In order to maintain the healthy and hydrated curls we all love, there is one area I consider most important. What’s so crucial is that it’s not only necessary I tell you how to do this, but that I want to change your habits! When we start to think of things in a new way we will begin to do them in a new way; it’s time to re learn! You can’t believe any longer that conditioner alone moisturizes your hair. It is the water/ conditioner mix that gives your hair moisture. Just like if you have dry legs and put lotion on them, you have dry, oily legs. We all know to take a bath or shower to fill up the skin with water and then apply the lotion to hold it in. We want to fill the hair with water with just enough conditioner left to seal it all in. What happens now is that we need to apply these philosophies to the hair.

So often, I am asked “How much conditioner should I leave in my hair?”  Or “I did what you said and still have frizz!”  All of us curlies know that we are DEHYDRATED! Water alone does not moisturize, oil alone does not moisturize, but the combo of the two is magic! What I have found after talking and working with hundreds of curlies is that we don’t know how to incorporate the water. We stick our head under the faucet for 10 seconds then have at it with tons of product. It’s no wonder that we feel that conditioner weighs down our hair and makes it feel greasy. We are always in such a hurry in the morning, so I ask you to slow down, soak it up for a bit, and relax. I once timed myself; taking a shower in a rush, it took 11 minutes, then taking my time and thoroughly paying attention to what I was doing, it took fifteen. Really?  I've decided that I’m going to take the worthwhile 4 more minutes. My hair and my attitude reward me for the rest of the day.

So here is where I break it down, starting with tangles:  Add enough conditioner to really wet hair, enough to slip through the tangles, if any. There is a reason why we only finger comb; hair has a cuticle on the outside and a reservoir on the inside that can absorb. When the hair is dehydrated, the inside is shrunk leaving those cuticles lifted where they can become like velcro that can grab and stick to the others, therefore creating tangles. Instead of ripping through them with combs or brushes when our hair is most fragile (you say you're gentle and you know you’re not), try this method instead: Add conditioner to that area, add water and squish. When you push that water conditioner mixture into the hair, the inside plumps up with water and seals with conditioner. It’s the process of plumping and sealing the cuticle that makes the cuticle itself tighter and smoother, releasing the velcro effect and allowing your fingers to slide through like butter. 

Now, when your hair is soaking wet with water, you need to add enough conditioner to feel slippery, like seaweed. We then begin to squish this water conditioner mixture into the hair.  Curly girls often experience water rolling off the hair; we want to push it in. Your curls should start clumping together and feeling firmer.

Lean to the left, squish, lean to the right, squish, and upside down, and squish. I like to call it curly yoga! Get those curls off that head. This is my favorite way to encourage my curls to go where they want to, where they live naturally. They always go there anyway, so why not start them off right. My hair is most beautiful when I allow my curls to do their own thing.

We do not totally rinse out the conditioner. It starts by trickling some water onto the hair to help it get even wetter, and start squishing it in again.  I do this by standing away from the shower head, catching water in my cupped hands and throwing it into my curls section by section. Your curls should be incredibly wet, slippery and frizz free now. As we are doing this, the hair is drinking up the water and you can see the excess conditioner being pushed out. We are replacing and diluting the conditioner with water, and you can actually feel it happening. This is our new way to rinse. Flip your head over and look. You will notice that your hair is extremely wet, but not dripping. This is good! The water and conditioner is in your hair and not rolling off the outside, it has spread evenly throughout each and every curl. You have finally created your own perfect mixture.
If you see or feel any frizz or clumps that have not come together, add more water and conditioner. How your hair looks wet is how it will look dry.

Quanto Basta,

“How many pumps should I use?” “How much water, and how many times?” These curlies are my overachievers.  My perfect answer to this would be Quanto Basta. Quanto Basta is an Italian cooking term. Have you ever asked an Italian for a recipe? There isn't one. They will say Quanto Basta - use enough. The same goes with hair - use enough. It will, and can change with outside conditions and seasons. We all know that we are human barometers, and again it all depends on how much water is in the air and our hair. In humid conditions we need less water and conditioner, in dry conditions more. Use enough to get the feel and look you want. Quanto Basta - Learn your hair. If the crown area still feels frizzy, use more. Is the underside prone to tangles? Use more. 

When it comes to gel, remember that your gel should live in the shower. Smooth and scrunch the gel into the curls. Catch them at that perfectly moisturized clumpy state. All curlies have wished that their hair looked the same dry as it did wet. Catch it there!

