Curly Hair Care

What You Need To Know About Following the CG Method for Curly Hair Care

Cg Method handbook lorraine massey

I discovered The Curly Girl Method, or CGM, almost a decade ago one summer, desperately trying to find ways to tone down my frizzy, bushy hair.

At first, it was difficult to understand and implement, with few products in India that qualified the strict rules the method set out. (This has recently been its biggest criticism, that it’s very strict and time-consuming.)

But to my younger self, this revelation of a technique helped me know finally, what I need to do for my hair to make it soft, healthy, and ‘frizz-free,’ and have gorgeous hydrated curls, as I saw of the people who tried and loved the method. Enough guessing – this is what I must do.

What clarity, finally!

Over the years, more and more ‘CG Friendly’ products became easily available in India. I can’t believe the number of Indian curly hair brands in the market today- the younger me would be stunned.

As with any ‘method’ that gets popular, it eventually gathers strong criticism and pushback – some of which I find valid and some not.

My biggest suggestion to you, dear reader, is to try it out if you’re struggling to find a hair care routine that gives you moisturised, healthy curls and waves.

Take what you like from this method- experiment lots and find your way of mixing and breaking the ‘rules’ to get results you like.

So, let’s get to it – what does CGM or the Curly Girl Method even mean?

CGM or CG or Curly Girl Method

Invented by Lorraine Massey (pictured above) & explained in her book ‘Curly Girl: The Handbook’, in CG Method or CGM, you do not use any hair products with:

  • sulphates
  • silicones
  • mineral oil
  • waxes, and
  • drying alcohols

It does seem like a long list, but more and more hair care brands agree they are all harmful in some capacity, especially for dry, frizzy hair types, which tend to be wavy or curly.

Some brands disagree, and I’ve addressed that below in the post, along with sharing why according to Lorraine Massey, sulphates and silicones are ‘baddies.’

In CGM,  you clean your scalp & hair with either non-sulphate shampoos (also called Low Poo or Modified CG) or cleansing conditioners (called No Poo, Co-Washing & Pure CGM).

To hydrate, moisturise, comb and detangle, you use conditioners, leave-in conditioners, and stylers free of silicones, mineral oils and drying alcohol.

In the book, Lorraine also instructs to stop brushing curly hair and instead use only our fingers – another rule many (including me), don’t follow.

Let me first explain why sulphates and silicones are shunned in the Curly Girl method.

Sulphates are Villians?

The Bodyshop Rainforest Moisture Shampoo For Dry Hair Review

The Body Shop Rainforest Moisture Shampoo for Dry Hair (no Sulphates)

What happens when you rub your hands with soap or scrub your scalp with a normal shampoo?

Lather. Foamy, creamy, frothy lather.

The is created by sulphates that also, unfortunately, STRIPS your hair of its natural oils, and make it dryer, frizzier & prone to breakage.

Despite being psychologically pleasing, it’s not easy to rinse out, and some of it remains in your hair.

Since curly hair is naturally dry, regularly using a sulphate shampoo is a bad idea. If all you’ve been doing to your hair is shampooing, you can understand why your hair doesn’t feel soft.

This is why when beginners ask me ‘What shampoo should I use’ and think that’s enough to moisturise their hair, I have to explain that a shampoo’s job is to clean, not nourish, despite what the labels claim.

So in CGM, Lorraine recommends cleaning your scalp without sulphates (called the No Poo method), where you don’t use any shampoo in your routine. Instead, you use a cleansing botanical conditioner (co-washing) and your fingertips to scrub out the dirt.

Since the method has spread across the world and developed variations, many people think using sulphate-free shampoos is ‘allowed’ in CGM , but if we’re being entirely literal, no, that’s not what Lorraine Massey wrote, at least initially.

I don’t think this distinction matters, unless I see another click-bait reel along the lines of ‘ I stopped following CGM,’ and on viewing the whole video and reading the caption, it shows the person doesn’t follow ‘Pure CGM’ yet follows 4/5 of the rules, etc. Sigh.

I dislike misinformation for the sake of views. And ‘cult-like’ adherence to ‘rules’ when new studies continuously prove and disprove things. Instead, as I always say, focus on how your hair personally feels. Take what you like and leave the rest.

Now, sulphates are found in most shampoos and can be harsh and extremely drying to our already parched hair.

This claim has recently come under question and fire from some brands and cosmetic scientists who argue that sulphates are necessary for a clean scalp and hair.

