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How to Cut Curly Hair

Updated on July 30, 2007

There's nothing wrong with wanting to mimic the haircuts of famous celebrities. They visit the hottest stylists and the best colorists, they sport the latest cuts and they make it look awesome. But because of this, we mistakenly think that their particular style will look great on us, completely disregarding the concept of facial structure. Not all cuts look good on all face shapes. And nothing is worse than trying to fight nature by forcing your hair to conform to a cut it can't control.

Wavy hair needs to be trimmed every 8-10 weeks to keep it's definition
Wavy hair needs to be trimmed every 8-10 weeks to keep it's definition


Wavy hair needs to be balanced with long layers starting around the chin. Wavy hair is typically thick and voluminous, so longer lengths that cascade just around your shoulders look incredibly sexy. It is critical that hair be trimmed every 8-10 weeks. Wavy heads who don't follow this rule may find themselves experiencing the terror of "triangle head", which is when the hair grows out and becomes poufy on the bottom but totally flat on top. Trimming the ends and the layers regularly will help hair keep it's shape.

Care for wavy hair with a moisturizing shampoo (such as Neutrogena Triple Moisture Cream Lather Shampoo) and a moisturizing conditioner (I swear by Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curls & Waves -- my curls have never been bouncier or more defined.) As I discussed in How to Control Curly, Frizzy Hair, it isn't necessary for wavy-headed gals to wash their every day, as this further dries out already dry hair. And don't listen when those with super-stick-straight hair tell you it's disgusting. Fine hair needs to be washed every day or it starts looking greasy; this is not the case with you. Lastly, do not rub hair vigorously with a towel once you get out of the shower as this destroys the cuticle and creates massive amounts of frizz.

Start curly-haired layers around the chin and angle down from there
Start curly-haired layers around the chin and angle down from there


Again, layers are the way to go if you want structure and definition for your curly locks. Curly hair can be worn super short only if it's cut close to the head no longer than three inches and conforms to the shape of the scalp. Long, flowing curls look gorgeous when layered at the chin and angled down. In the back, opt for fewer layers so the hair will appear to flow neatly backwards. Anything in between these two options is a death sentence.

Curly hair is deprived of moisture, so again, shampoo as infrequently as possible, using a moisturizing product when you do. The biggest challenge with curly hair is the F-word: frizz. Combat this by using a moisturizing or frizz-free conditioner like John Frieda's Frizz-Ease and deep conditioning once a week. Letting hair air dry is only acceptable if you've applied a controlling gel or mousse ahead of time. If you're going to blow dry, definitely use a diffuser attachment and don't stop until every strand is dry.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Definitely stay away from products with dries curly hair. Secondly air drying is ALWAYS acceptable for curly hair...find a micro fiber towel to dry ....never ever rub your hair dry use the towel on small sections and squeeze. Try using a leave in deep conditioner at least once a week. Caucasians can wash hair once every three to four days and African American people should try to go longer as the hair looses it's natural oils and frizzes up if shampooed too often. If you must blow dry put a lotion in your hair first and always use a diffuser. Personally, as a Caucasian with extremely kinky hair ( a 3c on excellent recommendation folks) I find that products made for women of color work best on my hair...I do get some looks , but mostly nods ;) I am older with kids so I keep my hair short and NONE of these cuts would work for me...why do they always leave us out?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i have tooooo much curly hairs and my hairs is tooo hard,rough and dry,i wanna cut of my hairs.but i dont knw which cutting is suit me,pls help for my dirty hairs,plsssssssssss

    • profile image


      7 years ago


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Yes, I have hair like that wavy too and I cant manage that well, I dont know what I do ?

    • SOnja Be profile image

      SOnja Be 

      7 years ago

      I was talking with my doctor about hair products for me - I have fine-haired wavy and curly hair that needs extra protein. My doctor decided the Antioxidant Leave in Protecter from Shielo Hair Care, and am so glad I tried it! After using it just once, my waves (which had been looking rather straight) curled right up, and it left my hair feeling really soft and lovely.

      Several reviewers on other websites had mentioned that the smell is amazing and I agree! It makes my hair smell so fresh - my husband loves the smell.

      I also like how this plays well with other hair products. I've been experimenting by layering various brands of curl cremes and gels over it, and it doesn't flake up or act strangely at all.

      As for the amount to use, I've been using four sprays on my shoulder-length hair. I may increase the amount to make sure I really get all my hair covered. I've also just been raking it through my hair with my fingers, but I might try a comb.

