Let’s be real. Taking proper care of curly hair feels like a second job. Curls can be unpredictable (just like life itself) and there’s a wide array of skills that you need to master in order to achieve “a good hair day”.
Curly hair has three different categories, whereas straight hair has only one. Furthermore, different types of curls require different care, cuts, and styling methods, and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (referring to frizz) is one of their biggest enemies.
But despite all these challenges and “frizzy situations”, having curly hair is TOTALLY worth it because seldom hair textures can look so good with different shades and hairstyles. Yasss!
So, here’s my introductory conclusion: Learning how to take proper care of your curly mane and how to style it is a prerequisite if you want to unlock your curls’ maximum potential.
A good hair day is only a few paragraphs away!
Find Your Curl Type: 9 Types Of Curly Hair
Your curl type is determined by the shape of the follicle that your hair grows out of from your scalp. For example, if you have a flatter or oval-shaped follicle, your hair will be curlier.
There are three main types of curly hair, and these are wavy, curly, and coily. Each type has three subtypes according to the hair thickness, texture, and other features. So, let’s see:
1. Wavy hair
Wavy hair has fine to medium hair thickness, and an elastic shape where the S-shaped curl pattern lays closer to the head. Here are the subtypes of wavy hair:
• Type 2A (light and stretched waves)
2A wavy hair is all about fine texture and lack of volume at the root. You should avoid using heavy styling products if you don’t want your strands to weigh down and appear dull.
• Type 2B (soft waves with more definition)
2B wavy hair is flatter at the crown and has more defined waves. To bring out the best in your curl type, I suggest using moisturizing sprays enriched with protein.
• Type 2C (defined S-shaped waves)
2C wavy hair features well-defined S-shaped waves with a thick texture. Sulfate-free products are beneficial to all curl types but especially to this one as they prevent stripping essential moisture from your strands.
2. Curly hair
Curly hair ranges from large, loose curls to tight corkscrews, and the frizz is their biggest enemy. The subtypes of curly hair include the following:
• Type 3A (big, loose curls)
3A curly hair features large, loose curls that are screaming for curl cream to give them more definition. Hint: use curl creams on a regular basis and your curls will be grateful to you.
• Type 3B (bouncy ringlets)
3B curly hair has beautiful ringlets which look best with styling gels. Just make sure to apply hair gel on your wet hair to avoid frizz.
• Type 3C (springy corkscrews)
3C curly hair has tight corkscrews ranging from a straw to a pencil in terms of their shape. This curl type has lots of natural volume, and the best styling method is a combination of mousse and styling cream.
3. Coily hair
Coily hair has the tightest curls of all curly types. This hair type has a high hair density and a dryer texture. Let’s see the subtypes of coily hair:
• Type 4A (tight, S-shaped coils)
4A coily hair has dense, S-patterned coils that require more styling to maintain a well-defined coily texture. A curl cream combined with a leave-in moisturizer is a godsend for those who have 4A coils.
• Type 4B (densely packed coils)
4B coily hair is often Z-patterned and can be styled in various ways. This curl type has a thicker texture and it’s best styled with hydrating styling creams.
• Type 4C (tightly kinked Z-patterned coils)
4C coily hair has more fragile, coiled strands that are prone to dryness and shrinkage. Hydrating your coils with an oil-based leave-in moisturizer can make a huge difference here.
Caring For Curly Hair
Taking care of curly hair is not an easy job but things get much easier once you learn what your curls desire or despise. Even though every curly mane is unique, there are some universal principles on how to take proper care of your curly wurly mane:
1. Don’t wash your hair too often
I always say that those who wash curly hair every day are actually committing the biggest crime in hair history without even knowing. Why? Because if you wash your curly hair too often, it can become dry and frizzy. Let me elaborate on this.
TOO OFTEN = washing your hair every day, five, four, or three times a week. It is best to wash your hair once a week or twice a week (if you really have to). That way you’ll make sure that your curls stay moisturized between washes.
2. Apply shampoo only onto the scalp
The second biggest mistake in curly hair history is shampooing the full length of your hair which can dry out your curls. Shampoo should only be used to clean the scalp, so when you’re rinsing your hair the lather will distribute through the whole length of your hair anyway. The more you know!
