How to Style Naturally Curly Hair – Haircut & Styling Ideas

By Leah Williams •  Updated: 01/15/22

I always wondered how I could get my curls to look as fab as those Amazonian goddesses in magazine editorials. My hair, in comparison to their shiny, well-manicured ringlets, was flat and dull. It seriously cracked my confidence. Hair, after all, is our crowning glory and I was walking around with a sagging crown of hair. And thus began my search for how to style naturally curly hair. I may never look like those women but slowly, the bane of my existence was a bane no more.

How to Style Naturally Curly Hair – 14 Tips & Tricks

Our natural curls can be high-maintenance and cumbersome to style. A little moisture in the air and curly hair can pouf up in a snap. As if that’s not enough, frizz can be a mainstay with our hair type. Our curls also take so long to air dry. However, with a little TLC and a few insider tips, you can get the cover-worthy curls of your fantasies.

You may be asking, “How can I style my naturally curly hair?

To style our hair properly, we need to be gentle and minimize disrupting our curl pattern. Heat is the enemy of curly hair while moisture is its best friend. Most importantly, I’ve learned curly hairstyles don’t have to look flat.

1. Start with the ends

When combing already dry hair, start from the bottom and work your way upwards. If this sounds odd to you, let me explain: combing the ends first means you don’t have to tug at the knots that inevitably bunch up when you get to the tips. This means less breakage and healthier hair all around.

2. Use a wide-tooth comb

Experts say put the brush down and reach for a wide-tooth comb instead. This popular tool goes ham on knots while being gentle on your hair(no more breakage or friction on the cuticle). Use a leave-in conditioner before your hair dries to amp up the comb’s effectiveness.

3. Don’t be afraid to mix styling products

We’ve been conditioned (pardon the pun) to think that each product has to be used in a single, correct way, but, like clothes, mixing and matching is great for hair products too! A method known as cocktailing, this benefits curly hair because you get the benefits of two or more products (e.g. hold and shine, separation, and volume) in one mishmashed creation.

4. Try the pineapple trick

The pineapple technique is best used before bed and it’s super easy: just put your hair up on top of your head in a loose bun. Pineappling preserves your curl pattern and hair’s natural volume. I promise you waking up has never looked this good.

5. Use a silk pillowcase

Made of satiny soft material, silk pillowcases reduce friction while sleeping and prevent the dreaded bedhead. You’ll roll out in the morning with curly hair that looks as fresh as when you hit the hay!

6. Use a diffuser on your blow dryer

If you typically use the blow dryer nozzle to dry hair, quit the habit and swap it for a diffuser. Thank me later when you see the results: more volume and defined curls.

7. Refresh curls with a wand or iron

Revive sagging or rebellious curls with a curling wand or flat iron and pretend your handiwork is au naturel (we won’t tell). Choose a barrel size that will give you the waves you prefer or pick a diameter similar to your curl size to enhance them even more.

8. Use a ceramic flat iron

For occasions when you need a sleek and straight look, a ceramic hair straightener is the way to go. It minimizes frizz and evenly distributes heat, which is a godsend for hard-to-manage curls.

9. Keep the hair conditioned and moisturized

Healthy hair needs hydration, hydration, hydration. Regularly condition your hair and have once-a-week deep treatments to manage frizz, dryness, and dullness. You can also opt for leave-in conditioner so the moisture has more time to sink in.

10. Find a shampoo and conditioner with keratin

Keratin is a buzz ingredient in the hair world and for good reason. It’s a protein that strengthens the hair shaft and rebuilds the structure of your hair, making it smooth and frizz-free.

11. Dry your hair with a t-shirt

This strangely effective drying technique is commonly known as plopping and the best thing about it is it uses no heat! Lower your wet curls onto a cotton shirt laid flat, tuck the ends of the shirt around your head and wait at least 30 minutes for your curls to air dry.

12. Love your natural curls

Flaunt your natural hair loud and proud. Especially if you live in humid climates, going against the grain of your lovely curls will be an exercise in frustration. No matter how much you blow dry or flatten your curls, they will often revert back to their old structure because of the humidity. The heat alone will do a number to your hair structure so save the straight ‘dos for a special occasion and put the iron down.

13. Get regular trims for the ends

For healthy hair, visit your stylist every six to eight weeks for a trim. This keeps split ends at bay and helps your hair become easier to manage. Even a quarter-inch of chopping off will keep each curl on your head fresh.

14. Avoid straightening and chemically straightening too often

Heat and curly hair make for a bad combo over a long period of time because heat breaks down the bonds that make up the hair, resulting in damage. What’s worse is at a certain point the damage can’t be undone even by the deepest of treatments. Give your natural hair some love and keep your hands away from the flat iron.

