Anyone with curly hair has heard at least one person with straight strands lament, “Your hair is so pretty, I wish I had curly hair!” It’s meant to be a compliment, but having a good curly hair day is harder than it looks. Good news is you’re in the right place to get your easiest, healthiest hair routine ever. First, these simple tips will keep waves and curls looking shiny and strong. Then, advance to eight easy hairstyles you can whip out before the morning coffee’s ready.
CURLY HAIR CARE TIPS
1. Always comb your hair from the bottom up.
Starting at the bottom allows you to gently detangle each knot, rather than compounding them all toward the bottom and yanking your way through with a comb.
2. Trim regularly to avoid split ends.
Split ends are never a good look (not to mention they can make your hair frizzy!). If you want healthy curls that look bouncy and fresh, head to the hairstylist every six to eight weeks for a quick trim.
3. Use product “cocktailing” to customize your haircare regimen.
“Product cocktailing is simply mixing two or more products together to meet your specific styling needs,” explains hairstylist Andrita Renee. Her favorite cocktails: smoothing serum plus mousse, and coconut oil plus styling gel. Both allow for supreme hold without leaving your hair dry and crunchy.
4. …or try a serum!
If you don’t have the patience for cocktailing, your best bet is a serum, which helps to not only smooth your curls but gives them definition and separation. “Use three or four pumps at a time. Emulsify the product in your hands and gently take it through your curls,” advises New York City-based hairstylist and colorist Patrick Kyle, who recommends Nexxus Humectress Encapsulate Serum.
5. Rely on a wide-tooth comb, never a brush, to detangle.
“Curly hair is the most fragile type on the block, and each curl is a potential breaking point,” explains Renee. “Using a wide-tooth comb is the gentlest way to detangle curls and it doesn’t disrupt the natural curl pattern as much as a brush would.” (Don’t forget to start at the bottom – see tip #1!)
6. Apply a conditioning treatment to your ends.
When your hair goes through a dry or dull phase, what you don’t want to do is weigh it down with a ton of product. Simply use your fingertips to apply a dime-size blob of styling cream or oil to your ends, giving them extra moisture and bounce.
7. Use the “pineapple trick” to get defined curls overnight.
Pineappling is a technique in which the hair is loosely gathered at the highest point of the head, usually before sleep. This protects the curl pattern while helping your hair maintain natural volume. Simply take it out when you’re ready to wear it down.
8. Try a diffuser to even out your curl pattern and add more body.
If you’re not using the attachments that come with your hairdryer, you’re missing out. “A diffuser is a blowdryer attachment that minimizes a lot of the frizz that comes when curly hair is naturally air dried,” explains stylist Britt White. Plus, it can help even out your curl pattern and boost heavy curls’ volume.
To use your diffuser, first squeeze out the extra moisture in your hair after showering. If your hair is dry, spritz water onto it, then apply a mousse that contains heat protectant. Using your fingers, twirl each curl into the desired shape, then plop your strands into the diffuser, cupping it around your hair. Repeat until you’ve got defined curls all over.
For an extra-thorough lesson on this blowdrying technique, watch our full diffuser tutorial.
9. Refresh with a curling iron.
It may sound silly to curl already-curly hair, but when they’ve gotten saggy or unruly, it’s a great way to perk them up. “Pick an iron that’s about the same diameter as your curls,” says Sabina Yannone, a Los Angeles-based hairstylist who specializes in curly hair. “If you think your curls are too tight, go up one size to stretch. If the opposite, size down.”
THE CUTEST CURLY HAIRSTYLES
1. Everyday Topknot
Gather your hair into a ponytail and secure it with an elastic. Divide your hair into two sections, wrap one around the base of the ponytail and pin it with a bobby pin. Wrap the second section around the first and secure it with a bobby pin, then gently tug the bun with your fingers if necessary to give it a full, rounded shape.
2. Braided Topknot
Everyone loves a good topknot, but if you’re going somewhere special, why not take it up a notch? Leave a small section of hair out while forming your topknot. Once your initial style is complete, braid the section and wrap it around the base of your topknot, securing it with a bobby pin for an elegant overall look.
3. Braided Headband
Whether you’re trying to keep your curls from getting unruly in the wind or preventing your strands from sticking to your face in the humid summer heat (sweat! frizz!), this style is a great way to wear your hair down and keep it away from your eyes.
4. Dutch Braids
Don’t listen to celebs who call this look “boxer braids” and act like it’s a new trend. They’re called Dutch braids or cornrows, says Renee, and they’ve been around for a long time. To get ’em, she recommends using a hair priming product like Bumble and bumble’s BB. Curl Pre-Style Primer ($28, Sephora.com) to moisturize beforehand, then detangle your curls completely before starting to braid. “This will significantly reduce the amount of tension that will need to be used for braiding,” she explains.
Divide your hair down the middle into two sections, then separate each section into three pieces. Starting at the front and top, create a three-strand braid. Cross the piece on the right into the middle underneath the center piece, then repeat on the left side, gradually adding more hair as you braid down to the bottom. Secure each braid with an elastic or clip.
5. Braid Out
It’s the easiest and most versatile protective style a curly-haired girl can ask for, says Renee. Simply braid your hair into two (or more!) braids, sleep on it and remove the braids in the morning. You braid your hair into a different curl pattern, lock in your moisturizing products and treatments during the night and wake up with a beautiful, low-maintenance style in the morning.
6. Slicked-back Ponytail
This style is another pretty option that allows you to wear your curls down while keeping them out of your face. To make this look last through the day (and humidity), Renee recommends applying a lightweight styling gel or pomade through your hair. Then, use a boar brush to pull the top section of your hair back into a sleek ponytail and anchor it with a hair tie. Ruffle the back a bit with your fingers for extra volume.
7. Three Braid Updo
For a pulled-back style that will look like you spent ages on it, separate your hair into three parts and create a three-strand braid with each section. Hold the top section, pull it across the back of your head and secure it with a bobby pin. Repeat with the second and third sections, then secure any loose pieces with bobby pins. Voila! An unbelievably easy updo.
8. Victory Curls
This is a curly girl spin on that post-World War II look known as “victory rolls.” While most references for this look show wavy or straight hair, super curly hair can look just as gorgeous with these rolls. Part your hair off to the side, twirl a section of hair from the front, then pin it toward the back. Repeat on the other side. Add sexy cat eyeliner to take this vintage-inspired look up a notch.
Looking for curly style inspiration for short hair? Check out this gallery of gorgeous looks!
Never forget these curly hair hacks!
Before you go, pin this image to your favorite beauty boards.