Sunday, December 13, 2009

Is the CG Emperor naked?

Since going CG and visiting the discussion boards at, I've heard over and over how using the right products will bring moisture to your hair and restore its "health." Testimonial after testimonial repeat the same messages:

"My hair is not nearly as frizzy as it used to be."

"My hair curls so much more now than it did."

"My hair is so much smoother now."

I don't doubt that people are seeing a difference but I think we need to look a little more closely at what we're comparing.

Some people come to CG with very damaged hair. Maybe they've been flat-ironing for years and/or using any assortment of chemical treatments that have wreaked serious havoc on their defenseless tresses. When they start CG and give those things up, when the new hair grows in, of course it feels and behaves better. CG won't fix what's damaged but it will help the new growth look better.

But what about people whose hair was not damaged prior to CG? What can they expect? This is the point on which I'm still not clear. I want to believe the folks who sing CG's praises -- the ones who say that even without product, their hair looks and feels better. They indicate that months or years of CG care and attention (and some even say a few days or weeks) has done them so much good that even without using any product (beyond conditioner), they see a noticeable difference in their hair.

I want to be one of these people. But I have to confess that I am not.

My hair looks fabulous compared to how it looked a few years ago. I like it most days. But if I didn't use gel or curl creme or my all-time-favorite, Kinky Curly Curling Custard, I can tell you right now that my hair would look and behave exactly as it did prior to my going CG. I don't see any real improvement in its natural state.

Has anybody else had this experience or are all of you blessed with visibly better hair since going CG? Don't get me wrong: I am NOT going to stop following the CG regimen I've created for myself but my point is simply this: the conditioner has done a world of good, yes, but without the styling products, I wouldn't have clumpy curls and I would have frizz.

How about you?


CurlyKye said...

I totally agree because I can't live without KCCC either and I've recently realized that I do need to shampoo my hair in order for my products and hair to "work right".

Anemone said...

I still have frizz on the outside layer of my hair, though the underlayer is curlier. That's with or without conditioner, and without anything else. How much defined curl I have depends more on the cut, and on whether it drip dries indoors rather than getting roughed up outdoors as it dries.

Angela said...

I only use conditioner. I found after a few months of going CG I didn't need the gel any more, so no styling products. I recently trialled the Mexican no poo thing, and my hair became very frizzy and dry again. My very thirsty and porous curls drink almost as much conditioner as I can throw at them, but they don't seem to need anything else any more for definition, clumping and almost no frizz at all :)

Alannah said...

I agree. When you do CG for a couple weeks or months, it is less harsh on your existing hair, therefore making it healthier, but in long-term (say, a few years) the new growth isn't getting damaged by heat and sulfates like the 'old' hair ued to, and it stays healthy. Lol, only realised that recently, but some other CGs have yet to. xx

Erika said...

This. Exactly.

I think CG has taught me to use better products. No product: my hair is still soft, but no clumps, barely any definition, and frizz. I went CG to keep from frying my hair so I could grow it out. The curl is the price I'm paying for long hair.

Carrie said...

I agree with you as well. My hair looks better since I went CG, but mainly because I changed my styling techniques. My hair wasn't really that damaged before going CG because I never used a hair dryer. I still have to use gel (FSG) for my hair to look good, and a few times I ran out of gel and just used conditioner to style my hair in the interim until I had a chance to make more gel. But no, I haven't seen that much of a difference otherwise.

Elena said...

My hair has not changed dramatically. I went from washing with shampoo and using conditioner every other day, almost never blow-drying/flat-ironing or using any styler, and brushing, to co-washing every other day, almost never diffusing or using a styling product, and only combing to detangle when I have condish in.

Results: my hair has less breakage and is noticeably softer. Otherwise? no changes. still have my frizz halo and devil's horns at my's still a ridiculous medieval mass that i wear up 90% of the time.

but now CG is a habit, and I do pay attention to what my hair likes/dislikes. on the whole i have fewer "bad hair days," and i am less frustrated with my hair for not trying to have what i don't. wasn't very damaged to begin with, and it was lush and abundant and shiny to begin with, so there was really only a narrow margin for improvement. CG wasn't a miracle for me. But I'm still glad I know everything I do now, because at least I understand what is and isn't possible for me...