But even they say, in low concentration. Which I agree with from experience.

I use mostly sulphate-free shampoos in my routine, but I also apply medicated anti-dandruff shampoo once or twice a month for my chronic dandruff. I follow a modified CG Routine, as do many other girls.

Should I Never Use Sulphate Shampoos?

I will suggest that don’t give up on shampoos with sulphates forever. Once or twice a month, do ‘clarify.’

Whenever your curls or waves (wavy hair needs more frequent clarifying) feel limp, use a sulphate shampoo.

Post swimming in chlorinated water…

Using products with shea butter…

Needing a deep cleanse….The answer? Clarifying shampoo!

‘When in doubt, clarify!’ is popular and useful advice.

Clarifying will ensure a healthy scalp, remove buildup and pollutants & make your waves and curls bouncy again!

What about Silicones?

Leave in Conditioner With Silicones

Garnier Sleek & Shine Intensely Smooth Leave in Conditioner (Has Silicones)

Silicones are like plastic. When they’re in hair products, they coat your hair, smooth down the cuticle and drastically reduce frizz and make your hair softer and more manageable.

BUT they also lead to build-up and, over time, make hair frizzier (!), and look limp and lifeless. You feel like you’ve ‘lost your curl.’

To remove this build-up, you need to use a shampoo with sulphates. But in CGM, that’s not allowed!

As a result, you need to stop using hair products with silicones and find silicone-free alternates instead.

Are All Silicones Bad?


There are some silicones that are partially or fully water soluble. Any silicone with PEG 8 & more are considered water soluble.

If you’re confused, just check the ingredients on this website: IS It CG or CurlsBot.

Mineral Oils, Waxes & Parabens

Mineral oil or Petrolatum weigh down your curls and are hard to remove without sulphates.

Waxes are some of the most natural ingredients that have been used to style curly and kinky hair for centuries. Unfortunately, they also are nonhydrous, which means they won’t get washed out by simply water or co-washing.

You will need to shampoo or clarify regularly to remove the build-up, and as a result, isn’t recommended if you are following a ‘pure CG routine.’

There is no ‘yes or no’ for parabens in CG but many people avoid them because they fear they can cause cancer. That is a personal call you need to take.

Do I Follow the CG Method

Healthy Curly Hair

My curls in college 5 years ago

When I learned about this a couple of years ago in college, I couldn’t find many CG Friendly products.

I also couldn’t afford to buy expensive moisturising products so I simply followed the suggested technique with….

Sunsilk! Yes, the pink and yellow, super affordable tubes of shampoo and conditioner.

The conditioner was creamy and hydrating and I created a DIY Leave in conditioner to use as a styler. You can see the results above in the picture 🙂

It was only after I started earning that I could afford to shop online & experiment with products. Also, the blog exposed me to SO many curly hair products in India!

If sunsilk worked, why do I continue to use silicone-free products?  Because in comparison, my curls are bouncier when not weighed down by silicone. Also, since I use sulphate sporadically, I’d rather not let it build up.

I’ve tried switching back but I do not enjoy my results and hence, stick to a silicone-free hair diet.

My hair is super bouncy, curly from the crown, and feel hydrated.

Should I follow Curly Girl Method?

I have many readers who prefer sulphates & silicones in their hair products and get good results, and some who don’t.

The point is to be educated, know the consequences of the ingredients & take a personal call on what suits you better after trying the method out.

Remember, what works for one curly girl might not work for another.

But if you do want to follow the CG Method, you need to avoid the below ingredients.

Ingredients to Avoid in CG Method

Not all silicones and ingredients with the word alcohol are bad. Watch out for the below ingredients, especially the ones in bold.

Sulphates to Avoid in CG Method

  1. Sodium Laureth, Myreth, or Lauryl Sulfate
  2. Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
  3. Ammonium Laureth or Lauryl Sulfate
  4. Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate
  5. Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate
  6. Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate
  7. Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate
  8. TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate
  9. Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
  10. Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate
  11. Sodium Xylenesulfonate

Non-Water Soluble Silicones to Avoid in CG Method

  1. Amodimethicone
  2. Dimethicone
  3. Dimethiconol
  4. Cyclomethicone
  5. Cyclopentasiloxane
  6. Behenoxy Dimethicone
  7. Bis-aminopropyl dimethicone
  8. Cetearyl Methicone
  9. Cetyl Dimethicone
  10. Phenyl trimethicone
  11. Stearyl Dimethicone
  12. Trimethylsilylamodimethicone

