section!