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Is The Curly Girl Method Causing My Itchy Scalp?

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New followers of the Curly Girl Method must adapt to a variety of things as they get started. No shampooing, no heat and no more brushing. This transition period can be tough, particularly if your newfound curly locks come at a price: an itchy scalp. If you’re wondering whether the Curly Girl Method could be causing your itchy scalp then we’re here to help.

In short, yes, the Curly Girl Method could be causing your itchy scalp. As you stop using sulphate shampoo, you may not be cleansing your scalp properly. This could leave you with greasy and oily hair. You may also be using more product than normal, such as gel or mousse which could cause product-build up on your scalp.

However, it’s important to note that switching to the Curly Girl Method may in fact just have uncovered an underlying problem such as dry scalp.

The Curly Girl Method encourages you to ditch products with sulphates which is a harsh cleansing agent.

Sulphates actually strip your hair of its natural oils and in return, your scalp overproduces these oils.

When you stop using sulphate shampoos, your scalp will adjust to the change of products and perhaps stop producing oil. This is called the transition period.

The Curly Girl Method might therefore not be causing the itchy scalp but has instead exposed a problem you didn’t know existed. 

The great thing about the Curly Girl Method is that the longer you stick with it, the healthier your scalp and hair becomes.

Eliminating sulphate shampoos and silicone conditioners allows you to use remedies such as gentle cleansers and natural oils.

What Is the Curly Girl Method

The Curly Girl Method is a haircare routine invented by Lorraine Massey, the author of Curly Girl The Handbook.

The method encourages you to ditch sulphates, silicones and drying alcohols and switch to products that are much gentler on your hair.

The CG method also discourages the use of regular towels as these cause frictions and can lead to split ends and hair damage.

You should use a microfibre towel instead which is much gentler on your hair.

You should also avoid brushing your curls unless wet and always use a wide-tooth comb. Dry hair brushing can lead to breakage and it disturbs your natural curl pattern causing frizz.

Finally, heat is also a no-go on the Curly Girl Method. When using a hairdryer and diffuser, you should always aim for low or medium heat.

Check out my beginner’s guide to the Curly Girl Method for a complete overview.

curly girl method approved products

Also Read: Curly Girl Method UK: Full List of Approved Products

What Causes an Itchy Scalp?

curly girl method itchy scalp

A continuous itchy scalp is a sign that something is not quite right with either your haircare routine or the health condition of your scalp.

Let’s take a look at possible causes for why the Curly Girl Method may be causing you an itchy scalp:

Dry Scalp

As mentioned above, if you have recently switched from using sulphate shampoos to now either low-poo or co-washing (conditioner washing) only, your scalp may still be adjusting to the change.

Dry scalp can also be caused by over-clarifying (even with a sulphate free cleanser) or washing too often.

Irregular Washing

One of the great things about the Curly Girl Method is that it allows you to wash your hair less frequently.

Most Curly Girls wash their hair twice a week but some can go a week or even ten days without a wash.

If you’re a beginner to the CG method, irregular washing may not be the best call. Build-up can occur and this could easily be the reason why your scalp is itchy.

Using Harsh Cleansers

If you switch to the Curly Girl Method, you need to let go of the sulphate cleansers.

They strip your hair from its natural oils and in return, your scalp produces an overflow of sebum.

Try one of these sulphate free, Curly Girl approved shampoos to help you clean your hair in the best and most natural way.

Also Read: Is Noughty Hair Care Curly Girl Approved?

Fungus and Bacteria

If your scalp has turned itchy after starting the Curly Girl Method, it could that you might be sensitive to a type of fungus called Malassezia.

This fungus is the principal cause of dandruff and it thrives on the oils in our hair.

When doing so, it actually produces something called oleic acid which is the cause of your scalp irritation.

Your scalp will feel itchy and sore and you may start producing white flakes.

Using Too Many Styling Products

One of the biggest mistakes I see when new curlies begin the Curly Girl Method, is using way too many styling products. Five or six products such as gel or mousse which are layered in turn.

This is far too much product for your scalp to handle and can very easily lead to product build-up which will give you an itchy scalp.

Allergic reactions

Another reason for an itchy scalp could of course be an allergic reaction.

Have you started using any new products since following the Curly Girl Method that may contain ingredients that could be causing your itchy scalp? Ingredients could be coconut, Aloe Vera or Shea butter.

You could also be sensitive to preservatives such as methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone.

These are known as itchy M’s and are added to hair products to prevent the growth of micro-organisms.

