I recently did a blog post about the curly girl method transition phase where I explained what it was, and answered some other related questions. A common question that I didn’t answer in that post is basically ‘how can I survive the transition phase?”. I thought that question was big enough to warrant its own post.
How To Make The Curly Girl Transition Phase More Tolerable
1. Wash your hair when you need to!
This is the biggest one, in my opinion. What makes the transition phase so challenging for many people is they decide they absolutely can’t wash their hair more than once every three days or four days or whatever timeframe. I do believe that it’s good to work on getting your hair used to being washed less frequently because daily shampooing can be drying. I don’t believe that the only way to “train” your hair to produce less oils is to go from daily washing to once-a-week washing.
Prior to trying the curly girl method I had been a daily washer, so I started by just moving to every other day at first. That was tolerable, 3+ days would not have been tolerable for me. I would have been insecure about how my hair looked, and felt. It wasn’t worth it to me!
Plus, if I just really messed up a wash day? I’d sometimes get right back in the shower and rewash just an hour after I washed the first time. I wasn’t willing to hate my hair the entire time between wash days, and one “extra” shampoo experience isn’t going to leave your hair super dry or otherwise cause major problems. If you’re itching to wash your hair – just wash it, you’ll be happier and your hair will be okay.
2. Set realistic goals.
Try not to compare your hair to others. Try to improve on your own hair rather than try to get someone else’s. A lot of wavies start out getting hair goals based on what they see someone else look like. It’s fine to appreciate others’ beautiful hair, of course – but don’t convince yourself that yours needs to look like theirs.
Theirs may be just a lot different than yours so aiming for similar results may not be realistic. Plus, if you’re comparing to people online, you’re almost certainly seeing their best pictures, in the best lighting, perhaps even highly edited. You might be comparing to something that isn’t fully real!
3. Learn your hair type.
If you can learn your hair type (in terms of porosity, density and strand thickness) and then learn what types of products usually work best for that hair type, you can potentially save yourself from trying things that aren’t right for your hair type. I have two blog posts that should help you with this. How To Determine Your Wavy Hair Type and What Products To Use Based On Your Wavy Hair Type.
4. Record what products and techniques you use each wash day. Take photos!
I wish I did this sooner! I had heard others say that they kept a “hair journal” to keep track of what products and techniques they tried. I heard people say they learned so much about their hair that way. I guess I was overly confident…I thought I didn’t need to make detailed records or take photos to learn what was and wasn’t working for my hair. I thought I’d just try things, see results and figure it out.
Then when I eventually did give the hair journal and photos thing a try? I was shocked at how much easier it was to figure out the patterns in my good days and bad days. I also was surprised at how my mood impacted how I felt about my results. For example, I’d do a routine, feel like it was good, then try it again the next week and feel like it was bad.
When I’d analyze the results (with photos) a few days later, I’d realize that my results on that second attempt weren’t bad – I was just being overly critical of myself because I was in a bad mood!
Anyway. I highly encourage you to record the products you use, the amouts you use, and all of your techniques/routines. Get detailed and include things like how long you plopped for, and what hair product application technique you used.
5. Learn some simple updos that you like.
Having a way to put your hair up on days when you may ot feel good about leaving it down can make the transition phase easier. The reality is that you’re likely to have some bad hair days.
If you feel like you have to ‘fix it’ each time it goes bad, you’ll be stuck with way more work to do. If you can instead just pull your air into some braids until wash day, it will be easier on you. Braids and messy buns are often good go-tos for wavy hair.
6. Err on the light side
When I see people with wavy hair really struggling hard with the curly girl method trasition, it’s usually making their hair really heavy. For this reason, I recommend erring on the lighter side whenever you aren’t sure. I mean “the light side” in multiple ways.
First, go lighter with your product choices (avoid products with lots of oils or butters). Second, I’d recommend going lighter with how many products you use (I recommend using 2 leave-in products at most when you’re new). And third, I’d recommend using a smaller amount of the products you do use. Especially leave-in conditioners or curl creams, as these are the products most likely to weigh down your hair or make it look greasy.
7. Consider A Haircut.
If you’re struggling with waiting on your damaged hair to grow out and be replaced by new, healthier hair – getting rid of some length can speed the process up quite a bit. Hair only grows about half an inch per month on average, so if you’re waiting to “replace” long hair it can take several years.
If you aren’t waiting on new growth to replace damage, a trim may still help. This may be especially true if you used to have your hair feathered or thinned as those types of cutting techniques can disrupt your har’s ability to form good curl clumps.