HOW TO START WITH CGM AND WHICH PRODUCTS TO USE?
Updated: Jul 8, 2020
I am new, where should I start?
What do you all do to get those healthy looking curls? What is the CGM method about? What products do you all use? Where should I start? It is all so confusing, please help!
These questions and many more are frequently mentioned on social media. I see them asked every day and instead of getting simple answers, you are left even more confused about CGM. Why is it like that? Is it really that difficult to answer these “simple questions“?
Firstly, all those people who are answering you, almost encrypted, are not hiding some big secret from you. They are not being mean, but because it is a very complex method, there is not a simple answer. If there was, there would not be thousands of Facebook pages, websites, blogs etc.about The Curly Girl Method.
I would say that I am still fairly new to all this. I started 7 months ago and I can still remember the panic and how overwhelmed I was at the beginning. So let´s see if we can unravel the mystery a bit, so you can go and do your research a little less confused and slightly wiser about what you will need.
So, you want healthy looking curls, but have no idea what to do to achieve them? It is the best to start from the beginning. Curly Girl Method (CGM) was invented in 2001 by British hairdresser Lorraine Massey. This unique method encourages girls to use a cleansing conditioner instead of shampoo. The rules come from The Curly Girl Handbook by Massey, and even though co-washing has become extremely popular, not all the rules work equally for wavy girls. The method was originally focusing on girls with curly hair like Lorraine´s; girls with strong, thick hair, type 3 and 4 and many American and Afro-American women have those types. However, there are lots of girls and boys who have rather wavy than curly hair. I am a bit of a mutant. I would say my hair is a mixture of waves and curls. My mum is very curly, my dad...well hard to say, he has quite short hair. But I have very fine, high density, low porosity hair (easily weighed down) and that´s why I decided to follow a technique called low poo.
I use shampoo and very rarely oils (the original method does not allow this) but other than that, I stick to the rules. Everyone’s hair is different and some rules that work for one person do not necessarily have to work for you. I personally love using shampoo and all I want to say is you know your hair best. So, if you want to use it, do it, just make sure it does not contain SULPHATES, DRYING ALCOHOLS, SILICONES and WAXES.
Now, we are not all chemists to know which ingredients are curly approved and which are not. If you are not sure that the product is CGM, write the ingredients down to curslbot - https://www.curlsbot.com/ - to see if the products you want to use are approved. This app is not 100% accurate, but it can detect a lot of unsuitable things.
Similar and sometimes faster, is the CurlScan app. Where you can scan your product (does not always work lol) to find out about your chosen product - https://curlscan.com/
Ok, but how do you start? Before you do anything else, find out your hair type and porosity.
Look at the picture below to see different hair types. Hopefully that will help you figure out yours.
Have you been dying your hair? If so, you are more likely to have high porosity hair
Does it take ages for your hair to dry? That is one of the signs for low porosity
And how long does it take for your hair to get soaking wet? Pretty quickly – high porosity, takes a bit longer – low porosity
This is just basics. There are so many more ways to find out your type and porosity. Just to warn you, the test with a glass is not one of them. Unfortunately, it is very inaccurate, but if you really really want to try it (do not, ha), here is a simpler way how to do it.
Take a single hair (washed, without any products) and put it inside a glass of water (room temperature). If your hair is floating then you should have low porosity hair, if it goes straight to the bottom, then it signalizes high porosity. Mine was floating and I have high porosity hair. I have not heard about a single person who would find the truth from that test. Ha.
When my friends ask me for help with their type and porosity, I recommend them to go to this website where you can take a quick test to find out yours - https://www.naturallycurly.com/quiz.
If you want more detailed approach (which I would highly recommend), where you find out what the heck porosity is and why you should even know about that, check out the professional hairstylist Manes by Mel on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yT383xYwEpU&t=160s. The video is around 14 minutes long, but she explains it really well and knowing your porosity, density and ideally width is important for your next step.
WHAT PRODUCTS DO YOU NEED?
FINAL WASH/ CLARIFYING SHAMPOO
The first thing you need to get is a clarifying shampoo. That will be your first ever CG product you will use. Clarifying shampoos may have a gentle sulphate! like Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulphonate. I can see you thinking “Wait, what? You said sulphates are bad for our hair!” Glad you are paying attention. It is good to use sulphate like the one I mentioned to be able to thoroughly wash your hair from build up. If you do not want to use anything like that at all, you can use a sulphate free clarifying shampoo, f.ex. Not Your Mother’s Activated Bamboo Charcoal & Purple Moonstone.
Personally, I like using the one with sulphate because my hair feels really clean after that. I use Cantu Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo; it is a chelating shampoo which means that it is good for removing mineral build up as well. We live in an area with hard water and it really removes the build up from both the products and hard water I have had in my hair. You can get it in Superdrug for £6.99, if you live in USA, you guys have so many products (envy) but Walmart, Target or Sally´s would be your places to go. Lots of people swear by Kinky-Curly Come Clean. I just bought it for £12 (normally costs roughly about £16) from a Facebook group where people buy and swap their products. I will add a link to that group at the end of the article.
