Curly Girl Method On A Budget (Full product Guide)

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Contrary to what you may have heard, taking good care of your curls doesn’t have to break the bank. In this article, I give you my best product recommendations for following the Curly Girl Method on a budget. You’ll be surprised how little it actually costs to get bouncy soft curls!

Curly Girl Method On A Budget

In A Hurry? My Favorite Budget Friendly CGM Products

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:


What Is The Curly Girl Method

As you probably know, the Curly Girl Method (GCM) is a curly hair care routine that promotes the use of sulfate-free and silicone-free hair products. It’s also advised to not use drying alcohols like isopropyl alcohol and heat styling, towels and hairbrushes should also be avoided.

Check out my step-by-step guide to the Curly Girl Method if you’re new to the routine.

The Curly Girl Method, therefore, requires you to use products that don’t contain any of the ‘bad’ ingredients above, and luckily they’re actually pretty easy to find.

Unfortunately, some brands have capitalized on the whole ‘sulfate-free and ‘silicone-free hair movement and charge extortionate prices for what is actually just a normal conditioner.

But don’t worry, there’s plenty of Curly Girl approved products available if you’re on a budget and you can get most of them from Amazon, your local drugstore, or supermarket.

How Much Should I Expect To Spend When Following CGM?

First, let’s break down what you actually need to follow the Curly Girl Method:

  1. Conditioner
  2. Gel

Yes…that’s really it. You can easily start the CG Method by simply purchasing a Curly Girl approved conditioner and gel. And you can get that for around 8-10 dollars.

It’s not so much about what you do on the Curly Girl Method, but more what you don’t do.

So stop using shampoo, use a CG approved conditioner, use a CG approved gel to scrunch and lock moisture into your curls, air dry and break the cast. Don’t use regular towels, don’t use a hairdryer, and don’t brush your hair.

That’s really the basics of CGM.

Of course, there are additional products and tools that may help you on your journey and these are:

  • Deep conditioner
  • Mousse
  • Diffuser
  • Microfiber towel

Purchasing these items on a budget should set you back around $35-$40 but the diffuser and microfiber towel are obviously reusable

The total monthly running cost of following the CG Method really doesn’t have to be more than $10 and could be even less depending on how often you wash your hair.

Now, If you struggle with co-washing (conditioner washing only), you may want to purchase a co-washing product that contains stronger cleansers but is still CG friendly.

In fact, you may want to use a clarifying shampoo if this fits your lifestyle better, and if so, do that! Although it’s not strictly CG friendly, it’s your hair and it’s your life. A hair care routine should fit into your lifestyle, not the other way around.

So you follow the method as you see fit and don’t worry about doing it ‘the right way’.

With that in mind, let’s get to the budget-friendly product recommendations!

Curly Girl Method On A Budget – My Favorite Products

To begin with, let me show you my own before and after photos:

curly girl method before and after

Safe to say, the Curly Girl Method worked for me. Now, I did make the mistake of buying many products at the start of my journey, and it was completely unnecessary. When you change up your products every 2-3 days, you’ll never really figure out exactly which product works for you.

So, my first tip is to buy two products and stick with them until they run out. If they don’t work, try something else.

I’ll give you all my best recommendations down below, but if I was starting from scratch and was on a budget, these are the products (and tools) I would get:

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Aloe Vera Faith In Nature

Cheap, all-around conditioner that’s really good for co-washing. Contains 99% natural ingredients, aloe vera, and just a great starting conditioner.  

Aloe Vera Faith In Nature
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Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food Banana 3-in-1 Dry Hair Mask Treatment

The Banana Hair Food may be cheaper in the UK than in the US but if you can get your hands on it, definitely give it a go. Although marketed as a hair mask, I use this as a co-wash, a conditioner, and yes of course a hair mask!

The reason being it’s so incredibly lightweight that it just absorbs right into your hair. If you suffer from protein overload or have damaged, split ends, I’d highly recommend trying out this hair mask.

Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food Banana 3-in-1 Dry Hair Mask Treatment
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Eco Styler Gel – Olive Oil

One of the most popular gels in the Curly Girl community. You get a massive tub of the stuff so this CG approved gel is truly budget-friendly! The Eco gel gives a strong cast but makes sure you use enough of it. That goes for any gel of course.

