You don’t have to be straight to take care of your hair! I’ve been following the “curly girl method” for almost a year, and it’s been my straightest experience since coming out. A lot of queer friends have been asking for my routine, so let’s make it gay and gender-inclusive! The method comes from Lorraine Massey’s book “Curly Girl: The Handbook,” and helps bring out the natural waves and curls of our hair in a natural, non-damaging routine.
I’ll walk you through my routine, what’s worked best and not worked at all, and the products I use. This post comes from the goodness of my heart because I have genuinely felt more secure and positive about my appearance since following the method, and I am still, tragically, not cool or popular enough for sponsorships. (Readers, throw a bone.) Enjoy the following pictures of my voluminous waves since following the method. (Mobile readers, swipe to view all.)
Curly queer method relies on keeping our hair hydrated and high in protein, so there are certain ingredients to avoid to protect our hair. No products with sulfates, silicones, or parabens. A lot of shampoos have these ingredients in them, but a lot of brands now run a line without these, and most of the time will state so on the front of the bottle so you can avoid reading the long ingredient list. I only use shampoo to wash my roots and scalp, rather than the entire length of my hair. This helps keep product from drying out the hair and washing out the good stuff. Try not to wash your hair so often too. I usually wash every 3-4 days, but don’t push it further than that. Straight girls on my facebook groups for curly girl method seem to think dirty hair is a competition, which it is not.
For products, I use Lush’s Curly Wurly. The shampoo does have a soft sulfate in it (Ammonium Laureth Sulfate), which is generally less harsh than sodium lauryl sulfate, but still not widely accepted by the ‘curly girl’ community. The best thing about being gay is that we are already not accepted by the larger community, so continue to keep making up the rules as you go! I really wanted to try this shampoo because it uses coconut shavings in it (a great moisturizer and poppin smell). However, it’s pricy as hell at $30 for that 7.5 ounce tub. I got it as a gift, will probably not be repurchasing because that’s insane for a dollop of shampoo.
I’ve also used the other shampoo in this picture, Renpure. Their products are free of all the Curly Queer no-no ingredients, and the company uses plant-based formulas, does not test on animals, and is made in the US. This costs around $7 for a 16 fl. ounce bottle. I’ve also used Love Beauty & Planet shampoo, which costs about the same for 13.5 fl ounces. Be sure to check Love‘s ingredient list though, because not all of their products are sulfate and silicone free. I’ve also used their cleansing conditioner as shampoo for like two months. Not a fan; I prefer a little lather.
As with shampoo, you want to avoid silicones, sulfates, and parabens. Lucky for you, most conditioners are already free of these ingredients. You want to use a LOT of conditioner, probably more than you think you need. Conditioner helps hydrate the hair, so don’t under-do it. My hair is monster-thick, so I apply conditioner in two or three sections, making sure it’s evenly applied. I let it sit while washing my body/shaving, then come through hair with a wide-toothed comb before rinsing. Try rinsing with lukewarm or cool water. The hotter the water, the drier it will make your hair (and skin). (I give this advice, but Winter!Jess would absolutely never take it. I like to be steamed and scorched.)
Recently, I’ve just been using trusty VO5, specifically the strawberries and cream scent for its “with soy milk protein” (gotta catch that protein boost). You can’t go wrong with this conditioner, and you can always find it for less than $1 a bottle!
I just purchased that bottle of Renpure conditioner. The words “biotin” and “collagen” just made me feel so curly. Instead of testing this type with a regular-sized 16 fl ounce bottle, I opted for a pump because I was sure to love it. It took me five days to get the pump opened properly. Not the best conditioner smell. Imagine a slightly floral sunscreen scent. I mean, I think that’s sexy, but my ginger ass has always been caked in sunscreen; I’m super accustomed.
I also use Love Beauty & Planet on occasion. It is a fast-acting conditioner, meant to be washed out immediately rather than let sit in your hair. That design came from well-intentioned water-conserving purposes, but something about that just doesn’t sit right with me. I want my hair to bathe in the conditioner for a solid few minutes.
I skip this step a lot. In fact, I haven’t deep-conditioned since February. Consider this step the extra-mile for haircare. Like when you’ve had a bad week and you think a face mask is going to fix it. That’s what I use deep conditioning for. I have used it to both replace regular conditioner or in addition to the regular conditioner. I’ve bought single-packet masks, but buying a tub you like is a lot more cost-effective. I’ve only purchased this tub from Raw Sugar, and always have great results. It makes my hair a lot fuller with more volume and defined waves. I paid around $10 for this at Target.
Now this is where things get fun and confusing. There’s lots of styling methods and products to try out as part of the curly method, but continue avoiding products with the sulfates, silicones, and parabens. Most importantly at the styling stage is to not use any heat-styling methods (no curlers!). The curly queer method uses your natural curl/wave pattern to lock into place.