3. Always comb your hair from the bottom up (after applying conditioner)
First, you need to detangle each knot at the bottom and then continue detangling the upper sections of your hair. Specially designed-detangling brushes or wide-tooth combs are true life savers! And yes, always detangle your hair after applying conditioner because this will protect your hair from breaking while detangling.
4. Never detangle curls when they are dry
If you don’t want to disrupt your curl pattern and risk hair breakage, then you should NEVER detangle your curls when they are dry.
5. Get regular trims
Healthy, bouncy curls are not only a result of good styling methods but also of frequent trims. It is recommended to trim your hair every 6 to 8 weeks. Also, remember to trim your hair two or three days after washing it so that it can return to its natural state.
6. Keep your hair moisturized
It’s universally acknowledged that curly hair is dry by default because it’s harder for the scalp’s natural oils to coat strands from roots to ends. That’s why you should make sure that your hair is properly moisturized. You can use conditioners, leave-in conditioners, oils (coconut oil, olive oil), honey, aloe vera, and similar remedies.
7. Minimize heat damage
Curly hair + heat = a big NO-NO. The heat from the sun can dry out your curls, so using hats is recommended. The heat from curling irons and straighteners can also dry out and damage your hair, so consider using a heat protectant spray beforehand. Better safe than sorry, right?
8. Protect your curls when you sleep
Because having curls means taking proper care of them even when you sleep! To help your curls stay moisturized overnight, I suggest investing in silk or satin pillowcases. This will also help your curls stay defined for longer and reduce “frizzy situations”.
Styling Curly Hair The Right Way
If you want to enjoy beautifully defined and shiny curls, then you also need to learn how to style your curly hair the right way. Here’s what you should and what you shouldn’t do when styling your hair:
1. Style your hair when it’s soaking wet
We’ve already established that curly hair needs moisture, so if your hair isn’t wet when you’re styling it, you’re bound to end up with frizzy and undefined curls. Styling your hair when it’s soaking wet defines your curls and helps lock in moisture. It’s that simple.
2. Choose the right styling product for your hair type, texture, and porosity
• Hair type: Tighter curls (3B, 3C, and coily hair) require heavier styling products such as creams and gels to help define hair and control volume. Looser curls such as wavy hair are best styled with mousses and foams to prevent hair from weighing down.
• Texture: Coarse and thick hair textures require heavier and larger amounts of styling products, while fine and medium hair textures are best styled with smaller amounts of lightweight styling products.
• Porosity: In a nutshell, hair porosity indicates the hair’s ability to absorb water. There are 3 levels of porosity: low, medium, and high. Hair with lower porosity has difficulty absorbing products, so using light products such as foams and mousses is the best bet. Hair with higher porosity has difficulty retaining moisture, so using heavier products such as gels and creams is recommended.
3. Don’t weigh curls down with a ton of styling product
Because less is more! Of course, there are times when applying lots of curl cream or gel is totally justified, but mostly you shouldn’t overdo it because you risk weighing your curls down. You should especially be cautious about this if your hair is extra dry and dull.
4. Never dry or scrunch your curls with a regular towel
Using a regular towel on curly hair will cause frizz and disrupt the curl pattern. Curly hair is fragile by nature, so you want to be gentle when drying it. Instead of using a regular towel, you should use a microfiber towel to gently scrunch the excess product out of your hair after styling it. Your hair will thank you later.
5. Don’t touch your hair until it completely dries
One of the easiest ways to disrupt your curl pattern and cause frizz is by frequently touching your dry hair after styling it. Don’t do it. Don’t touch your hair until it completely dries because your fingers attract the moisture and product from your hair which can create a “frizzy situation”.
6. Use a diffuser
Of course, you can let your curly hair dry naturally, but chances are that your curls won’t be as voluminous and rich as when you dry your hair with a diffuser. For mega volume, always dry your hair upside down with a diffuser after you’re done styling it and scrunching with a microfiber towel.
7. Keep your curls defined overnight
To keep your curls defined overnight, I suggest wrapping your curls with a silk or satin scarf or putting on a bonnet. Loosely gathering your hair at the highest point (“pineappling”) is also a great technique for protecting your curls when you sleep.
