As hairdressers are re-opening over the next few weeks, here’s my top tips and advice for how to get the best haircut for curly hair. This is something I get asked about all the time! So whether your hair is long or short, curly or wavy, these simple tips will help you communicate with your hairdresser the exact cut, length, shape and style you want.
I think we’ve all got at least one hair salon horror story. Where the stylist either hasn’t understood how best to cut and style curly hair. Or they’ve got a bit scissor happy and taken too much off the length, or given a typical “round” shape. Almost like a cookie-cutter style, one size fits all, haircut for curly hair. I know most of the curly girls I speak to, avoid the hair salon as much as possible. Dreading getting their hair cut, hating it when it’s done. Not happy with the cut, length, shape or style. So this post, and YouTube video, is going to show you how to avoid all of that.
Communicate with Confidence!
This post isn’t intended to bash hairdressers and stylists, I have a huge amount of respect for the industry. But there’s a huge gap in hairdressing education around wavy, curly and natural, textured hair. Hair stylists have to spend a lot of money on extra training and education on how to cut, shape and style curly hair. Which in my opinion, should be included in all standard hair education courses. I want to be part of that change. But in the mean time, what I can do is empower you on how to communicate with your stylist, with confidence. So you are both on the same page of the length and shape you want for your hair. To not only get the best haircut for curly hair, but the best haircut for YOUR hair!
Taking images of other people’s hair you like or the look you want to achieve is great. But as any stylist will tell you, most of the time, the people in those inspo pics have completely different hair density, texture and curl pattern than the client. Which immediately makes things difficult for both the stylist and the client, because what the client wants isn’t achievable. But with these simple tips to get the best haircut for curly hair, using your own hair. Both you and the stylist will have realistic expectations. And any stylist who knows their stuff when it comes to cutting hair, will know exactly where and how to cut your wavy or curly hair to give you the result you want.
Dry Cut vs Wet Cut for Curly Hair
The biggest thing many curly girls get caught up on is whether they need to get a dry cut, by a curl specialist who will cut their hair curl by curl. Or if it’s okay to go to a regular hair stylist who will cut their wavy and curly hair when it’s wet. Here’s the thing: the looser your curl pattern, the less important it is to have a dry, curl by curl cut. If you’ve got type 2 wavy hair, or looser curl pattern such as 3a. Even curl specialists are going to cut your hair wet. The upside of that, or any good hair cut, is that your hair will look just as good if you decide to occasionally get a blow it out or straighten it.
It’s only when the curl pattern and texture gets tighter, from 3b curls to type 4 that a dry, that a curl by curl cut becomes important. Because those tighter curl types have a lot of shrinkage and bounce from wet to dry. So when their hair dries, the shape and the length will look completely different to when it’s wet. This hair type and dry cut doesn’t always look even or as good when blown out straight though. Not always, but it’s something to keep in mind. Check out this post for more information on curl types.
Curl Specialist vs Regular Stylist
With all that said, there are so many “regular” hairdressers who are excellent at cutting curly hair. They just don’t class themselves as a “curl specialist.” Because to them, they treat everyone in their chair the same – and I say that in a positive way! So my advice is to look for someone who is skilled and good at cutting hair, as opposed to just looking for a stylist who’s a “curl specialist.” You can still get a dodgy hair cut from a curl specialist! And you can get a great cut from a regular stylist who knows what they’re doing when it comes to cutting and shaping hair.
Some stylists are known for being really good at colouring, others are really good at cutting. Those are the stylists to look for! If those stylists are confident they can give you the cut, shape and style you want by cutting it wet, let them. Don’t try and push them out of their comfort (and confidence) zone by making them do it dry. Just because a book, blog or influencer told you that was best. If you’re in Ireland, Kerrie at Hair Culture in Co. Meath and Jessica at Wildflower in Dublin are excellent hairdressers, great at cutting curly hair. Laura at Ritz Hair in Galway and Cathy at The Curl Artist in Dublin are both curl specialist hairdressers.
How to get the Best Haircut for Curly Hair
This works whether you’re giving yourself a DIY cut, or you’re in the salon with a stylist. Wear your hair down, and however you would normally style and part your wavy or curly hair. Avoid tying your hair up or clipping it back on the day of your cut. If you’re having a dry cut, avoid using too much product in your hair, as it will make it more difficult for the stylist when working with your hair. If you’re having a wet cut, use as much styling products as you would normally, as it’s going to be washed out before cutting anyway. Read this post on what to do if you’re getting highlights or colour.
Face the mirror straight on, and using your left arm, reach over your head and pull up the top section of your hair to create the shape and layers you want on your right side. Use your left arm to show how much hair you want taken off the length. Depending on your hair density, the top third or quarter of your hair is where all the shape and volume will come from. The rest is where you retain the length and blend it together.
Do the exact same thing with the other side of your hair, and you can also do it at the back. This will immediately and clearly show your stylist the exact cut, length, shape and style you want. Better than any inspo pic, because it’s your hair. And you can both see how it will look on your hair length, density, texture and curl pattern.