This gel doesn’t flake and your hair doesn’t feel sticky or heavy once you scrunch out the crunch. Definitely worth the money!

Eco Styler Gel – Olive Oil
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Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Wave Whip Curling Mousse

Now you absolutely don’t have to use mousse on the CG Method, but I quite like changing it up. Mousse doesn’t give you as strong a cast or hold as a gel so for those who want very defined curls, this may not be for you.

I like the wavy look and my hair can very quickly get heavy if I’m not careful with products. So using a light mousse like this really helps me on days when I’m on the go and don’t want to stand around waiting for my cast to harden.

Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Wave Whip Curling Mousse
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Microfiber Hair Towel

At the beginning of my own CG journey, I just used an old T-shirt and it works just as well. You don’t have to get a microfiber towel, but I do use mine on every wash day because it’s just so easy to wrap around my head.

It’s cheap and durable and will protect your curls much better than regular towels.

Microfiber Hair Towel
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Hairizone Diffuser

Although you don’t need it, a diffuser will speed up the drying time… A LOT. This diffuser from Hairizone has always been my favorite and I don’t think I’ve ever recommended another one.

Simply attach it to your hairdryer and set the heat to medium and dry your hair. Be careful to not disturb the curl pattern or you’ll get a lot more frizz.

Some prefer air-drying as they find it gives a more defined look but a diffuser can save you an hour in the morning and personally, I’d rather use that extra hour for sleep!

Hairizone Diffuser
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Wide Tooth Comb

Super cheap and does the trick. Any wide-tooth comb will do so if you have one already, save your money. This comb is just great for separating tangles in the shower.

Wide Tooth Comb
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Scalp Massager

I’d say you don’t really need one, but I’m so glad I got mine! I use it every time I wash my hair. When you start the CG method, you may experience a transition phase where your hair can feel a bit sticky or heavy as you’re no longer using shampoo.

It will pass…I promise! But whilst you’re going through it, it’s always great to massage your scalp to encourage blood flow and hair growth. Also…it feels so good!

Scalp Massager
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And there you have it. These would be my own preferred products to start out with, but let’s take a look at some more budget-friendly CG products.

Curly Girl Method On A Budget – Full Product Guide

Co-washing Products

As I Am Coconut Co-wash Cleansing Conditioner

The As I Am co-wash is a light-textured co-wash that thoroughly cleanses and hydrates your curls. The product contains coconut oil and castor oil which help to promote hair growth.

This co-wash effectively removes product build-up while moisturizing your hair at the same time and therefore makes hair easier to detangle. Suitable for daily use.

As I Am Coconut Co-wash Cleansing Conditioner
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Cantu Complete Conditioning Co-wash

Cantu is in general a fairly reasonably priced Curly Girl brand and this co-wash is definitely budget-friendly. It is a gentle cleanser that removes heavy product build-up and contains a blend of over 15 natural butters and oils.

It, therefore, helps to keep your scalp clean and moisturized. A great alternative to conditioner if you need a thorough cleanse on wash-day.

Cantu Complete Conditioning Co-wash
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Aunt Jackie’s Coco Wash  coconut milk Conditioning Cleanser

The Aunt Jackie’s Coconut Milk Conditioning Cleanser is formulated for dry hair but is a stronger cleanser that may be suitable as a clarifying cleanse rather than for everyday use.

The formula contains nourishing ingredients such as avocado and Shea Butter which can help treat a dry scalp.

Massage the product into wet hair and make sure you work through any tangles as well as your ends. Use a scalp brush if you’re experiencing product build-up.

Aunt Jackie's Coco Wash  coconut milk Conditioning Cleanser
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Conditioners

Noughty To The Rescue Moisture Boost Conditioner

This popular conditioner from Noughty Haircare contains a unique blend of plant oils that help restore and smooth damaged hair.

The hydrating formula which contains shea butter and coconut oil helps to reduce frizz and breakage. An affordable product that is gentle enough for everyday use.

Noughty To The Rescue Moisture Boost Conditioner
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Giovanni Smooth As Silk Conditioner

Giovanni’s Smooth As Silk Conditioner is a budget-friendly CG friendly product that works well for a lightweight condition. It helps to detangle knots while increasing shine and protecting against split ends. This product is vegan and can be used daily.

