How the Curly Girl Method Taught Me the Damaging Truth about Haircare Products

A Growing Industry

The hair care industry is big business. Many people strive to have beautiful, luscious and healthy looking hair; paying a small fortune on various products that promise amazing results. We are all aware of the tag line ‘because you are worth it’ which was coined by L’Oréal in reference to their hair care products. Does the condition of your hair define how you feel about yourself? Many people would say they feel more confident when having a “good hair day’ compared to when they look like they have been dragged through a hedge several times, it is only natural to want to look your best. Your hair is no exception.

We Put Our Hair Through So Much Stress

However, many methods and hair care products can damage your hair. This becomes part of a vicious cycle where the person uses harsh products and tools to ‘treat’ the problem only for it to do more damage, meaning they continue this cycle of abuse.

Having spent over twenty years dying my hair, I took the bold step to ‘grow grey disgracefully’ and become a ‘silver sister,’which made me realise just how much damage I put my hair under daily.

Having a Curly Girl Made Me Reassess My Own Hair

My hair has always been straight, I have never needed to use straighteners although I used to use them. I love my naturally straight hair but sometimes I wish I had lovely bouncy curls, my hair is resistant to any form of curling. I was confused and enlightened to discover that my daughter would develop a mop of beautiful curls that would present me with a challenge of epic proportion.

Now that my daughter approaches three years old, her hair has been something of a challenge to manage as a parent; my son had a mop of thick hair that is easily sorted with a short hairstyle that takes out his bulky crown and drastically reduces the appearance of ‘bed head’. I soon discovered that if I treated my daughter’s hair the same way as my straight hair she would end up with hair that resembled Einstein. As it became longer, the simple act of trying to brush her hair was a scene from a horror film. I struggled to know what to do until my best friend suggested the ‘Curly Girl Method’ for my little munchkin.

What is the Curly Girl Method?

The curly girl method is a haircare routine that was developed to encourage and treat hair that is naturally curly or wavy. I had not heard of it until my friend started using the system to embrace her natural curls, which looks amazing. It is similar in vain to the ‘no poo’ method that discourages the use of shampoo on your hair. The system also encourages the use of ‘curly girl friendly’ hair products which are free of harmful ingredients that cause the vicious cycle of damage.

You can find out more about the curly girl method here.

I joined a community on Facebook that was designed for parents with children with curly hair, I started making changes to how I looked after my daughter’s hair and bought some curly girl friendly products especially for her delicate curls. I saw improvements in her hair immediately; she no longer looked like Einstein and started to look more like Shirley Temple. In going on this curly girl adventure, I discovered that my own hair routine was in need of a massive revamp.

My Natural Hair Needed Help

Since I started to abandon hair dye in favour of growing out my natural grey hair, I discovered that my hair had changed in terms of condition and texture; I could not simply wash, brush and go. My hair was frizzy and wild and I had an unbelievable amount of static which meant my hair ended up flying everywhere.

Before, I had been washing my hair in the strongest clarifying shampoos every couple of days and neglecting the use of conditioner through fear of it becoming greasy and weighing down my hair as it had done when I dyed it, this caused the frizz and flyaway hair because I stripped my hair of all of its natural oils and coating the hair in silicones.

I have now started making changes and would like to share these tips with you in case you struggle with your hair. Making changes can sometimes have a big impact on your hair and make you feel more confident in the long term, it has certainly helped me.

Tips for Healthy Hair

No sulphates and parabens

Most traditional shampoos will contain Sulphates, it is the ingredient that makes the shampoo lather and it is high up on the ingredients list, meaning it is used in a larger percentage of the product. Sulphates will strip the hair and although your hair will feel squeaky clean, will cause it to dry out. Sulphates are also linked to cell damage which is ultimately bad for your hair; we existed years before shampoo and it is likely that the cells and oils naturally produced from your scalp are there to help your hair clean itself.

Parabens are a preservative used commonly throughout the beauty community. They are used to inhibit growth within the product and give it longer shelf life. They are not only reported to disrupt the normal hormone cycle of the body by mimicking oestrogen but they have also been linked to causing early puberty in young girls. In my opinion, it is not worth the risks associated with parabens to want to use them on my hair, especially now many companies provide alternatives.

No Silicones

Although silicones can make your hair look amazing and transform dry, damaged hair into shiny luscious locks, they ultimately can damage your hair. Silicone is not a natural ingredient and resembles a rubber or plastic in chemical structure. It will provide the illusion of shine and to some degree protect your hair from environmental elements along; with making brushing your hair a much easier task, but these positives do not outweigh the long term damage they do to your hair.

Silicones create a waterproof barrier between the hair and the outside world which means your hair is starved of moisture, nutrients and air; like you are trapped in a latex unitard. To achieve natural shiny hair, it needs to be properly hydrated and nourished which does not happen when using products containing silicone. Silicones can also weigh down your hair, causing it to become lank and dull over time. The silicone will build up, layering itself onto your hair shaft every time you wash your hair and cause your hair to become brittle and will ultimately lead to breakages.

Rinse in cool water

This is a piece of advice that I find hard to follow, mainly due to not wanting to end my shower with a cold burst of water on my hair. The cold water will help to smooth the hair shaft which means your hair will lock in more moisture from the conditioner.

Dry hair with a t-shirt

Traditional towels will cause your hair to become more frizzy as they dry out the hair. Using an old T-Shirt to dry my daughter’s hair has helped to reduce the frizz so much that I have started to dry my own hair with a cotton T-shirt. I will gently squeeze the excess water out of my hair and then use the T-shirt to blot the water out of the hair and wrap it around your head.

I dislike my hair feeling exclusively wet so I will use a long sleeve T-shirt to place underneath my hair and then tie the sleeves on top of my head to keep all my hair out of the way. If you have curly or wavy hair you could try ‘plopping’ which will help enough your natural curls, you can find out more about it here.

Reduce Heat Styling

It is on the rare occasion that I use heat to style my hair; I let it dry naturally and do not use straighteners or curling irons on it. The more heat that you use on your hair, the more styling products you need to use to protect it and it can potentially cause build up and the need to use harsh shampoos to clean the hair.
I am lucky that I can comb my hair while wet and then it will dry straight but for other people, it is not that easy. The curly girl method suggests using the technique of plopping the hair in order to help encourage the curls and waves. This involves the use of a T-shirt or a special cotton towel to wrap the curls up when wet and let them dry naturally. You can find out about plopping from this YouTube Video.

Throw Out the Brushes and Combs

This was the hardest step to take for me as I used a massive paddle brush to attack my hair in the mornings and throughout the day. However, using the brush made the static worse and I resorted to using my daughter’s wide tooth comb instead which helped. The curly girl method recommends finger combing your hair instead of using brushes and combes. However, I purchased a wide-toothed afro comb for my daughter as she does not have the patience to let me finger comb her hair.

Another tip is to never comb hair when it is dry as that can cause more damage; instead, comb the hair when you have just put on your conditioner. If you need to refresh your hair between washes due to bed head, get a spray bottle and spray your hair and use a leave-in conditioner to comb the curls back into shape. I do this every morning with my daughter and it has made such a great difference and her curls have become more pronounced.

Do you have any hair care tips you want to share? I would love to hear about your hair care routines in the comments.

Ciao for now beauties xx

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