8. Use a shower cap when bathing
When there’s too much moisture in the air, your curls are bound to get frizzy. Using a shower cap when bathing will help protect your curls from extra moisture. Yaay!
The Curly Girl Method (CGM): 7 Golden Rules
A hairstylist, Lorraine Massey, introduced The Curly Girl Method in her bestselling book, Curly Girl: The Handbook in 2001. Since then, the CGM has become a form of Bible for curly-haired people.
The Curly Girl Method revolves around enhancing the natural beauty of curly hair by avoiding certain ingredients (such as sulfates or silicones), focusing on the best products for curls, and using specific methods for styling curly hair. Here are the basic CGM guidelines:
1. Say no to products that contain harmful ingredients.
Products that contain sulfates, silicones, mineral oils, wax, perfumes, and alcohol should be avoided.
These ingredients can cause frizz and dryness, and they can’t be removed from your hair without using sulfate-based shampoos (which you also want to avoid).
2. Determine which nutrients/products will benefit your hair.
If you have coarse, thick hair with high porosity and tighter curls, then you should use heavier (oil-based) products such as creams, gels, coconut oil, argan oil.
If you have fine/medium hair with low porosity and looser curls, then you should use lightweight (water-based) foams, mousses, or leave-in products. Also, hair with low porosity should avoid protein-based products.
3. Co-wash your hair and use a clarifying shampoo (every once in a while).
Co-washing your hair means washing your hair only with a conditioner which is strongly recommended for coily hair. There are also plenty of natural co-wash cleansers on the market.
Clarifying shampoos are deep cleansers that you should use from time to time to eliminate product residue and deep cleanse your scalp. It’s like a reset for your curls.
4. Avoid heat from styling tools and let your hair dry naturally.
Repeated use of straighteners, curly irons, and blow dryers can damage your curls and sometimes it can take many years for your hair to repair. Therefore, the Curly Girl Method promotes letting your curly hair dry naturally or (if you really have to) using a blow dryer with a diffuser in a low-heat setting.
5. Say no to regular combs, brushes, and bath towels.
Combs, brushes, and regular towels can cause frizz, damage, and lack of moisture. The CGM suggests using a microfiber towel and using your fingers to detangle curls.
6. Use the Curly Girl Method techniques for washing and styling.
You can use different methods when washing, cleansing, and styling your hair to create gorgeous curls and help reduce frizz.
WASHING AND CLEANSING
• Pre-Poo: Apply conditioner or oil to your hair a few hours before washing it. This will help detangle hair and encourage the forming of big, bouncy curls.
• Rope method: This technique includes applying a mix of water and conditioner from roots to ends by using a hand motion that resembles milking a cow.
• Bowl method: This method is about dipping your hair multiple times into the bowl of water and conditioner.
• Squish to condish: Squish the co-wash or conditioner into the hair with water. This technique will result in extra moisture and perfectly defined curls.
• Scrunching: After applying styling products (curl creams, gels, or mousse), gather curl clumps and scrunch them upward toward your scalp.
• Raking: Using your hands distribute styling products through your hair one section at a time.
• Rake and shake: Use your hands to distribute styling products through the sections of your hair. When you reach the end of each hair section, shake your hand to loosen up hair strands to help form the curls.
• Praying hands: This method includes applying styling products to your hair in a praying motion.
• Micro-plopping: Use a microfiber towel or a cotton T-shirt to squish your curls toward your head and pulse. Use this technique before or after styling.
• Plopping: Use a microfiber towel or a cotton T-shirt to squish your curls toward your head and then secure it. This will reduce your drying time and create beautiful curls.
• Finger coiling: Coil sections of your wet hair around your finger, and scrunch it toward your scalp.
• Brush styling: Use a styling brush such as the Denman brush to amplify curls and spirals and increase definition.
7. Refresh your curls between your (co)washes.
To refresh your curls between washes or (co)washes you need to fill a spray bottle with water and a leave-in conditioner. Spray this hydrating mixture through your curls and apply regular styling products. Don’t forget to scrunch your hair!