Giovanni Smooth As Silk Conditioner
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Garnier Ultimate Blends Almond Crush

This gentle and weightless conditioner is brilliant for everyday use when co-washing or conditioning.

The formula contains organic almond milk and organic agave sap and helps to cleanse your hair of build-up caused by products and pollution. Can be used daily and leaves hair feeling silky smooth and soft.

Garnier Ultimate Blends Almond Crush
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Gels

Aussie Instant Freeze Gel

The Aussie Instant Freeze gel is a firm favorite amongst CGM followers. It has a very strong hold and contains Australian jojoba oil and sea kelp. The gel locks in moisture without going flaky or being sticky and leaves your hair feeling soft and bouncy. The gel is also super affordable and would therefore be great for those on a budget.

Aussie Instant Freeze Gel
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Wella Shockwaves Ultra Strong Power Hold Gel

This ultra-strong gel from Wella Shockwaves creates texture, definition, and structure. It won’t leave your curls feeling sticky or greasy and washes out very easily.

It has a super-strong hold and will last you throughout the day without the need for a refresh. It’s also very affordable and suitable for those looking for maximum hold and frizz control.

Wella Shockwaves Ultra Strong Power Hold Gel
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Cantu Define & Shine Curling Custard

This curling custard from Cantu is another popular product amongst CG followers. Contains Shea butter which moisturizes your hair and allows for frizz-free and defined curls.

Control flyaways with this custard and expect shiny, bouncy locks after use. Great for a long-lasting, flake-free hold.

Cantu Define & Shine Curling Custard
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Deep Conditioners

Noughty To The Rescue Treatment Mask

The Noughty To The Rescue Intense Moisture Treatment is a great investment for those in need of rejuvenating their locks.

The mask is deeply hydrating and helps to restore thirsty and over-processed hair.

Made from 97% natural ingredients, this hair treatment will rescue your dry curls and transform them into shiny, smooth, and defined curls.

Noughty To The Rescue Treatment Mask
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Garnier Ultimate Blends Almond Crush Yogurt Mask

This nourishing hair mask from Garnier is great for CG followers who need a budget-friendly moisturizing deep treatment. The mask has a lightweight consistency that doesn’t weigh your hair down yet leaves your curls feeling silky smooth.

This mask is enriched with almond milk and organic Agave sap and delivers optimal hydration for your hair.

Garnier Ultimate Blends Almond Crush Yogurt Mask
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Garnier Ultimate Blends Argan Oil  & Almond Cream Hair Mask

This Argan Oil & Almond Cream Hair Mask from Garnier is perfect for those with dry and unruly hair. Argan oil deeply nourishes damaged hair and helps to restore shine and vigor to your curls.

The hair mask has a creamy consistency yet a lightweight feel that doesn’t weigh down your hair. Use once a week as a deep treatment mask for optimal results.

Garnier Ultimate Blends Argan Oil  & Almond Cream Hair Mask
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Mousse

Pantene Pro-V Maximum Hold Mousse

This mousse from Pantene is a firm favorite amongst CG followers. The formula is non-sticky and lightweight which allows for maximum volume and soft curls.

The mousse has a strong hold which ensures that your curls stay in place throughout the day.

It also allows for curl flexibility and elasticity and helps to prevent frizz and flyaways. A great affordable mousse for a healthy-looking finish.

Pantene Pro-V Maximum Hold Mousse
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Dippity-Do Girls with Curls Enhancing Mousse

This is a great lightweight mousse that helps to protect the hair from any heat styling. It contains hibiscus flower and olive oil extract for added moisture. The formula is color-safe and can be used with gel if you are double layering.

Dippity-Do Girls with Curls Enhancing Mousse
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John Frieda Frizz Ease Curl Reviver Mousse

This mousse from John Frieda is a great product if you’re looking for soft, loose curls. It contains a thermal protectant that helps to prevent damage from heat styling and environmental factors.

The consistency of this mousse is lightweight and non-sticky which allows for a voluminous look without the crunch or stiffness. Use alongside a gel for a stronger cast.

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* Mulitple versions exist of this product, some of which are not CG friendly. Always check the ingredients list


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