The best product I have tried in my year-long journey is Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie. Fresh out of the shower with wet (but not sopping wet) hair, I use a nickel-sized drop of the smoothie, give it a splash of water in my palm, mash the smoothie and water together to distribute it evenly, turn my hair upside down, and smooth it through my hair. I give it a few scrunches. And sometimes, that’s all the styling I do. I just air-dry from there. And sometimes, I even get a few ringlets. I have a LOT of thick hair, so the fact I barely have to use any product for such great results still has me in awe every time I use it. This trial-size bottle was a gift, but the regular container (12 fl ounces) is around $12. Worth it. (Use this before gel if using gel.)
I often use a technique called “gel casting.” For this, I put a lot of gel in my freshly washed and wet (but not sopping wet) hair. I section my hair in 3 or 4 parts, get a good-sized dollop frosted on both palms, and smooth down the length of my hair. One good dollop per section of hair. You have to play around with gel amounts for a while to get it right. It took me a while at first, and I have to fuck up again every time I get a haircut. Let the gel dry all the way so it’s completely hardened. Then, I “scrunch out the crunch” and keep scrunching (or even just clapping my palms together with hair between palms) to break the cast until the crunch is gone. When gel casting does work–I absolutely love it. It keeps curls/waves locked into place for days and gives me more volume at the root, which is hard for long waves. I use (and ONLY use) LA Looks Extreme Sport Hold Level 10. This massive bottle of gel (20 fl ounces) is less than $2 at Walmart. Hair care brands will try to sell you all sorts of gel. There’s no need to pay their price tag if you can stand the smell of the seventies. (I’ve never been to the 70s, but I imagine it smelling like this.) (And not in a good way.)
On particular frizzy days, I put a couple drops of oil in my hair. I use the Pantene Nourishing Oil Serum, which I hunted for over the course of several weeks and cannot remember where I found it. However, Love Beauty and Planet also has a hair/skin oil similar that I have yet to try.
I spent 24 years never drying my hair because I’m a lazy piece of shit. With the curly queer method, you want to avoid heat-drying as much as possible and use a diffuser, which doubles blow-drying time. However, I started doing it more frequently and the results are undeniable. Especially with long hair, diffuse drying helps keep natural wave/curl patterns locked into place without the weight of the hair pulling the pattern down. I only blow dry after gel-casting because my hair is very prone to frizz, so the gel cast helps keep the frizz calm. I often switch between no and low heat just to speed up the process. I always always always use the diffuser attachment on my blow dryer.
Sometimes, I “plop,” or put my hair in a shower cap anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on how long I want to delay the diffusing process. Sometimes I do a quick round of diffusing, then plop, then diffuse some more. The plopping helps long hair not weigh down the curls, and I have an “absorbent” or towel-lined shower cap for this reason, meant to have some part in the drying process. I’m not really sure if the plopping makes a difference for my hair or not, I just like to think my procrastination has a purpose.
Since the gel casting and diffusing process can take so long, I often gel-cast/diffuse at night, sleep with my hard, gel-casted hair, and break the cast in the morning. When I only use the curl enhancing smoothie, I just air-dry.
I’ve read lots of posts and opinions and Facebook group comment sections about this over the past year, and here’s some of the other practices I’ve incorporated into my routine.
- I don’t use a regular towel for my hair. Some curlies swear against it because it makes your hair frizzy. My mom happens to sell Norwex products, which is primarily a sustainable cleaning company, but also has products like microfiber towels and a microfiber hair wrap. (I don’t own the hair wrap, but I want to.) I swear by this towel for my body and hair because of how easily and quickly it absorbs water, to the point where a regular towel actually makes my skin crawl. As a very cost-effective alternative, you can use a t-shirt to pat-dry your hair frizz-free.
- I barely brush my hair. Brushing hair means brushing out the wave pattern. I only brush right before washing my hair and give the extra comb-through when its sitting with conditioner in it.
- I use hair “spirals” instead of hair ties. The spiraling cords help pull hair back without giving your hair that indented line, letting curl patterns remain in tact. I have the brand scunci, which I wouldn’t recommend because they get stretched out pretty quick. I’ll be trying a new brand after I lose the ones in this pack.
- “Pineappling” your hair during sleep includes bunching the hair on the top of your head into a loose ponytail. This keeps hair from getting tangled and unmanageable during nighttime.
- Silk pillowcases supposedly allow hair to stay frizz-free during sleep. Also very good for your skin.
- Using a humidifier at night can help hair hydrated, especially in dry areas like the midwest during winter.
Get Curly, Queer!
Well, there you have it folks. I really hope to recruit more gays into the curly queer method because it’s hard being the only gay in all those Facebook groups filled with straight women. But, someone has to take one for the team, right? Let me know in the comments what you found helpful and what techniques/products you want to try!
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