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These Are the 3 C’s of Curly Hair You Need to Know

It turns out there’s a method to perfecting unruly curls – all you need is to stick to the script (don’t worry, there’s room for improvisation) and follow the “curly girl method.” This science-level approach to coping with waves is a must know for anyone with a curl pattern. Even though great hair on demand sounds too good to be true, according to Michelle Sultan, Creative Director and Brand Ambassador for Imbue and celebrity stylist for Jennifer Hudson, Mel B, and Jordyn Woods, it’s totally possible. Read on for her guide to the “3 C’s” for beautiful curls every time.

What Is the Curly Girl Method?

“The curly girl method is a regime designed to encourage you to have your very best kinks, coils, or waves,” answers Michelle. The first step of the method involves what you leave out of hair instead of what you put in –using sulfate-free shampoo or co-washing (i.e. using conditioner instead of shampoo to cleanse your curls) rather than a shampoo that strips and dehydrates the natural moisture level from your hair is a must.

“The method encourages you to train your curls to be their very best by using products with a balance of moisture and protein. While using the curl girl method, the use of electrical appliances is strongly discouraged although you may need to use a diffuser to encourage a curl or even speed up the drying process,” she continues. Overall, any products with sulfates, silicones, alcohols, and mineral oils are out, as are hot tools – with the exception of a diffuser. You want to treat curls with care, so treat them kindly and think long term over instant gratification. “It’s all about using products that are curly girl friendly,” she says. “It’s about not using any products that have sulfates which can dehydrate the hair and leave it feeling brittle.

The 3 C’s

The 3-step curly girl method revolves around cleansing, conditioning, and then curling – all with great products.

Step 1: Cleanse

The first step to great curls is to make sure your mane is properly cleaned, which means removing excess oil, dust, pollution and product build up through a sulphate-free shampoo. Search for a formulation that respects the hair and the scalp as it cleanses effectively to liberate your curls. Michelle recommends Curl Liberating Sulphate Free Shampoo ($14.99, imbuecurls.comAmazon), which is made with coconut and cupuaçu to nurture both the scalp and hair.

Step 2: Condition

Curls need nourishment. Conditioner should hydrate and lock in moisture – dryness is the enemy of perfect curls. A great conditioner is key to “allowing that comb, or your fingers, to slip through the hair without snagging,” says Michelle, who also suggests a mask. She reaches for Curl Respecting Conditioner – ($14.99, imbuecurls.comAmazon) which won’t weigh hair down, and Curl Restoring Intensive Mask, $19.99, imbuecurls.comAmazon), which she calls “hair food in a tub.”

Step 3: Curl

“Define curls, seal in moisture, add some hair-loving ingredients and set the tone of how your curls will dry. A range of multitaskers you can apply to wet hair to enhance your natural curl pattern,” says Michelle, who encourages applying product to wet hair for best results and to help tresses stay soft, defined and empowered for longer than just day one. For curls, the type of product matters. Michelle suggests a gel (Curl Empowering Crème Gel: $12.99, imbuecurls.comAmazon) and a leave-in spray (Curl Inspiring Conditioning Leave In Spray: $12.99, imbuecurls.comAmazon)

Timing the 3C Process 


“If you have a 3C hair type then the CGM process takes as long as you want it to!” notes Michelle. “I, personally, have a mix of 3b/3c/4a curl types on my own head and depending on what I do, the process can take an entire day or just 30 minutes. It can take longer if my hair is lacking moisture and if that is the case, I use the Imbue Curl Restoring Intensive Mask ($19.99, imbuecurls.com) and leave it on my hair after cleansing. This can be left on for a number of hours for extra moisture and protein boost. I would then proceed to style my hair with curling products and then leave to air dry which depending on the weather can take a few hours to dry completely!” To finish off the look, Michelle relies on the Imbue Curl Energising Hydration Serum ($12.99, imbuecurls.com) and Imbue Curl Worshipping Shine Oil ($12.99, imbuecurls.com) for gorgeous definition and shine.


Switching It Up

Curls are unique and vary tremendously when it comes to texture, which is why it’s always fun to switch it up. When Michelle is styling her curly celeb clients she uses their different textures to create traditional hairstyles with a twist. “For example, I love doing curly topknots or braids. Curly hair is so versatile, and I have a lot of fun creating sexy, fun, fashion or elegant looks for whatever the occasion is, whether it’s a red carpet look or tv show or even a photoshoot,” she says.


If you’ve been blessed with curls, you should know your curl pattern. HERE’s how to figure it out.

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