What to Ask For & Avoid
When you go into a salon, especially if you’re getting your hair cut by a regular, non-curly specialist here’s what to ask for and what to avoid. Firstly, ask if you can bring your own products and avoid letting them use products that contain sulfates, silicones, waxes and oils on your hair. Bring your own shampoo, conditioner and styling products. Your curl towel, I recommend these ones from Aquis. And your diffuser – just in case. My favourite is the Universal XXL Diffuser from Diva Pro Styling.
Ask for layers, but avoid razors, thinning scissors or sliding scissors. UNLESS you’re looking for a textured, choppy look. Or your going for a shag cut, which is very on trend for 2021. And only ask for bangs, aka a fringe, if you’re absolutely 100% sure you want them! Don’t be afraid to ask your stylist if you can style your hair yourself after it’s been cut, if you’d prefer to do it yourself. Watch the video below as I go through everything there. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already!
Layers for Short Hair
Layers are a great way for achieving volume and lift. But they’re also great for creating shape and definition – especially for wavy and curly hair! Even blunt cuts and bobs have layers, just not as many. If you have short hair that’s shoulder length or shorter, and you want to create lots of volume or a rounder shape. Get the shortest layers cut to the level of the corner of your eye, or the top of your ear. The tighter your curl pattern, the more these layers will bounce up, so just make sure both you and your stylist are mindful of that.
Shorter hair styles are also harder to maintain the length, shape and style. They’re often a bit more work between salon visits too. There’s a lot to be said for being able to throw your hair up in a bun, pineapple or ponytail. Short curly hair styles often need washing, styling and/or refreshing three times a week. So if you’ve got a busy lifestyle, short hair may not be the best option for you. So many new mom’s make the mistake of thinking a shorter style will be easier to manage with a new baby. It’s actually much harder and more time consuming.
Layers for Shape & Volume
A good hair cut and the right layers can be a game changer! If you have short hair and you DON’T get layers, then you’ll end up with a triangle shape. Layers are often the difference between a good hair cut and a bad one. Just look at the difference between my hair in these pictures. They’re taken one week and one good hair cut apart. The first cut is from a regular hair stylist, when I asked for the big chop. Just above my shoulders, with a few layers at the bottom.
The second cut was a DIY cut for shape and volume – I actually did this cut on Instagram Live using all the tips, advice and techniques I’m sharing with you in this post. And a few Malibu’s! Lifting the hair to create the lift and shape I wanted, then cutting it curl by curl. Everything else was the same, I used the same products, same application techniques. The only difference was the layers. You can see more before and after pictures in this post.
Layers for Mid-Length Hair
If your hair is mid-length, just below the shoulders to bust-level. Then don’t get layers any shorter than the top of your jaw, or the bottom of your ear. If you want a more oval or diamond shape, ask for long layers down the length of your hair. The longer your hair is, the more definition and bounce you may lose if your hair is wavy or a looser curl pattern. Layers are a great way to achieve volume and definition on mid-length hair. To maintain fullness and without losing the length. Diffusing will help give you the best shape, volume and definition too.
Layers for Long Hair
If you’ve got long hair, from your bust level to your waist. Get layers from the chin-level down. But the longer your hair is, the more mindful you and your stylist need to be of density and weight. If you have fine density hair, you may need to sacrifice some length for fullness. This length hair works best for thick density hair, regardless of curl type. Layers will definitely help for volume and shape, but the length and weight can often loosen the definition and elongate the curl. So diffusing at an angle is definitely the way to go to achieve as much volume, shape and definition as possible with hair this long. If you want a more relaxed, boho vibe then air dry, or hover diffuse in an upright position.
Lose the Damage!
I understand not everyone is ready for the big chop. But my whole philosophy and Curl Maven Method is all about the health of the hair. And with that, the length, growth, shine, curl pattern and potential will come. Heat, chemical and colour damage is beyond repair. All the layers and deep conditioning in the world won’t save it. So don’t be afraid to lose the damage! Look at the top picture from my DIY cut for shape and volume. You can see the curl falling across my face where the curl pattern loosens, stretches and straightens out from heat damage. Look at how much that curl bounces up in the bottom picture, once I cut the damage off!
Regardless of what length or shape you’re going for, make healthy hair your priority when it comes to a curly haircut. Especially now, as hair salons around the world have been closed for months! We could all do with at least 3-4 inches off the ends. If you’ve got 6 inches of damage, there’s no point in only cutting 4 inches off. You’re still going to have damaged ends. Cut just above the damage, and then follow my method and tips to maintain that health and focus on growth. Check out this post on The Golden Triangle of Healthy Hair. And then follow my simple tips in my Washday Workbook here for consistent results and washday success.
So there you go, my top tips and advice on how to get the best haircut for curly hair. Tips that work for any hair length, curl pattern and texture. I hope you found this blog post, and YouTube video helpful. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.
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