When your true Curly Girl success story is actually straight

I’ve finally found a Curly Girl success story. It’s not quite the one I expected, but my hair doesn’t look like crap anymore so, hey, I’ll take it. Don’t tell the CGM community, because they’ll probably burn me at the stake, but here’s a little secret:

I’ve been using the Curly Girl Method to style my hair straight.

That’s right. Carry me off in the middle of the night to be drawn and quartered because I am no longer following all those crazy ringlet rules, and (spoiler alert!) I’m getting better results.

After a full month of struggling with my hair through the Maid to Curl Challenge, trying to get the shiny ringlets of my dreams, I’ve realized that maybe my hair just wants to live it’s own life. So I’ve recently stopped trying to style it curly.

That means no scrunching, no plopping, no diffusing. I still follow the CGM wash and condition routine, but after I finish in the shower, I forget about CGM and style as I normally would. I apply some leave-in conditioner, wrap my hair up in a t-shirt for about 15 minutes, and relish in the fact that I didn’t turn my hands into useless flippers from a half hour of scrunching.

Then the final, most important step, which the CGM community MUST NEVER KNOW: After I let it out of the towel, I brush it. AND IT FEELS HEAVENLY. #sorrynotsorry

For the full wash-and-style routine, watch this video from Swavy Curly Courtney!

I know! I know! I’m a terrible person, and I’m causing hair breakage and creating frizz, and I’ll never amount to anything in life! But, guess what? I’m pretty amazed with the results:

If you’ve always been a wash-and-go person, then you might not understand why I’m using such strong words like “amazing” to describe this hair. After all, it’s not like I look like Taylor Swift (but maybe that’s more of a me-problem at this point). The amazing part – for me (and anyone else with it-looks-gross-unless-I-use-heat-tools hair) – is that these results didn’t take a minute of heat styling.

Before I found the Curly Girl Method, I used to heat style my hair any time I wanted to wear it down. Sometimes I would just “run a straightener over it” to smooth it out even if I was wearing it up. I never thought I’d be one of those air-dry-and-go people; I just thought my hair was too difficult to be left to its own devices. If you had told me two months ago that I’d be wearing my hair down without using a curling iron, I’d have tuned you out faster than a Kelly Pickler Hallmark movie.

When I first started the Curly Girl Method, I was after Shirley Temple curls. It never occurred to me that the routine would help me style my hair straight. I think it’s just the extra TLC and the lack of harsh ingredients that has made my hair healthier, smoother, and more manageable, even without heat tools.

So, it turns out I do have a Curly Girl success story after all: I’VE FINALLY BECOME A WASH-AND-GO PERSON! And if you don’t think that’s amazing, then you’ve obviously never snoozed your alarm for 45 minutes straight in 5-minute increments until you have exactly three minutes to get ready and get out of the house.

More Information on Challenge 5: Maid to Curl

The Maid to Curl Finale Hair Compare Q&A Part II: Where to from here?

Read Part I of the Maid to Curl Finale Q&A

Now that Carrie and I have been Curly Girl free for practically half a month, you probably think we feel like we’ve got a new lease on life right? You probably think we dropped the CGM in the dust and haven’t looked back, right? After all, it’s summer in Baltimore now. Who has the fortitude to walk around in 90-degree heat (dewpoint 78) with layers of wet, gelled hair shellacked to their head and neck? Nobody I know! So what have Carrie and I been discussing when we get together these days?

The Curly Girl Method.


That’s right. Apparently our Curly Girl journey made such a lasting impression on the both of us that we just can’t let it go. And I know it made a lasting impression on all of you, too. I can tell because my family begs me all the time [not] to continue updating this challenge [and to move on to something that doesn’t make me look like a gremlin]! What can I say – they love my hair experiments! So to quell the masses, here’s the second and final part of our Curly Girl Finale Q&A:

Q: Overall, do you like your hair on the Curly Girl Method?

Carrie: Yes I do like it. It seems to respond well to the method and, for the most part, I’ve gotten good results. While its not super curly like some of the Curly Girl bloggers on YouTube, I have been able to achieve the wavy-curly hair look that I’ve been after for a while. The texture of my hair has changed, too. It’s a lot smoother now and less coarse than it was before I started. It also has a lot more shine.

