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Curly Hair Techniques, Methods & Terminology

If the Curly Girl Method is a new to you, then you are about to embark on a new discovery into the world of curly hair. At Kurlify we are here to guide you through information, techniques and experiences! During your research you will come across a lot of new – and often weird – terms, such as plopping , raking and shaking and the pineapple . No idea what they mean and why they are good for your hair? That doesn’t matter, after reading this blog you will be fully informed.

In this article:

In this article:

Curly girl techniques

Build up

Build up is an accumulation of products on your hair. An accumulation of product prevents the hairs ability to breathe and blocks the right nutrients from being absorbed to keep your hair healthy. 

When the hair becomes deprived of the right nutrients, it can become unhealthy, lack luster and begin to dry out. If you are just starting out with the CG Method, step one is to remove any possible build up that may be on your hair with a final wash . 

This is a one off treatment with a CGM-friendly shampoo. You can read more about build up and its consequences in our article on co-washing.


When you apply gel to wet hair in the CGM way, the gel dries along with your hair, leaving behind a gel cast . This is a hard layer, also called crunch . Pre CGM era you probably thought this was a sign of cheap gel, but now you know: this is right! 

The gel cast helps your curls, providing them with a structure that maintains their natural shape and also prevents frizz. Let your hair dry completely with the gel in it; preferably in the air, this can also be done with a hair dryer and diffuser.

 Once bone dry, then you will scrunch – the explanation of this can also be found in this article.

Scrunching hair


Clumps are curls that curl together or form one larger curl. You can carefully take the clumps apart so that they become loose curls, if you like that better. But of course you can also just let them sit together. 

Clumps form within the hair by not brushing your curls, encouraging them to stick together. Pinch, or clump , different parts of your hair vertically together with your hands as a way to allow your curls to form nicely. 

The praying hands , squishing, and scrunching out the crunch techniques help with this – all of the techniques explained in this article.


One of the most important steps of the Curly Girl Method is to remove shampoos, this is because they contain aggressive cleansers such as sulfates and silicone. Instead, you can wash your hair with conditioner, shortened to co-washing. 

This is much milder for your hair and scalp.

Read more about: Co-washing your curly hair.

Pre-poo: an extra nourishing step before shampooing your hair

Heat exposure, chemical treatments and coloring can lead to dry, damaged, or brittle hair.

Silkier, smoother, and healthier hair is just a pre-poo away. Whether you have curly, kinky, or straight hair, incorporating a pre-shampoo routine into your hair care regimen can make a significant difference.

Pre-poo is an abbreviation of the term “pre-shampoo.” It’s a step that some people aren’t familiar with, yet it can do wonders for restoring hair health.

Read all about the pre-poo method in our comprehensive guide.


Curlsys is a cutting method devised by Brian McLean, in which the hairdresser cuts bundles of wet hair that naturally sit together with a special scissor. Due to the round cutting technique, it allows the curls to fall softly, enhancing the movement and creating a naturally beautiful look. 

First we look at your curl type, then it is determined which cutting technique best suits your specific curl. It makes your hair less heavy, fuller at the scalp and your ends will curl instead of frizz. 

A Curlsys hairdresser has followed a special course in cutting for curls and in the Netherlands can be found online.

Leave-in conditioner

This is a type of conditioner that you apply after washing and – you guessed it – not wash out, but just leave it on.


LOC (or LCO) is an abbreviation of:

L eave-in conditioner, this ensures the hydration of your hair.
O il, you use this to seal your hair so that the moisture is retained.
C Remé, gel, or mousse: this makes for a good curl definition.
LOC is therefore a method, or sequence, in which you apply products to your hair, so that your hair is optimally hydrated. LOC can also be referred to as LCO, it uses the same products but in a new sequence, where the oil is applied last.



A pineapple is useful to protect your curls while sleeping. Flip your hair over, grab it together to create a loose bun or ponytail and secure it on top of your head with an Invisibobble or other brand.

Your pineapple is much looser than a real bun and there is less twisting involved: just twist it once or twice. If your hair is a bit shorter, you may have trouble adding the small tufts on the back of your head to your pineapple , but that’s okay.

If your hair is longer, it is best to keep your hair on top of your head as much as possible, by not pulling your curls all the way through the Invisibobble. Your head with a curly bunch on top looks like a pineapple, hence the name?

Read more about: How to Pineapple your Hair to Protect your Curls


Plopping is a technique for drying your hair without damaging it. In addition, it provides more definition, less frizz and helps your hair dry faster. 

You can plop your hair after you get out of the shower and apply your styling products. Plopping your hair allows water to be drawn from it without causing damage. 

