Curly hair styles: What lengths are perfect for curls?
From wavy hair to tight spirals, how to choose the right length to help your curly hair look its best.
The perfect length for your curly hair depends on the type of curl. “Curly hair” includes everything from slightly wavy hair to tight spirals. Find your hair type in the list below to determine the best length for your hair.
Slightly wavy hair:
In order to enhance your waves and curl potential, a shoulder-length layered cut is best. Hair can fall anywhere from two inches above to two inches below the shoulders with this type of hair, depending on thickness and personal preference. The medium length allows hair to weigh itself down slightly, providing some control to prevent a “poofy” look, but is not so long that waves look limp and flat. The layers are absolutely necessary to allow curls when desired. Even perfectly straight hair can muster up some curls with a little gel and a layered cut.
Waves are wonderful because a blow dryer or straightening iron can easily transform your waves into straight locks, while a small amount of styling product allows you to “scrunch” curls, and your hair will also cooperate with a curling iron to form more defined curls.
Loose ringlets (½” – 1” curls)
If your hair naturally dries into loose ringlets, a longer cut is right for you. A length that falls below your shoulders will keep curls manageable and show off the perfect ringlets that form. A small amount of layering at the ends will create a fuller, healthier appearance. Do not cut short layers in the front, as they will simply fall in your face and are difficult to tuck behind your ear.
When styling your hair, keep it simple. Pulling a few curls back in a barrette or adding in a few small braids are perfect ways to dress up. For more formal occasions, try putting your hair “half-up” to get the formal updone look while showing off your beautiful natural curls.
“Typical” curly hair
This is the most common type of curl—usually about half an inch in diameter, prone to frizz and “poofiness.” To maintain your sanity, make sure never to cut hair so that it is too short to pull back but long enough to become annoying. Unless you are sure that you will like a very short haircut, steer clear; you just might end up with a giant poof on your head. Your best bet is a layered cut of almost any length, as long as you like it. Your main concern is to avoid the “triangle” hair: hair that just keeps getting bigger as it moves towards the ground. Layered cuts will prevent this problem as well as enhance your curls.
When styling your hair, keep in mind that gels will do wonders for curl definition, and while frizz control products do control frizz, they also make hair extremely greasy if you do not wash it out the next morning. Avoid products with alcohol, as these will dry out your hair and increase frizz. Finally, a diffuser is a worthwhile investment for this hair type, as it significantly improves blow-drying results.
If your curly hair is thin or fine, choose a cut that falls just below your ears. The short length will prevent you curls from weighing themselves down, allowing your thin hair to appear fuller. Thin hair is the most manageable, and a lightweight mousse allows you to achieve enviable, tossable curls. This hair type is also easily straightened with blow dryer or straightening iron.
Gorgeous though they are, there is really only one way to handle tight spiral curls: a shoulder-length cut with lots of layers. A shorter cut will be very full, while a longer cut will weigh itself down and detract from the healthy bounce of your spirals. If you do not layer your hair, you run the risk of looking as though you have a clown wig on your head. By adding layers, you can shape your coif and show off the healthy vibrancy that so often accompanies tight spirals. Beware of blow dryers and styling products that contain alcohol, as both can cause frizz and out-of-control hair.
If you are trying to style your tightly spiraled hair, your best bet is to try to find a style with twists which will keep your sometimes unruly hair under wraps. You can either gather the hair at the nape of your neck and twist up for a French twist or begin twisting sections back from your hairline to the crown of you head.
Tips for all types of curly hair
Avoid any styling products that contain alcohol, as all will increase frizz and damage your hair. If you use anti-frizz products, keep in mind that some may weigh hair down and all will cause increase greasiness if you do not wash it out the next day. Finally, if you straighten your hair, it may be helpful to invest in a ceramic ion straightener, as it does little damage while achieving a smooth, shiny finish on straightened hair.