Jc said...

I agree too. I think the CG idea made people think about hair products and ingredients which is great!

However my hair never responded well to CG. My hair needs shampoo and silicones have never been an issue.

I think the real change for me was stopping relaxing my hair, that made a dramatic difference to my hair, it stopped breaking and grew longer than I thought was possible

Angela said...

My hair was in pretty good condition pre-CG...but the one thing I've noticed is I now have consistently good hair days. Pre-CG one day my hair would look great and the next it would be a total mess (i.e. lots of poof, less definition and no shine). I've also found I can now style with conditioner only and still have a pretty decent hair day.

This could also be because I've lowered my expectations as to what my hair can and can't do. I don't expect miracles anymore. I also started using gel and stopped using it could be any combination of things completely unrelated to CG or it could be a little of both.

I will say the CG book and the website opened my eyes to techniques and ingredients and for that I will be forever grateful.

Adrienne said...

Another "Hear! Hear!" vote. My hair was pretty healthy pre-CG, considering I was flat ironing it. Sure, I was flat ironing it - just twice a week when I washed it.

My hair always hated to be washed.

The one thing that has changed is that I'm using a VO5 conditioner to shampoo instead of a sulfate-free shampoo. Now that I understand how UN-porous my hair is, I don't think it would mind going back to shampoo - but I never liked to shampoo much before, and VO5 is cheap, so why go back? ,)

I don't think my hair is any curlier or different in texture, having now been "CG" for 14 months.

I do think I've learned more about curl-aiding products that work for me and that's the biggest boon.

Going back under my Dickens Fair rock (but maybe we can shop in January?!)

AlexJouJou said...

Actually I'd say for my hair not so much difference without product. It made a huge difference in my skin--way less oily now that I stopped sulfates.

For my daughter's though her hair has changed a lot. Not the amount of curl or anything (same) but the condition of her hair. I think if we went back to cones and sulfates we'd have the same mess as before..because I believe the products do matter and in her hair it is very noticable. Her hair is the one with the huge difference in it.

However it's not changing her new growth or anything..that is healthier because we're not assaulting it anymore. It comes out the same but stays better conditioned due to better products :)

Wanda said...

Most of my change has been due to routines and styling. Who knew not to use a terrycloth towel on their hair? Or to diffuse with a sock? Or that basting in soya would boost the bounce? And wow! - scrunching in product?

My hair was barely curly when I started. The curls came out pretty quickly after going CG mainly because I started using condish and learned to scrunch.

Biggest changes for me came was when I realized that just because everyone else was conditionning everyday didn't mean I had to and that I didn't have to try every product on the forums. Once I stopped conditioning so much and stuck with a few products, my hair more consistently looked good.

So my hair looks much better but like you, if I went back to pre-CG routine I'd be a hot mess again.

The place I'm really like the emperor though is my obsession with pics and fotki - "I just used X product mixed with baby food/diffused under a full moon/hung upside in a flour sack while watching Oprah look at how curly/frizz-free/even/shiny my hair is!"

You can see the difference, can't you? ;)

APS said...

I tend to agree also. My good results are largely due to better styling methods, a better cut, and better products. My new growth is probably healthier now that I don't use a sulfate shampoo every day, but it doesn't look better if I wait longer between low 'poos. And if I don't use my products and methods, the hair looks as crazy/awful as it always did!

Paula said...

For me, I think it's a bit of both.

I colored before cg and I still color. I do find it easier to care for post-color hair while being cg or close-to-cg.

What going cg *did* teach me was to pay attention to what ingredients my hair likes and dislikes. After it spun off and NC boards members paid more attention so texture and porosity, my hair routine was fine tuned.

I won't go back to sulfates because I don't need them and my hair and scalp do not react well to them.

I don't mind a water soluble silicone now and again, but not for daily use.