DEEP CONDITIONER is used a lot. After your final wash, after you clarify. Ideally you should do this once a week. It is an unnecessary step towards your HEALTHY CURLS.
I use Too Shea! Extra Moisturizing Conditioner by Jessicurl and I really like that one. My hair loves being moisturized and this product is seriously awesome. It is not the cheapest one but you can also use it as a conditioner for your regular wash and as a leave-in (so 3 in 1). Too Shea! costs £14.99 on https://www.naturalisticproducts.co.uk/ or straight from Jessicurl website https://www.jessicurl.com/ where they offer to try a sample of any product they have for just $1.50. Great if you live in USA, not great for the rest of the world. The shipping cost is huge.
Just a little advice, if you decide for Jessi.
Their products are very concentrated, so a great thing about the product is that you will need to apply just a bit and the bottle will last you for a very long time. Mine is less than half full and have been using it last 7 months. But it can make your hair oily if used too much; that is why you really need to use tiny bit. Even though my hair gets greasy easily, I love using that product. It leaves my hair nice, soft and healthy looking. Just think less is more and if you feel adding more, add water to your hair instead and that will reactive the product.
If you do not want to spend much money or simply want only things from your drugstore, get yourselves a Garnier Fructis Hairmask. They sell a few of them in every drugstore. Aloe Vera, Papaya and Banana are loved by lots of curlies. Those are very cheap (£7 ish and watch out for the sales; got mine for £3.50 from Sainsbury´s) and will do the job when you are starting out.
Either SHAMPOO FOR REGULAR WASH
Next step is to pick a shampoo for your regular wash. Using a shampoo in Curly method is referred as low poo as I stated above. Do not combine clarifying and low poo. You either clarify your hair or wash regularly. Never do both.
I have 2A-B, fine, wavy, high porosity hair. I started out with Gentle Lather Shampoo by Jessicurl (£14.99) but switched to Giovanni Tea Tree Tripple Treat after three months. You can get the small size on Look Fantastic for just only £2.49.
When I used Gentle Lather, my hair did not seem clean enough, and even though I massaged the scalp thoroughly for at least good ten minutes, it always felt a bit meh. My hair gets oily quite easily (grease is the word) and I needed something more powerful for my scalp. Giovanni Tea Tree is one of those products which I feel are border line with clarifying. It is still a low poo so can be used anytime but slightly stronger than some others. And that’s exactly what my hair needs. At least for now.
Not sure which shampoo to get? Is your budget low? Try Johnson’s baby shampoo which you can purchase for £1.50 in Boots and take it from there.
But be aware that lots of people with sensitive skin can experience itchiness. If your skin is very sensitive and you cannot afford to spend more than a fiver, get in touch with me and I will try to find you a decent one.
If you are thinking to try the original method by Lorraine Massey where a conditioner substitutes a shampoo, go for it. Co-washing is loved by lots of women and men. Even though it is used mainly by curlies than wavies and by people with thicker hair than thinner, it does not mean that you will not work for you if your type of hair is 2.
Just please do not forget to clarify your hair. Lots of curlies think that they do not need to do that but we all do get a build up from products. And if you were not clarifying regularly, you could end up with some scalp issues and that would be so annoying.
Personally, I have tried co-washing only once so far (at the beginning of the method) and not with the special co-wash but just a CG conditioner to see what it feels like. I know my hair loves a shampoo but because I am planning to help as many people as I can and equally try as many products as I can, I decided to buy As I am Dry & Itchy co-wash. It is supposed to be a great scalp care but if you do not suffer with itchiness, go for As I am Coconut CoWash which is so much easier to get than the itchy one (especially if you live in UK). You can get that for £11.99 from your local Superdrug. Are you not sure about co-washing but want to give it a try without paying too much? Then check my fourth product XHC Conditioner which could be used as a co-wash and as a conditioner as well. Plus the price will shock you.
So now you know you need clarifying shampoo, Deep Conditioner and then shampoo which you will be using regularly. The next thing is a conditioner. Getting the right conditioner is absolutely essential; your hair will love you for that. If your hair is fine, unhealthy, looking like straw (literally describing my hair 4 months ago), again, you will need something with moisturizer. You will basically need a hell lot of hydration the first few months to get your hair on the right path. There are some great ones to pick from either online or from your local drugstore. Both Too Shea and Garnier can be used as conditioners which is great, especially from a financial point of view.
But everyone´s hair is different and there are so many good products. If you think yours is not incredibly dry, then Giovanni 50/50 might be good one for you. As it is just the right balance of protein and moisture for your hair. Check this link out, they also do this one in smaller sizes which is great, especially if your hair will not be fond of it. Plus the price is amazing, £2.49 - bargain. Win win.
