Curly Girl Update: Getting my first dry cut

I have been doing CGM lite( can I call loo-poo this?) for just over two months now! I officially started at the Beginning of June after months are hair trouble. I chronicled the first 30 days of doing CGM in this post, showing you the highs and lows of the transition period. And I will say, I am a convert! It definitely brought much need life and curl back into my hair. This is just a little update from the two month mark, how my routine is shaping up, my experience getting a dry cut and how I continue to modify the rules to suit my hair.

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30 Days CGM! My wavy hair journey

I have had a love/hate relationship with my hair my entire life. I love the colour, but sometimes I felt it made me stand out too much. I love that it is curly/wavy, but hate how difficult it was to manage sometimes…While I am at a place where I absolutely embrace my hair overall, a couple months ago I just felt my hair wasn’t doing anything. It wasn’t curly but it certainly was not straight. It was square and puffy and just getting in my face. I couldn’t be bothered to heat style in lockdown ( and I hate doing this anyways) but the natural curl pattern just seemed to be gone. It was at this point I discovered the Curly Girl Method!

What is CGM?

The Curly Girl Method (CGM), is a specific set of rules/guidelines for caring for curly hair. Curly hair here is used very broadly and covers anything from wavy to curly to coily. It was defined by Lorraine Massey in her book “Curly Girl: The Handbook”. At it’s most basic it says to avoid any heat styling, drying brushing, sulphates, silicones and alcohol. If you are getting started there are great Facebook groups to join: Curly Girls Conditioner Only Group is the largest but the one I found most helpful for my wavy hair was the Curly Girl: CGM Support Group for All.

This is also where I will say I follow an adjusted version of CGM. I tried the co-wash only but just found it did not vibe with my hair and I wasn’t willing to spend the time required to try to make it work. I know people who have curlier hair have had great luck with cowashing ( washing with conditioner) so please do research and try out a bunch of different things while on your hair journey. But very early on I decided to go with a loo-poo ( i.e. silicone and sulphate free shampoo). I also brush my hair in the shower and would be okay using heat once in a while ( this post is for the first 30 days but it has actually been like 60+ days of CGM for me, I am just really behind on posting).

My Hair Journey

Like I said above, sometimes it has felt like a wild ride with my hair, as I sure many people feel about their own hair. I kept it super short until grade 6 and then started to grow it out. I wore it natural as well this entire time. I started straightening for special events, and everytime I got it cut, in grade 7 but it always took so long. I kept growing it out well through high school and into university and had some of my favorite hair moments during this time ( is that a thing?? a hair moment?). It was super thick and beachy wavy, sometimes curly ( thank you salt water).

Then I decided I was done with long hair. It is hard to tell in photos but my hair is insanely thick, like every hairdresser I have ever had has commented on it and having super thick wavy hair just got to be super annoying some days. Plus I never had enough hair as a child to donate and it has always been something I wanted to do so I went for and chopped off 11 inches of hair.

I loved having short hair and for the most part it still worked in it’s natural form but because for the first time in ages it didn’t take me an hour to do my hair I started heat styling way more than before. Case in point, it was super hard to find photos of my short hair with absolutely no heat styling, most of these are from when it started to grow out again.

My Hair 30 Days Ago

So a couple years of mostly heat styling or throwing my hair in a bun started to add up, throw in the stress of grad school and a pandemic my hair started to look real rough. The natural curl pattern had mostly disappeared and it was just sorta of puffy mess. And this is what brings us to the beginning of my CGM journey.

( Sorry I feel that was the world’s longest intro but it was fun to look back on hair styles past).

The Format

The format of the rest of the post will be as follows: the first section has my routine, the second section has photos of every day ( yes I took a photo every day) of the first 30 or so days of doing CGM. I wanted to provide you with a realistic idea of all the ups and downs of CGM and how much change you can really expect in a short amount of time. This section has some notes on what I did but the ending section is where I put all my lessons learned and thoughts, so feel free to skip to the end if that is what you are most interested in!