    • profile image

      Julia Miranda Rojas Santiago 

      7 years ago

      I want to cut my hair in a long bob but my hair looks like curly wavy frizzy hair what do you suggest

    • profile image

      7 years ago

      Not true about washing; I have wavy hair and my mom has curly hair. She doesn't have to wash hers every day but I do need to wash mine - actually I wet and condition it every day and wash every other or third day. If I don't, my hair gets flat and oily on top. Wavy hair is very difficult to deal with. You have the volume problems of straight hair and the triangle and texture problems of curly.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i have super curly hair which is to my lower back, that i have learned to not necessarily love, but like a lot more than i used to. i do wash my hair, pretty much daily (maybe every couple days in the winter)....i use matrix sleek look shampoo and conditioner. i rinse the shampoo more than thoroughly, and then condition the crap out of my hair. i put the majority of the conditioner from my neck down, and the remainder/residue on the top of my head. i do not rinse the conditioner out ever if i am going curly. i let the conditioner sit and then comb my fingers through my hair until all tangles are gone. once my hair has smoothed out, i grab a towel and wrap my soaking wet head tightly. i finish my shower routine and don't take the towel off my head until i am ready to work on my hair. at that point i pull the towel off (don't rub it creates frizz!) and use Noodle Head and vavoom or a similar gel on my hair. i use Noodle Head first....and apply from the neck down again, with the residue at the top of my head....the same for the gel. i never comb my fingers through my hair or do anything ti separate the curls. that creates more fizz! instead, i use just the palms of my hands and apply the products around my curls, as if on top of, not through -- EVER! and, then i flip my head upside down and blow dry the roots at the crown, and slowly work my way down the hair, alternating between the bottom side and then the stop side of my hair to dry it. i never fully dry it, just enough to give it body so it's not limp and has a decent amount of body without the frizz. most days it stays pretty good and it only gets a little frizzy on super humid days or rainy days... skipping a shampoo on these days can definitely help though. just condition!

      i think the key is leaving in the conditioner, not brushing my hair, not towel drying and putting the product around the curls not through! and for me the hair dryer seals the deal.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      hi, I have curly hair and I'm going to cut it soon, should I get short layers or long ones? I want to get short ones but I'm worried It'll make my hair poofy. what do you think? pleaaase help.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i have middle back curly hair. i never straighten my hair, i can count on my one hand how many times i have straightened it.. i use herbal essence totally twisted shampoo and condtioner. i brush my hair with a big ass brush to get out all the tangles. i also use herbal essence totally twisted mousse, one handful on top of my hair, one on the bottom and ring my fingers thru my curls and then i flip my hair upside down and do another hadnful... this creates some volume. then i put hairspray in my hair and go for the day. its usually dry within an hour. its not perfect but its came a long way from me looking like a big pouf ball before i learned how to manage it

    • profile image


      9 years ago



      Things You'll Need:

      Washing and Styling

      • Conditioner (Suggestion: Any conditioner by Pears, esp. Balancing or Clarifying)

      • Honey (optional)

      • Curl enhancing cream (Suggestion: Sunsilk Curl Booster & No-Frizz Balm)

      • Leave-in conditioner (Suggestion: Loreal Royal Jelly Night Serum) (optional)

      • Aloe vera gel (Suggestion: Fruit of the Earth) (optional)

      • Non-alcohol curl preserving/defining spray (Suggestion: John Frieda’s Dream Curls) (optional)

      • Serum/oil (optional)

      Note: Some of the products aforementioned cannot be found in Malaysia. I get my supply from Australia. They’re merely my personal recommendations as they work best for me. You can always substitute the above with any other product of your choice.

      Weekly/Monthly Follow-ups

      • Deep conditioner/hair treatment

      • Coconut milk (optional)

      • Vinegar and/or baking soda and/or epsom salts


      1. Take a shower and wash your hair at NIGHT: Thoroughly wet hair with very warm (not hot!) water. Give the scalp a good massage while wetting hair. Ensure hair and scalp is completely drenched. Then, use ONLY conditioner to wash your hair (tip: add a tablespoon of honey to your conditioner for added “slip” and extra softness). You’d have to use a lot of conditioner for conditioner washing, hence buy the cheapest, silicon-free conditioner available in the market. Next, add water to “lather” your conditioner as you would with shampoo. Use your finger pads (not your nails!) to massage the conditioner onto your scalp and then add more conditioner to “wash” your entire hair length & ends. Give it a vigorous (and gentle) wash for a good 3-5 minutes. Pile hair on top of head for it to work, then proceed to do your other business (a good 5-10 minutes or so). Then rinse your scalp and hair well with cold water. Once done, step out of the shower. While your hair is sopping wet, squeeze out excess moisture, use a towel and scrunch those curls a few times (no rubbing hair!). Not too many times because you don't really want them to get too dry.

      2. Next, take a curl enhancing cream (you can also mix it with some leave-in conditioner if you wish or apply the leave-in conditioner before the curl cream), rub onto palms and apply to the entire hair length. Saturate hair completely then start scrunching your hair. Make sure you don't put too much near your scalp or your hair will look too weighed down.

      Note: NEVER use curl enhancing gels or mousse or sprays containing alcohol on damaged permed hair, EVER. Stick only to creamy formulas and/or non-alcohol curl-defining spritzes.

      3. After scrunching, don’t comb hair. Leave it to air dry completely or just sleep with your hair wet/damp (place a towel over your pillow).