Drying Alcohols to Avoid in CG Method

  1. Isopropyl alcohol (also called IPA)
  2. Denatured alcohol
  3. Ethanol
  4. Isopropanol
  5. Propanol
  6. Propyl alcohol
  7. SD alcohol 40

More Ingredients to Avoid in CG Method

  1. Waxes: Beeswax, Candelilla wax
  2. Petrolatum
  3. Mineral oil (paraffinum liquidum)

How to Start CG Method

Want step-by-step instructions on how to start CG Method, with affordable product recommendations? Checkout the posts below:

How to Start CG Method on Wavy Hair

How to Start Cg Method on Curly Hair

I hope you enjoyed the post! If you want more curly hair tips, check out my Youtube channel & follow me on Instagram @thecuriousjalebi!

  • Reply

    Hey dear, I have a very frizzy crown area!!
    How to fix it? 😒

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja

      Hi Yojana, apply conditioner to your crown area as well with a light hand and rinse well after. Smooth on a small amount of CG Friendly gel on the crown while styling as well.

  • Reply

    Hi Pallavi, can you share the list of ingredients indicating product contains protein? I recently discovered that my hair loves protein than using only moisture based products. But I am not sure how to identify such products

  • Reply

    Hello Pallavi didi! I am a school going girl and I really want to embrace my curls because they are so beautiful. My friend’s tell me too! For all my life I have always been taught to comb outt my hair and oil it everyday. This RUINED my curl pattern. I live in a hardwater area so I will have to clarify more often( 1 every two weeks) a cg friendly shampoo and conditioner and leave in product and deep conditioner and gel cost WAY too much. I read your article on pocket friendly products in India’, I actually have 2 of them(wow skin schcience apple cider vinegar shampoo and avacado coconut conditioner) the aloe vera I have right now has alcohol (nothing before or after , just the word alcohol in the ingredients list) please can you give me some suggestions on a curly hair routine for a school going girl?

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja

      Hi Mani! I understand where you are coming from because I was also on a strict budget when I was in college. I couldn’t afford to follow CG then so here’s what I did. Sunsilk shampoo, sunsilk conditioner, using the conditioner again as a Leave in conditioner. I didn’t use a gel. Now there are plenty of pocket friendly CG Friendly products now. So from the list or my amazon store, get one shampoo and one conditioner. Reuse the conditioner as a leave in. Make your gel at home with flaxseeds- youtube DIY Flaxseed gel. To deep condition on the weekend once a week, add a few drops of oil and a tbsp of honey and apply that.

  • Reply
    Ramitha Shetty

    Hi Pallavi,

    I have done lots of treatment in my hair (Colouring and Cystiene) and I have to keep colouring my hair due to the greys. I was given to understand by Salon that Cystiene is a protein treatment and good for dry and frizzy hair and has no harmful chemicals. I have done Cystiene almost 4 times in the last 2 years. Post lockdown, my natural curly and dry hair started growing and I wanted to try the CG method. The problem with my hair is that Its really frizzy and dry around the crown area and has lot of short hairs which looks very dry and eletrocuted. Will the CG mthod of applying Live In conditioner and gel work on my crown area which is a cause of concern?

  • Reply

    Hy pallavi
    will u suggest some shampoo conditioner or products for my curly hair to make them frizz free and smooth

  • Reply

    Hi, all these steps after clarifying, like cream, gel, scrunch, then break gel, etc.. do we have to do every 3 days we shampoo?

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja

      Clarifying Shampoo, conditioner, leave in or cream (depending on your hair type) + gel
      To start the journey
      Other wash days
      Cg Friendly shampoo, conditioner, leave in or cream (depending on your hair type) + gel

      Common to both- Comb after conditioner, rinse, comb after leave in or curl cream IF you have very curly type 3A and above otherwise just smooth, smooth on gel
      Scrunch, SOTC when dry. If gel isn’t very hard hold, you won’t need to sotc.

