The hugely popular Curly Girl method has been a game-changer for girls who want to embrace and enhance their natural curls.

And we agree with some of the fundamental curly girl tenets but there are some key points we disagree with. Why? Technology has changed! There’s new technology that can replace that old methodology.

At Color Wow, we took a different, more modern approach to naturally curly hair.


DON'T USE PRODUCTS WITH SULFATES! The Curly Girl Method recommends that anyone with naturally curly or wavy hair stay clear of sulfates.

Why? Sulfates like sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) in shampoos are harsh detergents that are very bad for curly, wavy, frizz-prone hair because they take away hair’s natural, essential oil.

And we totally agree. Harsh sulfates are a no-no in shampoos, you definitely want to go for a product that’s SLS free.

That is why our Color Security Shampoo is sulfate free. It does, however, contain mild surfactants that actually clean the hair, without harshness or stripping natural oils.

color security shampoo

DON'T USE PRODUCTS WITH SILICONES! The Curly Girl Method recommends that anyone with naturally curly or wavy hair stays away from silicones, especially silicones in shampoo.

The rationale is that silicones basically wrap hair in “plastic” that seals hair and does not permit moisture to enter strands. They can be drying to the hair. On top of that some silicones are not water soluble, therefore, do not wash off easily unless you use a cleanser with sulfates.

We agree with most of this rationale.
Silicones should not be in shampoos, because they are engineered to cling to hair - which means they also cling to the scalp!

Silicones do not rinse off easily, and can actually build up and block follicles, impeding new hair growth which can lead to hair loss. And if they’re in shampoo, you’re never really going to get rid of them. They’ll just continue to build up.

However, if you are using a shampoo that actually cleans the hair and is free of silicones, it’s totally okay to use styling products with water-soluble silicones (yes these are a thing!), because they will eventually get removed from the hair.

Water-soluble silicones can play an important role in select styling products (which, unlike shampoo, are NOT massaged onto the scalp but applied to mid lengths to ends.)


SKIP SHAMPOO, THEN USE A CONDITIONER TO CO-WASH! The Curly Girl Method says it is important not to strip essential oils, and to use non-detergent shampoos. So instead, many people with naturally curly hair “wash” with a sulfate-free, silicone-free conditioner.

The recommended co-wash method is to apply conditioner generously all over scalp, and massage for 3-5 minutes. Rinse, then “condition” with conditioner (same product or another sulfate-free, silicone-free formula).

This is a method we strongly disagree with. We believe that washing your hair with a conditioner is very detrimental to the health of the hair and scalp. Here’s why:

  1. Conditioners do not have cleansing ingredients, so they do not actually clean your hair and scalp, which is critical!
  2. Conditioners DO contain moisturizing, smoothing, detangling ingredients that are engineered to cling to the hair and scalp. Which, is the opposite of cleansing!
  3. These ingredients do not rinse out easily. They leave residues that dull hair, build up and weigh hair down and even worse, can block the follicle and lead to hair loss.

The simple summary: constantly “washing” with a conditioner (or even a shampoo formulated with conditioners) will definitely result in progressive build up that will clog follicles, make your hair dull, weigh it down, distort color, and make it impossible to achieve your best curl pattern.

For your healthiest, most responsive hair, it is absolutely critical to properly shampoo your hair and scalp. We believe that every hair type - including all natural hair textures - requires periodic cleansing with a shampoo that actually removes dirt, debris, and build up.

No matter how dry or fragile your hair (as a fact of nature, or from chemical treatments) we recommend using a gentle sulfate-free shampoo that contains NO conditioning and moisturizing ingredients that leave behind hazardous residues.


CONDITION ONCE, RINSE, THEN CONDITION AGAIN AND LEAVE IT IN! The Curly Girl Method teaches that curls are desperately in need of moisture, so you can’t overdo it. Curls behave better, form more perfect patterns, and stay frizz-free when they are coated with conditioning agents.

We agree, sometimes. Conditioning after shampooing is critical for all hair types, to hydrate and detangle the clean, fresh hair. But not everyone benefits from heavy, weighty conditioners. Some curly girls have fine hair that goes flat and stringy from heavy conditioning.

It’s important to choose the right formula for your hair type. Sometimes less is more.

That’s why Color Wow makes two conditioners, one for fine to normal hair, and one for thicker hair types that could use extra moisture.

color wow conditioners

But it’s also important to remember that neither is a “leave-in formula”. We believe conditioners are not always the best “leave-in treatments” to help moisturize and repair hair. They are after all, designed to be washed away. Instead use conditioners to create a moisture base, then opt for a treatment to give your hair the specific kind of boost it needs.

We call this range of treatment products Color Wow Dream Cocktails - they’re instant rehab for hair that’s dry, thinning or breaking, they’re heat-activated + designed to be left in and not weigh hair down. Find out how to use Dream Cocktails like a pro with our guide.

color wow dream cocktails


APPLY GEL AND SCRUNCH OUT THE CRUNCH! According to the Curly Girl Method a “gel cast” locks in curl formation as it hardens and stiffens. The instructions tout to wait until hair is completely dry, gel is hard, then use hands to scrunch and “crack” the gel cast, freeing your curls as much as possible!

Does it work? Sure. But our point of view was there has to be a better option. One that requires less time, less effort, and less...crunch. And with new technology there totally is. We designed a lightweight styler that does the work of crunchy gels and heavy creams - and still gives gorgeous definition.

Click here to learn more about our Dream Coat for Curly Hair formula. Or in the meantime see it in action right here:

The latest addition to our anti-humidity range is Extra Strength Dream Coat. This powerful, ultra-moisturising, anti-frizz treatment keeps dry/dehydrated hair and coily/curly hair glassy-smooth, straight and frizz-resistant through 3-4 shampoos.


Check out how to use Dream Coat like a pro with our guide and learn about the history of frizz-fighting with Color Wow founder Gail Federici. 

Read more about all things curly hair on the Color Wow Blog: