The Curly Girl Method

At Upfront Cosmetics, we like to think we have something for everyone. One way we try to practice inclusivity is to make all our products according to something called the Curly Girl Method. The Curly Girl method is a set of do’s, don’ts and ingredients to avoid and embrace. This will enhance and encourage the natural curl pattern in your hair. 

Here’s a little bit of background on the inception of the Curly Girl method. In 1994, Lorraine Massey channeled her passion for curly hair by founding a group of stylish salons called Devachan. Straight hair was the prevailing style at the time, but this salon would cater to ladies with naturally curly and wavy hair. With the salon came the Devacurl line of products, which are now beloved by curly-haired folks around the world. In 2001, she brought her curly hair expertise to a wider audience when she published her book, “The Curly Girl Handbook” which is still popular today. Lorraine left Devacurl in 2013 to start a new line called Curly World, and now spends her time cutting hair for charity and working on her new book. A pioneer in caring for your curls naturally, Lorraine believes “Frizz is just a curl waiting to happen.”

The best way to look after your curls starts with knowing your curl type. Hair curl types are categorized like this: Wavy hair falls in type 2 and can be 2a, 2b, or 2c. Type 3 (3a, 3b, 3c) is what most of us recognize as curly, and type 4 (4a, 4b, 4c) is coily, textured curls, or afro hair. This chart better explains it.

With this much variety between curly hair types, you can be sure each type has its own list of best practices to keep it in the best shape it can be. For example, the curlier the hair type, the less product you should use in it.  If you want to make the most of your curly girl journey, look into what curl type you have and what methods are recommended for maintaining it. That being said, there is of course a general guide to the curly girl method that can be followed without getting into specifics of hair type. Here’s the gist of it. 

First things first, the curly girl method urges you to swear off shampoo.
Wait, what??  No shampoo? Why would Upfront recommend a method that doesn’t use shampoo?

You see, CG recognizes that most shampoos have sulfates in them, which we know by now is no good for your hair or skin. But if quitting shampoo cold turkey sounds crazy to you, the CG method actually says that a sulfate-free shampoo is a perfectly acceptable substitute. Really, the most important thing is to cut out the drying synthetic ingredients found in many shampoos. A gentle cleanser like cocamidopropyl betaine does the trick!

Going with the “no-poo” or “low-poo” method isn’t to say you shouldn’t clean your hair ever. CG recommends gently scrubbing your scalp with your fingers to lift dirt, using only water for a light cleansing. For a deeper clean use a co-wash, a cleansing conditioner without the harsh, drying and stripping ingredients. How often to co-wash depends on the tightness of your curls, but in general it should only be done a couple times a week. 

After cleansing, the next step is conditioning. Curly hair tends to be dryer than straight hair. Think of your hair as a staircase; it’s easier to go down a straight staircase than a spiral one. The same applies to the natural oils in our hair. The tighter your curl, the more conditioning it needs. It’s best to use more natural, plant based ingredient for this: emollients like shea butter, moisturizers like aloe vera, and humectants like glycerine and panthenol, all of which can be found in Upfront Cosmetics shampoo & conditioner. 

The final piece of the Curly Girl puzzle is drying your hair. Put that hair dryer down! Curly hair is more susceptible to drying and breakage, so using your hair dryer as little as possible will help maintain healthy curls. If you’re in a hurry, use a diffuser. The way to dry your curls is naturally, by bending forward and gently cupping your curls with a towel. Don’t wring your hair out, or twist it into the towel. And while we’re speaking of towels, it’s actually much better for your hair to use a microfiber or cotton towel rather than a traditional terry cloth one. The very best thing you can use is an old t shirt! 

If you’ve struggled with keeping your curls in tip-top shape in the past, you’ve probably tried loads of different products to tame them, now gathering dust under your sink. At the end of the day, the Curly Girl method only calls for two products: conditioner and gel or mousse. Depending on your curl type, the gel may be used before air drying your hair, or after. Scrunch the gel into your hair, rather than brushing it through. Many Curly Girls find this easier to do upside down, as it helps reduce frizz and encourages curl definition. Once you’ve applied your gel of choice and your hair is dry, don’t forget to “scrunch out the crunch”. Your hair becomes crunchy and stiff when the gel dries, which is sometimes called a “cast”. You then break that cast, which will reveal your soft, bouncy curls underneath.

A few more CG tips: brush your hair as little as possible. Try switching to a wide-toothed comb, or simply use your fingers to work out snarls. 

When choosing a gel or mousse, look for one without silicones, or with water-soluble silicones.

Cover your hair when you sleep with a silk or satin scarf, or use a silk pillowcase. Resist the urge to colour your hair.

Colouring your hair often involves using ingredients that are on the “avoid” list, so it’s not advised. But many people do it and still maintain healthy curls.

This is just a brief run-down on the Curly Girl Method, and some tricks and tips to keeping your curls looking bouncy, shiny, and healthy. If you need more guidance, The Curly Girl New Handbook by Lorraine Massey and Michele Bender has all the info you could need, and know that Upfront Cosmetics is on your side in your quest for perfect curls!


(Curl Type Illustration by Ruth Basagoitia, from

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