Rachel: I have to admit that I didn’t really love my results. I certainly didn’t get close to defined curls, and the waves that I did get were often stringy or short-lived. Although, a few times I got a nice, voluminous fluffy look that I enjoyed. What I did like about the CGM is that it seemed to make my hair healthier and softer. I’ve also had success using the CGM washing and conditioning techniques WITHOUT CGM STYLING to get straight(er) looks.

Q: What was the hardest thing about the Curly Girl Method?

Carrie: The method takes sooo long to style hair! Particularly waiting for it to dry in the gel cast…literally takes hours! Don’t know how I would be able to do the whole wash and style routine if I wasn’t working from home right now. And if I wash/style at night, there’s often not enough time for my hair to dry before bed, and then the curls get ruined while I sleep.

Rachel (MNM): I have fine hair with just a touch of wave, and my hair just didn’t look good most of the time. I struggled to get curl definition. I struggled with limp, stringy hair. I struggled with refreshing. I struggled with product-laden hair. I struggled with getting volume to my roots and keeping them from drying all wonky. I’m still not sure if my hair just isn’t curly or if I just wasn’t using the right techniques. (Oh, and the second hardest thing was not brushing my hair!)

Q: Do you think you’ll continue with the Curly Girl Method now that the challenge is over?

Carrie: I don’t think I will do the whole wash/style method for everyday because of how long it takes. I will probably continue to use it when I want to wear my hair curly, because I have been happy with the curly results. But it’s too much for everyday. I will continue co-washing, though and only using shampoo a few times a week. And I will continue all of the conditioning treatments and squeezing my hair dry with a t-shirt. But I’ll only use gel/cream/plopping for when I want curly hair. 

Rachel: No, definitely not. At least not ALL of it. The whole method took too long and required too much effort, and then didn’t make my hair look good! However, I’m intrigued enough to keep up with some of it, and maybe even to continue experimenting (like when I’m not leaving the house). Like I said before, I do notice a difference in my hair’s health and texture, so I’ll probably keep up with the deep conditioning, co-washing, no heat styling, and t-shirt drying. (I’ve also already looked into a few new styling techniques specifically for fine hair – I just can’t help myself!)

More Information on Challenge 5: Maid to Curl

The Maid to Curl Finale Hair Compare Q&A Part I: Different strokes for different curl patterns and porosities

Well, folks, yesterday Carrie and I bade a fond farewell (“fond” as in we’re glad to see it go) to the Curly Girl Method! If you didn’t catch the fireworks and champagne from last night’s party, you can still read the transcript:

No more scrunching!
No more plops!
No more lifeless, tangled locks!
No more drying!
No more gel cast!
No more curls that never last!

In honor of yesterday being the FINAL DAY of the Maid to Curl Challenge, I wrote this post from my bathtub, with a moisture treatment (commercially produced, of course) painted on my hair. I thought one last Good College Try was in order, but, in true CGM style, my hair dried practically straight. (In fairness, I lost interest and didn’t scrunch.) I think the Curly Girl experience might have taught me that my true hair type is, in fact, not curly:

While I can’t say I’m sad to see this challenge end, I also can’t say I’m sorry I did it. Even though the Curly Girl Method was often time consuming and frustrating, Carrie and I both learned a lot, and the Maid to Curl Challenge wasn’t without its triumphs. Carrie got some great results and finally achieved the curly hairstyles she’s been after for quite some time! And I learned how to dry my hair with an old t-shirt! So it was a win-win for everyone!

So how did we get here? Keep reading for the exclusive interview to find out what the Maid to Curl Challenge was REALLY like…

Q: What is your hair porosity & texture?

The “porosity” of hair refers to its ability/tendency to absorb and retain moisture. Take the Curlsbot hair porosity quiz for yourself!

Carrie: The Curlsbot Quiz says I likely have high porosity hair. My hair texture is fairly dry and coarse feeling. I had some natural wave before CGM, as well as a lot of volume. My hair is prone to frizz.

Rachel (MNM): The Curlsbot Quiz says I have low porosity hair, which makes sense, because my hair gets dirty quickly. My texture is on the soft and silky side but with some natural body. It tends toward oily, rather than dry.

Q: What do you think your curl pattern is?

Carrie: I don’t have just one type of curls, but the majority seem to be between 2b and 3a.

Rachel (MNM): Probably 2a/2b. Although, I swear I’ve seen a few 2c/3a curls on CGM!

