18 Best Haircuts for Curly Hair
Image Source: @curly.hair.boo

Most of us grew up traumatized by bad salon experiences and stylists who made us feel like our natural texture was inherently wrong. And we know just how challenging it can be to find haircut inspiration that features real, natural curls. Luckily, there is a growing number of curly hair specialists today who have fully embraced the beauty and versatility of curls – and are teaching others how to do the same. Here are 18 haircuts by top stylists in the industry, featuring real curls of varying lengths, shapes, sizes and styles.

1. Fringe and fro

Stylist: Isabella Vázquez, Hairdresser, Editorial Stylist, Artistic Director, @Curlpop_n_hair

Isabella: This is the type of shape that walks into the room before you do. It definitely gets noticed from all directions and angles. What makes this square curved shape eye candy is that it’s naturally and unapologetically curly while softening it with a fringe commonly known as a bang. The cushion we mainly refer to as frizz is utilized to create a different type of volume. This is a rounder, expanded, denser volume. We can appreciate the thickness of the hair. The fringe area draws attention to the eyes and it also creates a cut out face frame.

Who does this work best for? This is for thicker and denser curls or higher textures of curls. It’s also for the curly girl who is not afraid of attention. Aside from a small fringe trim done every 6-8 weeks, a full haircut salon visit won’t be necessary for a while. Air drying is best for this look before picking it out into a fro.

alyssa forever long natural haircut

2. Oval shape with long layers

Stylist: Shai Amiel, owner of CAPELLA salon

Shai: Alyssa’s hair is very dense. She has lots of it. This type of hair is usually really heavy and doesn’t have a lot of movement. This shape is great for the curly girl that wants to keep as much of the length but loves volume. It’s ideal for short to medium hair but can work on long hair. I decided to create an oval shape to contour her cheek bones and allow me to gradually build weight on the crown for that added height on top. The entire cut is square to remove bulk but keeping the top a bit shorter and rounded. This shape works great with the curl by curl method to create that random uneven look even though it all blends in.

Who does this work best for? This is another versatile shape that works well on all hair textures.

long curly haircut with layers

3. Versus Diametrix

Stylist: Christo, Global Artistic Director of Curlisto® products and Christo Fifth Avenue Salon

Christo: This is a long diagonal angled cut in which the Diametrix Cutting Technique is applied to take away the bottom bulkiness of the style to allow the curls to lie beautifully framed around the face. We simply call this Versus Diametrix because the frame is cut on the opposite side of the face to allow the diagonal angles of hair to frame the face by avoiding the awkward “shelf effect.” Versus Diametrix allows clients with long curls to enjoy the versatility of hairstyles, as well as create more defined curls and avoid frizz. We used Curlisto’s Repair Cream, Lotion Plus, and Glow & Shine.

Who does this work best for? Long length hair for all curl textures ranging from loose to tight.

devacurl foundation cut

4. Foundation cut

Stylist: Robin Sjobolm, owner of Southern Curl salon, Curly Hair Artistry’s Curly Artist of 2015 and one of the Refinery29’s top 15 curly hair artists

Robin: This is Candace, a client of mine. I call this cut a “Foundation Cut” which is a curl by curl cutting method I developed based on DevaCurl dry cutting training principals. I call it a foundation cut because the cut is built from the foundation up. Each curl is trimmed and shaped so that it does not sit on the section below it, which gives the cut a beautiful silhouette.

Who does this work best for? This cut creates a weightless shape that is beautiful on curl types 3B-4A.

A-line bob curly haircut

5. A-Line bob

Stylist: Shai Amiel, owner of CAPELLA salon

Shai: This girl wanted something a little funky. She grew out her hair to her “dream length” but when she achieved it she realized she wanted something a little edgier and shorter.  I cut the back on the shorter side but left the front as long as I could for that dramatic look. The back is really rounded that works well with this length. I also cut some shorter fringe for a more dramatic effect. The entire hair is layered for movement and volume. The top has a square shape that works well for a line haircuts.

Who does this work best for? This shape works well for all curl types. I love versatile looks that can be incorporated for everyone.

bloused triangle shape curly haircut

6. Bloused triangle shape

Stylist: Isabella Vázquez, Hairdresser, Editorial Stylist, Artistic Director, on Instagram as @Curlpop_n_hair

Isabella: We are no longer looking at the triangle shape or bell shape as a don’t. This shape, when Bloused on the ends, opens up the curls creating a balance between length and volume. The volume exists in width starting from eyes to the shoulders. It is created by dusting the very ends of the curls with a slight elevation. This elevation won’t create direct layers however it mainly will open the triangle, creating its Bloused effect. Opening the curls at a starting point of the eyes will accentuate and draw attention to the eyes, cheeks and lips.  It’s also the type of shape that plays on air drying or diffusing with the ability to shake and disrupt the curls with your fingers while maintaining a beautiful curl pattern.