My Routine

I did a bunch of online research, read all the notes in the two Facebook groups and ultimately settled on starting with the Tresemme Botanicals — Shampoo and Conditioner, NYM Leave in Conditioner and HE Totally Twisted mousse. These I all checked as “CGM safe” from photos in the Facebook group and there are also tons of sites you can type product names into to check. I would recommend starting with just one conditioner (and shampoo if using), leave in and gel/mousse for the first 30 days before adding anything else.

Some important things you need to figure out when starting is what hair type do you have ( I have 2b mostly) , is your hair strands thick or thin(mine are a mix of thin and medium), density of your hair( this is what I was saying above about “thick” hair- it is actually “dense” hair) and your porosity ( how well it absorbs water). I find the learning modules in either Facebook group a great place to start but you can also use this website which I found handy. There are so much blogs, YouTube channels and even Reddit subthreads dedicated to CGM so it is good to search around and find the best way for you to receive information.

I am now 60+ days in and still use just these, I love them I think they work super well for wavy hair. For curlier/thicker hair people tend to prefer mousse. So it is important you go through those four metrics I mentioned above and use them as guidelines to find product for your hair.

Order of routine: shampoo and conditioner in shower ( let conditioner sit for a bit), Leave In whilst hair is still soaking and then coat and scrunch the mousse in

The First 30 Days: what it looks like when your hair goes through the transition

(1&2) Day three hair before and after brushing my hands through and smoothing for a straight with volume look. (3 & 4) wash day and air dry while I work- okay definition, lots of mini curl clumps. (5) Day two hair, slept in a silk scarf, maintained shape decently. (6) Day three hair, curls falling out but a couple front curls still holding nicely. (7) Washed and styled at night

Next two weeks:

Row One: (1&2 ) Overnight plopping worked pretty well, some big front curls and decent side definition. (3) Day two hair, definitely falling out but still some big curls. (4) Day three hair big and puffy, humid and hair falling in my face…

Row Two: (1) Happy with this wash day, overnight plop again wake up with decent definition. (2) Later the same day as my hair dried and curled up- really happy with this day!! (3) Day two hair- lost all definition in the front so pulled it up and still nice curls underneath

Row Three: (1) LOVED this wash day- washed midday post workout and hair dried quickly in the heat, big bouncy curls and decent definition. (2) Day two fared okay but they are stretching out. (3) Day three regained some bounce overnight in my silk scarf pineapple! (4) The classic day four brush through look- I like that I can still get a diversity of hairstyles without using any heat.

One roller coaster of a hair day:

This hair day was wild!! So it deserves it’s own section just to see what can happen in a single day.

Started out promising, some big curls and a lot of smaller twisty waves but it was so humid and my hair never fully dries with overnight plopping so it continued to frizz all morning. I added a hairband to get it out of my face while I worked, it looks okay some pieces are curling up. Post lunch take out the hairband and OMG what happened- it is frizzy, the curls have expanded and lost most of their shape and it is SO annoying to do work with. Give up and put my hair back in a bun and headband so I can get back to work. Just wanted to show you that bad hair days like this still happen and dealing with frizz has in particular been a huge challenge for me.

Week Four:

(1) Woke up the next day with hair calmed down a bit thank god. (2) Stretched out in a nice way on day three. (3) Wash day and air dry- pretty frizzy with humidity. (4) Pineapple-d in a scarf over night and bounced back nicely ( I think this helps the oils absorb and distribute, day two hair is virtually always my fave) I actually forgot to take photos for a day so there was a day three in between photos (4) and (5) not shown.

(5) Washed the night before and overnight plopped (6) Later than day when dry, turned into really nice curls (7) Day 2 hair stretched out but not frizzy! (8) Hiked all day so no good photo

(9) Another overnight plop success (10) going strong for day 2 (11) Meh day three

Ending on a high note here is day 30 ( I think?) and the best day yet! I washed in the morning and carefully air dried while I worked at my computer. It is hard to not mess with the hair while it air dries but I do I am pretty successful when I just work at my desk. It took about four hours to fully dry but look at those curls!