I did learn that most proteins suck on my hair, that panthenol and isopropyl myristate dry me out, and that I like oil sealing on wet hair. I would not have learned all that if I had not gone cg.

So, yes, it had been invaluable, even if I decide to stray once in awhile.

I still will not go out with productless hair though.

Susan said...

I am so with you. My hair without product is a fuzzie poofy mess. I did not notice any remarkable change in my hair by going CG. For me it was products/technique that helped me.

JuliaA said...

my boyfriend, since doing no-poo, has had a complete transformation with his hair. it wasn't damaged before--but shampoo made it frizzy and unmanageable, and he had to spend a lot of time on his hair. now he does nothing to it and it looks great. and completely different from how it was before.

my hair is exactly the same as it ever was. i want to try some curl enhancers and styling products to enhance the wave, but i haven't experimented with that stuff yet. i wish i could have a transformation like my boyfriend, but oh well. my hair still looks good.

kontakt said...

How do you definie "damaged" hair?

I didn't perm it, or relax it, or straighten it with pliers, or bleach it, or dye it. I never used blow driers. Still my hairdressers all sounded like they assumed my hair had never seen a hair pack, although I used they every time I washed my hair. The ends constantly split. And now - wow. My hair is so much healtier. The first step in the right direction was quitting using combs and brushes. The next step was conditioner wash. I don't use styling products - I didn't before CG/CO since I never figured out just how to use them. Now I use gels sometimes but not always. Conditioners with plenty of glycerol is what makes my curls tighter and my hair look better. (I don't think a little frizz is that bad, as long as it isn't all frizz.)

I have extremely dry skin and dry hair - probably extremely dry hair. When this is the case, perhaps regular shampoo twice a week is enough to really damage the hair? Reading the book, it seems to me hairs like mine is what the CG method is all about - the curly and really dry hairs. Surely other people can use conditioner wash too, but perhaps the difference won't be that great?

Kristen said...

The most important difference for me since going CG (and I'm only 3 months in), is that my eczema is GONE. I have had eczema on my scalp for literally the 29 years that I have been alive and now I don't - after THREE months without shampoo.

Granted, my hair isn't all that different because I was always heavy handed with the conditioner and moisturizing products, but I can wear a black shirt now without worrying about having to brush all the dead skin from my scalp off of it.

That alone is reason enough for me to never go back.

ps said...

Dear Jillipoo

I've been on the CG regimen for one year and a half now and I'd like to offer my 2 cents.

I do agree with you that most of us curlies are mostly comparing damaged hair to healthy hair, and that this is the biggest difference of all.

In my case I can vouch that the results of the CG routine appeared only after some hair growth (i.e. as you said, after the "new hair" started to appear). My "old hair" was completely broken and hungry after years of flat-ironing and what-not. Not a single strand of my hair was the same lenght as the next, it was a great ball of frizz.

When new healthy hair started to grow I could feel the difference and hear the comliments :)

HOWEVER... I don't really care why, IYKWIM. I feel great and look better than I have in 39 years... hehehe

I just want to add that the most visible differences in my pre-CG and Post-CG hair seems to be Shine and Colour. This is what people compliment me for. I have very very dark brown hair bu guess what, I never knew!!!! It used to be quite reddish (not in a good way). I am guessing the redness indicated damage. Now my hair is nearly pitch-black. I am guessing this is the natural colour coming through the healhy strands.

And of course, meanwhile I am not getting any younger :), so this is a definite plus.

Thank ou for your blog, it is so inspiring...

Yours, PS

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Captain said...

I started CG with perfectly healthy hair. No heat damage, no chemicals.

The first 3 days of CG were great. Suuuuper soft and shiny. Better than I could ever remember it being. However, after that, it was all down hill. Looking back on it, I realize that all my hair needed was some extra moisture. I also realized how drying sulfates are, but that I don't need to banish them. I just use the tiniest amount and it lathers up, cleans, and detangles. I'm not CG any more, but I am so much more aware of what I am doing to my hair.

CG is not for everyone, but it is a good foundation to start with. It's a clean slate and then you can modify your recipe as you begin to better understand your hair and what it needs.