Q: How closely did you follow the Curly Girl Method for the Challenge?

Carrie: I haven’t been a stickler with the Curly Girl Method, and I wasn’t styling my hair curly as much toward the end. And I don’t think all my products were “approved.” I did keep up with the conditioning and drying methods, and I haven’t used any heat tools, towels, or brushes.

Rachel (MNM): I also fell off the wagon with the styling techniques, particularly toward the end of the challenge. I only used “approved” products, and I avoided heat tools, towels, and brushes.

Q: What Curly Girl washing/styling techniques worked best for you? What did not work?

Carrie: Using tons of conditioner has really helped. I squish to condish in the shower, apply leave-in conditioner on soaking wet hair, and deep condition once a week. My hair seems to prefer styling upside down and soaking wet, and my hair responds very well to plopping.

Flipping my hair side-to-side while styling and drying did not work…it made my curl clumps fall apart and made my hair HUGE! Styling on damp hair didn’t work as well as styling on wet hair…once the hair started to dry it didn’t seem to take the product as well. 

Rachel (MNM): I like the clarifying and deep conditioning to prevent build-up and keep my hair soft. Co-washing (“washing” with conditioner only) has worked surprisingly well and allows me to shampoo less often. Plopping, damp styling, diffusing, and flipping my hair side-to-side while styling and drying creates the best volume for me.

Styling my hair soaking wet doesn’t work well, because it weighs my hair down and flattens my roots. Too much product makes my hair heavy and dirty.

Q: What curly-hair products work best for you?

Carrie: A combination of gel and curl cream to style (Bioterra Gel and Curlsmith Hold Me Softly Curl Cream). Garnier Fructis Smoothing Treat 1-Minute Hair Mask.

Rachel: Most important for me is to go light on the products. Not Your Mother’s products have worked well: the Curl Defining Cream and the Curling Mousse. I also like the Bioterra Gel.

Stay tuned for Part II of the exclusive interview! In the meantime, don’t call, don’t text, don’t visit – for the next few days, all I’m going to do is brush and straighten my hair! Just kidding…well, maybe.

If this is my Curly Girl success story, I don’t think I want it

We’re in the final week of the Maid to Curl Challenge, and it’s time for one of my favorite MNM pastimes: TRUTH BOMBS. I’m talking about the kind of surprises I like to hit you with near the end of a challenge after I’ve strung you along for weeks thinking that I’ve been muddling through and sacrificing for Mother Nature the whole time, because all-natural solutions can totally work, and I’ve cheated on the Curly Girl Method, and some hair types are just curlier than others. 

Wait, what?! Yes, it’s true. Well, sortof…

Here’s the thing about the Curly Girl Method: it’s time consuming, and it’s frustrating, and sometimes I get finger cramps from all the scrunching. They say things get better after the first month, and I’m guessing it’s because you eventually grow Hulk hands. Styling my hair these days is like playing Russian Roulette – I have no idea what’s coming. Some days I can’t even get my hair to go up in a bun, because the roots dried weird and won’t lay flat. Sometimes my neck hurts because I refuse to rest my head on the back of the sofa while I watch TV for fear it will crush my gel cast.

These are things that you rarely hear the bubbly Curly Girl bloggers of YouTube chatting about. That’s because they’re too busy showing off their soft and beautiful ringlets that they apparently had “no idea” they even possessed before trying CGM and and now apparently just air dry this way.

Really? I mean, REALLY??

When I first started the Curly Girl Method, I wanted to be one of those success stories. I wanted to be like all those Curly Girls out there who claim that they had difficult and unmanageable hair that they had to flat-iron every day until they tried CGM and discovered thick, voluminous, bouncy curls that look like a Pantene commercial. I wanted to become one of those low-maintenance, wash-and-go girls who gets complimented on their hair and responds, “oh, it just air dried this way naturally!”

Meanwhile, this is my real CGM experience:


And that’s when I started cheating. Well, sortof… About a week ago, I got tired of the Russian Roulette and the cramped hands and the weird way I have to hold my head when I watch TV to avoid crushing my gel cast. So I stopped bothering with it. Now, before you get your torches and pitchforks, hear me out. It’s not like I was raking through my hair with a brush, or slathering it with silicone conditioners, or frying it with a straightener. I stuck to my CGM-approved shampoo and conditioner, but I just forgot about the squishing and the plopping and the praying hands and allllll the scrunching. I forgot about the gels and the defining creams and the butters and the mousses. I threw my hair in a bun, and I laid my head on a pillow, and I watched Mary Tyler Moore reruns comfortably for the first time in weeks. So sue me!