50 Stunning Styles And Cuts For Curly Hair
These trendy hairstyles and haircuts are all you need to bring out the best in your curly wavy, curly, or coily mane!
1. Big Voluminous Curls
We all know that big, voluminous curls don’t grow on trees. If you want to rock this stunning hairstyle, I suggest applying conditioner or oil to your hair a few hours before washing it. After washing your hair, apply curl cream and some gel. Scrunch your curls using a microfiber towel and then dry them with a diffuser. To finish, apply some serum or oil to your hair.
2. Messy Curly Updo For Naturally Curly Hair
There are so many variations of messy curly updos and Rita Ora has certainly raised the bar too high with these stunning updos. For a more casual version of curly updo, opt for wispy bangs. If you want a more elegant version with accentuated features, then side fringe is the best bet!
3. Sleek Messy Bun With Snap Clips
A classic sleek curly bun is easily turned into a more stylish version with snap clips. You can do this hairstyle in just a few minutes: apply styling cream, and then smooth your front hair pieces with a bristle brush. Tie your curls with an elastic, forming a ponytail, and use bobby pins to form a messy curly bun. And you’re done!
4. Bronde Balayage For Long Curly Hair
Strategically placing sun-kissed blonde highlights on brunette lengths will add dimension and depth to your long curly hair. The best of all is that bronde balayage looks so natural and stunning even with a grow-out which will minimize your hair salon visits.
5. A-Line Bob For Fine Curly Hair
Say hello to A-line bob which brings more texture and volume to thin and fine curly hair! This angled haircut features longer layers in the front than in the back, and you can make the angle as bold as you like. Yaay!
6. 3C Curly Hair Rezo Cut
You probably recognize this young lady from the popular series Ginny & Georgia. I have to say that I was momentarily mesmerized by her beautiful 3C curly hairstyle from the moment I started watching this series. The secret to her beautifully textured curly hair lies in the Rezo cut. This type of cut maintains an even curly length all the way around your base. It removes weight from your hair on the root area so that your curls have more movement and space to express themselves.
7. Gorgeous Ringlet Curls
We’re all suckers for beautiful curly ringlets and I daresay that they are, indeed, the epitome of curly hair. To achieve ringlet curls, you can use foam rollers for no-heat curls, or you can twist sections of your wet hair around your finger and then allow it to air dry. The latter technique is known as finger coiling.
8. Big Messy Bun For Coiled Hair
Now, who said that coily hair is not fun to style? A massive, fluffy bun is bound to earn you tons of compliments and make your coils look even more textured and voluminous. I call it a win-win situation!
9. Textured Shag For Loose Wavy Hair
Only textured shag can transform loose wavy hair into a rich, textured curly mane. If you’re a fan of an effortless, shaggy look, then this haircut is for you!
10. 4A Messy Curly Hairstyle
Because messy curls are the most stylish curls! Have you ever noticed that the more you try when it comes to styling your curly hair, the less satisfied you are with the final outcome? When you get tired of taming your 4A curly mane, then you know it’s time for a low-effort messy curly hairstyle!
11. Accessorized Bunhawk For 4C Curly Hair
Even though bunhawk looks complicated, it’s actually one of the easiest hairstyles out there! All you need to do is divide your hair into 4 or more sections (depending on the thickness of your hair). After applying styling cream and some gel, smooth and gather each section with a bristle brush. Tie the sections of your hair with an elastic, forming 4 or more ponytails. Congrats!
12. Mahogany Curls With Choppy Bangs
Mahogany hair looks flattering on all complexions, and all you need to do is find the right undertone. If you have golden and olive skin tone, then you should opt for cooler mahogany shades. However, if you have fair skin, warmer mahogany shades are a better option.
13. Ultra Long Black Curls With Face-Framing Layers
Face-framing layers are shorter pieces of hair around the face. These flattering layers help accentuate or soften your features, and they can even help contour your face.
14. Curly Space Buns
Because two buns are cuter than one! Every curly lady knows that space buns are a true lifesaver on those not-so-great hair days. Cheers to that!
15. Long Blonde Wavy Hair
If you have wavy hair, you should avoid heavy, oil-based styling products such as creams and gels. Instead, use lightweight styling products such as mousses and foams to prevent hair from weighing down.
