How to develop Curly Girl Approved haircare

You have probably heard about the Curly Girl Method and people talking about Curly Girl-friendly haircare products. If you are a brand owner, hairdresser, or dreaming about starting your own haircare brand, have you maybe thought about developing your own private label Curly Girl-approved products. But what makes a hair care product Curly Girl-friendly and what types of products can be Approved? Keep reading, and learn more about the Curly Girl Method and how to develop CG-approved haircare products. 

What is the Curly Girl Method?

The Curly Girl Method, also knowns as the CG Method, is all about enhancing natural curls and keeping a healthy hair care regimen. The Curly Girl Method – is founded by Lorraine Massey, who has read the book: Curly Girl: The Handbook. The book is a bible for the way to beautiful curls. The Curly Girl Method is about avoiding specific ingredients in hair care products and changing the way you use the products. The curly girl method started for people with the hair texture 2 to 4.
The four main types of hair texture:

  • Type 1 – straight hair
  • Type 2 – wavy hair
  • Type 3 – curly hair
  • Type 4 – coily hair

This method will work best for hair types with the texture from 2-4, as it will enhance and protect the curls, hair type 1 can also benefit from the Curly Girl Method, as it can make the hair healthier, but the Curly Girl products will not give hair type 1 curls.

What makes a hair care product Curly Girl-friendly?

The biggest difference between Curly Girl-approved haircare and other private label and white label hair care products is the INCI list. The criteria for the INCI list are very high, and there are some ingredients there not is allowed.

Curly hair is often drier and more frizzy, and that means that curly hair needs more hydrating products and products that protect the natural curl.  

For hair care products to be considered as Curly Girl-friendly is their ingredients to avoid in the INCI list of the hair care products. A Curly Girl-friendly hair care product must not contain sulfates, silicone, drying alcohol, parabens, and certain waxes and mineral oils.

Instead of shampoo with sulfates, and other classic hair care products, will you in the category of CG-products find mild and gentle hair care products like low-poo, co-wash, and styling products to activate and hold the curls.

Low-poo is a sulfate-free shampoo.

Co-wash is a conditioner wash.

What ingredients should you avoid in CG-approved products?

The method is all about avoiding the ingredients that hinder the curl’s restoration.
The Curly Girl Method is strict when it comes to certain ingredients. There are some overall ingredients to avoid on the INCI list for a Curly Girl product:

  • Silicones
  • Sulfates
  • Drying alcohol
  • Parabens
  • Certain waxes and mineral oils


There are three types of silicone used in hair care products, water-soluble, non-soluble, and evaporating. Water-soluble silicone can be removed from the hair with water, non-soluble silicone cannot be removed with water, and evaporating silicone evaporates from the hair after some time.

Silicone isn’t bad for the hair, but it can affect the appearance of the hair. Silicone creates a seal over the hair, and the layer can block other ingredients from penetrating the hair. Overtime can silicone build up and make the hair drier and dull.

Silicones to avoid:

  • Amodimethicone
  • Dimethicone
  • Dimethiconol
  • Cyclomethicone
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Behenoxy Dimethicone
  • Bis-aminopropyl dimethicone
  • Cetearyl Methicone
  • Cetyl Dimethicone
  • Phenyl trimethicone
  • Stearyl Dimethicone
  • Trimethylsilylamodimethicone


Sulfates are surfactants, which means they attract both oil and water. You can find sulfates in nearly every shampoo product. Sulfates create the lather in the shampoos and help remove dirt and oil from the hair. The two primary used sulfates in shampoo are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. The concern about sulfates is that they are too effective, they can strip the hair from natural oils and proteins, and the hair will be prone to break. Sulfates can also cause scalp irritation like redness, dryness, and itching. People with curly hair will want to avoid sulfates to prevent further drying.

Sulfates to avoid:

  • Alkyl benzene sulfonate
  • Alkylbenzene sulfonate
  • Ammonium cocoyl sulfate
  • Ammonium cocoyl sulphate
  • Ammonium laureth sulfate
  • Ammonium laureth sulphate
  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate
  • Ammonium lauryl sulphate
  • Ammonium xylene-sulfonate
  • Ammonium xylenesulfonate
  • Ethyl peg-15 cocamine sulfate
  • Sodium alkyl sulfate
  • Sodium alkyl sulphate
  • Sodium c12-18 alkyl sulfate
  • Sodium c12-18 alkyl sulphate
  • Sodium cetearyl sulfate
  • Sodium cetearyl sulphate
  • Sodium coceth sulfate
  • Sodium coceth sulphate
  • Sodium coco sulfate
  • Sodium coco sulphate
  • Sodium coco-sulfate
  • Sodium coco-sulphate
  • Sodium cocosulfate
  • Sodium cocosulphate
  • Sodium laureth sulfate
  • Sodium laureth sulphate
  • Sodium laureth-40 sulfate
  • Sodium laureth-40 sulphate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium lauryl sulphate
  • Sodium myreth sulfate
  • Sodium myreth sulphate
  • Sodium polystyrene sulfate
  • Sodium polystyrene sulphate
  • Sodium xylene-sulfonate
  • Sodium xylenesulfonate
  • Tea dodecylbenzenesulfonate
  • Tea lauryl sulfate
  • Tea lauryl sulphate
  • Tea-dodecylbenzenesulfonate
  • Triethanolamine lauryl sulfate
  • Triethanolamine lauryl sulphate

Drying Alcohols

Alcohol helps decrease the drying time and helps spread hair care products into the hair.
Not all alcohol is bad for the hair. Fatty alcohols or long-chain alcohols are derived from fat, usually from coconut oil or palm oil, and they can be beneficial for curly hair. Fatty alcohols are Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, and Lauryl Alcohol. These alcohols tend to be found in the top five ingredients of conditioners and deep conditioners and act as an oily moisturizer that will give the hair a smoother and softer feel by helping the hair cuticle lie flat.

The alcohols to avoid for the Curly Girl Method is short-chain alcohols. Short-chain alcohols are often in hair care products for their drying effect, but these alcohols tend to make the hair dry and frizzy and the cuticle to be left rough.  

Drying Alcohols to avoid:

  • Isopropyl alcohol (also called IPA)
  • Denatured alcohol (denat)
  • Ethanol
  • Isopropanol
  • Propanol
  • Propyl alcohol
  • SD alcohol 40


Parabens are a collective name for several chemical substances. Parabens ensure that cosmetics products have a longer shelf life. They have the ability to limit the amount of bacteria growth in products.
Parabens have a similar effect as sulfates on the curls, and they can cause dry and frizzy hair and irritated scalp. Parabens are slightly less aggressive than sulfates.

Parabens to avoid:

  • Butylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben

Mineral Oils and Waxes

The reason the Curly Girl Method doesn’t recommend mineral oils and waxes is that they are hard to wash out with water and co-washing, then not using sulfates.
Mineral oils and waxes can cause build-up and weigh down the hair if not washed out.

Mineral Oils and Waxes to avoid:

  • Lanolin oil
  • Mineral oil
  • Paraffin wax
  • Petrolatum
  • Wax
If you are interested in developing private label Curly Girl-approved hair care products but need a partner to help you through the process with the concept, formulation, packaging, and development, don’t hesitate to contact us and let us together create beautiful business.