At first I felt bad about it, like I’d fallen off the wagon, even if only for a couple of days. Then, as if she’d read my mind, I got a text from Carrie. She said she felt bad about abandoning the experiment, but she’d been so lazy about the method that week that she’d only styled her hair curly 3 out of 7 days, because “it’s too much to do for everyday.” I knew I always liked her!

So, yes, it’s true, sometimes we cheat (sortof). And, you know what? I’m not even going to apologize for it. What’s the worst that could happen? Curly Girl turns out to be a crazy, possessive cult that abducts me to live on their compound and never lets me out? That doesn’t sound…probable…right?

Ok, I’m sorry, and I won’t do it again.

When your best hair days are still bad hair days, then you must be doing the Curly Girl Method

When I first started the Curly Girl Method, here’s how I thought my routine would go:

  1. Wake up looking like Shirley Temple
  2. Smile at my reflection in the mirror
  3. Go

Embed from Getty Images

Nearly one month into my CGM Challenge, here’s how my routine ACTUALLY goes:

  1. Wake up looking like a gremlin
  2. Spend 15-20 minutes attempting a “refresh”
  3. Wait 15-20 minutes for hair to dry
  4. Sigh disappointedly at my reflection in the mirror
  5. Spend 15-20 minutes trying to make my hair do something that – before CGM – would have taken 2 minutes
  6. Curse CGM (but thank COVID-19 for making it acceptable to wear masks in public so no one has to know this hair belongs to me)
  7. Go

But it isn’t that dismal every day.  Sometimes, I stumble upon a breakthrough, like these:

#1: Damp Styling

When we first started the Curly Girl Method, Carrie and I followed all the rules and styled our hair soaking wet.  Like, still dripping in the bathtub soaking wet.  Carrie’s thick hair seemed to take to this technique well, and she achieved some lovely, defined curls.  My fine hair, however, wasn’t such a fan.  My hair lost a ton of volume, and my roots were flat and messy.  I started searching the internet for fine-hair tutorials, and came across damp styling.  When you damp style, you allow your hair to dry partway before scrunching in your products.  This method makes a world of difference for me.  I notice more body and general fluffiness throughout my hair, especially at the roots.

duckling on black soil during daytime

“General Fluffiness”

#2: Diffusing

Somehow, I managed to survive the gel scrunching fad of the early 2000s without ever using a diffuser.  In fact, I never knew what a diffuser really was until a few weeks ago.  I remember girls in high school talking about how blow drying with a diffuser was the best way to achieve the scrunched look, and I just smiled and nodded along.  Now, you know I would NEVER recommend trusting circa 2005 high schoolers with ANY hair advice…except this: Blow drying with a diffuser is the best way to achieve the scrunched look.  Diffusing adds volume, body, and a soft, fluffy texture to my hair.  Not to mention it saves time.  I like to wait until my hair is 75% – 85% dry before diffusing on a cool, low setting.

#3: Wide-Tooth Comb

Are you addicted to brushing your hair?  Does your hair tangle easily?  Does it look stringy if it hasn’t been brushed in the last 20 minutes?  Me too.  And the first few weeks of Curly Girl, I was DYING, because hairbrushes are not allowed on CGM.  I don’t know about you, but finger combing every other day in the shower just doesn’t cut it for me.  But, here’s a little secret: if you use a wide-tooth comb (I stole mine from my horse; yes, I washed it first!) and call it “detangling,” then the CGM Secret Police won’t drag you off to the Gulag.  Of course I don’t rake through my hair with the comb, but just being able to fluff up the roots and brush out (I mean ‘detangle’) the ends makes my hair more manageable and presentable.

Don’t laugh, but these breakthrough methods have led to some of the best results I’ve had so far on the Curly Girl Method:

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I said DON’T LAUGH.  Ok, fine, I might be using the word “best” loosely.  But at least it’s better than where I started.  Still, just looking at these pictures makes me yearn for curling irons and wands and straighteners and full-heat blow drying…

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Yes, I do frequently take daily selfies just to document my hairstyles.  Again, I said DON’T laugh.  Now excuse me while I run for a tissue.  I couldn’t make it through the Slideshow of Hair Nostalgia without shedding a tear for those smooth, controlled styles of yesteryear.  Those were the days…

More Information on Challenge 5: Maid to Curl

Moisture Treatments are (Still) Coconuts!

