Signs that the curly girl method may not be right for you…
Just for clarity, what I’m primarily talking about here is using natural products to embrace your natural wavy/curly hair. Not necessarily the super strict version of the curly girl method. Check out my blog post on how the internet taught me that CGM was something different from the true curly girl method. 🙂
You’re looking for really consistent results each wash day
If you aren’t comfortable dealing with some unpredictable results, naturally wavy hair care is probably not for you. It’s easy to follow people on Instagram or YouTube and feel like they get great results every single time they wash their hair, and every single refresh, so if you do what they do, you’ll have the same experience. That’s not quite how it works most of the time.
Many people feel like their hair has a bit of a mind of its own. Sometimes what typically works great will give you unexpectedly poor results for no apparent reason. Personally, I think there usually is a reason, but it can be an extremely subtle change that may be really hard to figure out! Like, the humidity level, or whether you plopped for 5 minutes vs 8 minutes.
Technique can be really finicky sometimes. I think most people feel like their results become more consistent with time and practice, but there aren’t really any guarantees with natural hair care. If you want to be confident that you’ll get the results you expect each time, this may not be for you.
A bad hair day (in the back at least).
You aren’t open to dealing with some bad hair days.
If having a bad hair day makes you anxious just to think about it? Or if you have a job where your appearance is highly important or highly criticized? This may not be right for you. There are really impressive before/after curly girl method pictures out there.
Ssome people find the curly girl method and think if they just buy curly girl approved products and do their hair, they’ll see this massive transformation overnight and their hair problems will just be solved completely. The curly girl method, or embracing your natural hair texture in other methods, is more of a journey than a destination. I know that’s cheesy, but it’s true.
Finding the techniques, routines and products that give you the results you want is a journey that requires a lot of trial and error for most people. It’s common to see people say they were trying for a few months before they felt like they had results they were happy with even half the time. So, it often means a lot of bad hair days while you’re learning your hair.
Also, when people post curly girl transformation photos it’s sometimes showing their damaged hair in the before, and their healthier hair in the after. Damage may be able to be repaired to some extent, but a lot of times damage just has to grow out, which is why some people find that they get their best curls after a few years worth of curly girl method.
I think most people are able to find hair that they like far sooner than that, but your absolute best results may take a couple of years of waiting on regrowth.
My left side is naturally straighter than my right side. I have some tips & tricks I use to reduce the differences, but I’ll never have a super consistent pattern when using natural hair care techniques because my hair is naturally inconsistent.
You want a really consistent curl pattern
If you are looking for hair that almost looks like it was done with a curling iron, with uniform curl tightness and curl widths, natural wavy hair care may not be for you. There are techniques that can assist with improving the consistency of your pattern if that is important to you. I even have a post on how I (try to) balance my uneven curl pattern.
While these techniques definitely help, it doesn’t make my hair anywhere near as uniform as a curling iron would. Most people have a variety of curl patterns on their head. It’s also common for people to have their hair hav some bigger clumps and some skinnier clumps. If you really want your hair to be consistent, using heat tools or getting a perm is a better option.
You want a tighter curl pattern.
Many people with wavy hair start the curly girl method in hopes that it will make their hair curly. It is common for people to find that their hair pattern appears tighter over time as their hair gets healthier, and/or as they learn the techniques and products that really enhance their waves best. I have an article covering 13 ways to make wavy hair curlier.
However, techniques and allowing your hair to get healthier only help so much. If you are a 2B wavy right now, the odds of it ever being 3B curly are unlikely. If you want tighter curls, the most reliable way to get them is to create them with a curling iron or a perm.
You want the same routine each wash day.
This one has a bit of lee-way because it does depend on your styling preferences and hair goals. You can use natural shampoo and conditioner and just wash and go if you want to, for example. Or you could use the same shampoo, conditioner and gel each wash day if you’re happy with that.
Most people who get into the curly girl method or other forms of natural wavy haircare end up feeling like they need to have a more complex routine, at least using a clarifying shampoo and deep conditioner once a month or so.
Many also feel like they want to have multiple low-poo options (various strengths) depending on their build-up level, and different styling routines depending on their moisture or protein needs that day, the weather and so on.
These things are not requirements of wavy haircare necessarily, but most people do feel like their hair does better when they do certain treatments periodically rather than doing the same thing every single wash day.
You don’t enjoy experimenting with your hair.
When I see someone say they’re a month into the curly girl method and are so tired of trying new things to see what will work for their hair…I tend to think they aren’t really cut out for the curly girl method.
I personally enjoy trying new techniques and products on my hair. It’s why a lot of the blog posts on this site are me showing you experiments I ran on my hair and sharing what I learned. I find it fun!
If you don’t enjoy trying new things with your hair, and just want simple solutions for what will work for your hair, this may not be for you. While I try to share what I’ve learned about my own hair for the sake of helping others, what works for me won’t work for everyone.
