Curly Girl: The Beginning

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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As you may have noticed, I've got curly, wavy, frizzy, puffy hair. I'm still coming to terms with it. For years, I straightened my hair, but I just can't anymore. It was fine when 1) my hair was shorter and 2) I was in school and could take 5 hours to get ready in the morning. But that's just not practical when you've got a big girl job!

However, since going curly, I just haven't been able to master taking proper care of my hair. It requires such different treatment! However, after doing extensive research (seriously, I was sick last Friday and spent most of my day googling how to care of my hair), I believe that I have the perfect method. It been tested by lots of curlies out there, and it is the method proposed by the Devachan salon in New York, which originated a particular method of cutting hair specific to curls! They're the experts, so I better trust them!

The method, which you may have heard of, is called the Curly Girl method (from Lorraine Massey's book of the same name), or no-poo. No-poo (or low-poo), you may ask? What is that? Well, in a nutshell, you eliminate shampoo.



Wait! Eliminate shampoo!? But then your hair will be dirty!

No, not necessarily. Most shampoos come with harsh chemicals and detergents (sulfates - ammonium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, etc), both of which strip your scalp of it's natural oils (i.e. getting it "clean"). However, those natural oils are key in keeping your hair moisturized (curlies not using the no-poo method really only need to shampoo 1-2x  week, anyway). And since curly hair is dryer than straight hair, it needs all the moisture it can get.  So, by eliminating - at the very, absolute least - shampoo with sulfates, but preferably eliminating shampoo altogether, curly-haired girls can use their scalps natural oils to moisturize their hair!

I'm intrigued. How does this work?

I was intrigued too. And after some investigation, I decided that I am going to try it. Now, keep in mind, I've half-done this before, by eliminating shampoo with sulfates and making sure I shampooed way, way less. But I've never gone the whole way. But 2013 is the year I will! And you lucky souls will get to follow along :).

Here's how the no-poo method works:
  1. Clarify your hair with regular shampoo one last time (did this Monday night!) before going cold turkey.
  2. Get a trim/cut (need to do this. horribly, actually). Curlies should have their hair trimmed every 6-ish months, to keep the ends looking nice.
  3. Invest in either a cleansing conditioner (like this, this, or this) or a light conditioner for washing your scalp. Also invest in a good deep conditioner for the rest of your hair. Make sure it's sulfate free!
  4. Invest in a good leave in (I like this one and am currently trying this - it's eh) and whatever hair products you use for your hair normally. I try to keep mine sulfate free, and it's a good idea while on this method to keep them silicone free, as silicone is hard to wash out of your hair!
  5. Instead of shampooing, apply lighter/cleansing conditioner all over your scalp and massage in with the pads of your fingertips (not your nails). This is called co-washing. By rubbing your scalp, you'll loosen all the built up residue of the day. It won't lather, but a shampoo's lather is actually the result of all the detergents, so it's unnecessary! Rinse thoroughly when you're done.
  6. Liberally apply your deeper conditioner to the rest of your hair. Now is the time to detangle. Using either your fingers or a wide-toothed comb, come out any snarls that might have formed (and oh, do they form). Never comb your hair with a brush, nor should you comb it any time except when it's wet and loaded with conditioner.
  7. Leave the conditioner in however long as you want (a good time to finish washing up) and then rinse your hair with cool or cold water. The colder the better. Using cold water helps to seal the cuticle, which keeps in moisture and gives your hair shine. And if your curly hair is anything like mine, it isn't shiny!
  8. Apply your products, preferably while hair is soaking wet. Whatever concoction you use is up to you. The method is also up to you. There are a myriad of ways people apply product to their curly hair. I normally flip my hair upside down, massage leave-in conditioner in, and follow it up with a liberal application of gel. You aren't supposed to wrap your hair up in a towel, but I usually do because it's the only method I've found to get some lift at my roots. That said, I never, ever use a terrycloth towel. Use either a microfiber towel or, even better, a cotton t-shirt. Terrycloth ruffles your hair cuticle which = more frizz!
  9. Dry your hair however you want, though I recommend air-drying. But sometimes this isn't possible, particularly when it's cold!
Apparently there is something of an adjustment period when switching to this method. I hope it doesn't last very long, because then my resolve will waver! I will update each week with my progress so you guys can follow along as I make this transition. Hopefully, within a couple months I will have awesome, gorgeous curls!
Before the Start!
Here's my hair after it's last wash with shampoo. You'll have to excuse my flat roots - I had to wear a hat today (it's cold out there!). But you can see how sad and frizzy my curls are. And let me tell you, they're extremely dry as well! I can't wait to begin!

I'll update with what products I am using when I figure it out - I need to research some good deep conditioners while I finish the rest of this one to see if there's anything better (and cheaper) out there!

UPDATE:

If you'd like to read more about the curly girl/no-poo method, check out these sites for tutorials and results: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 

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