16. Sleek Fountain Ponytail
“The fountain of youth” ponytail at the crown of your head doesn’t only hold your curls in the most stylish way but also gives you a mini facelift. How to achieve this look: apply styling cream and use a bristle brush to gather the top half portion of your hair into a ponytail. Secure it with an elastic. Spice up your hairstyle with elegant face-framing tendrils.
17. Honey Blonde Curls For Women Over 50
Seldom hair colors can exude such youthful vibes on older curly ladies. If you want to freshen up your mature curls, honey blonde will do the job! This rich, warm shade will warm up your complexion and help you age like fine wine.
18. Chic Hairstyles For Curly Hair
Brace yourselves because curly hairstyles with braids, claw clips, sleek parts, and messy buns are making a huge comeback! From cute to more elegant looks, these stunning hairstyles are suitable for every occasion.
19. Classic Curly Bob With Bangs
If I had to describe this hairstyle in three words, it would be: Simple. Stylish. Sassy. Curly bob with bangs is a match made in heaven and it brings out the best in thin curly hair.
20. Messy Updo For Curly Hair With Curtain Bangs
Messy updos are a godsend for 3rd or 4th day curly hair and curls with bangs. Just remember to refresh your curls beforehand: fill a spray bottle with water and a leave-in conditioner. Spray this mixture through your curls and then apply your regular styling products.
21. Shiny Long Curls With Blonde Highlights
Shiny curly hair is properly hydrated and nourished. To achieve shiny locks, use a rich, moisturizing conditioner or a leave-in conditioner. Also, use a silk or satin bonnet when you sleep to keep your curls moisturized and defined.
22. Layered Curly Bob For Older Women
Say hello to fun vibes! Piecey bangs on layered curly bobs make your hair look more textured and personalized. It’s one of the most flattering short curly hairstyles for older ladies.
23. Fluffy Curly Hair
A good old curly shag makes the hair full around the crown, and thinner around the edges and throughout the ends. It’s perfect for those who have medium to thick hair because this haircut requires lots of layering.
24. Romantic Loose Braid For Wavy Hair
This otherworldly hairstyle is a true work of art and it’s actually easy to style! Pulling out each loop on a classic 3-strand braid will make the braid look thicker and looser. Decorate your loose braid with flowers and other accessories to your taste.
25. Blonde Curly Hair With A Grow-Out
Long gone are the days when natural grow-outs on dyed curly hairstyles were so underestimated and despised. Feel free to enjoy the contrast of your natural dark grow-out and blonde curls (because you and your hair deserve it).
26. Medium Curly Hairstyle With Side Cornrows
Cornrows are protective and stylish braids perfect for summer days. Now, if you don’t want to do cornrows on the entire hair, side cornrows are the perfect alternative for spicing up your current hairstyle.
27. Side Parted Long Curly Hair
A deep-side part is one of the easiest ways to give your long curly hairstyle a mega boost. Also, side-parting helps soften the jawline and cheekbones on diamond, square, and heart-shaped faces. Amazing, right?
28. Elegant Curly Updo
If you’re looking for an elegant updo, you can never go wrong with messy buns. I like how these messy buns on curls look like flowers made of hair. Also, don’t forget to pull out a few pieces around the hairline.
29. Silver Curls For Women Over 50
Silver shade is one of the best curly hairstyles for women over 50 because it perfectly blends with gray hair while giving you that ethereal vibe. Besides that, you can rock a natural-looking grow-out literally forever.
30. Knotless Braids With Curls
Knotless braids are basically box braids installed using a different technique to lessen scalp tension. The knotless braid begins at the root with your natural hair and is gradually mixed with the hair extension as the braid continues. The result is a stylish, natural-looking braided hairstyle!
31. Loose Curly Hair With Cascading Mermaid Layers
Layered haircuts can do wonders for fine and thin long curly hairstyles. These cascading mermaid layers create an illusion of fuller hair and are reminiscent of the beachy, carefree look.
32. Curly Frohawk
As the name implies, a frohawk is a type of mohawk hairstyle with Afro-textured hair. The sleek part of this unique hairstyle helps create even more volume and accentuates the curls’ texture.
