The curly girl method for beginners

My hair after the curly girl method

I really didn’t believe the curly girl method would work on my hair. I hated my curly hair in my teenage years, straightened it to within an inch of its life through the later teen years, and then spent early adulthood with a frizzy mess. People would ask to touch it and play with the ringlets. On top of that, It would never look right after wash day, it was always dry, and it was often a frizzy mess.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I know that a lot of that was down to me not having the faintest idea of how to properly look after it. I had no idea you were meant to treat wavy/curly hair differently. I wish I had known about the curly girl method when I was younger so I could treat my 2B/2C curl pattern as I was supposed to.

 

bronte at 15 years old with curly hair

I now look back at old photos of my gorgeous waves and curls from when I was 15 years old and my heart aches a little bit. I wish I could go back to that time and teach my younger self to love my wavy hair and to not listen when people said my hair looked better straight. Because now at 23, I’m trying, with the curly girl method,  to reverse at least five years’ worth of heat damage.

How I damaged my hair in the first place.

The problems started when I was 16 years old and was finally allowed to start dying my hair. I was super excited for a change as I wasn’t a fan of my natural colour at the time (I love it now). I started off with a red/purple colour with some blonde highlights, which I loved. At this time, I also decided to go for a big change with a haircut, my inspiration being Imogen Poots in That Awkward Moment. I really liked this look, but it didn’t look so great with my natural waves, so I started blow-drying and heat styling it to get artificial waves (oh, the irony, right?)

In 2016, I decided to cut my hair short and didn’t like how it looked when it was wavy, so I decided to start straightening it.

And then it got worse, my poor hair.

Fast forward to when I’m around 19 years old. I’m washing my hair with sulfates and silicones every other day, I’m blow-drying and heat styling almost every day (sometimes without a heat protector) and I decided to get blonde ombre in my hair. At this point, I didn’t even know what my hair looked like as I never let it dry naturally. You can imagine what sort of state my hair was in. It was so dry it was starting to feel like straw. It had so much breakage, so much so that when I went to the hairdressers to get it sorted out, none of my hair was the same length as so much of the ends had broken off.

But I still didn’t stop with the heat styling!

I would still continue to make beachy waves almost every day. In fact, it wasn’t until 2019 that I decided to sometimes let it air dry, and it would come out completely straight. Pin straight. I had destroyed my curl pattern to the point where I thought that my hair texture had just changed. It wasn’t until a few months in of letting it dry naturally (but I would still heat style it) that I saw that my fringe would dry wavy, whilst the rest of my hair would be straight. Can you imagine how weird that looked? Having ringlets for a fringe but the rest of my hair being pin straight?

Bronte with heat damaged hair

Heat styling became a constant, never-ending cycle.

I couldn’t go out of the house with my hair being the state it was, so I felt I had no choice but to heat style it to make it look good.

Did I still have curly hair?

Beginning of March 2020,I was beginning to get really fed up of having to spend twenty minutes a day to style my hair. I hadn’t had a haircut since January and I started to notice that my roots were starting to get a bit of a wave to them. Sure, the rest of my hair was still dead and straight, but that slight wave at the top of my head put a question in my mind… Do I still have wavy hair?

Lockdown seemed a perfect time to sort my hair out.

A few weeks later, The UK was put under lockdown. We weren’t allowed to go anywhere. So I thought this would be the perfect time to try and fix my hair and get it back to those gorgeous, natural waves that I was deeply missing.

My research landed me on the curly girl method, and suddenly everything had started to make sense. The frizz, the dryness… Everything. I had basically been doing everything wrong. I’d been using sulfates and silicones on my hair, sleeping on a cotton pillow, using a normal bath towel to dry my hair. Basically doing everything you shouldn’t do. So with one last hair wash with sulfate shampoo, I ditched them in favour of sulfate and silicone free options.

So I started the very long process of helping my hair get healthy again.

bronte with heat damaged hair

I soon realised that I would never be able to get the straight parts of my hair back to curly. There was no miracle cure that could reverse that. The only thing I could do was wait for it to grow and work on getting my new hair growing at the roots healthy and happy.

So I started using the curly girl method

I started using Olaplex 3 to help repair the bonds in my hair. I started taking Biotin to get my hair growing more quickly, I started using Black Castor Oil to help with hair growth and thickness.

And you know what? I didn’t start seeing results for around three months.