This can be done for ten to twenty minutes, then continued by air-drying or blow-drying cold with a diffuser. Another way is to plop your hair in the evening and go to sleep with it wrapped. Experiment and see what works best for you!

To plop your hair, you need a cotton T-shirt or microfiber towel. Place the T-shirt or towel on the bed or on a chair, flip your hair forward and place your wet hair on the center of the fabric. 

Grab the shirt or cloth at the top and place it over your hair on your neck. Then grab the sleeves of the shirt or the bottom of the cloth and fold it over your forehead to the back. 

Tie the sleeves or the cloth together, and there you have it!

Praying hands

Praying hands is a method of applying styling products to your hair. You do this as follows: Apply the product to your hands and then place your hands together in a praying position, with your hair in between. 

Slide your hands down in this position – from the root to the tip – so you apply the product gently without disturbing the curl.

Rakin’ and Shakin’

You use this technique in the shower or when applying styling products. Untangle your curls with your fingers, while at the same time distributing the product through the hair from your roots to the tips. 

This is “Rakin “. Then grab your ends and shake your curls to the roots so that they fall into their natural pattern. 

This technique does not work for everyone, some curly girls notice that they pull out their curls shape.

Refreshing Curly Hair

With a refresh you are able to bring your curls back into their shape the days after washing, without washing it. Moisten your hair again, in the shower or with a spray bottle, with a mix of water and leave in conditioner . 

Then you scrunch again and let it dry. Sometimes it helps to use some extra styling products like gel.

Read more about: Refreshing your hair.

Scrunching Hair

Scrunching , is a term coined to describe the motion in which to pinch your curls into their natural shape. It is a commonly used technique within the Curly Girl Method: it stimulates your curls and brings volume to your hair.

After shampooing, scrunch your curls back into shape, and do this again and again after adding a hair product. This can be done as follows: Bend over so that your hair is hanging upside down.

Make a bowl with your hands and hold them under the ends of the hair. Using a cupping motion, take your hair from the ends to the scalp, and gently squeeze in a repetitive motion.

Repeat this several times throughout your hair.

Read more about: How to Scrunch Curly Hair.

Scrunching out the crunch

If you apply gel to wet hair and then let it dry, it will leave a cast . This makes your curls feel solid and crunchy . 

You can ‘break’ that cast to reveal your soft and healthy curls. That’s called Srunching out the Crunch. 

To do this, hang your head upside down, grab parts of your hair and squeeze gently until you feel the dried gel layer dissipate. This motion is continued from the ends of your hair through to the scalp. 

This is only to be done on dry hair, because when you scrunch with wet hair you get fluffy hair and saggy curls. And we don’t want that! If you find yourself getting frizzy hair, you can put some jojoba or coconut oil on your palms.

Tip: If you have a date in the evening, it is best to leave the gel cast in all day and scrunch it out at the end of the day . This way you have the perfect bunch of curls on your date!

Read more about: Scrunching out the crunch.


Sealing is applying an oil to your hair after using a nourishing product. Applying an oil to the hair creates a seal around it, so that the moisture is better retained.


If your hair has a good slip after you apply a product to your hair, it is easier to comb through and feels smooth. If a product gives your hair little slip , then it is more difficult to comb and feels less smooth.

Squishing to condish

The Squish to condish technique gets the most out of your conditioner. Apply the conditioner using your praying hands motion to your hair; about 5-6 cm from the hair root to your tips. Hang your head upside down, trapping the water and squeeze ( squish )

Unicorn haircut

The unicorn haircut is a method used to cut your hair yourself. Comb your hair forward, to make a tail on top of your forehead and twist an extra elastic in your hair where you want to cut the ends. 

Carefully cut your hair under where you have placed the elastic. This creates a kind of layers within your hair. 

Are you doing this for the first time? Then we recommend always cutting a little bit and not immediately cutting everything radically. 

Would you first like to see how you do a unicorn haircut ? You can find many step by step tutorials on YouTube.

Finally, this ..

There are three techniques that we find so important that we have written a separate article about it:

Final wash: Learn all about the final wash

Co-washing: Everything you want to know about co-washing

Deep conditioning: 5 tips for deep conditioning your hair according to the curly girl method

The most important advice: try out which CGM techniques and products work best for you and your curls. Every curly girl, and every curl, is unique! 

Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments .



  1. Best article I’ve read

  2. My hair is very thick and curly and the worst thing about my hair is it stays frizzy And especially the ends. I have tried everything and nothing works! What can I do to like my hair?

  3. Hi! I have 2a-2b wavy hair.

  4. The worst part about my thick, curly hair is that it always remains frizzy, especially the ends and it’s very messy

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