I follow other wavy-haired women who share lots of great info they’ve learned about their hair. Some of it works for me, some doesn’t. I tend to feel like you have to be down for experimenting with your own hair in order to find what works best for you. If you don’t enjoy that process of experimenting, it probably won’t feel worth the effort – and that’s okay if you ask me.
I don’t think natural hair care is superior to other methods. They’re just different!
You want the quickest styling.
If you’re someone who wants to style your hair in 10 minutes on wash day…this probably isn’t for you. You can still try, there are some people who manage really minimal wash day routines. It is somewhat rare though, I think. Especially with wavy hair as it tends to be delicate and need to be given a lot of TLC to maintain itself well.
It can’t hurt to try throwing a styler in your hair after the shower and letting it air dry to see if that a super quick and easy routine will work for you, though.
I wish I could get good results that way, but I really need to diffuse to get good results..and to avoid waiting all day on my hair to dry. See my air drying vs diffusing wavy hair post to see what I mean. Your experience may be different!
You don’t want to learn much about hair.
If you don’t really want to learn about what does and doesn’t work for your hair, you just want to wash your hair, use products and get good results, natural hair care may be challenging for you.
To get optimal results, most people feel like they have to learn about wavy hair washing, product application and styling techniques, about their hair porosity, thickness, density, about moisture and protein, about clarifying, and more. It’s a lot, early on. I remember feeling overwhelmed for quite a while – and I am still learning all the time.
It’s a process, but it’s one that I enjoy. If you don’t want to learn about these things, find it boring or burdensome, this type of hairstyling may not be right for you.
You don’t want to waste any money on hair products.
I consider myself pretty frugal. There are wavy/curly girls out there who spend hundreds in haircare products. To date, I think the most expensive individual hair product I’ve purchased was $16. I typically spend $10 or less per product. I try to focus more on routine than products.
This is in part because I know from experimenting that wavy hair techniques matter more than products (that link will take you to my blog post on techniques vs products). Yet, it’s also something I do out of frugality. I’m not willing to place a $50 Ulta order each time I see someone post about a product line that worked great for them, just to try out if it will work for me.
I’m too cheap for that. I wait until I see multiple things that lead me to believe a product will work well for me, before I decide to purchase it. I am not someone who believes that drugstore products are crummy. All I buy are drugstore-level products!
I’m not saying you have to spend tons of money on hair care or that the curly girl method has to be expensive. Not at all. I’d estimate that I spend around $15-$20 a month on hair care products. However, products do matter to some degree.
If you are someone who really refuses to waste any money at all…like you will not buy anything more than $3 and you won’t buy anything new until you’ve used up your past purchase, even if it really doesn’t agree with your hair? Then this may not work out too well for you.
For example, shampoo bottles often last me 4+ months. So I wouldn’t want to go all that time with a product I disliked before I gave myself permission to buy a replacement.
My straightened hair in 2015 (age 23). I believe I had dyed my hair as well, so my hair was probably damaged here, but it doesn’t look bad! I was happy with my hair, and I still look back at my hair from this time period and feel that it looked good. I don’t look down on the “straightening” period of my life at all.
It’s okay if it’s not right for you.
In some wavy/curly groups, people love of natural hair care can result in them pushing others to stick with it, too. I try not to push natural hair care on anyone. I enjoy embracing my waves because it makes me feel good, and I enjoy the process.
For anyone who doesn’t enjoy the process or isn’t happy with how they look with their natural hair…or anyone who is happy with straightening their hair, or curling their hair, or perming it…I’m happy for those people!
I dislike seeing people randomly tell others “you should do the curly girl method!” or telling others that they shouldn’t go back to curling or straightening their hair.
That’s just not my belief at all. I do believe heat tools to be damaging to hair, but in many cases people can have damaged hair that doesn’t look damaged. My hair became damaged looking in my mid 20’s, but I flat ironed my hair from about age 12-24 or so. I also dyed my hair off and on during my teens and early 20’s.
My hair never looked damaged to me until I was about 25. It really frizzy no matter what I did. Prior to that, I didn’t really care if it was being damaged, because I liked how it looked. Dyeing hair can also be damaging, but if someone dislikes their natural color and feels better dyeing their hair, I think they should dye their hair.
I personally think feeling good about yourself is the most important thing. So, if you happen to have found this post after feeling pressured into doing (or sticking with) the curly girl method or other natural wavy hair care…my advice is to do whatever makes YOU feel best.
Laurel Kornfeld says
It’s not for me for the simple reason that I don’t want curly hair. Treating my loosely wavy hair the same way as straight hair works for me. Every time I see the before and after curly girl method pictures, I like the smoother, looser waves in the before pictures better. If I want curls for a particular occasion, I go with either a curling iron or rollers. I’ve been brushing my hair when dry forever, and it doesn’t cause the mop of frizz other people have. Wavy and curly hair are actually quite different, so I really don’t get why websites for people with wavy hair push the curly girl method. Also, I have dandruff and my scalp gets itchy easily, especially when rained on, so I have to use dandruff shampoo. All in all, I like my hair the way it is, and feel like “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”