Outside the “Curly Girl” Box

Updated May 13, 2020: My product list has changed as you will see below I added updates to the list in bold.

So, not exactly a crafty post, but I’m sharing information and experience I’ve seldom seen shared. I’ve read, and benefited from, lots of posts for the ‘curly girl’ routine and lots against it. I don’t seem to fit in either box.

When I started allowing my natural curls to spring back up, it was purely to live a frizz free life and possibly leave my hair down once in a while. I didn’t want the shellacked spirals I had in the 80’s, I just wanted soft frizz free curls. And mostly I got that, but not by following any regimen to the letter.

What I initially did was the ingredient ban: no sulphates, no parabens, no silicones.. etc. I purchased the most inexpensive shampoos and conditioners that claimed to be free from all of these things and went into my new routine. I washed every 4 days, used a lot of conditioner, and plopped with a T-shirt.

3 weeks in and my hair was super grease city, which is not a norm for me.

I began reading labels on everything – again… when I cloth diapered my kids I was washing my hair with baking soda and coconut oil for a hot minute – and I found once again that companies lie. I began reading the ingredient labels of ALL the shampoos and conditioners and gels. Know what I found?

Almost all these products contained a form of silicone! Of all the brands the large national chains carry, I only found 3 conditioners and 2 shampoos that actually were free from sulfates, parabens, and silicones.

I also found that I still need a shampoo with sulfates about every 3rd or 4th wash to remove product buildup from even the most clean and natural stuff.

So, what do I use?

Garnier Whole Blends Legendary Olive shampoo has sulfates, but the conditioner is fab and free of parabens and silicones AND smells oh so good. This is the only sulfate shampoo I could find that didn’t have silicones. Update: unfortunately the conditioner has become unavailable in my area. However, the new Coconut and Aloe addition to the Whole Blends line is equally good and the conditioner is a bit lighter. Also, the entire Garner Treat line of shampoos and conditioners is a great option. This line is held to even higher standards and none contain any parabens or silicones. I have added the Garnier Treat Avacado shampoo and conditioner to my rotation.

I have only used the shampoos and conditioners from these lines, none of the stylers or targeted treatments.

OGX Coconut Miracle Oil shampoo and conditioner are the only products in the entire OGX line that are actually free of all the bad stuff and smells fantastic too. Update: I no longer use these because silicone has been added to the ingredient list of both products.

Honest is like a secret winner here, found this stuff in the baby section and the orange vanilla seriously smells good enough to eat. This one is also free from all the junk, and bonus, when I use this I don’t need gel! That’s right, the conditioner alone tames the frizz for days with only a water refresh! Yeah.

There are a lot of gels out there that will do the job without any added junk, however, I’ve found that there are some ingredients that completely aggravate my rosacea in a lot of styling products and that leaves me with slim pickings.

Hands down favorite gel when I need it: Eco Style olive oil or Eco Style argan oil. It’s not just the cheapest, it’s a workhorse and causes me no irritation. I apply gel a bit differently if I air or blow dry my hair but always do in the shower right after conditioner. When air drying I rake it through upsidown, squish under the running water for a second and plop into my T-shirt. When I’m blow drying I use the praying hands method and let the curls clump nicely. Either way I use a lot of gel, like a golf ball sized glob, you need enough to actually cover all of your hair if you want it to control the frizz.

I also dye my hair with permanent and semi-permanent dyes, and typically wash in water as cold as I can stand it to preserve the color. When using bleach I lightly coat my hair in straight coconut oil to protect it from damage and when using semi-permanent dyes I always prep with dish soap to remove all the oils and get the best coverage. It’s not the end of the world to step out of the ‘only natural hair care’ box occasionally.

And that’s what works for me.


  1. Do you need to wet your hair daily as well? I have in between curly hair but I cannot get up and go, it has to have some kind of wetness each day or I look like a poodle with bedhead.

    • Oh yes. I need a water refresh daily, though sometimes it’s just a spritz and other days it’s a dunk.

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