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Curly Girl Method: What is it and how does it help Pinays embrace their natural curls

By Melanie Uson Published Jan 31, 2023 4:00 pm Updated Jan 31, 2023 4:04 pm

They say a woman's hair is her crowning glory but for some ladies with curly hair, it can be a problem that needs to be ironed out—and on a daily basis.

In teleseryes alone, curly girls are mostly portrayed as the underdog who will later on emerge as the new "it girl" after getting a “glow up," which includes having her hair ironed straight or rebonded. Because of the lack of representation, many curly-haired Pinays resort to rebonding their hair at such a young age to conform to society’s ideal beauty standards.  

If you're one of these ladies, it's totally normal (and understandable) if letting your curls free is a process you would need time for. But if you have finally decided to take the leap, there are a lot of ways to enjoy and take care of your natural curls—like that of Lorraine Massey’s "Curly Girl Method."

As today's Pinays continuously break away from cultivated beauty standards, PhilSTAR L!fe talked with empowered curly girls in their journey embracing their crowning glory through Curly Girl Method. 

Do's, don't's, and perks of CGM

Curly Girl Method or CGM is a process specially made to take care of curly hair. It originated from Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl: The Handbook published in 2010. 

Unlike straight hair which is easier to maintain, curly hair is prone to dryness so it needs more moisture to achieve its full volume,  texture, and overall health. However, commercially available hair products mostly contain sulfates and silicones that dry out the hair and prevent the curls from getting their maximum condition, mostly causing the "buhaghag" hair. 

With CGM, Massey said that you would get "the best of your hair's natural texture once you stay in process and consistency—whether that is curly, corkscrew, wavy or swavy, coily, spiraly or anything in between. In other words, what it's meant to be."

The method consists of four steps:

Cleanse. If you're doing the CGM for the first time, you will need to do first a final wash to remove silicone buildup from old products. This will help your hair to easily absorb the curly girl-friendly products you will use from now on. You may use a silicone-free shampoo and lather it as you do with any shampoo. 

After the final wash, the cleansing step for your regular routine can be done through a co-wash or a conditioner-only wash to clean your scalp.

Condition. While your hair is dripping wet, put on the CG-friendly conditioner. Do this in the same you would with commercial hair products: a gentle squeezing action in applying water and conditioner to the curls.

Some CG-friendly products you can choose from are Curls by Zenutrients, Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector, Human Nature Natural Conditioner in variants of Vanilla, Aloe, and Mandarin, and Keraplus in coconut variant, to name a few. 

Styling. Apply the CG-friendly gel with the praying hands technique. This step helps to lock in the moisture of the hair. Grips gel in blue, yellow, and green are some of the most accessible CG-friendly products you can avail of.

Drying. The last step is drying, wrap your hair with any soft fabric, such as microfiber or cotton, and gently squeeze the excess water. You can either let your hair air dry or through a diffuser. Prevent rubbing your hair and combing it when dry to keep its moisture and definition.

Bonus tip: When sleeping, use silk-covered pillows or put on a silk cap to help preserve your curls and prevent them from frizzing.

Empowering curly Filipinas

Tiff Kang, Rochelle Lumahan, Amy Ang, and Ria Grajo learned about CGM through the Facebook group Curly Girls Philippines, which is dubbed the biggest online community for Filpinas with curly hair.

Tiff shared that knowing the method “transformed” her, “[I’ve become] like completely different person! My friends and family are so shocked to know that I was naturally curly because I’ve always rebonded my hair since 12 years old,” she said. 

Tiff Kang before and after practicing Curly Girl Method. 

Amy, who has been practicing CGM since 2019, said that it led her to develop a "healthy" relationship with herself.

Since I know better ways to care for and style my hair, I've developed a comfortable relationship with my hair that I love it in both its unruly and manageable state,” she said.

Amy Ang before and after practicing Curly Girl Method.

Good hair does not just boost one’s appearance, but also one's personality and confidence, according to Tiff. “It was only when I embraced my curls did I really feel like me. Curls are wild and free and I’ve realized that’s who I really am,” she said.

“To be honest, my self-confidence is still in progress in different aspects of my life. But my confidence regarding my hair, doing CGM really helped a lot to build it,” said Ria, noting that she didn’t expect strangers to give her random compliments about her hair.

Ria Grajo before and after practicing Curly Girl Method.

It is important to note, though, that the CGM journey does not have a linear path. It involves a lot of experimenting and researching.

Tiff emphasized the importance of patience: “There is no one-day miracle product because every hair is unique. I dare say some principles of CGM may not even work for you so you do you.” she said, adding, “Don’t be afraid to break some rules.” 

Rochelle shared that the process can be complex so having a community helps, “I'm glad that we have CGP (Curly Girls Philippines). The group has made learning CGM easier and enjoyable.” 

Rochelle Lumahan before and after practicing Curly Girl Method.

The journey to loving and embracing your curls can be overwhelming and tiring, but Ria and Amy said you can start by having the right mindset and accepting the highs and lows of the process.

 “Before anyone else to appreciate it, it must start within yourself. Hindi siya madali pero it's really worth it," Ria said. "And, for me, hindi lahat good hair day. May bad hair days talaga. Don’t be frustrated. Part siya talaga ng process.” 

“CGM is not a quick fix—it's a journey and it takes time for hair to recover from years of damaging habits," Amy said. "Just do what you can, keep at it, and continue experimenting.”