33. Sleek ‘n’ Curly Half-Up Half-Down
Torn between sleek and curly? Well, you can always choose sleek ‘n’ curly! The sleek part of your hair will accentuate your features and make your curly part look more sophisticated. Yummy!
34. Bronde Curls
Bronde is the new blonde! Also known as brownish blonde, bronde is a warm blonde hue that looks best on light and medium skin tones. This ethereal shade brings justice to curly hair.
35. Soft Blonde Curls With Pastel Pink Highlights
Feeling artsy? Pastel pink highlights create the illusion of more depth and volume on blonde hair. This is one of the most striking artsy combos out there!
36. Intense Copper Stacked Bob
Say yes to short curly hair! Also known as graduated bob, stacked curly bob features angled layers in the back that create a graduated look. Pro tip: Opt for intense copper if you want to bring out your curl pattern.
37. Jet Black Curly Hair Ringlets
Imagine the deepest and darkest shade of black. Well, such a color is known as jet black, and it looks amazing on light skin tones due to the beautiful contrast of extreme darkness and lightness.
38. Shiny Red Locks With Blonde Highlights
If you’re not ready for drastic changes but want to spice up your red curls, I suggest adding blonde highlights to create depth and volume. Don’t forget to dry your hair with a diffuser for extra bouncy curls!
39. Massive High Curly Bun
This massive high bun is reserved for those with thick, long curly hair. It’s one of the best ways to secure your locks and exude that supermodel vibe without trying too hard. Perfection.
40. Low Curly Bun With Blonde Highlights
Buns are one of the most practical and versatile curly hairstyles and that’s why we love them. A low curly bun will make sure your curls are secured and in place. Don’t forget to pull down some front pieces for a more polished look.
41. Box Braids
Whether you have box braids or knotless braids, covering your head with a bonnet or wrapping your braids with a silky scarf will help prevent friction while sleeping. Also, consider moisturizing your roots with sprays or braiding oils beforehand.
42. Burgundy Middle Part Curly Hairstyle
A middle part creates the illusion of length and perfect symmetry for your face. This type of hair parting looks extremely flattering on round, oval, diamond, and heart-shaped faces.
43. Pin-Up Bandana Hairstyle
Hi, pin-up lady! Top knots are perfect for work, parties, and chilling at home. Adding a bandana or a scarf to the top knot will make your style more fashionable.
44. Accessorized Curly Buns
The only thing better than curly updos is their accessory! Spice up your braids, space buns, or top knots with hair beads, cuffs, wire wraps, or pearl wraps. As always, the choice is yours!
45. Cowboy Copper Curls
Cowboy copper is a blend between warm brown and copper, which is the main reason why this popular shade looks so natural. If you gravitate toward curly, natural redhead styles, then this fall hair color trend is for you!
46. Intense Red Layered Bob
The layered curly bob is a playful and expressive version of a classic bob. To spice up this short curly hairstyle, I suggest creating loose curls by wrapping large and thick strands of your hair around your curling iron.
47. Curly Bob With Bangs For Older Women
Ready to unlock those youthful vibes? Piecey bangs exude easy-going and fun vibes on all types of hairstyles including curly bobs for mature curls!
48. Curly Pixie Cut
A curly pixie cut is, undoubtedly, one of the most unique and bold baddie curly hairstyles! This style screams freedom and exudes easy breezy vibes in the most effortless way possible.
49. Sleek High Ponytail
An unusually high ponytail that defies gravity is one of the COOLEST curly hairstyles ever! Period.
50. Fountain Ponytail With Front Cornrows
If you’re sick and tired of classic fountain ponytails, then you know it’s time to add some front cornrows to the equation. Just make sure not to keep your cornrows in for longer than 6 weeks to avoid hair breakage, dryness, and tangling.
Remember To Take Care Of Your Curly Hair!
Good hair days and bad hair days are guaranteed but if you take good care of your curly hair (and regularly trim your slip ends), then there’s nothing you should worry about. Despite all the challenges that come with maintaining curly mane, I think life is too short to have straight hair. How many of you can relate to this?