Who does this work best for? This shape works great for shoulder length hair that falls under a curly to tighter curl pattern, with medium to thick density and length. Maintenance on this shape will include a 6-8 week visit to the salon. Since it allows for air drying it’s very low in time consumption. Think of it as “dry, blouse and go.”

Opening the curls at a starting point of the eyes will accentuate and draw attention to the eyes, cheeks and lips.

short curly shoulder bob

7. Curly shoulder bob

Stylist: Christo, Global Artistic Director of Curlisto® products and Christo Fifth Avenue Salon

Christo: It is essential to apply Diametrix Cutting Technique to this kind of shape in order to puzzle the curls and create definition. It helps the curls to intertwine into each other and gives you more length to sustain as well as giving absolute leverage of the style.  We love to bring creativity to our styles! Add a colorful scarf or fresh flowers to clip into your curls that will have everybody complimenting your hair wear! For this look we used Curlisto’s Protein Boost, Structura Lotion, with a touch of  Finishing Pomade and a few spritzes of Structura Spray.

Who does this work best for? Girls with loose to medium curls who prefer shorter length.

short natural haircut

8. Short & Sassy

Celebrity Stylist: Pekela Riley, CEO & Founder of Salon^PK

Pekela: Because she was going to wear this cut curly, I wanted it to be in the state that she was wearing it when I cut. If I blow dried it, the shrinkage could be 30%. So instead I finger coiled and dried her hair to allow it to define and shrink. This allowed for it to be pre-shrunk so I could know what length it would be when it was curly. Then I styled the cut creating volume at the top, and a taper at the bottom. 

Who does this work best for? This haircut works really great for 3s & 4s because it’s a style that looks good in its curly kinky state, and works with shrinkage.

It goes best with heart & oval shapes because the volume at the top and taper at the bottom works well with those with slender jaw lines.

long layered curly bob with bangs

9. Long layered bob with fringe

Stylist: Shai Amiel, owner of CAPELLA salon

Shai: Janaye has been growing out her hair from her original big chop 3 years ago when I cut it to remove all the dead straight hair. It has been growing so fast and her major complain has been volume. She loves the volume but didn’t like how it flattens when it’s due for a trim. Every time I trim her hair I end up adding more layers on throughout the entire head. I keep the layers square on the bottom and more rounded on top. I also keep her fringe shorter to open up the shape. The top has really short pieces that almost stand straight up.

Who does this work best for? This works great for all curl types. It is a very versatile shape that works well for those who want to continue growing out their hair but enjoy movement.

curved curly haircut

10. Upside down curved triangle

Stylist: Isabella Vázquez, Hairdresser, Editorial Stylist, Artistic Director, on Instagram as @Curlpop_n_hair

Isabella: This shape will enhance the volume towards the top of the head while reducing the weight on the ends of the curls, almost like a cone curl shape. It is done  by creating an elongated diagonal perimeter and requires a high elevation haircut outs in which short to longer curls are  layered so that it disconnects  from the length and stacks up so that the  short to long curls are supporting each other . It creates volume in width and height. This will also draw attention to the eyes while slimming other facial features.

Who does this work best for? This works for the curly girls with lots of fine curly hair and also for medium to thick curls that requires to lessen the density and enhance volume. This shape will require a 4-6 week visit to the salon. Less controlling products and more volumizers are utilized to help enhance the volume of shape. A diffuser will be required. Once hair is dry remove the diffuser and blow high pressure air all around the curls.

big round curly haircut

11. Bold D

Stylist: Stacy Hill, CEO of DyeVerCity SAGH, Inc.and DyeVerCity Hair Salon

Stacy: Big hair, Diana Ross glam,  round in shape. Pulling the hair at a 90-degree angle around the entire perimeter creates perfect roundness.  To add texture cut into individual curls and shape them at various points of their grooves. This has to be done strategically so you don’t add uneven dips in the hair. Disconnection can be cut into the crown and bang area, by over directing the hair forward and cutting into the groves of the curls.

Who does this work best for? Perfect for all hair types and  sets, as well as a blown out fro. Your options are endless from protective styling, Bantu sets, shampoo and go, or pin ups.

chin length shag curly haircut

12. The chin length shag

Stylist: Shai Amiel, owner of CAPELLA salon

Shai: This shape is terrific for someone that wants a versatile haircut. It can look sophisticated or a bit more playful. The front has a hint of longer pieces that don’t blend in with the exterior outline for that random look. I cut the hair behind the ears different that I do the hair in front of the ears. This creates so much movement for hair that is dense or thin.

Who does this work best for? It works well with all hair textures.

long touseled curly haircut

13. Flirty tousled curls 

Stylist: Isabella Vázquez, Hairdresser, Editorial Stylist, Artistic Director, on Instagram as @Curlpop_n_hair

Isabella: I call this shape Flirty and tousled because the layers that live inside the shape create a controlled volume while decreasing bulk. It allows for you to be playful with your curls. They live toward your face but not in your face. You can actually see where some of the shorter curls are laying in different directions instead of where they would normally sit. It slightly opens up the face while still creating a mystery.

