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Curly hair, don’t care: How I grew to love my tresses

A curlyhead who learnt to care for her mane the right way explains the Curly Girl Method, how you can pamper your curls, and more

Aatreyee Mohanta | Published 03.02.23, 09:10 PM


Growing up as a child with curly hair is hard, let alone growing up as a curly-haired child in India. There is always the ‘well-meaning’ relative who will have advice or comments for your parents — “Or chule tel lagao (oil your child’s hair) and “Tomader karur toh erom chul na, or erom ki kore holo? (None of you have hair like this, how did the child end up with unruly hair?). Words like these can make the parents and their child both feel quite out of place.

Being a curly-haired kid, it’s safe to say that I hated my hair. It was so different from the slick-straight hair that all the girls were sporting in school. I could never tie my hair up in a ponytail or comb my mane to let it sway in the wind. The more I brushed it, the more frizzy and unmanageable it got. The helplessness made me resort to always wearing my hair in braids.


It wasn’t until the lockdown in March 2020, when I found myself with time on my hands and not much to do that I chanced upon videos about the Curly Girl Method, popularly known as the CGM. It was the trick to give my hair the bouncy curls I always wanted.

What is the CGM?

The Curly Girl Method is a routine to take care of natural hair that’s not straight — curls, coils or waves — by author Lorraine Massey. The method talks about eliminating harsh sulphate and silicone shampoos from your hair-care routine and using co-washing techniques to maintain your tresses.

When I discovered this method on YouTube, I was confused and astonished by the fact that I had been taking care of my own hair all wrong.

Curly hair isn’t meant to be combed or tamed, it’s supposed to be styled in a way that makes your curls bouncy and voluminous. While there are a number of products for curly hair and variations of this method online, as a beginner, here is what I did…

Caring for my curly mane

To go from dry unruly curls to fabulous bouncy coils, here are a few key takeaways from the deep-dive into the CGM and things to keep in mind:

  • Curly hair by nature is usually drier than other hair types, which means that it needs all the moisture you can give it. Also, oil the ends of your hair frequently using light hair oils like almond or jojoba oil — curly hair is prone to split ends easily so keeping the ends of your hair nourished will help give your hair the length it needs.
  • One of the biggest takeaways — comb your hair only when it has some slip or when wet. Combing or brushing dry hair will ruin your curls and cause breakage. Your curls are not meant to be combed so don’t stress about it.
  • For your regular hair washing sessions, shampoo your hair with a product free from sulphates, parabens and silicone regularly. However, don’t forget you use a clarifying shampoo once in a while to make sure all the product buildup on your scalp is cleaned too.
  • Always use a soft microfiber towel or an old cotton t-shirt to ‘plop’ your hair after washing. What’s plopping? It’s the process of gently lowering your hair into the towel and tying it around your head to absorb excess water.
  • Never style your hair dry, always wet it (spray bottles are your friend) and then use a leave-in conditioner. Comb or brush lightly, shake your hair strands for the curls to form, and then gently graze your hair with the ‘folding hands’ motion — namaste — and some gel to set it.
  • Let your hair air-dry or use a diffuser if blowdrying.

Tips and tricks from a curlyhead

You’d think a 20-something would know how to take proper care of her hair. Now, every curly-haired human knows that their mane sometimes has a mind of its own and will not yield. However, thanks to the lack of ‘mainstream’ information about curly-hair care, for a long time this was one more thing I hadn’t figured out in my two-decade existence.

About six months into getting over the ‘I need braids all the time’ phase, a global pandemic gave me the time to hunt for the right care package for my tresses. Plus, there’s definitely more information out there now as the curlyheads have stepped up to demand a spot in the beauty regime bandwagon.

So here are some tips and tricks —

  • Everybody’s hair porosity and density is different and the curly hair is highly temperamental. Pray to the Curly Hair Gods and accept all hair days. Sometimes an up-do and braids can be the way to go.
  • If you’re in a hot and humid place, and usually during summers and monsoons, your hair will need more gel to stay in place while winters dry out your hair so it will need more conditioner.
  • Try out a few different techniques of styling your hair before you settle on one. You can go for the comb and shake, comb and scrunch or just scrunch and pulse, you can find all the details in the video below!

  • Invest in a detangling claw brush, a spray water bottle and good hair conditioner and gel. These are and will be your best friends on your journey to happy, healthy hair.
  • Make sure to loosely tie your hair in a high bun and tie a silk scarf around your head before bed — this will ensure your hair doesn’t frizz out when you’re asleep, so you wake up with fluffy soft curls.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a good hair spa. Your hair needs moisturisation just like your skin, don’t skimp on pampering yourself with a spa once every month.

Snip, snip, but with care

Unlike everyone with non-springy tresses, getting a haircut requires attention and skill (from the hairdresser) and monitoring (from us) for the curly-haired individual.

Get haircuts every six weeks to ensure you don’t have split ends. While curlyheads have the good fortune of having unique hair, it comes with great responsibility.

You need to make sure your hairdresser knows how to cut curly hair because it is meant to be cut while dry, never wet. Since curly hair shrinks once styled, it can be quite tricky to know how much of the length to chop to get your desired look. Be aware — and I talk from experience — because you don’t want to end up looking like Neandrethal from one of those evolutionary diagrams.

To wrap it all up, and most importantly, be gentle with yourself and your tresses and embrace your natural curls just the way they are!

Last updated on 04.02.23, 02:56 PM

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