Curly Girl The Handbook Review- Beware if You Have Curly Hair

Hey there Handbookers,

Lovely of you to drop in today. I know that the title of this post seems quite ominous but fear not! The full title should say: beware if you have curly hair but are not embracing your natural gifts, because this book will make you take a step back and look at yourself.

Curly Girl the Handbook is the almighty doctrine for curly hair and if you have anything but bone straight hair then it is in your and your hair’s best interest to pick up a copy of this groundbreaking book and read it right away. Though, as I said above, if you are a curly girl in hiding, prepare yourself for some brutal honesty from the curl master, herself.

Lorraine Massey

Curly Girl The Handbook

Price: $6-12

Cheapest Place to Buy: Ebay $10 or Amazon $6+

Size: 800+ pages plus a DVD

My Rating: 10 out of 10

How I Was Introduced to the Curly Girl Method

I first heard of the curly girl method from a youtube guru aptly called Curly Penny. She has beautiful curls, funny videos, and she got her healthy hair start by employing the curly girl method.

She shows how to do the method in one video (check out my post here to see how its done) by wetting hair, applying a generous amount of conditioner then using a gel of your choice and scrunching. She mentions Lorraine Massey, co- owner of Devachan salon in New York, creator of Deva Curl (check out my Deva Curl product review here), and the creator of the curly girl method, and (as far as I know) the no- poo method.

So I, of course, went in and did my due diligence in researching the ******** (make believe swear word) out of this method and the lady behind it. I watched some videos of her speaking and came to learn how she advocates for healthy curls as well as being proud of our natural curly gifts.

I began doing the curly girl method based on the videos that I watched and wowza, instant difference in my hair. It was more defined, softer and frizz- free (always the goal for me). But guess what? Those videos didn’t even scratch the surface of giving enough info, not when compared to what this book offers.

Curly Girl the Handbook

Months and months after applying the curly girl method weekly and using Deva Curl products I decided to get my own copy of this handbook for curly heads. I read it in about 3 days and I could not believe how much I gained in those 3 days. Now I feel as if I have a wealth of knowledge about healthy hair care and curly hair care that I simply did not have before reading this.

I have been endeavoring to look after my precious locks for nearly 10 years now, so fancy myself quite proficient in looking after my own hair, but never had I understood certain hair fundamentals until reading this book. The hundreds of curly haired videos that I have watched hardly compare with what is imparted in this book and I feel that even the videos that I have watched of Massey herself (dishing on ways to look after hair) fall short of the value that encompasses this precious book.

Whilst reading the pages all I could think about was my other curly loved ones. I wanted to buy a copy for every single one of my friends that straighten their hair, wear weaves, or simply hide their natural hair behind any other do. This stuff is remarkable, I would say after reading certain passages, and I spent those three days (much to his chagrin) discussing the elements in the book with my mister.




My copy has about 800 pages (I have the second edition). There are 17 chapters plus an astrologo- curls section in the back for each month of the year and a note from Lorraine. I recommend that you also get the book with the DVD because, though the book covers how to go about things in great detail, having those moving visuals really helped me to learn to put this knowledge in practice.

Shots of the Routine Video

Chapters in the Book

  • Introduction: Locks to Talk About
  • Chapter 1 Curl Meets Girl
  • Chapter 2: Hair, the Inside Story
  • Chapter 3: Identifying Your Curl Type
  • Chapter 4: The Curly Girl Method: Creating a Daily Root-ine
  • Chapter 5: Catching a Wave
  • Chapter 6: Multi- curl- tural Hair
  • Chapter 7: Relax? Don’t Do it
  • Chapter 8: Products and Homemade Recipes
  • Chapter 9: A Cutting- Edge Philoshophy
  • Chapter 10: Self- mane- tenance: Trimming Your Own Hair After Shear Frustration
  • Chapter 11: Color Me Curly: It’s All About Hue
  • Chapter 12: Curly Kids: Caring for Underage Curls
  • Chapter 13: Guys ‘N Curls: The Down and Dirty Root- ine
  • Chapter 14: Curly Q’s and A’s
  • Chapter 15: Wed- locks and Updos for Special Occasions
  • Chapter 16: Chemo Curls
  • Chapter 17: A Twelve- Step Recovery Program for Curly Girls: One Curl at a Time

As you can see with the titles of the chapters, the author’s like to have some curl- fun with their wording. All fun aside, though, these chapters are packed with thorough information on different curl patterns, why those with curly hair have trouble with frizz, how to cut your own hair, why you should ALWAYS get a dry cut rather than letting someone cut your hair when wet, how to refresh your curls, and how to sleep on them every night.

This book also has amazing homemade natural recipes (which you know I loved) that are easy on the pockets and marvelous for the hair.

There are pictures of curly girls from every curl pattern there is and within the various pages are testimonial after testimonial of curly- people’s experience with their hair.

The Hindrances Within

To be completely honest, the testimonials were my least favorite part. Not because they weren’t interesting (some made me put my hand to my heart in understanding), but I found that I just wanted to read more about hair care and ways to make my hair as healthy as possible rather than other people’s experiences.

I found that some of the testimonials interrupted the flow of my reading and I just wanted to crack on with the chapter (I didn’t skip over them, though).

However, I think that if you are someone who is just transitioning into looking after your curly hair, these segments can be really beneficial and you’ll feel a strong connection in being part of such a beautiful community.

