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Red hair and the Curly Girl Method

As a natural redhead, my ginger hair is delicate and on the almost-desert side of dry. It has a wave/curliness to it too, which makes it all the more fragile. I’ve always wanted to embrace my curls and encourage them, but wasn’t sure how to go about it.

A friend told me about the Curly Girl Method, created by Lorraine Massey and detailed in her book Curly Girl: The Handbook. My pal told me that by following its guidelines, it has completely changed the life of her hair, going from disorganised waves to goddess-like dream curls.

Yes, please.


What is the Curly Girl Method?

The Curly Girl Method (CGM) has a few core principles: conditioner is your life now. Shampoo is (probably) a great big no-no. Oh, and you can never ever use products that have sulfates, silicones or anything nasty in it.

What’s ‘nasty’, you ask? Thankfully, there’s a handy online ‘CurlsBot‘ that analyses hair product ingredients so you know whether or not to use it. As the website says, “We look for silicones, oils, and waxes that can build up, as well as harsh sulfates.”


Why should redheads follow the Curly Girl Method?

As we know, redheads should turn their backs on sulfates like they’re a bad stench. And by shunning all the bad ingredients, in turn it encourages your hair strands to be less frizzy, reflect more light, be shinier, and, well, that can only mean one thing…

You’re a real-life Princess Merida!

Finding CGM products for my red hair seemed daunting, but thankfully, hundreds of thousands of curly girls have already done the legwork for you. And double-thankfully, so many of the products don’t cost the Earth either. My first port of call was joining the Curly Girl Facebook group which has product recommendations on there, but there are heaps of articles on the internet too.

Armed with my new CGM-approved products, I was ready to start my CGM journey. My washing and styling routine went like this:

  1. 1. Totally soak hair with medium-warm water, then massage your CGM-approved conditioner into your roots, just like you would with shampoo. This is called co-washing. You may need quite a lot of conditioner here, but it’s important to make sure your whole scalp has been washed with it.
  2. 2. Rinse, then use either conditioner again or a hair mask to then cover your hair from root to tip. Gently use your fingers to distribute through your hair and release any knots (you can use a wide-tooth comb if you wish), then leave on your hair for a few minutes.
  3. 3. Rinse through, making sure the conditioner is out from your scalp.
  4. 4. While the hair is still absolutely sopping wet, grab some more conditioner (yes, more) and apply again through your hair (no need to cover your roots this time).
  5. 5. Then it’s time to ‘squish to condish’, which fuses the water with the conditioner into the shaft of your hair strands and helps to form curl formation. To do this, flip your head upside down, then use your hands to lift your hair up from the tips and scrunch your hair towards your scalp. This will make delightful ‘squishy’ noises.
  6. 6. Do this squishing method again using a mousse product to help style your curl formation further.
  7. 7. (Or, instead of mousse, or as well as, you can use a gel to give your curls more hold – make sure every piece of hair is covered and then squish to form the curls, as above directions.)
  8. 8. Time to ‘plop’. Yes, I said ‘plop’! I use a long-sleeved t-shirt – lay the t-shirt on a flat surface, flip your head upside down and wrap the t-shirt around it, using the sleeves to secure. Check out this tutorial
  9. 9. Depending on time I leave my hair ‘plopping’ for half an hour and then release to air dry, or I ‘plop’ for 15 minutes and then finish off drying with a hair dryer with a diffuser on medium heat and low wind setting.
  10. 10. If using gel, I would then need to ‘scrunch out the crunch’ once my hair was completely dry. This is just scrunching your hair from underneath to release any of the gel-ified clumps of hair.

Phew! There are hundreds of videos online that guide you through this process visually and routines differ from person to person, but it’s important to find what works for you.


Bit restrictive, isn’t it?

There are some parts of CGM that may seem a bit restrictive. At least, that’s how I felt. And I must admit, after a while I did miss using shampoo. It’s true that your hair doesn’t actually need shampoo to get clean, but there is such a thing as sulfate-free shampoo, or what is referred to as ‘low poo’ in CGM.

Here at Ginger Parrot, we’ve often gone on about the importance of conditioner for redheads, and how sulfate-free shampoo is your ticket to dream ginger hair.

And so now my hair washing and styling routine has altered slightly. I use Gingerful’s Henna & Rose shampoo for redheads, because not only is it sulfate-free, silicone-free, gluten-free and vegan, it’s got a tiny amount of henna so that my red hair shade gets a little extra boost over time.

What’s tricky about following CGM is generally any kind of hair dye is out the window, so I’ll take what I can get. Using the Henna & Rose products feels like a good compromise between going full CGM but also getting some colour enhancement at the same time.

The key thing I’ve learned through my CGM journey is that finding what works for you and your curls is what’s the most important. Don’t get hung up on the details – sure, learn about which chemicals are bad for your hair, but don’t sweat the small stuff.

You’ll find that your hair’s curliness will become more and more defined the longer you follow CGM. And at the end of the day it’s all about how your red hair feels. And mine feels great!


For more information on the Curly Girl Method, buy Lorraine Massey’s book, or check your product ingredients on the CurlsBot.

By Emma

READ: The Perils of Being Ginger But ‘Not THAT Ginger’
READ: Redheads and Achromotrichia: Do Gingers Go Grey?
Ginger Parrot

Ginger Parrot is ready and raring to report on all things nice and gingerful, and provides an online store too, offering Ginger Parrot merchandise, clothing, hair products, gifts and more for the redhead and redhead lover community.

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