Would you like to try something from drugstore? Sure thing. You can get yourselves one of XHC conditioners with protein from Poundland for £1. Either the Ginger, Strawberry, Banana or Green Tea ones. Just so you know, only XHC conditioners are CGM approved, not the shampoos!
Finally, last product of this Basic Hair Collection is coming up.
You can either use mousse or gel or a combination of both. Apply it to your wet hair, like the previous products. There are lots of options and it is about trying and finding out which one works best for you; exactly the same as the other products.
I recently bought Giovanni Natural Mousse Air-Turbo from iHerb - https://uk.iherb.com/pr/Giovanni-Natural-Mousse-Air-Turbo-Charged-Hair-Styling-Foam-7-fl-oz-207-ml/6416?gclid=CjwKCAjwh472BRAGEiwAvHVfGjsi6LYElX7IyLpVG3kkL9YPVIyJJZzUTelHOCPtkfWbKCwADimZJBoCiIkQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds.
So far I have tried it just once and to be honest, that day was a bit of a disaster wash day for me. So I cannot tell you yet if I like it or not.
If you only want things from your local drugstore, there are great reviews for Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Wave Whip Curling Mousse. You can get it from Superdrug for less than £7. But be careful with Cantu products. They are pretty heavy and can weigh your hair down, so always apply just a little bit. I see lots of American girls in love with Herbal Essences (HE) Totally Twisted Curl – Boosting Mousse which they get from Target for less than $3 dollars...ehm, not jealous at all.
Apparently, there are gels and there is a Holy Grail gel. Kinky-curly curling custard gel aka KCCC. People from all over the world love this product. It is not cheap, they have it on House of Beauty World website for less than £14 which seems great but on top of that you will pay more than £7 shipping; not that great. The cheapest one I have seen was for £18 pounds from Ebay. The prices change all the time so keep an eye on that one. But let´s talk about another miracle one which will cost you almost nothing.
If you are done with spending (do not blame you) but still really want something that gives you a great hold and does not cost much, make yourself a flaxseed gel. It is super easy to make, will last you up to 2 weeks in the fridge and makes your hair super shiny. All you need are whole flaxseeds (golden linseeds work equally well) and water. You can get them almost everywhere; Asda sells them for £1.28.
Here is the recipe for homemade flaxseed gel:
¼ cup of flaxseed
2 cups of water
Cook it on low temperature and when it starts boiling, leave it for another 10 mins. The secret is in stirring. Make sure you keep stirring it, especially when it starts boiling. You are going to see some kind of slime on your spatula which means it is done. Put it aside and let it cool down for at least 10 minutes. I usually leave it for 30 minutes and then transfer it into a bowl. If there is one thing that could be tricky, it is definitely getting the gel out of the seeds. You can either use a colander, tights or a tyle to squeeze the gel out of it.
Watch my video to see how I do it and also how to apply it. Hopefully it makes sense.
Voila! And that’s it.
The simplest way how to start. 5 PRODUCTS TO GET YOU STARTED.
Does it seem expensive? Let´s count it together, shall we? If you buy Cantu for clarifying, Too Shea! (which you can use as a conditioner or leave-in as well), Gentle Lather (or As I am - if you decide for co-wash) and KCCC, you will pay between £56.92 - £59.92; much less if you live in USA of course.
But if you buy things only from your local drugstore, you will spend £16.77.
It is only up to you which variation you choose, there is no right and wrong. Personally, my Holy Grail so far is flaxseed gel and up to this point, I have better results with slightly more expensive products. But it does not mean your hair will prefer them as well. You have to try and see for yourselves.
Once you do, you will see there is sooo much more to it! Different hairbrushes, silk pillows, curl activators, DIY hair masks, protein vs moisture, bowl method, clipping, plopping. Should I keep going? Take a deep breath and start simple. Buy a few things. There will be more articles to help you out.
Here are little tips.
· Keep a hair diary. Write down things that work for you and things they do not. That will help you a lot.
Whenever you can, buy smaller sizes to try them out first and use them first before buying other ones. If you do not like them, swap/sell them. Otherwise you will end up with tons of them and will get lost in it and frustrated.
Do not give up on product after first use, give it at least three or four times.
These are some really good FB pages where you can ask people for help if you need any advice regarding your hair.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1272296646241812 - most chilled and helpful group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/671921176592724 - amazing Czech group
Are you not sure about the product you bought? Would you like to sell/swap it? Sure, no problem.
Check this UK Facebook page out:
Do you live in USA? Check this one out:
You probably will not find your favourite products right away. It does not mean the method is not working for you, it just means you need to keep looking till you find your Holy Grail products.
Even though you might have the same type, porosity and density like me or someone you follow, it does not mean your hair will love the same products.
Please, be patient and determined. It is not a sprint, it is a marathon.
Once you figure it out, I guarantee you that you will love it. If you are still equally confused (which I hope you are not, ha), feel free to send me a message through Instagram: @healthycurlsnow or through this website. I am more than happy to help you.
Healthy Curls to us all. X