Curly hair might occasionally feel like a tangled curse you didn’t ask for, don’t deserve and definitely don’t have time to fix, but there are real advantages to a head of curls. And it’s not just superlative bed hair. Curls add volume and texture to your hairstyle without the need for products or even much effort, and there’s a wider choice of cuts available than you might think. Yes, we all shudder at the memory of Leo Sayer at his voluminous best or Justin Timberlake’s gelled millennium noodles, but below you’ll find stylish options at every length.
The easiest and most versatile way to manage unruly hair is with a short back and sides haircut that leaves more length on top. This lets your curls do the talking and gives you the option of sweeping them to the side, to the back with an optional pompadour, or letting them hang forward, embracing the tousled look with a fringe.
If you want to grow your hair out, you’ll still need to make regular visits to the barber, even if your goal is to look like Kit Harington at the end. Without regular trims, thick hair will bunch at the sides and you could end up looking more like Brian May. A good barber will know exactly where it needs to be thinned out, working in subtle layers and keeping the ends neat.
How to Manage Curly Hair
With the threat of frizz and humidity, curly hair can be hard to keep in check, but one benefit is that you don’t need to wash it as frequently compared with straight hair. Tim Pateman, director of London salon, The Lion & The Fox, agrees: “Most people with curls know that it’s tricky to deal with if it’s washed frequently. The natural oils help control the curls, so be careful not to strip them out. Washing makes the curls lighter, fluffier and looser and gives them a ‘frayed’ look, overall making the hair appear dry or frizzy.”
According to Tim the best products for curly haired men are “sulphate-free shampoos (SLS) because they contain less of the harsh detergents that strip the natural oils from the hair.” He also says “it’s important to match the right styling product with your type of curl and texture and choose shine-free styling aids.” As a general rule, he says, “air drying is preferable” and to “try to limit blow drying.”
That doesn’t mean you need to freeze in winter: “if it’s cold out or you want to speed up drying, use a hot sock diffuser over the nozzle to give a gentler diffuser effect. Please don’t tempted to use a regular sock,” warns Tim, “it’s probably a fire hazard.” He also says it’s wise to “never dry your hair more than 60 per cent – the curls need to retain some moisture to hold their shape.”
Now, to help you make waves with your next cut, take a look at our gallery of the best curly hairstyles below – all of which can be saved or printed out to show your barber.