Not Martha

Curly Girl hair and what products I’m using now

I’ve written about the Curly Girl hair method before. (If you want to know more I’ve included links below.) I have wavy hair at best, I’m 2A on the hair types chart over at Naturally Curly. My hair is fine and limp and I have often cursed the lords of genetics for it. It resisted all attempts at being styled with heat and sprays and I basically gave up until I read about the Curly Girl method and decided to give it a try. A few years back I started getting my hair cut to enhance the curl as much as possible and started using curl friendly products. And it worked! My hair looks better! Not awesome, but better.

I’d been trying various non-silicone styling products for curly hair and nothing was quite right. Most were too heavy for me, some didn’t last. Then my stylist suggested I try Kevin Murphy Undressed Fiber Paste. Pastes are usually tragic and heavy on me, but this? I really really like. It’s become the sole product I need to put in my hair. It contains a water soluble silicone so I can continue to use my Curly Girl approved Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner from Trader Joe’s (which I wrote about previously). The Undressed paste is heavy enough that I do shampoo my hair more often then I used to, about ever other day, and I always do the conditioner wash thing.

more about the Curly Girl thing

The Curly Girl thing was started by Lorraine Massey who has a book Curly Girl: The Handbook that explains all. The basic idea is to avoid silicones in conditioners and styling products and sulfates in shampoos. The silicones are too heavy for curly hair, you need sulfates to wash them out and sulfates are too drying on curly hair. If you’d like to learn more see these starting points and further explanations at the Naturally Curly forums. The Naturally Curly site and forums are the best place to find out more and compare products and hair types, and my hair stylist even asked if I knew about them already.

My friend Noemi (whose curly hair I am desperately jealous of) recently wrote two fantastic posts about she treats her curly hair and the curly hair of her young daughter: Help! My Kid Has Curly Hair! and Wait. I Have Curly Hair Too. Noemi uses the popular Deva Curl shampoo and conditioner (which I’ve found too heavy for my hair), and she links to curly hair styling products you can find at Target.

If you have wavy or straightish hair that is a bit frizzy and resists all attempts at styling it I encourage you to look into the Curly Girl method. You might be one of us.

· comments [33] · 01-30-2013 · categories:beauty ·

33 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amanda // Jan 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you so much for breaking it all down for people like me. This is what I love about your blog.

  • 2 megan // Jan 30, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    You are welcome! I’m extremely glad to know it’s appreciated.

  • 3 Amanda // Jan 30, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I have never heard of this and am so excited to dive into the threads and give it a try! I’m also a 2A and have been trying to coax it into curly the past few years with limited success. Thank you for posting!

  • 4 megan // Jan 30, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Amanda – I am currently going to a Deva certified stylist and it’s made a huge difference. When you’re ready I recommend getting your hair cut as though it’s curly, they can start with keeping all the layers long to see how it reacts.

    Because my hair acts like it’s curly and I didn’t realize it until a few years ago many of my haircuts in the past were utterly tragic. When my hair dries it springs up about an inch and a half so all the cuts resulted in being way too short. Like Cry In The Chair too short.

    So when I started getting my hair cut to be curly I requested it be cut dry and that the stylist be conservative, I always added that I’d rather pay for a whole new cut than spend any more time growing my hair out. The stylists I’ve been seeing have been perfectly wonderful with these requests. I’m slowly going shorter and shorter and I’ve been really happy each time.

  • 5 Jaime // Jan 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    I learned late in life that I have naturally wavy hair. I must be a 2A/2B hybrid! My mom used to perm my hair or curl it. I never knew I had some curl with out all that!

    I love the Trader Joes Tea Tree Shampoo. I started using it to replace the harsh anti-dandruff shampoo i was using and find it works SO much better then that stuff.

    I am excited to look at the other links you referenced and try some other great curl friendly products!

  • 6 Nichole // Jan 30, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I really need to try this stuff out. I love the hair posts!

  • 7 CitricSugar // Jan 30, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    I have super-fine hair and it gets weighed down with just about anything. I finally tried going “no ‘poo” a few months ago and it’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to my hair. I would give this stuff a shot, though, if we were anywhere near a Trader Joe’s…

  • 8 megan // Jan 30, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    CitricSugar – Do! If you find yourself near a TJs buy lots of bottles, it’s made a tremendous difference. The conditioner alone is light enough that I’ve done a daily cowash with it and I use a good amount and it’s never been heavy.