Also Read: Why You Don’t Need a Final Wash: The Curly Girl

How to Prevent an Itchy Scalp on The Curly Girl Method

Oil Treatments For Dry Scalp

If you suffer from a dry scalp, it might be worth using essential and carrier oils to soothe your scalp.

Try this Jojoba Oil from Amazon which has over 16,000 reviews!

The oil is 100% natural cold-pressed and contains no additives, chemicals or alcohol.

Apply once a week before washing your hair with a Curly Girl approved clarifying cleanser. This will protect your scalp from the cleansing properties whilst getting rid of product build-up.

Clear Up Dandruff

If you suffer from dandruff, you don’t want to add oil to your scalp. It’s much better to get rid of these oils and you can use an anti-fungal such as ketoconazole which you can find in some shampoos.

It’s important to note that repeated use of the same anti-fungal shampoo may end up making the product inefficient so try to cycle between a few different kinds. Also, try shampoos containing salicylic acid or zinc as these help target the fungus.

Drink More Water

An itchy dry scalp is starving for more moisture, so try drinking more water throughout the day for nourishment.

Avoid Products With Itchy M’s

One of the big causes of itchy scalp on the Curly Girl Method is using products that contain Itchy M’s. If your itchy scalp is persistant then avoid these products.

Try the Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Conditioner for an Itchy M free experience!

Use A Clarifying Shampoo

The Curly Girl Method recommends that you co-wash only which means to only use conditioner when washing your hair.

You’d be surprised what a big difference this can make and it’s one of the reasons the method is so successful.

However some people are unable to co-wash and need to use a clarifying shampoo every once in a while.

It’s very important to maintain a clean scalp to avoid oil and product-build up so if you’re struggling with c-washing then try a clarifying shampoo once every 2-4 weeks.

If you’re in need of a good clarifying cleanser, check out this post on the Best CG approved shampoos.

Use A Scalp Brush

An essential tool on the CG method is the scalp brush. It’s inexpensive and works wonders when it comes to scalp health. I bought mine from Amazon and it works a treat.

Simply use it to scrub away product residue and grime whenever you wash your hair.

Don’t be afraid to apply pressure and make sure you scrub for a good two to three minutes.

Also Read: Curly Girl Transition Survival Guide

Avoid Rubbing Product On Scalp

You will be using gels and perhaps other styling products on the curly girl method and using too many of these may be causing your itchy scalp.

Although it’s totally fine to use a lot of gel or mousse, it’s important to not get too much product on your scalp.

Product build-up can lead to blocked pores which can lead to bacterial growth.

Therefore when you scrunch in styling product on your curls, work from the bottom up.

Don’t Sleep On Wet Hair

It’s very important that you do not sleep on wet hair.

I’ve seen many Curly Girls talk about how they like to wash in the evening and sleep with wet hair and a silk cap.

Whilst I agree on wearing silk caps for defined curls, sleeping with wet hair is a no go. A wet pillow is a paradise for bacteria and fungus and this could very quickly lead to an irritated and itchy scalp.

Use The Right Products

If the Curly Girl Method has been causing you an itchy scalp, try switching to products that are not only CG approved but help prevent the itchiness.

As I Am has a Dry & Itchy Scalp Care collection which includes ingredients such as tea tree oil.

Tea tree oil is an antifungal agent and has been used for many years in hair care and skincare products. Tea tree oil has soothing properties so using this for an itchy scalp is ideal.

Try the As I Am Dry and Itchy Scalp Care Olive and Tea Tree Oil Co-Wash. It contains zinc pyrithione which helps prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria.

Cantu’s TXTR Scalp Relief Shampoo is also CG approved and contains both apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil for a calm soothing cleanse.

It’s very important that you understand your hair type so you can choose the right products. My ebook ‘The Ultimate Curly Girl Product Guide‘ can help you.

CGM products Guide

It contains over 100 CG friendly products which have been categorized into lists based on hair porosity and curl pattern.

ACV Rinse

Finally, if you’re suffering from an itchy scalp since starting the curly girl method, you should definitely try an Apple cider vinegar rinse.

Many curly girls do the ACV rinse instead of using clarifying shampoos as the rinse helps maintain a healthy pH balance.

Simply add 100ml of apple cider vinegar to 300ml of water and pour over soaking wet hair.

Use a scalp brush to massage the mixture into your hair and leave for a few minutes.

Rinse off with your favourite conditioner.

And there you have it. An itchy scalp is an irritating side-effect of changing your hair care routine but it’s important to understand that the Curly Girl Method itself is not the cause.

Make sure you wash your hair properly and give your scalp the care and attention it needs.

You’ll be itchy free in no time!


Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on LovedByCurls.com is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using.


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