Those with curly hair understand the importance of a good haircut. One misplaced trim and your strands can shrink into an odd, out-of-place shape. That's not to say you can't rock any length or style, though: These
short haircuts for curly hair prove that you can chop your tendrils into all sorts of on-trend 'dos.
Looking for a switch-up? Bustle reached out to celebrity hairstylists like
Ashley Streicher, Lacy Redway, Sabrina Porsche, and more for the low-down on the best cuts for curly hair types, all of which show that you don't need extra-long strands to enjoy a wide range of styles. From pixie cuts to shags and longer bobs, there are plenty of hairdos that pair perfectly with natural curls. And, whether your strands fall into the looser curl and wave category or you've got tighter coils, there's a short style for you to try.
Here, experts explain everything you need to know about short haircuts for curly hair, including styling tips, what to ask for at the salon, and how to keep your 'do in tip-top shape. Keep scrolling for eight super-cute cuts to consider for your next hair appointment.
1 Layered Cuts Mike Marsland/WireImage/Getty Images Streicher, a pro stylist and Garnier ambassador, recommends shorter cuts that still have layers (they're not just for long hair). "Anything that is cut blunt with curly hair ends up looking triangular, and also doesn't let the curls showcase their fullest potential," she tells Bustle. "Layering lifts the weight off the curls to expose maximum volume and bounce."
Just because it's a layered cut doesn't mean your styling routine has to be labor intensive. Streicher says this look works best with naturally-styled curls. "This means straight out of the shower with minimal touching and movement," she says. "This cuts back on frizz and helps curls dry with natural separation and texture." To help keep frizz at bay, she recommends applying a light curl sculpting product, like the
Garnier Fructis Curl Sculpt Conditioner Cream Gel or the Briogeo Curl Charisma Leave-In Defining Creme. 2 The Shag Getty Images/ Steve Granitz / Contributor Amy Abramite, creative director and stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, says a curly shag is another good choice for those looking to go shorter. "A curly shag has the 'it girl' factor [that features] hip curtain bangs and big volume layers," she tells Bustle. "The curls spring up for maximum bounce in the crown and softly taper towards the nape." For this cut, Abramite says to embrace natural texture (which means air-drying is A-Okay). 3 The Mullet Getty Images/ Claudio Lavenia / Contributor Redway says that the mullet — which is a spring 2021 hair trend — works really well on curly hair types. According to her, the style's incredibly low maintenance, so taking long breaks between salon appointments is fine.
Wearing it requires more prep than styling. "Make sure that whatever you are washing your hair with will enhance the way the cut presents," she tells Bustle. "I like to shampoo and condition clients with
Nexxus Therappe Ultimate Moisture Shampoo and Humectress Conditioner to help lock moisture into strands before styling." For those who have common curl problems like cowlicks, she recommends tying your hair down or using no-crease clips on damp hair to tame stubborn strands. 4 Deva Cut
Porsche recommends the Deva Cut on curly hair types, which is technically a technique (rather than a specific style) that allows the natural curl pattern to remain intact. "Each curl is cut individually and at the angle of the style," she tells Bustle.
To work with a Deva-style cut, Porsche says it's all about your curl pattern. "For looser curls, 3a to 4a, I would use a light gel, a leave-in, or a curl-defining mousse," she says. "For a tighter curl, 4b to 4c, using a curl cream with thicker consistency or a curl-defining mousse I find works well for my clients."
5 Long Bob Getty Images/ Taylor Hill / Contributor
Josie Nevarez, a stylist at
Maxine Salon in Chicago, recommends trying a long bob, which is a style that's meant to graze the shoulders. "Adding some long layers, graduation, and framing layers to curly hair can help add a different shape," she tells Bustle, adding that it's easy to style because "there is still some length for the curl to form a nice loop."
She recommends combing through hair after washing, then adding in a product — like
Oribe's Curl Gloss — through strands while it's still wet. "Add the gel in sections, starting at the nape and working your way up your head," says Nevarez. "Scrunch and twist curls as you go. Then, using a diffuser, blow dry on a high heat, low blow setting. And never brush curls once they are dry." 6 The Orb Getty Images/Rich Fury / Stringer
Another recommendation from Abramite is what she calls "the orb," which is a cut on the shorter end of the spectrum. "The orb removes unwanted bulk on the sides of the head, leaving the curls up top carefree and playful," she tells Bustle. "The sides are cropped shorter for no-fuss styling and the longer top lengths give fullness and versatility."
To style the cut, she recommends adding a volumizing mousse (like the
Kerastase Mousse Bouffante) to the curls on top for fullness, then blow drying with a diffuser. "Touch up curls with a curling iron for extra definition," she says. 7 The Pixie Getty Images/ Gregg DeGuire / Contributor
Another pick from Abramite is the classic pixie, which she notes is a sophisticated and low-maintenance short hairstyle. "It's the ultimate wash and wear style, and the shape hugs the head for a chic design that keeps the curls nice and tidy," she tells Bustle.
Styling is easy: "On damp hair, I recommend massaging an oil onto the hair and the scalp for hydration and a healthy glow," she says. "Let hair air dry naturally."
8 Face-Framing Layers Getty Images/Aaron J. Thornton / Contributor Lee Wilson, hairstylist and curly hair expert at Salon deZEN, says getting the right cut for curly hair is all about working with the types of curls you have. If you have tighter curls, she recommends cuts that frame the face.
"I love cuts that leave just a little curl on the sides that soften the look and frame of the face," she tells Bustle. "You want to balance volume on top with the width of your curl at the temples." Her tip? Use a styling cream like
Shea Moisture's Curl Enhancing Smoothie on wet hair post-showering and work it throughout your strands. Then, finger coil to your desired shape. Let air dry or blow dry with a diffuser.