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Curly Hair Shapes – And Styles To Try

by Gabbi

Blessed are those with curly hair! If there’s anything to love and appreciate in the world, it’s a head full of coily, voluminous locks. Unfortunately, those with the aforementioned hair texture may disagree, thinking their hair is unruly or difficult to style. 

And it may seem that way, especially if you’ve yet to perfect your curly girl routine. Fortunately, there are ways to take the weight off of your shoulders! Consider a chop. Or, if the thought of scissors near your strands literally makes you recoil, maybe trying out a new style is just the breath of fresh air your curls need.

But what are some good curly hair shapes and styles? The traditional round cut will always be breathtaking for tight curls. Long layers are an easy way to add dimension to thick hair as well. Or, if you’re looking for a significant change, you can even take the plunge and go for a pixie cut (which looks stunning on textured hair).

However, there are many more shapes and styles where these came from. That’s a lot of information to keep in mind, so let’s break each possibility down even further for you to make the choice that makes you feel the most beautiful!

How To Shape Curly Hair

Sometimes, you may think that your curls come out of your head on a mission to make you look your worst, when in reality, they may be uncooperative because of your hair routine (or lack thereof!).

Taking care of textured hair, from 2a to 4c, is a commitment- and one unique to every curly-haired individual. No one regime is one size fits all, but there are some things to keep in mind that can help your curls fall into shape, hold onto moisture, and overall look better than ever before.

To Shampoo Or Not To Shampoo

Those with curly hair know the treacherous terrain of the mission that is wash day. Due to the unique shape of your hair follicle, curly hair tends to dry out and lose moisture faster than straighter hair types. This means that the longer you go without washing, the healthier your curls seem to look.

Of course, you can only keep this up for so long before you take some suds to your strands, but doing so wisely can make all the difference. Find a shampoo with a clean formula to ensure you’re not stripping them of any natural oils.

Keep the shampooing routine to 1-2x a week at most! However, you can condition as you deem fit- there’s nothing wrong with a little moisture on a curly head. 

Conditioning Masks

Frizzy locks? Your hair is probably in need of a little more potent TLC. There are a ton of DIY recipes for hair masks out there, but we’re big fans of this one from Carol’s Daughter, made with extra-dry curls in mind. 

Simply work the product through your strands and let it sit in your hair before wash day. You can use a towel over your hair to trap in heat and further the benefits of the mask as well. Let it sit for 20 minutes or up to 3 hours depending on how in need your strands are of some hydration. 

The Brush Debacle

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: brushing curly hair is a big no-no!

Of course, that only applies to dry curls, as brushing through those will leave even the healthiest strands frizzier than before. However, brushing through freshly wet locks (in the proper fashion) can actually give your curls some much-needed definition and shape!

You can use a regular brush, but we think the Denman Brush is the most trustworthy tool for the job! Here’s a great video by Jayme Jo on how to use one:

How To Sleep

For curly-haired folks, going to sleep requires a little more thought than just closing your eyes. To avoid friction, consider investing in a silk bonnet, silk pillowcase, or simply tying your hair up in a “pineapple” to keep your shape intact the next morning.

Three Curly Haircuts To Try Out

There’s a world of possibilities when it comes to cutting curly hair, but at the risk of having you sit here for a day or two while we list them all out, we’ve instead narrowed down our top 3 favorite curly styles for you to try out during your next visit to the salon. 

The Round Cut

For those with super tight curls, we highly suggest trying out the round (or Lioness) cut at least once in your life! When done right, this look exudes powerful, sexy energy.

It’s voluminous, easy to manage, and keeps a bulk of your strands off your shoulders, so it’s a lighter style than you may think. 

This cut is achieved through a multitude of layers, some of them being super short (this is how the round look is created). Unfortunately, a potential downside is the drying time.

You’ll have to place your hair into the shape you want it to dry in whenever you get your locks wet, so it’s likely you’ll be sitting with damp hair for a bit while your curls dry. 

Layered Curly Hair

Arguably the most popular haircut for those with looser waves is long layers. Not only does this give your hair some shape and dimension, but it’s the cut to go for if you’re looking to grow your curls out, as it chops off unhealthy ends while still preserving the length of your growth.

You can seriously transform your look with the help of some smartly placed face-framing pieces, or by the thinning of the hair near the ends to create a sort of “reverse teardrop” shape to the back of the head.

Short Curly Cuts

We’re gonna let you in on a secret: curly-haired people can absolutely rock cropped cuts. Because textured hair is most commonly seen worn long and lengthy, cutting it down to a shorter style will have you catching some serious attention.

Plus, your head will feel lighter to the nth-degree, making this the perfect cut for the summer months. If you’re not ready to go super short, try out a graduated bob, which doesn’t involve clipping your curls down to the roots.

Curly Hairstyles To Try

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing your hair down, but if you’ve fallen bored of the look of your natural tresses, sometimes all you need is a hair tie to have yourself double-taking in every reflective surface. 


We’re not talking about the French braid your mama put in your hair before you head out the door (but if that’s your jam, we’re totally supportive of it). Braids can be used for a multitude of different occasions and can be dressed up or down as needed. 

The classic 3 strand braid looks extra voluminous on curly hair, but if you’re looking for something understated, try doing two mini face-framing braids on either side of your face. Not only will this keep your coils out of your eyes, but it also adds a flirty flair to an otherwise basic hairdo. 

Half Up, Half Down

Channel the 80s with a big half-up, half-down hairdo! A lot of folks during that time would rely on the help of a teasing comb to bring their locks to new heights, but you can cut out the middleman in that area – you were built for volume!

Use a scrunchie to tie half of your hair up at the ear, pulling it taut to give it some additional lift. You can make this as neat or as casually thrown up as you deem fit. Curly hair is forgiving in that sense – it will always look like you spent a little more time than you actually did.

If you’re not into the basics and want something a little more intricate, you can twist or braid those hairs back for a textural look and more complex finish. 


Because your hair is so striking, you can wear bold accessories without your locks looking weighed down or overpowered. This is a simple way to coordinate your hair to your outfits, but they can also serve a purpose by keeping your hair up and away from your face. 

Look for thick barrettes in neutral colors for a minimalist look or try your luck with boldly patterned bandanas and headbands for a funky touch. 

Related Questions

How often should I cut curly hair?

Depending on how long it takes for your hair to grow, you can expect to trim your locks every 6-8 weeks. However, all of this is dependent on how well you maintain your curls and other genetic factors that can affect the strength of your locks.

Typically, if you find your curls getting knotted more frequently, or you’re noticing more hair fall during wash day (or even in between washes), it could be time to get a trim. For those trying to grow their curls out, keep in mind that frequent trims can ensure that your length stays healthy, so don’t be afraid of a snip!

Should I avoid getting my curls wet?

A common misconception when it comes to curly hair is that you should avoid getting it wet as you could risk losing the shape of your locks. This is a myth that’s doing you more harm than good!

What your hair needs most is hydration- that means water is your friend. Going lengths of time without getting your hair wet makes it easier for your strands to strip themselves of hydration.

Taking a water spritzer, or even a leave-in conditioner (like this one from DevaCurl) to your strands every morning can actually aid in shaping your curls, leaving your strands looking refreshed even when it isn’t wash-day!

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