00 feature  pexels sam lion 6001480

How to tell if your hair is actually curly or wavy (not straight!)

How do know if you have straight, wavy or curly hair? Like, how do you really know? Well, TikTok seems to have an answer: the curly girl method. It’s become a part of a viral TikTok trend among straight-haired girls, trying to find out if they actually have wavy or curly hair — not straight and unmanageable tresses.
If you want to discover if your hair might be curly or wavy, keep reading to find out how.


What is the curly girl method?

woman with neck-length naturally curly hair
Source: AdobeStock

Created by author Lorraine Massey, the curly girl method is a way of caring for and styling naturally wavy, curly or coily hair. The specifics (such as products or certain steps) may vary a bit depending on your hair type. For example, someone with afro hair might follow a slightly different routine than someone with wavy hair. But the principle is the same: caring for your hair in a way that allows it to flourish and shine in its natural state.

At its basis, this method consists of 4 steps: cleanse, condition, style and dry. The “style” step can be further split, depending on your hair type and preference. You can also add an additional step to “deep condition”, which we would recommend you do about once a week. This step would come in before “style”.

The products you use are very important with this method. Generally speaking, you want to use products that are gentle and formulated specifically for wavy, afro or curly hair.


How do you tell if your hair is curly, wavy or straight?

After washing, conditioning and styling your hair using the curly girl method, if your hair has waves in it you might just have wavy locks. The same applies with curls. Likewise, if your hair remains straight, then you really do have type 1 straight hair.

However, it’s best to try out this method for a few weeks before making a final judgement. This is because if you have wavy or curly hair, it will gradually become more defined and and your actual hair type will become more clear.


The curly girl method

woman with very long brown hair with curly ends
Source: Unsplash

Cleanse and condition

Begin by cleansing your hair. To cleanse, use a sulphate-free shampoo or a co-wash. Apply the product and massage into your scalp about a minute, then rinse.

TRESemmé Botanic Moisture and Replenish Co-Wash

The TRESemmé Botanic Co-wash is a great option to use for this step. It’s sulphate-free and formulated with coconut milk and aloe vera, so it cleanses without drying out your hair. In fact, it infuses your hair with moisture and hydration, leaving it feeling soft and healthy.

TRESemmé Botanic Moisture & Replenish Conditioner

You can follow this up with the TRESemmé Botanic Conditioner, which is also enriched with coconut milk and aloe vera (and coconut oil) to really nourish and soften your hair.


woman with a towel on her hair, loosely wrapping her hair
Source: Pexels

Once you’re done with cleansing and conditioning, we recommend you plop your hair. As cute as the name is, this method is great for adding volume and definition to wavy and curly hair. Simply dab your hair with a microfibre towel or old t-shirt, so that it’s nice and damp instead of dripping wet. Then tilt your head right over and gather your hair in the towel or t-shirt and tie it securely. Avoid stretching or twisting your hair in the towel or t-shirt.

The idea here is to have to your hair sitting on to of your head, with a microfibre towel or t-shirt folded around it. Leave your hair this way for about an hour before letting it down.



The style step is all about product application. So, grab your leave-in conditioner, curl cream and/or gel of choice and get ready to step into a whole new world of product application using the curly girl method. To begin with, we recommend using only a leave-in conditioner and curl cream. This is because gel might be too heavy if your curl pattern is loose or if you actually do have straight hair.

The purpose of a leave-in conditioner is to infuse your hair with moisture and hydration. Use a good quality product like the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-in Conditioner, which will nourish and moisturise your hair, as well as add a protective layer over your hair strands.

Apply it by smoothing it over your hair and then scrunching it into your strands.

After the leave-in conditioner, apply a bit of curl cream. The Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie is a great choice for this, as it will smooth, define and enhance your wavy or curly hair.



woman drying her curly hair with a hairdryer that has a diffuser attachment
Source: Shutterstock

To dry your hair, your can either air dry or use a hairdryer with a diffuser attachment, which is perfect for wavy, afro and curly hair. If you choose to diffuse your hair, make sure you move it around. It’s easy to keep the hairdryer pointed at the ends of your hair, but it needs to also dry the roots.

Once your hair is dry, fluff out the roots for added volume.


Check out the results

So, how does your hair look? Is it still straight? Or are there waves and curls beginning to show? In some cases, the curls show themselves clearly and beautifully right on the first try! But if you can see waves or curls peeking out, you might still have wavy or curly hair; we suggest you try out this method again over the next couple of weeks to be sure. Even if your hair is still straight, it’s bound to have some beautiful, added volume. It’s a win-win either way!

Sign up to our newsletter and get exclusive hair care tips and tricks from the experts at All Things Hair.