If I could give ONE piece of advice to anyone embarking on a natural hair journey, it would be this: If you’re ever looking for a deep conditioning treatment and somebody runs up and offers to give you something they whipped up in their kitchen, don’t think, don’t pause, don’t hesitate a moment, just spit in his eye!

You’d think I would have learned my lesson the first time I tried a natural deep conditioning treatment and ended up with coconut oil stuck in my hair for 48 hours.  But, apparently time heals all wounds.  If it didn’t, there’s no way I would have found myself with a plastic trash bag rubber banded around my head one night last week while a sticky, ill-conceived, all-natural moisturizing treatment dripped down my cheeks.

If you’ve spent any time experimenting with the Curly Girl Method, you’ve probably heard about deep conditioning.  (As if we weren’t doing enough with the washing and refreshing and squishing and plopping and scrunching and pineappling, now we have to add deep conditioning to the list.)  I came across it last week, while troubleshooting a bout of lifeless, frizzy, weighed-down hair that made me look like I’d just chased Dolly-the-cow through Mrs. Lynde’s prize-winning cabbages:


Deep conditioning is a popular CGM solution for hair troubles, particularly for anyone just starting the method.  Many Curly Girl Gurus recommend deep conditioning as often as once a week.  Other CGM solutions for gross, beginner hair are clarifying, changing products, changing styling techniques, changing washing techniques, and (my personal favorite) checking the mineral levels in your water.  If you read between the lines, it almost sounds like the Curly Girl Method just makes your hair look like crap for the first who-knows-how-many weeks and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I’ve made a lot of sacrifices for Mother Nature in my day, but ordering test strips to determine the level of iron in my water?  Now that’s where I draw the line.  So when my disgusting, lifeless hair finally got the best of me, I decided to try deep conditioning.  Since I didn’t have any branded deep conditioning products in my apartment, I did something horrible.  I did the one thing that I swore I would NEVER do again because it always ends in disaster.  I made my own moisture treatment.

*Collective gasp*

woman covering her mouth

I didn’t think it would be so disastrous this time, because I made sure to look for a recipe that did not contain oil of any kind.  After flipping through a few Curly Girl recommended concoctions, I gathered a hodgepodge of ingredients that I had lying around the house and went to work guesstimating a recipe.  Sounds like a foolproof plan, right?  Whatever, I’m Mother Nature’s Maid – I laugh in the face of danger.  And so I combined apple cider vinegar, Greek yogurt, and honey, and slopped it onto my wet hair.

The first clue that something wasn’t right was the honey.  It had crystallized in its container and refused to combine with the yogurt and vinegar.  Sharp lumps of it sat at the bottom of the mixture and, once applied, fell out of my hair and onto the bathroom floor for me to step on later.  Then there was the consistency.  The end product was soupy and sticky and dripped EVERYWHERE.  (Hence the plastic trash bag that ended up rubber banded around my head.)

cream toy poodle puppy in bathtub

But even with my makeshift shower cap, the mixture still slid down the sides of my face and into my eyes and onto my clothes and all over the floor.  I slipped around the bathroom, stepping on honey pebbles that felt like glass shards, as I tried to contain the fallout.  Cursing Mother Nature, I got in the shower and washed every last drop of that moisture treatment down the drain.  As soon as I got out of the shower, I invested in a tub of Garnier Fructis 1-Minute Hair Mask.  I think the next time my hair is in need, I’ll just check the mineral levels in my water.

More Information on Challenge 5: Maid to Curl

I’m more the “I-Don’t-Have-Time-To-Dry-My-Hair-In-The-Morning-But-I’d-Do-It-If-It-Turned-Out-Nice” Type

I’m not the type of person to spend hours getting ready in the morning.  To be honest, I’m not even the type of person to spend 20 minutes getting ready in the morning.  I’m more the type to press the snooze button six too many times, race around getting ready because I should have left 10 minutes ago, and then run out the door in mismatching shoes.  I’ve been this way since birth – you can ask my parents.  If there’s anything I need to do in the morning, I’d better get it done the night before or it won’t get done.  I’m one 7 a.m. wake-up call away from sleeping in my collared shirt and work pants.

