One of the unexpected things that changed for me during lockdown was my hair. I have straightened it on and off since my teens (more on that off).I haven’t worn it curly for the last ten years or so and for the last several of those I’ve been chemically straightening it using Brazilian Blowdry keratin treatments. Even so, I’d still need to blow dry my hair and then run through it with straightening irons.It’s not that I disliked curly hair, rather I didn’t think I had the kind of curly hair that looked good. Now I think it was more a matter of not being able to manage it.Early on in lockdown I tried washing it as normal and diffusing it. It was a mess and I continued straightening. Then in early June I let it dry naturally after deep conditioning and it was much better. For reasons I can’t quite recall, I decided to investigate The Curly Girl Method – and got totally hooked.The method originated from Lorraine Massey’s 2011 book The Curly Girl Handbook in which she sets out a whole regime that curlies should follow to achieve their best and healthiest hair. Some bullet points are:
- Cowashing (washing hair with conditioner, not shampoo),
- Avoiding a whole list of ingredients in hair products (including sulfates, silicones, waxes, phthalates and drying alcohols).
- No heat styling except for diffusing (I’ve been air-drying over the summer).
- Stop colouring (no chance!),
- Do not dry brush hair.
There is a lot more to it and I did a deep dive into the whole CG world. I’m happy to report it is about as friendly as the perfume community with just as much jargon such as ‘squish to condish’ and ‘SOTC’ (scrunch out the crunch).My wash day routine is: cowash, squish to condish, apply curl cream then gel with praying hands, scrunch, ‘plop’ hair in a towel for 15 minutes, diffuse roots, air dry and finally, scrunch out the crunch.As you can imagine, there is a wealth of information on YouTube and Instagram as well as Facebook support groups. You can laugh at the latter, but this method involves big changes in how you treat and view your hair and the transiton period can be rough, with a massive amount of trial and error in terms of products and technique.At this point I want to note that’s it’s nowhere near as rough as what many Black women go through when they decide to go natural. Invariably they have to go for ‘The Big Chop’ which involves cutting off the entirety of their relaxed lengths and starting again from scratch. This is a hugely significant and emotional moment. Much of the Curly Girl Method is derived from the Natural Hair Movement which dates back to the 1960s.I got off lightly. Despite ten years of heat and chemical damage, my hair didn’t take too long to begin to regain its curl pattern (some never get this back completely).One of the of nicest things about embracing the hair you were born with is a feeling of self-acceptance. I still struggle with whether it suits me but I already feel some of that from not fighting it anymore.I don’t know how long I’ll keep it curly or follow the method, but right now it’s benefiting my hair. Cowashing has actually made my hair less dry as well as less oily at the roots. To prevent build-up, I wash with a sulfate-free shampoo about once a month. It’s the healthiest it’s been since I started straightening and dying it at age eighteen.Do you straighten your hair? Are you happy with natural your hair type? What is your dream hair?