  • 9 Alison // Jan 30, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    I have the curly girl book and follow it loosely, most of the time, but love reading about other people doing it too! The past two times I’ve had my hair cut professionally were frustrating and resulted with “meh” styles so I’ve just been cutting my own hair. I’d love to go to someone who REALLY knows what the hell they’re doing- some of those before/after pictures on the deva website are inspiring!

  • 10 megan // Jan 30, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Alison – If you get the chance definitely have somebody who specializes in curly hair cut yours. I’ve had layers before but it wasn’t until I called salons and asked for their people who knew how to cut fine and curly hair that it really made a difference.

  • 11 karen // Jan 30, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Oh my goodness, this is so helpful!

    I personally have stick straight hair, but my kiddo is a 3A. I’ve been at a loss, since my hair has never held a curl. Ever. It’s no big deal right now since she’s 4, but I definitely will want to find someone who knows how to cut it as she gets more self conscious!

  • 12 megan // Jan 30, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Karen – Definitely read Noemi’s post, Help! My Kid Has Curly Hair!, it was written just for parents like you who don’t have curly hair yourself. She also notes that the Curly Girl forums have sections for parents of curly haired kids who compare notes.

  • 13 Deborah // Jan 30, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Very interesting post. I’m a 3B but tighter- closer to a 3c and I’m of Caucasian descent (my nephew is a mix an I have curlier hair). I have used SOOO many products that do and don’t work (for me), some of them are mentioned. Thanks to you I’m using the TJ’s tea tree products, love them. I’m sticking with my Be Curly, living proof, confixer combo for leave ins and will definitely bookmark The naturally curly site. (ps I’m in foggy Vancouver) so humidity is a challenge.

  • 14 Kristin // Jan 31, 2013 at 4:13 am

    I am between a 2C and 3A. I’m getting closer to the 3 with every year. My used to be so straight it wouldn’t stayed curled when I tried to use a curling iron. I tried the Curly method, but I missed that truly clean feeling. I also don’t love spending a ton of $ on shampoo and conditioner. I may try the Trader Joe’s stuff.
    I have found a styling product that has changed my LIFE! Miss Jessie’s Pillow Soft Curls has done the trick for me. It makes my curls more uniform and not crunchy at all. It’s pretty reasonably priced and I can find it at Target. A couple of weeks ago it was on sale for BOGO so I purchased 8 tubes.

  • 15 megan // Jan 31, 2013 at 6:04 am

    Deborah – I’m in Seattle so I hear you on the humdity! I’ll check out Be Curly, thanks!

  • 16 megan // Jan 31, 2013 at 6:06 am

    Kristin – I really like the Trader Joe’s stuff, like I’ll cry if they discontinue it level of love. I found that a co-wash with the Tea Tree stuff left my hair surprisingly clean feeling. I’ll seek out Miss Jessie’s product and see how it works on my hair, thank you!

  • 17 Seanna Lea // Jan 31, 2013 at 8:10 am

    I wish I had curly hair or even wavy. My hair is baby fine, stick straight, and thick (in quantity). I’ve been keeping it super short, because then I at least have the option of styling it even if the style is spiky and not much else.

  • 18 vivien // Jan 31, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I have curly hair too so thanks for sharing your products! I’m using products from the Pro naturals argan oil line, they’re sooo moisturizing.

  • 19 erica // Jan 31, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I tried out the whole curly girl method and the TJ tea tree products after you first wrote about it. I’m a 3B (mostly, some 3A). I found the tea tree products to be too harsh on my skin and scalp if used regularly. I should have known this already because the same thing was true with using tea tree for acne purposes years ago. But I love the smell and tingliness, so I tried. But then I bought Trader Joe’s Refresh Citrus Conditioner and I think I’m hooked. It’s heavier than the Tea Tree, but my hair has a lot of body and is pretty thick, along with being long, so the extra weight isn’t a problem for me. I do use the tea tree shampoo about once a week and the conditioner the rest of the time. Thank you for suggesting all of this to me and everyone else. I’m amazed to think that now my hair does naturally what my mother paid for me to have done through a perm 25 years ago!