Needless to say, most mornings, I don’t spend a lot of time on my hair.  Would I like to?  Absolutely – I love doing my hair (I mean, as long as it turns out right).  But most days, I can’t afford to do anything but whatever’s easiest, whether it’s a flat iron or hiding it in a low bun.  Carrie, who gets up at an ungodly hour to mold young minds in the art of dance, has a similar wake-up-and-leave morning routine.  Which leads me to our main problem with the Curly Girl Method.  Sometimes, you wake up like this:

The problem is that the CGM wash-day routine takes so long that you really have to do it at night.  Or, at least, I do.  Remember that  laundry list of steps for washing and styling?  Yea, there’s no way I’m waking up at 6 in the morning to go through all that.  But basically anything you do to your hair at night will inevitably be negated by morning.  Yet, the Curly Girl Method insists that you style your hair sopping wet, so unless you have hours in the morning to waste while you wait for your hair to dry, your best bet is to wash at night.  All of which is just to say – what in the heck are you supposed to do when you wake up to a rat’s nest??     

Now, I know exactly what the avid Curly Girls would say – “all you need to do is refresh!”  The basic idea behind “refreshing” is that you wet your hair lightly, scrunch some product in, and then air dry into a nice, presentable style.  It’s re-styling without re-washing.  But for anyone who wakes up with completely berserk hair and doesn’t have 45 minutes to hang around the house to make sure it dries into a nice, presentable style, it’s re-diculous. 

Maybe Carrie and I are just bad at refreshing since we’re both Curly Girl newbs (which, in fairness, is a good possibility), but so far we’ve found the process to be unreliable at best.  Luckily for our hair, we’ve both been working from home since this challenge began, due to the whole Coronavirus lockdown.  That means we have time to sit around our houses like this for an hour or two while we re-wet and re-style our hair and re-wait for it to dry: 

Again, the first problem here is that it takes TOO LONG.  Even though you’re only supposed to partially re-wet your hair, that’s (#1) easier said than done and (#2) still too much time for me to waste in the morning.  For some reason, it’s hard for me to control the amount of water that I scrunch into my hair, and more often than not, I end up with soaking wet hair.  Carrie notices a similar issue with her thick hair that takes ages to dry no matter how wet it is.  The second problem is that half the time my refresh dries something like this: 


How is this ever supposed to work when I have to leave my house before 8 a.m., and I’m just waking up at 7:50?  And why does it look so easy in the CGM step-by-step videos?  Probably because those girls are starting with morning hair that looks like it never touched a pillow for a second, let alone for eight hours of tossing and turning.  I think they must all sleep suspended in midair.  And, if that’s the case, could someone PLEASE tell me how?

If I can’t find my study guide, I’m not washing my hair

Do you ever have one of those dreams where you’re back in high school or college, and you’re about to walk into a final exam, and you realize you didn’t study for it?  And then you spend the entire dream anxiety-ridden, wondering what to do and trying desperately to remember anything that might help you.  That’s basically my life on the Curly Girl Method.

Since I started CGM, one of the things I’ve noticed is that there are too many choices.  Choices about how to wash your hair, how to condition your hair, how to dry your hair, how to style your hair, how to hold your head while you style your hair, how to sleep on your hair, how to find the right products, how to apply those products…  There are even different methods for rinsing out your conditioner.  As an already indecisive person, you can imagine what this has done to my spiritual well-being.  I think I need an emotional support animal or two.


Every day, every little thing I do to my hair feels like a new test.  I look over notes before I get in the shower on wash days, just so I can develop a plan of attack before I get in there and realize that I did not study enough.  And then I spend the entire shower anxiety-ridden, wondering what to do and trying desperately to remember anything that might help me.  Was I supposed to condition with my head upside down or right-side up?  Did it say to scrunch after conditioning?  Or was that after rinsing?  How much of the conditioner was I supposed to rinse out?  Am I supposed to plop before or after applying products?  I wasn’t even this stressed out for my Journalism 301 final…then again, I did fail that.