Now we move on to using our flour sack towels. We have just spent all that effort to push in the water, we don’t want a super absorbent towel to now pull it all out.  Some people think that we are using the towel to dry the hair; I say it’s another opportunity to push more moisture in. You've already noticed that your hair is not dripping, so why remove moisture? On the first scrunch with the towel, it’s going to get wet. Do not move the towel to a dry place, use the wet part and scrunch more in. You’re still going to hear the squishing sounds you did in the shower.  You can choose to do this before or after you put in your gel, whichever gets and keeps those curls together. If they ever start coming apart, you’ve taken out too much. We only need to dry the outer surface. We do not want to dry or dehydrate the inner moisture.

Thinking about what you're doing and why you’re doing it, will change the way you hydrate your hair and you will be rewarded. It is a simple change in technique that can make a huge difference.

 Have a happy frizz free day @:)


Colleen Raymond
05/30/2013 11:03pm

I've been doing this for about a year now, only i don't ues a towel i just squish out excess water, then apply leave in conditioner and gel still squishing. I get complements daily!!! Thanks for sharing this with us curlies

06/11/2013 4:42am

You are right! The wetter the better. I love how curlies take it all in and make it their own.

09/11/2014 9:42pm

I have a question regarding the squish condish method. Won't it leave a great deal of conditioner in my hair especially near the top and roots?

Also, what do you do for next day curls if you don't want to wash and squish condish the next day?

11/09/2014 8:51pm

Hi, I'm using your comment to reply to the person "christina" that replied to you, because oddly enough they didn't have a reply button on their comment.

So anyways. This is what I do to make my curls last. I just "pineapple" them, as it is called. I take a hair tie and just bake a tail right on top of my head and sleep with it like that. Curls usually last a couple of days with that method, and I do this every night.

If you want to try something else one girl on reddit was recommending wetting the hair with conditioner mixed with water in a spray bottle. I'll link it here http://www.reddit.com/r/curlyhair/comments/26xv21/my_lazy_s2c_cheat/

Take caution with that though because, as somebody said in the comments, going to bed with wet hair can give you problems with bacteria in your ears if you leave moisture in them. So be careful with that.

Good luck.

Julie Van Brasch Britzman
06/06/2013 3:50pm

Love this tutorial, hoping you've written more! Found you through Scott Musgrave. Thanks

Melissa Stites
06/11/2013 4:51am

I am glad you like it and I am working on more, slowly but surely :) Love Scott !! He made me do it,lol. He is a master of words and I am most comfortable behind the chair, but I will do anything to help curlies finally start loving their hair @:)

linda Macmillan
08/20/2013 8:42pm

must do for me

08/20/2013 11:01pm

I just read all of the blog... I am smiling from ear to ear. You have taught me so much and I look forward to our monthly appts. My hair has never looked so good and healthy. Thank you for taking the time to teach us curlies how to HYDRATE!!!!

09/09/2013 1:25pm

I've been CG since January, read the book, watched the DVD, stalked YouTube, and interact on naturallycurly.com, but reading this blog made it finally click for me! Thank you so much; I am looking forward to seeing my hair improve even more with squish to condish

09/13/2013 6:28am

So happy it has helped ! Should you ever need anymore personalised information feel free to facebook me :)

02/03/2014 3:44pm

Any words of wisdom for getting larger clumps to stay? I've only recently committed to the Curly Girl Method (um, about two weeks ago). I have long, high porosity, dark brown hair that is prone to frizz. I'm 3c and keep coming out with an 80's perm look I'd love to shed. SOS!

02/03/2014 5:02pm

Laura, Why don't you send me some pics via email. Tell me your current routine and I'll see if I can help .

02/03/2014 9:54pm

Thanks! I'll get a few and send them. (O, and I typo-ed. I think I'm 2c, not 3c, but who the heck knows!) Thank you!

02/03/2014 10:50pm

Email sent! Thanks again.