Who does this work best for? This definitely works best for the curly girl who does not want to loose her length but wants to have non committal layers that are playful. Curlier textures that have movement and length. This type of shape doesn’t require a full haircut every time there is a salon visit. This is the type of haircut that requires more of a detailing effect. There is no set timeline for a salon visit it’s more of a look and feel type of salon commitment. If it looks like and feels like it’s time for a salon visit then sure enough that’s when you book the appointment. May require diffusing but most likely it will live in the wash and go category.

long layered curly haircut

14. Layers for medium hair

Stylist: Shai Amiel, owner of CAPELLA salon

Shai: Bianca has great curls. She keeps her hair very healthy allowing her to try new shapes that will work with her curl pattern. She didn’t like how flat her hair was and it lacked movement. After examining her hair, I realized it was not cut curl by curl and her stylist left it all one length. One length does not help with volume so we agreed that she needed shorter pieces throughout her hair. I layered the entire thing and even cut shorter pieces on the top for added volume and length. This shape will also work great for the curly girl that doesn’t have a fringe. 

Who does this work best for? I love this haircut so much because it will work great for all curl types! A regular trim every 3 months will help to keep the ends healthy and maintain her length.

curly bangs

15. Signature Sunflower Cut

Stylist:  Kristy Ramos, owner of Sunflowers & Scissors.

Kristy: What makes the magic in my Sunflower Cut is adding lots of shorter layers in the crown area to give the curls freedom to move & not collapse heavily onto each other. Curls have a tendency to clump into each other (which is great for definition”>, but that creates a less voluminous overall look to the hair. When there are little to no layers in curls, the hair lays super flat & movement is lacking so the life to the cut is lacking. Adding lots of floating layers in the hair help give the illusion of the curls blossoming which is what inspired the name of my version of the curly shag, the Sunflower Cut.

Who does this work best for? My Sunflower Cut works great for people with curls who want to keep their length but add a ton of movement, who have very high density hair that gets weighed down easily, who have finer texture & low density hair who crave more volume, & for curlies who want to express their inner rock star with their cut. This cut is ideal for curl types ranging in the 3a to 4a categories.

long layers curly haircut

16. Layers for long hair

Stylist: Shai Amiel, owner of CAPELLA salon

Shai: Jasmine’s hair was very long when she came in but her ends were damaged from old blowfrying and avoiding regular trims because she wasn’t able to get what she wanted.  I started with long hair and was able to keep most of it because she’s been very careful with her styling choices.

We knew we had to remove some bulk allowing her hair to move freely.  I cleaned the bottom section but decided to go for more of a U shape instead of straight across the bottom. I layered the whole thing and kept the top layers square. This created so much movement and volume. 

Who does this work best for? This shapes works great all curl types and on hair that is either dense or fine. I also framed her face with shorter pieces around her face.

short curly bob haircut

17. Strong, clipper bob

Stylist: Isabella Vázquez, Hairdresser, Editorial Stylist, Artistic Director, on Instagram as @Curlpop_n_hair

Isabella: This haircut is one of the strongest lines we have been seeing this year. It was done, believe it or not, with clippers. It requires a strong, even-leveled perimeter. We start about a good inch under the chin, knowing that when it dries it will shorten by an inch or 2. This will make the curls sit slightly above jaw line. This is definitely the type of curl cut that strengthens features, accentuates your jaw and opens the space between the shoulders and neck. Doing so will give the illusion of an elongated body. It’s very Chic, fashionable and bold. It also allows for some shorter, to very little tailored pieces that draw attention to the eyes as well. 

Who does this work best for? Although many curly textures can carry this look, it really favors wavy to curly fine textures. Most of the time we layer fine textures of curls in hopes of creating volume however a strong perimeter will push the hair to curl and expand when cut at chin length. It requires a salon visit of 5-8 weeks and minimal diffusing or fussing with.

graduated curly bob haircut

18. Graduated bob

Stylist: Anthony Dickey, Stylist & Co-founder of Hair Rules salon and products

Dickey: Interestingly enough if this cut were on straight hair or if this cut was blown dry straight,the layers would look minimal. The front is left long for more drama.

Who does this work best for? Type 3b and 3c textures allow for more daring, less traditional  shapes. Texture should  encourage you  to embrace big hair.

How to find a stylist

Finding a shape or length that suits your personal style is only the first step, the next is to find a curly hair stylist who can customize that look to suit your unique hair type. This list of top stylists is a great place to start, but there are salons all over the world that cater to curls.

Ready to upgrade your stylist, search Black-owned Salons in your state! 

Going to a new stylist? Check for the 6 Signs a Stylist Knows How to Cut Curly Hair

For more curly hair inspiration and eye candy, follow us on Instagram @NaturallyCurly

Which of these cuts do you want to try?

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