As I move forward, I’m starting to realize that you can have too many choices – like trying to find something to watch on Netflix.  And when I’m making completely different choices in my hair routine every day, it’s hard to figure out what’s working and what’s not.  (It’s like how can I decide between “When Calls the Heart,” “Crash Landing On You,” “Heartland,” and “The Hook-up Plan” when I’m watching a different one every day??)  So in the interest of science (and my sanity), I’ve decided to stick with a basic wash routine:

  1. Wash: Maui Moisture Thicken & Restore Shampoo
  2. Condition & Finger Detangle (head right-side up): Maui Moisture Thicken & Restore Conditioner
  3. Squish to Condish (head upside down)

Then I’ll follow with plopping my hair and styling.  So far (after two washes) I’m liking this routine.  It’s easy to remember, so I’m not stressing out in the shower, and I’ve gotten fairly good results.  This is Day 1 and Day 2 of my first wash (my second wash is still drying):

By the end of Day 2, my hair was getting on my nerves and looking a bit like I’d been cast in Les Misérables, so I found refuge in a bun.  The reason nearly every last strand of my hair is bustled over to one side in the Day 2 photo is because of an unusual phenomenon I experience where the right side of my head likes to stay completely straight.  So I’ve decided if that’s the way it’s going to behave, then it gets NO HAIR AT ALL.  If it was sorry, it wouldn’t have done it!

If 2007 Taylor Swift had a hair secret, I don’t know what it is yet

Well, folks, Day 1 is down!  The good news is that I’m not ready to give up yet.  The bad news is, I still don’t look like this:

Embed from Getty Images

Apparently rediscovering your curls takes patience, because this is as close as I got:


One tiny, happy corkscrew in a rat’s nest

Carrie and I have both been experimenting with the Curly Girl Method  since mid-April.  When we first started learning about it, we really had no idea what we were doing.  We weren’t using the right products and we were both completely overwhelmed by all the new techniques and vocabulary we had to learn.  Seriously, it’s like speaking another language.  There’s plopping, squish to condish, praying hands, and on and on.  The only Curly Girl buzzword we really recognized was “scrunching,” and – to be honest – I think we would have been more comfortable had that word been left back where it belongs in Ms. K’s 9th grade U.S. Government class.  Needless to say, our first few weeks of experimentation yielded a haphazard hodge-podge of results:

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So Day 1 of this challenge represented a fresh start.  After such a long hiatus from my beloved natural experiments, I was SUPER excited to get started, so I woke up early today (no, for real) to wash my hair first thing.  While sulfates are not Curly Girl approved under any circumstances, you’re supposed to start the CGM with one final sulfate wash to clarify your hair before you begin.  I used Goldwell DualSenses Silver Shampoo, which is specifically formulated for light hair and lists Sodium Laureth Sulfate as the second ingredient.  You then follow with a silicone-free conditioner.  I used Maui Moisture Thicken & Restore.  And now…let the feast – BEGIN.

  • Step 1: Shampoo your hair normally.  (Enjoy how easy this part is.)
  • Step 2: Condition your hair.  (Forget how much conditioner you’re supposed to use and continue globbing it on, just to be safe.)
  • Step 3: Finger detangle your hair while conditioning, working from bottom to top.  (Forget whether you’re supposed to do this with your head upside-down or right-side-up and assume an in-between broken-neck position.)
  • Step 4: Squish to condish.  With your head upside down, rinse your scalp and saturate your hair.  Then remove your head from the water and, with cupped hands, squish more water into your hair to remove about 75% of your conditioner.  (Realize that you shouldn’t have even wasted time reading that article about “squish to condish,” because it’s complicated and you won’t get it right.  Pray for help whilst getting water up your nose.)
  • Step 5: Scrunch in product.  Turn off the faucet and use your hands to squish excess water out of your hair.  Scrunch styling products into soaking wet hair.  (Get your bathroom floor all wet from your dripping hair while you search your cabinets for your mousse and gel.  Curse your foster cat for tracking litter on the floor because it feels like stones on your bare feet.)
  • Step 6: Plop 15-20 minutes.  (Scare yourself in the mirror because you look like Jason from Friday the 13th with that weird sack on his head.)

And if you’re not tired after all that, then you can scrunch some more or apply more product or diffuse with a hair dryer (on a cool setting) after you un-plop.  Needless to say, today was not the day I discovered diffusing.  I was about half-way through air drying when I got this text from Carrie:  “Ugh my hair is like plastered to my head…I can’t believe we used to call this a style.”  I guess this is what our lives have become now.