Ideas for Haircuts for Naturally Curly Hair

Should naturally curly hair be layered?

There’s no need to be afraid of layers when you have curls. Layers give movement to the hair. It’s visually appealing and creates volume. Layered hair also has less weight. Read: more bounce for your curls. Here are a few haircuts that suit naturally curly hair. Keep these in mind before your next salon trip.

1. Long U-Cut for Curly Hair

For those with long, loose waves, the U-cut, with its curved ends at the sides, is perfect for you.

2. Bob Hairstyle for Curly Hair

Classic bobs look incredible on curly hair, too! If you’ve been meaning to cut your hair short, consider this your sign.

3. Medium-Length Curly and Bouncy Hairstyle

If you want a flexible hairstyle, go for a mid-length ‘do that’s cut near the shoulders.

4. Messy, Curly Shag

If you’re a low-maintenance gal with high-maintenance hair, consider the shag, a modern style that gives off a very effortless vibe.

5. Wavy Balayage Lob

The lob is the ultimate wash-and-wear style and when fused with a balayage, it’s a gorgeous cut that’s perfect for curly or wavy hair.

6. Layered Curly Style with Medium Size Curls

If you have very curly hair, this cut will give you gorgeous, face-framing layers that will draw attention to your features.

7. Long V-Cut for Curly Hair

The V-Cut is a good option for those with very long hair that’s prone to frizz.

8. Inverted Bob for Curly Hair

This cut is long in front and shorter in the back of your head. It gives structure to curly or wavy hair and looks sophisticated, to boot.

9. Messy Shoulder-Length Hairstyle for Curly Hair

If your curls seem too feminine for your liking, this is a more boyish cut that’s neat and simple with the right amount of volume.

10. Long Curly Hair with Bangs

Who says bangs are just for straight hair? This is a shaggy haircut with curly bangs that gives your hair volume and texture for days.

10 Ideas for Hairstyles for Curly Hair

What is the best style for curly hair?

The best hairstyle for you is one that’s suited to your natural curl pattern, lifestyle, and preference. That said, I personally champion natural hair, for most occasions, simply because it’s a forgiving style that allows your hair to shine (literally and figuratively). Whatever style you choose, make sure to take care of those waves and they’ll surely give you good hair days in return.

How do you style short natural curly hair?

The options are endless for short, curly hair, and in fact, it’s one of my favorite cuts because of its adaptability to different curly hairstyles and its no-fuss quality. Use gel to have more control over the shape of your hair. Don’t forget that you have other options in styling and conditioning (mousse and cream are two popular ones). Short, curly hair looks good in a bun, a topknot, space buns, a high ponytail, a pixie, or a lob, to name a few. You can use a colorful scarf as a headband to add color to your hairstyle. A hair clip or two make for a fun accessory. Really, your imagination is the limit here. If in doubt, look up photos of your fave celebs with curly hair for inspiration.

Messy Topknot

When you can’t be bothered to go through your usual curly hair routine, why not go for a messy topknot? It’s a relaxed version of a high bun with a few loose tendrils framing your face.

Elegant Updo for Natural Curly Hair

This refined updo is begging to be paired with a lavish dress.

Basic Braids

These braids keep your curl on lock and is a playful alternative to a ponytail.

Slicked-Back Ponytail

When you want to look extra sleek and professional, a slicked-back ponytail is just what you need.

Romantic Updo

This is for when you want something that says, “I made an effort but didn’t try too hard” and is perfect for date nights.

High Ponytail

This fabulous hairstyle looks smashing on everyone and accentuates cheekbones, too.

Side Braid

The side braid is a fresh take on the basic braid, perfect for running errands or for casual occasions.

Braided Headband

Get the best of both worlds with this hairstyle: it keeps your hair off your face but still shows off those lovely curls.

Space Buns

These Carrie Fisher-inspired buns are easy to style and guaranteed to turn heads.

French Twist

This style oozes chicness and is great even for second (or third or fourth) day hair.


From choosing the right cut to using techniques like pineappling and plopping, managing those stubborn curls need not be a herculean feat. To get your hair to curl just right, it needs hydration, effective products, and good tools. Hair maintenance is really that easy for curls. Now, go forth and style away!

Leah Williams

Leah Williams is the founder of Lucky Curl and has been in the hair care and styling industry for the last 15 years. Since then, she has developed incredible expertise and a deep understanding of how to treat and style the most difficult hair types and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with the readers of Lucky Curl.

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