Lessons Learned:

I love overnight plopping (hair in tee-shirt) for convenience but really if you are going for definition nothing beats good old hair drying. Every time I showered in the morning and air dried my hair looked it’s best. This works for right now in lockdown but I just don’t think this is practical for me going forward and TBH overnight plopping will likely continue.

For carrying over dry curls I love throwing them up at the top of my head (pineapple style) and then twisting a silky scarf around like a bonnet. It is not the cutest thing in the world, though it does have a little bit of a Mrs. Maisel vibe, but it works in keeping curls/waves nice and shiny and not frizzy.

Finger twirling!! When I want my hair to look more curly and less wavy I take time to finger curl the mouse through the front sections of my hair, this works so well and leads to a more polished final look.

I am still struggling with clumping and wet frizz. Lot’s of little hairs fall out of the main curl pattern and this leads to bigger, frizzier hair when dry. I do find that the roping technique ( I think this is what it is called, pretty much I squish hair together as a rope before scrunching) works best for me on this, I am definitely NOT a rake kinda girl that completely deflates my waves. I tried using almond oil to smooth out frizz as I had some around the house but this made my hair feel SO gross. I want to try another natural oil but need to do more research first. All my old products are full of silicones and thus not CGM friendly so I have sort given up on controlling frizz and just throw it in a loose pony if it is driving me insane.

I also typically brush my hands through my hair on day 3 or 4 and end with a nice “blow out” look. It works because I carry over pretty much no curl definition past day two and am pretty bad at refreshing. I find this technique works for me as it helps me spread out washing while still liking the look. Plus I really like that I get a full suite of different hair styles (curly to wavy to straightish) without using any heat. If you have wavy hair that holds oil well I would recommend this as a fun way to change up your look just before wash day.

The Verdict

Okay that was insanely long so props to you if you made it to the bottom! I mostly just wanted to show what it looks like your first 30 days and what changes you can reasonably expect. I definitely saw a huge change in my hair, it was definitely under moisturized before starting so the new products helped with that. I got some great curl definition form the mousse and overall think my hair has made it out of the transition period pretty quickly.

To me this was definitely worth it and I will continue, I found that with the right research and the tips I mentioned above that this method can work really great for wavy hair. I am getting a haircut and will report back on the progress seen since then and post my full routine in a much more succinct post.

Lockdown Wardrobe: Outfit Inspiration for Staying at Home

So I was feeling super fashion inspired the other day so I styled, shot and wrote an article on my grad school wardrobe and tips on how to balance comfy and put together style. And then it hit me that literally no one needs that information right now…Well maybe some people do in places were schools are going to be in person in the fall but for the vast majority of students grad school we will continue to be online or at least have the in person settings severely limited. I know stuff keeps changing so maybe I will post it, or maybe I will just say eff it and post it even if nothing changes because I think the outfits are cute and it was fun to write.

But in the meantime so I can get my styling ( does this even count as styling??) fix while actually writing something useful I thought I would share what I have been wearing this lockdown. Massachusetts started lock down in mid-March so I have been living the work/study from home life for over three and half months. Like everyone else, these three and a half months have been a whirlwind of emotions. There are days when I am super anxious and exhausted, and they are days when the sun is shining, the coffee hits right and TSwift releases a new album. And thus my mental capacity for getting “ready” in the morning also differs wildly. So I decided to break this post into three categories. We have the Extra Cozy for days when only sweats and our softest sweaters will do. Some days you need to be presentable for the camera but still comfortable if you need a lie down mid day. And other days you feel like putting on those jeans, that cute dress and really just relishing in those small pleasures.

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What I Packed for Two Months in Europe

One of my biggest fears I had before setting off on my trip was how on earth would I pack for two months in just a backpack. And two months in Europe, nonetheless, this was not a place I wanted to be wearing t-shirts and leggings every day. I needed to look nice, but also be prepared for a number of scenarios: clothes to hike in, to protect me from rain, clothes for the beach, clothes for conservative churches….the list goes on.

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