  • 20 erica // Jan 31, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    p.s. I also use Ouidad’s Tress Effects for styling. It works better than their Climate Control for me, but I like that products as well. Now that I’ve been using the Curly Girl method, the conditioner and the Tress Effects is all I need.

  • 21 megan // Jan 31, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Seanna Lea – I envy your amount of hair :) And that you probably wake looking pretty normal instead of a distressed weasel :)

  • 22 megan // Jan 31, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Erica – I have the opposite trouble, I seem to have an alergy to orange oil so no TJ’s citrus for me. I’m really glad I was able to introduce you to something that works for your hair! And I’ll check out Ouidad’s stuff, I don’t think I’ve come across it yet.

  • 23 Sara // Jan 31, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Megan – I’m a 3A and I’ve switched from the Deva line to Kevin Murphy too. I use the Angel Wash twice a week & Rinse daily and use the Easy Rider paste & Staying Alive spray (it’s a conditioner but “revive” old curls) for styling. Easy rider has flexible hold but also is anti-friz, if that’s an issue for you, you should give it a try. My stylist usually uses Motion Lotion when I go in. My hair has gotten so much better now that I know what I should be doing with it! Not washing everyday and using the right kind of shampoo has made all the difference.

  • 24 megan // Jan 31, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Thanks Sara! I’ve tried the Deva products and the Argan stuff but I keep going back to Kevin Murphy. I think I do need to seek out a reviving spray so I’ll look into Staying Alive.

  • 25 emily // Jan 31, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Megan- I’m relatively new to Seattle and have been struggling to find a good stylist for my 2A type hair– mind naming names?


  • 26 megan // Jan 31, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Emily – Welcome! I see Sam at Vain salon downtown (near Pike Place Market). She also does a few days in West Seattle. You can also use the stylist finder at the Deva site, which I think is how I found Sam.

    The first person I found to cut my hair (who has since moved) I found by calling a (now closed) salon in Georgetown and asking for the person who specialized in wavy and curly hair. She did a really great job.

    And feel free to ask more questions if you need to know anything about Seattle :)

  • 27 Jiru // Feb 2, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Hi Megan, I’m also in the Seattle area and am wondering where you found the Kevin Murphy paste? Did you buy it at Vain? I tend to straighten my hair, but when it dries naturally it’s probably a 2c or 3a. And super fine. It looks much fuller when it’s curly, but I’ve never fully embraced that look. It never occurred to me to search out a stylist who specializes in curly hair. Brilliant! :-)

  • 28 megan // Feb 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Jiru – I did buy the Kevin Murphy product at Vain. If you decide to get a cut to see how it works out I see Sam who works in the downtown and West Seattle locations of Vain. I hope it works for you!

  • 29 emily // Feb 4, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Thanks Megan! I’ll give Sam a shot!

  • 30 Ansley // Feb 16, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    I recommend Aveeno Pure Renewal sulfate free shampoo. It is creamy with excellent lather.

  • 31 Laura // Feb 25, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Great suggestions. The TJ conditioner is my new staple, thank you.
    My stylist just started carrying the Kevin Murphy products, but she hasn’t used the paste on me, next time I go I’ll give it a try. I use the Deva leave-in conditioner along with Kiehl’s Creme with Silk Groom. I’ve tried so many combinations over the years, but this is what consistently works for me.
    My daughter has been obsessed with DIY hair products and she made me some “beachy” spray that is perfect when my curls need some reviving later in the day. Basic ingredients, water, salt and some sort of oil, she used Morrocan oil.

  • 32 AMP // Jun 23, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Hi, I’ve found the best conditioner out there is the tube of conditioner that comes in hair coloring boxes. I color my hair, and the cube of condition last a long time if you are using it for your toddler.
    I wash my 3yr daughter, fine slightly wavy, tangled hair with Johnson’s shampoo and conditioner, made for curl tangled hair. Then I squeeze the conditioner from the hair coloring kit and do not rinse out. This helps with knots and does not get greasy. Even tough she has very fine long hair.

  • 33 Ladies..advice on hair care products for thick hair // Sep 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    […] Look up the Curly Girl method. It's for wavy hair too. This site has some great tips for wavy hair not martha — Curly Girl hair and what products I’m using now My hair is curlier than yours, but frizz is a real problem for me and I tried lots of things over […]

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