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 much 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 keep curly or unruly hair under control is 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, with people wondering whether you can fit through doorways. A good barber will know exactly where it needs to be thinned out, working in subtle layers and keeping the ends neat.
But whatever length you choose, there are a few rules to keeping your curls cool. “The best cut for someone with curly hair is all dependent on strength of the curl, and volume,” says Steve Robinson, art director at salon chain Electric. “Layers reduce weight, and therefore create more volume, however this might not be suitable for someone who wants to control their hair.”
Steer clear of certain products too. “Products with a high alcohol content are exceptionally bad for curly hair, as it dries out follicles. Cheap mousses are the same, plus they’ll make the hair crispy – never good.”
If your hair is on the thirsty side, know that rehydration is simple with a good moisturising conditioner. That’s gospel. It will prevent your hair from frizzing too much and generally make it easier to manage. Next, avoid heavy gels or wax products unless you’re looking to slick your hair back. Creams, salt sprays or even a leave-in conditioner work better, defining the curls and keeping them (more or less) in place, without weighing your hair down.
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.