      4. Next morning, you may find that your curls appear limp and lifeless. This is due to all the moving around and trashing in your sleep (well, at least I do). Fret not, just apply water (lots) to hair to activate the curl cream and scrunch as many times as you possibly can, section by section. Hair must be very damp (but not sopping wet) for this technique to work. If you feel like the water has diluted the curl cream slightly, then just apply a bit more curl cream or (tip: aloe vera gel or John Frieda’s Dream Curls spray) to your entire hair length, scrunching as you go along. Use a towel to further scrunch hair and blot any excess water/dripping.

      Tips: i) If you are into the “crunchy curls” look, forgo the aloe vera gel. Aloe vera gel will promote bigger, softer, looser and more natural-looking curls.

      ii) Do not substitute curl cream with aloe vera gel in Step 2 as the latter may not be strong enough to hold curls on fried permed hair. If you must or want to use aloe vera gel, mix it together with a curl cream or use a curl cream BEFORE the aloe vera gel. Another trick is to mix aloe vera gel with water in a spray bottle and use it as and when you like to refresh hair/curls.

      iii) Scrunching wet hair with a small tea towel after applying product will help “set” curls, giving them better shape and definition than scrunching with fingers alone. But do not scrunch until hair becomes too dry/frizzy. Just a few scrunches (5-10) will do until you see more defined/shaped curls.

      5. Then either let hair air dry or blow dry your hair on a low/medium heat setting and low force setting with a diffuser attached. Once your hair is dry, switch to the cool setting and keep it on low force. Blowing some cool air through your curls will "set" the curls and take care of some of the frizz. As for me, AIR-DRYING WORKS BEST.

      Tip: NEVER EVER use a high heat setting or force setting on your hairdryer or you will cause curls to be flattened/straightened out and super frizzy!

      6. Lastly, take a smoothing serum (or a very tiny bit of coconut, jojoba or olive oil) and carefully scrunch your hair for shine, if necessary.

      Note: This step can be done while hair is either wet or dry.

      7. Once a week, do an OVERNIGHT deep conditioning treatment. Start off by washing hair as per Step 1, then lightly towel dry hair and apply a deep conditioner/hair treatment mixed with some coconut milk (optional), massage and saturate the entire hair length (and scalp if you wish). Then pile hair on top of your head and sit under a steamer for 20 mins. Next, cover hair with a plastic shower cap, followed by another small towel and sleep with it on. If you do not have access to a steamer, you can just cover hair with a plastic cap after applying the hair treatment, wrap with a small towel and go to sleep. Next day, just rinse hair thoroughly and proceed with Steps 2-6. I do this every Saturday night and if I am not going anywhere, I’ll rinse it off on Sunday night.

      8. Every once in a while (every fortnight to a month), do a clarifying hair soak to get rid of product build-up. A great method is by adding a cup (200ml) of distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar or baking soda, mixed with a handful of epsom salts in about a litre of WARM water, apply on dirty DRY hair, from scalp to ends. Ensure that hair is completely soaked, give your scalp a good massage for about 3 minutes and let solution sit on hair for 20-30 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly and proceed with Steps 1-6.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Okay do not listen to the conditioner suggestion and you shouldnt use shampoo at all!! Only use conditioner and avoid silicones! heres an amazing site:

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Ugh! I have super curly hair and it used to be long, a bit layered, and easy enough to control. But, I got this free haircut and now my hair is about two inches past my shoulders, super layered and I have bangs. That is probably the worst cut anyone with curly hair could possible have! It's kind of grown out now and I flat iron it every day. HELP! I'm just waiting for it to grow out again! (sorry I'm kind of venting...) Any ideas that could help me leave it natural without looking like a man with a 'fro? I guess I could just wait...

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Look the thing is I have your same hair, and I know how to keep it moisturized, so my curls are really defined, pluss they are not so big and not so small, so they're kinda perdect...but, I have tons of it, My hair has a lot of volume, I don't know what to do. A year ago I had a hair cut done that made me end up with less, though long hair. My hair goes down to my mid-back, and it's al cut the same length... What cool haircut do you recommend? Layers?? Because my mom told me short layers would make my hair look like an afro. But I really love your haircut in the first picture, I'm sure it would look amazing on me too. What kinda hair cut is it? Please answer, I need my hair stylist to understand the haircut I want. If you can, e-mail me the answer to

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i hv curly hairs and these r also ruff.Which cutting suits to me.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      your conditior made my hair more frizzer!!!!!

    • Rhym O'Reison profile image

      Rhym O'Reison 

      10 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      I also have curly hair, not as gorgeous as yours, but curly none the less. This is a really good hub.

    • becauseilive profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from N.J.

      Hey Suzanne -- I can absolutely give you some tips on how to get manageable curly hair, I wrote a hub about it previously here:

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      i wish sooo bad that my hair would look like that! my hair is so frizzy and the curls all go their own way and sometimes they dont even curl, its just all weird. it stresses me out so i usually straighten it....neway any tips on how to get this look???

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Beautiful hair


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