In fact, it started to look worse. The hair growing from my hair was 2C curl pattern (sometimes even 3A) waves, but the majority of my hair was still straight from heat damage, it was starting to look really straggly like I’d been dragged through a bush backwards. I couldn’t do anything with it other than put it up and thank God that I wasn’t going anywhere due to lockdown. It was a really disheartening time as I was never happy with my appearance. There were so many times where I wanted to give up and just heat style it so I could feel better about my appearance. But I didn’t. I kept persevering knowing that the end result would be worth it. I started trying different versions of overnight curls to try and make my hair look a bit more normal, but for the majority of the time, I just let it do its thing.

Bronte's heat damaged hair: curly on the top and straight at the bottom

When I started to grow my hair out, my hair was around chin length. This meant that the hair underneath the top layer was actually growing back really wavy, it was just the top bits that were struggling as they had the most growing to do. To get around this, I’d often wear a half-up and half-down hairstyle and pin my fringe back with bobby pins. Slowly, I was starting to feel a bit better about my hair.

Bronte's wavy underneath layer of hair

 

By the time I got it cut in July, a week after hairdressers were allowed to work again, I’d grown my hair out around three-four inches. It was long enough to cut the majority of the heat damage out and give me a bob. And oh my god, I was amazed at the difference!

before and after of bronte's hair

Its definitely a long way off being perfect, but cutting off all the dead straight bits gave my hair room to bounce up, plus it didn’t look as bad as most of the heat damage was gone. I felt confident enough to wear it down in public! It isn’t back to the way it was before I did all of the damage by any means but my word is it an improvement.

So how did I manage to get my waves back? Here’s what I did: The Curly Girl Method

  1. Switch to sulfate and silicone-free shampoo. My hair was a lot less dry and frizzy when I started doing this! II did one final wash to get rid of all the silicones in my hair, and then made the switch. t’s important to note that most people do have to clarify their hair with a sulfate shampoo to get rid of product build-up, I do this at the end of every month. (For reference, I have fine hair but a lot of it!)
  2. Ditch heat styling. And do it completely. Not half-heartedly. I haven’t touched heat stylers in months, I didn’t even bring any to my new house. I may switch to diffusing my hair in the future once I’ve cut out all of the heat damage, but for now, I’m staying far away from them.
  3. Switch to a silk pillowcase. This has helped so much with frizz! You can get them pretty cheap on Amazon
  4. Use a t-shirt to dry your hair. Also good for frizz, but also good to stop breakage.
  5. Deep Condition once a week. Wavy and curly textures are naturally on the dryer side, so you want to give your hair all the moisture it’s craving. A deep conditioner solves those problems!
  6. Use the Olaplex 3 at-home treatment. This is great for repairing bonds of the hair on the inside. It didn’t bring back the waves in the straight, damaged parts of my hair, but I think it contributed a lot to the health of my new waves growing.
  7. Invest in products to help hair growth. I used Biotin tablets, Black Castor Oil, and a scalp massager in the shower to help promote hair growth. My hair normally grows quite slowly, but in that lockdown period, it definitely grew a lot faster which I believe is down to these products.
  8. Treat your hair as if it wavy/wavy, even if it doesn’t look like it. Even though half of my head was straight, I still used creams and stylers to keep my new hair that was growing happy.
  9. Do olaplex treatments at your hairdresser. They’re great treatments for damaged hair! It ended up costing me only a few pounds more to have the treatments done as I was no longer getting my hair blow-dried and straightened, so to me, it was so worth it!
  10. Try out different styling products! What works for others may not work for you. It’s a bit of a guessing game when you start out. Even when my hair wasn’t damaged, I never used stylers on it so I had no idea how my hair would react to different products. It takes time to find a product that works for you and your hair. It can end up costing some money until you find your holy grails, so be prepared for a lot of trial and error.
  11. PATIENCE. I think this is the most important thing. Change isn’t going to happen overnight, and even though my hair is looking so much better now, it still has a long way to go. It will probably take me many more months, if not years to get my ringlets back. You’re in it for the long haul. There’s going to be times when you want to give up, but it will be so worth it when your hair is looking beautiful. Even though my hair has a long way to go to being fully restored to its former glory, I am so happy with how far I have come on this journey.

I’m convinced if the Curly Girl Method can fix my hair it can fix anyone’s.

What is your curl pattern?

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