  • Reply
    Neethu Elizabeth George

    Hello Pallavi, thank you so much for creating this bible for curly hair!! I have two questions – the first is that I’ve also made the terrible mistake of getting keratin treatment (twice; first because I wanted to, and it wasn’t so bad, my hair was fine, but the second time I did it was because of a terrible haircut and that one made my hair brittle and weak and gave me dry, flaky scalp and terrible hairfall that’s still going on). For the year after, I got my hair cut every three months, trying to get rid of damaged hair. The trouble is, unlike your experience, the bottom half of my hair still has its bounce and curls, but the top part of my hair (in the temples, forehead and crown area) is frizzy, poofy and looks like I got electrocuted. What does that mean for my hair? The second part is about the Kaytra line of products formed by Ambika Pillai (who is kind of famous here in Kerala for her curly hair). Are they any good? Sorry for how huge this is!! Love your blog and I subscribed to your channel the minute I found it!! Thank you again 😊

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja

      I think Kaytra products have silicones – if you use sulphates, feel free to use her products. Just remember the techniques- comb after conditioner and after curl cream and if you want with some oil before shampoo. Not daily. I hope you’re conditioning the top part of your hair as its your natural hair- it needs more moisture. Try DIY Flaxseed gel as well to reduce the frizz.

  • Reply

    Hi, does anyone perhaps know if I could use the BioSilk Silk Therapy with Coconut Oil Moisturizing Conditioner? This is the ingredient list: Aqua/Water/Eau, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil , Cocodimonium Hydroxypropyl Silk Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Silk, Panthenol, Ethyl Macadamiate, Polysorbate 60, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Hexylene Glycol, PPG-1 Trideceth-6, Polyquaternium-37,
    Fragrance (Parfum), Benzyl Benzoate. Thank you very much 🙂

  • Reply

    This post gave me the information I needed to find affordable products for my curly hair journey. Thank You!!

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja

      I’m so glad!

  • Reply
    Dancing Chef

    Hi Pallavi!
    Can i use BodyShop Ginger Shampoo for clarifying?

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja

      nope, it has a non soluble silicone

  • Reply

    Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate is not a sulfate

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja

      It isn’t but is considered equally drying.

  • Reply

    Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Disodium Cocoamphodi acetate. Sodium chloride. PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate. Parfum. Citric acid. PEG-12 Dimethicone. Polyquaternium-10. Sodium benzoate. Styrene/Acrylates copolymer. Laureth-2. Hydrogenated castor oil. Salicylic acid. Propylene glycol. Panthenol. Hydroxypropyltrimonium hydrolyzed. Wheat protein. PEG-55 Propylene glycol oleate. PEG-14M. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein PG- propyl silanetriol. Benzyl salicylate. Hydrolyzed keratin

    These are the ingredients of my schwarzkopf shampoo.. can I start ch with the same.. as I have checked on your link provided also.. they said it is cg approved.. please Confirm me for the same as I have natural curly hair which was checmically smoothened last year..

  • Reply
    shweta alapuria

    Hii pallavi.. Can i use mama earth shampoo which is A mild sls free shampoo and A moderatly soluble silicone conditioner after wash.. Plz suggest me conditioners brand which has watersoluble Or mild silicones.. As I dnt totally use cowashing

  • Reply

    Do you ever use or recommend rice water rince? If so boiled or fresh rice?

  • Reply

    would anyone know DREAM COATFor Curly Hair is a CG friend product?

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja

      It has an ingredient called peg-40ppg-8 methylaminopropylhydroxypropyl dimethicone copolymer which is water soluble silicone. So in theory it should be CG friendly but Lorraine Massey doesn’t recommend products with such ingredients. Looking at the reviews of that product though, I’m not impressed.

  • Reply
    E K

    My curly hair stylist recommended Innersense products. I just looked at the conditioner I purchased from her and it has a lot of ehentrimonium Methosulfate. It’s not on the list above. But, it doesn’t sound right. I looked it up and it is a quaternary ammonium compound. Is this really curly girl approved?

    Do you know of any CG approved conditioners that are completely sulfate free AND that do not include any artificial fragrance or perfume?

  • Reply
    Ruchira Ghosh

    Do we need to necessarily use the CG method to get defined curls? Or can it be done without using the CG method? Since finding CG friendly products becomes a task most of the time and also, more often than not it’s not so pocket friendly.

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja

      Hey Ruchira, it isn’t necessary but in the long run by using harsh sulphates and heavy silicones, your hair will slowly get damaged. But, you can maintain a modified cg routine like I do. In that , I take care to only shampoo my scalp, not my hair. If I’m using silicones in my leave in and conditioner, I clarify once a month.
      I have a pocket friendly curly hair routine under 500 rupees in my YouTube channel. Do check it out if you’re interested. 🙂

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