Oh the Enlightened Curl Girl

I really feel more enlightened after reading this book, and to me that is invaluable!

I love that Massey likens our hair to a garden (something that I fervently voice) and demonstrates that like a garden hair needs loads of love and special care to be its best self. She also does something cool where she likens hairs to fiber in a delicate fabric that we cherish. We wouldn’t wash that fabric in a harsh detergent, no!, we would care for it delicately for it to retain its beauty. Treat the hair like something you cherish, was her message, because it is just delicate fibers!

No Poo- There is a Good Reason to Eliminate Shampoo From Your Life!

One of the biggest messages within this book is the realization that shampoos are a no- go! The sulfates and other detergents within them ruin hair and because those with curly hair (meaning those that do not have bone straight hair) have more porous, fragile hair, we should recognize that the detergents in shampoos is what makes our hair more fragile, more frizzy, and let’s face it more unhealthy.

The stories and pictures that are presented from women (and men) who take on the advice from this book really make the point hit home and though I had stopped using shampoo long before reading this, it made me jump for joy that I had cut such a sudsy nightmare from my routine.

In the hair care world we constantly hear about how certain products are damaging to the hair (including shampoos) but this book details why it is (chemically) and also tells what we can do to clean the hair without shampoo.

Conditioner- You Love me and I Love You!

The biggest lesson that I took away from this book was the scientific approach Massey took in describing hair types and the difference between straight hair, wavy, curly, and kinky hair. Finally it made sense why I got that horrible frizz and why using all the gel and other curly- friendly products in the world did not keep it at bay.

Curly hair needs more moisture than straight hair. The way to give it that needed moisture is through conditioner conditioner conditioner. But a botanical one! Conditioner plugs in the porous curly hair and when the hair is plugged in such a way it does not reach out to the air for moisture, meaning it does not split apart and become a frizzy mess.

Wow something so simple, yet something that I was not adhering to with my normal routine. Even when I used the curly girl method as I knew it, I didn’t have enough conditioner to treat all of my swirly whirlies.

You’ll have to read the book for more detail on this but one thing that I will say is that when applying conditioner in the shower, the hair should feel like slippery seaweed, oh yes, then you can be sure that the hair is protected all the way through! I leave my conditioner in my hair when I exit the shower, apply a bit of curly- friendly gel, scrunch and hey my curls are hydrated, pretty and frizz- free :).

This book explains how most women who do not like their natural hair are merely just frustrated with the frizz, but once we understand what frizz is, where it comes from, and how to stop it in its tracks (conditioner) then loving our natural hair is easy.



Beware if You’re a Curl- Hider!

As I mentioned above, this book can be brutally honest and those who are curl hiders might feel shamed for the abuse that they regularly commit to their hair, even just by brushing! I liken this to passing (back in the day when someone looked so white that they would pass as one whilst hiding their true identity) or when someone changes their last name to escape their heritage.

If someone called a person out for such, they might feel ashamed at not representing their true self. Well same goes if you are a natural curly person who is hiding it from the world by attempting to go straight. Whilst reading this book you might feel conscience- stricken; Lorraine does not shy away from calling the passers out!

Final Thoughts

What I like best about this book is the full coverage it gives on every aspect of curly- hair care. I now understand my hair better and with that can look after it in a more fitting manner. Though packed with valuable information that can teach any curly person how to have beautiful hair, the take away message from this easy read is to love yourself as you are, something I can always get behind!

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6 Comment

  1. Eril says: Reply

    I was born with thick curly hair and as a teenager in the 60s (you can tell my age now!) I was miserable about it. It was fashionable then to be skinny and have dead straight hair. ‘Twiggy’ was the role model of the time. I used to spend entire afternoons getting my hair straight, but it wouldn’t stay like that for long. After a life long battle with the curl I finally gave up and just let it be. I now get complements about it.

    I find your book review very interesting, and your comment on ‘no poo’ especially. I would love to know what you substitute for it as I am using ‘sulphur free’ shampoos.

    1. Eril thank you so much for the comment I found it to be very insightful and certainly something that will resonate with other curly ladies. Our natural hair is really a blessing and that is what I love most about the overall message in the Curly Girl Handbook. You should cleanse your hair instead of shampooing and you can do this with many things, I have an article here in which I explain more 🙂

  2. Susie says: Reply

    This is timely for me! Here is SW Florida, summer has set in and I’m considering cutting off most of my hair which brings out a ton of curls. However, I was afraid of the “big hair scare” as I call it due to the humidity. And it’s way too hot to fool with curling irons, straighteners, and blow dryers. I’m thinking it’s time to ditch the pony tail and bandanna. Thank you!

    1. Your welcome Susie, glad I can help. This book gives great info on what you can do no matter the climate that you are in 😉 I hope that helps!

  3. Carol says: Reply

    I am now one of those Enlightened Curl Girl. This post is really enlightening. I have been going natural for a few years now, but I still use shampoo to wash my hair. I have heard about the damage that shampoo can do to the hair, but was always skeptical as to whether or not this is really true.
    Great info about applying conditioner in the shower, and how the hair should feel. After reading this post, I will have to read this book. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I recommend it Carol, it says some powerful things about looking after natural hair and explains why shampoo is no- go, I promise this isn’t a myth! But hey you can shampoo your hair if you get one free of the harsh detergents. Here is one that the author, Lorraine Massey, is co- creator of and it is a really good shampoo 🙂

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