This is Day 1:

All-in-all, I don’t hate it.  However, I don’t think I realized how exhausting this would be when I took on this challenge, and I have no  idea how I’d pull this off on a daily basis when I have to go to work.  I wonder how Taylor Swift does it?

More Information on Challenge 5: Maid to Curl



If your hair is unmanageable without heat tools, then the best thing to do is throw away your heat tools

Ugh, hair.  I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my hair for my entire life.  On the one hand, it’s great because I can get it to do just about anything with heat tools.  On the other hand, it’s a pain, because in order to get it to do just about anything, I have to use heat tools.  Sometimes I hear people with great hair talk about how they just “air dry,” and I find myself wondering…”How is that possible?”  Because my hair would NEVER air dry into a style I could wear out of my house.  I always considered it a cross I must bear in life. That and the hyperhydrosis.


Trying to beat my hair into submission with a curling iron

Enter: The Curly Girl Method.

What do you get when you combine Mother Nature’s Maid with a quarantine?  ALL-NATURAL EXPERIMENTS!  If I’m forced to stay in the house for weeks on end, then you know I’m about to do some weird, all-natural, DIY, probably gross, probably destined-for-failure experiments on my hair.  (Don’t worry – it won’t involve coconut oil.  It will NEVER involve coconut oil again.)  This time, it involves The Curly Girl Method.

If you don’t know what The Curly Girl Method is, then you’re in good company, because I just found out about it, and I’m super overwhelmed.  But, in true MNM style, I’m diving in head first without doing the proper, exhaustive research that could probably save me a lot of headaches later.  Oh well, what’s the worst that could happen?  I’d end up looking like Dobby the House Elf?  Not possible…

Here’s what I know so far:

  • It’s an all-natural hair-care regimen that removes certain chemicals from your routine, including sulfates and silicones
  • Heat tools are not allowed, except (sometimes) a hair dryer
  • It’s supposed to help your hair return to its “natural” state
  • A lot of people discover waves and/or curls they didn’t know they had

Over the past weeks, I’ve been reading articles, researching products, watching YouTube videos, and experimenting a little.  But the problem is, this method is different for everyone, so behind every success story are different products, different styling tricks, different washing methods, different silk pillowcases to sleep on.  The best solution I’ve found is to start small and simple.  So here are the basic ideas of the Maid to Curl Challenge:

  1. Remove Sulfates and Silicones: I’m going to stick to sulfate- and silicone-free hair products.  Official Curly Girl rules also advocate for the removal of other chemicals (like harsh alcohols and parabens), so I’ll do my best to find the most Curly Girl Approved products.  That said, I’m not going to drive myself insane, because I’ve learned my lesson before.
  2. No Heat Styling Allowed: I will remove all hot tools from my hair routine. *gasp*  Straighteners, curling irons, wands – all of them.  The Curly Girl Method does, however, allow for the use of a hair dryer and diffuser on a low or cool setting.  Don’t know what a diffuser is?  Me neither!  We’ll find out together!
  3. Take Out the Towel (and the brush): I’m going to stop drying my hair in a towel and stop dry-brushing my hair altogether.  Curly Girls claim traditional towels and hair brushes cause horrible things like frizz and breakage and world hunger.  The Curly Girl Method recommends using an old, cotton t-shirt to dry your hair and detangling with your fingers during the conditioning process.  So at least I’ve finally found a use for all my ancient, pitted-out t-shirts!
  4. Scrunch It Like It’s 2006: Unfortunately I lived through – and participated in – the gel scrunching phase of the early 2000s.  Much to my horror, the Curly Girl Method styling guidelines call for circa 2006-level scrunching.  I’ll get into the specific techniques I’m following as we go along, but basically, I plan to use a lot of gel and a lot of scrunching.  It’s definitely bringing up some embarrassing memories, but luckily, the end goal is no longer the wet-ramen-noodle look…or is it?


I thought this was NOT supposed to be the look?

So that’s where we’re starting.  The only other twist to this Challenge is that I’m bringing along a sidekick.  I’ve convinced my best friend and fellow hair enthusiast, Carrie, to join me on this journey.  Our hair types are completely different, so it should be interesting to compare our results.  She says she wants to see if her natural curl will come back, but I know we both just want to relive those high school scrunching days.  Now if we could just find our old low-rise jeans and scarf belts…



More Information on Challenge 5: Maid to Curl