A vegan and cruelty free guide to the Curly Girl Method

Earlier this year I stumbled upon the Curly Girl Method, and hooley dooley it is an overwhelming rabbit hole and almost religion-like guide for girls with wavy and curly hair! The method is based on a book and there’s so much detail to it I won’t go too in-depth in this post, as I’m certainly not an expert, but wanted to share my experiences.

Over less than 4 months I’ve had a bit of trial and error with different products and techniques – and I thought I’d share the vegan, cruelty-free products I’ve been using, techniques and my results so far!

I decided to do this post after sharing my results on Instagram today and getting tonnes of messages asking for the secrets of CG!


The basics

The basics of the Curly Girl Method are:

  • No silicones (these coat hair)
  • No sulfates (these strip hair)
  • No alcohols (in products, not drinks *wink*)
  • No heat
  • Use a t-shirt or micro-fibre towel rather than bath towel on hair

There is so much more to it than that – but I’ll just cover what I’ve been doing below.

My hair type

According to this Texture Type quiz, I have:

  • Type: 2B waves
  • Density: thin
  • Porosity: low
  • Thickness: medium

My hair history

When I was 2 my Mum took me to visit her family in Northern Ireland, and on the way there we had a stop over in Thailand. Mum still tells the story of all the locals LOVING my ringlets and coming up and tugging on them, (much to my delight, hiding behind her legs) – I’ve always wondered what on earth happened to them!

my curls as a toddler

A 2 year old curly-haired Jenna

I can’t really remember wearing my hair natural in the last 10+ years, but “natural” to me has just been a frizzy mess – so it’s understandable I haven’t been keen just to wash and wear!

When I went vegan in 2012 I began to use Organic Care shampoo and conditioners, and used them consistently for around 4 years. It has since been shared in the Vegan Beauty Australia and New Zealand Facebook group that this stuff is shocking for your hair. Lots of people have reported hair loss, amongst other issues – and here I was worrying that my hair just didn’t seem as healthy because of my diet – wrong, it was horribly damaged by my products.

Two years ago, just before Charlie was born, I began to use high quality salon products, but post-pregnancy hair loss was a killer, and the re-grown hair has become a halo of frizz – the past 2 years have seen my hair in a mum-bun – but with hair-pulling no longer an issue I started to want to have an easy way to wear my hair, without pulling out the straighteners.

Pre-baby "natural" hair, August 2016 - a very rare photo of my hair without heat

Pre-baby “natural” hair, August 2016 – a very rare photo of my hair without heat styling.

Where I started my Curly Girl journey

I joined a few Facebook groups exclusive to Australian curlies, read through their files and searched for vegan products I could try out. If you’re an Aussie or Kiwi I can recommend:

It is seriously overwhelming at the beginning, and a lot of group members recommend simply buying the book it is all based on to read through yourself.

My method and vegan products

Before I get into the techniques and products; don’t forget you can get a discount on your iHerb purchases with my code BLE7279. I’ve also created a handy shopping cart for you, so you can just click below to start off with a cruelty-free, vegan, curly girl starter kit straight away!

Buy the Vegan Curly Girl starter kit


1. Low-poo (CG approved shampoo)

I only wash my hair once or twice a week because it’s generally pretty dry and doesn’t ever get oily, so I haven’t made the full leap to “co-washing” (that’s washing with conditioner instead of shampoo). I have tried it a few times but keep gravitating back to using shampoo.

I’ve just started to use the Ecostore Baby Shampoo, which I’ve already had great results with. I got it from Chemist Warehouse, and it’s also available in Woolworths.

Ecostore baby shampoo is a good vegan low-poo option.

Ecostore baby shampoo is a good vegan low-poo option.

2. Squish to condish

This is the first step I made in moving to the Curly Girl Method – I started doing this with my existing conditioner and had awesome results straight away. What to do? I tip my head upside down, work through my conditioner and squish it upwards towards my scalp to hydrate my curls. I then flip it up on top of my head, go about my other shower duties and then rinse like in the demo below. As I use a leave-in I rinse all of the conditioner out.

I’ve been using the Giovanni, 2chic, Ultra-Sleek Conditioner from iHerb (buy it here), but am going to try a protein free one next such as:

Buy on iHerb


3. Leave-in conditioner

I hope out of the shower at this stage but leave my hair dripping wet, wrap myself in a towel and flip by head back over into the shower. Then, without raking my fingers through my hair, work a leave in over my wet hair and start using the same movement as I did with Squish to Condish.

I  recently realised my leave-in wasn’t CG, so have just ordered the Giovanni Direct Leave-In Weightless Moisture Conditioner, which I’ve heard amazing things about.

Buy on iHerb


4. Create a cast

With my head still flipped over (…yep!), and hair still wet I then create a hard, crunchy shell over my curls that I keep in until my hair drys. This freaked me out the first time I did it, seriously it’s everything people with wave or curly hair want to avoid (my husband asked what the heck I had done to myself when he saw it) – but trust the process – you’ll see the results once you’ve completed the last step!

You do exactly the same as you did with your conditioner and leave-in, squish squish squish – and watch the “clumps” form!

For the cast I use two products:

Buy on iHerb


5. Use a t-shirt to “plop” and dry

Another new term for your dictionary! Normal towels are a no-no in the Curly Girl Method. I use an old t-shirt and with my head upside down gently squish out the excess water. Then… “plop”. I do this for as long as it takes me to get dressed and get my make-up on.

This video shows the last step and plopping (seriously, Youtube is your friend for the next few months trying this all out!)

After this I’ve just been air-drying until my hair is completely dry (which admittedly takes ages, but #mumlife) – but I am planning to get a diffuser to help form the curls more, and shorten drying time.

6. SOTC – Scrunch out the Crunch

Ok here comes the fun part – the results! Once your hair is completely dry, tip your head upside down once more and scrunch out that gross crunchy cast you created earlier. Some people do this with a little bit of oil, but I found that didn’t work well for me. After this you’ll be left with your gorgeous waves or curls! I often end up doing this in the car before stepping out in public, so quite often it’s still been a little damp which is likely adding to my frizz (hence wanting to get a diffuser!)

I had immediate improvement on what my hair previously was, but as you can see with my Instagram post above, my hair keeps getting better and better, and will continue to as it gets healthier, and I find more products that suit it.

7. Refresh – in between wash days

While I’m getting less frizz the more I do the Curly Girl Method, I do still need to do a bit of a refresh some days. There’s a lot of techniques out there, but I usually just use a few pumps of Kinky Curly Spiral Spritz (buy it here), which is like a serum.

8. A few more things…

Deep treatments: The CG method recommends doing a deep treatment once a week. Realistically #mumlife means I don’t get to do one that often but I’ve loved the Everescents Cinnamon & Patchouli Deep Treatment.

Clarifying: Let’s face it, the CG method involves a lot of products. It also recommends doing regular ACV rinses with Apple Cider Vinegar. Again, I haven’t done this super often, but I can definitely feel my hair appreciate it when I have.


Are you a Curly Girl convert? Share your favourite vegan, cruelty free products below!

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