03/25/2014 3:14pm

Thanks so much for this information! I've just started using this method and I'm loving it! My curls have never looked better, yay!!! I have very fine hair though and when using this method I'm finding I can't get any volume on the top of my head. I tried massaging my scalp after I squished it and before I hit it with my diffuser, still nothing. Any advice for getting the volume back? Thanks :)

03/26/2014 5:57am

For fine hair and volume, make sure you are squishing out most if not all of the condish. You want the hair to feel really wet and slippery but not coated with condish. You can also squish upside down, side to side, get those curls up and off your head. Let me know if this helps @:)

03/26/2014 8:08pm

Thanks Melissa :) So I actually am squishing upside down and side to side. I apply my product (a curling cream) in the shower then squish with and old t-shirt. Here's how it seems to me: my curls look amazing (!!!) using this method but roots had more volume when I was combing my hair and breaking up the clumps some. Which I now see is what made me have not-so-amazing curls in the past. Can't I just have the best of both worlds?! ;) I'm going to keep tweaking my routine and see if I can figure something out. If you know of anything else to try I'm all ears :)

03/31/2014 7:04am

Brandy, Are you on my facebook page ? Will you message me there? I have some things to show you :)

05/30/2014 10:33pm

I have this same problem! I have thin hair & I love the volume. I tried washing hair w/ conditioner only & it just looks greasy :-( I've been trying to tweak my routine. Do you have some advice?

04/16/2014 9:43am

Hi Melissa,
Wow thank you so much for the very detailed squish to condish! I just did it this morning for the first time and can't wait to see if I can tell a difference. I just started the CG method a week ago and am excited for the change. My hair sounds exactly like Laura's. Would love to now what she is using! (If you see this Laura :) I feel like I really want some clumping to happen so hoping this helps. Any advice there? My hair is curly in top and starts to wave near the bottom. Thin thingy curls almost. I ordered nexxus emergencee and going to do that. I know my hair needs protien! I've read I should follow with a nourish/moisturize soak. I thought I'd do the one with jojoba oil, avocado, and honey. (From the CG handbook). I'd love your thoughts or advice for me if you have time! Thank you!

04/17/2014 7:03am

Welcome Bethany :) Congrats on going C.G. Looks like you've done your research on moisture/ protein balance. It can get a little confusing out there with all the information, so why don't you send me a pic. Do you know your hair's porosity? Do you have heat damage? message me on fb your hair'story and I can walk you through it @:)

05/21/2014 9:18pm

I just came across this and WOW!! So much good info. I've been a CG for years but honestly have no idea what I'm doing. I use deva products and diffuse daily. I wash with no poo every 3 days but condition every day. My hair is fine and I have no idea what kind of curls I have. I was once told I'm a mix between Botticelli and corkscrew. Not too sure tho. It seems my crown/top is always flat and lifeless looking. Any tips or advice? I'm using the foam mousse and arcangel. I scrunch with an old tee shirt and dry as soon as I'm out and throw on some clothes. Thank you!!!

05/27/2014 7:13am

Hi Kelly! Being c.g. is the way to go!! Have you tried clipping? diffusing upside down? You may like b'leave in added to your routine. I also like set it up and above at the roots on dry hair. Feel free to message me a picture and any other questions you may have.

Tracey Jensen
08/19/2014 4:57pm

Your explanations are amazing. It made me really understand. Like the other poster, I have been CG for several years, but just didn't understand entirely so was doing just basics.
You really changed that with your "why" explanations.

Just let me know if you need me to come over & wash your car to repay you, lol!

Tracey Jensen
09/11/2014 11:29pm

09/12/2014 6:06am

Christina! No, it should not leave a lot of excess conditioner. In fact it should almost rinse most of it out. You should be left with very, very, wet hair and just a residue of conditioner. I know it can be confusing in written form. Find a local Curly Hair Artist to show you!!

09/12/2014 10:59am

11/24/2014 6:03pm

Thank You Melissa!! Having coarse thick hair, I have never been able to keep my hair moisturized. I did this method for the first time yesterday and I was really pleased with the results. One question for you, my hair is very curly underneath and some areas on top are more wavy. Any way to coax my hair into more of a curl in those areas or do I still just need more moisture in those areas? Would love some advice!!!!!

11/26/2014 6:41am

Hi Nadyne, I'll be honest, it's hard to say with out seeing your hair. I will say that it's a common problem especially if your hair is coarse and thick. You may need some weight taken off with a dry cut. You may approach it with styling, diffusing upside down and using clips. It may be a porosity problem that will respond to more moisture. It also just may be your unique curl pattern that you can embrace and love. If you are close, come on by and we can discover together <3 If not feel free to message me on my facbook page or by email.


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