While curly hair may require more maintenance and care than most other hair textures, that toll comes with a high payoff: Curly-haired guys have a bevy of styling options thanks to all of that density, texture, and volume.
A simple product can transform curls to waves, or accentuate your curls while offering control and direction. (The same can be said for applying less product, too.) A new fade or part can also breathe life into a curly 'do, and a chopping-off can give you some seriously lush short hair, thanks to that natural texture and fullness.
Below, some of the best curly hairstyles you can use as inspiration (if you have the texture for it). For styling and upkeep tips, we tapped London-based barbers Julius Caesar and Miguel Gutierrez, co-creators of STMNT Grooming Goods.
Disconnected Natural Curls With Low Shadow Fade
"Natural curls allow for effortless styling," says Caesar. Use a low-hold, no-crunch grooming spray (like STMNT Grooming Spray, $22) on fresh, towel-damp hair in order to give the curls just enough hold without looking overly styled. You can blow it dry if you want a slightly more structured look, Caesar adds.
Natural Diffused Brushback
"The natural definition of these curls calls for the saying 'work with your curls, don't fight them!'," says Caesar. To style, warm up paste in your palms and target the roots and the sides of your hair. "This will give the hairstyle just the right amount of hold it needs to perform throughout the day," he says. Try R+Co Flexible Paste ($28).
"This is a simple variation of a kind of '90s curtains/center part, [but] without the parting," says Gutierrez. "To achieve this you need to have the top a fair bit longer than the sides, with a disconnection to contrast the two. This doesn't look like a super extreme contrast, but it works all the same."
"This works well with his style," says Gutierrez of Rami Youssef's '70s-inspired hair. "For this, all you need to do is grow out your hair and keep it cut more proportionally around the head to create more of a round shape, which was quite popular back in the day. This particular haircut has kept the back a bit longer, for a slight mullet vibe."
Round Layer Textured Curls
"The highlight of this hairstyle really comes through in its progression through its grow out," Caesar says. "A good wash and a hint of paste raked through the roots will allow daily wear." Try STMNT Shine Paste ($25) for a brilliant finish.
Squared Mid-Taper With Dreads
"A very square shape tapered off on the sides and nape works well with Jimmy Butler’s jawline and athletic appearance," Caesar notes. "When choosing to mix natural dreaded curls alongside a sharp-edged hairline, be sure to keep the line as natural as possible."
Like Sacha Baron Cohen here, some guys can unravel their curls on occasion for a wavier result. "Ask your barber to demonstrate how to style the hair, so it goes down and back a little more, for more of a square shape. It will help define the jawline," Gutierrez says.
Natural Medium-Length Curls
"This is probably scissor cut all the way around with the edges, kept fairly natural," Gutierrez says. "To style, I'd assume he would use something light like a leave-in conditioner, and if he wanted even tighter curls, he may diffuse them post washing." Try Briogeo Farewell Frizz Leave-In Conditioner ($20).
Twisted Afro With Skin Fade
"A skin fade not only highlights a twisted/dreaded mini afro, but it also brings attention to the beard," Caesar says. Try fading it at any angle, at any grade, or at any height.
Long Wave Brushback
"If you have full-hair density and a well-balanced haircut, you can style it in a variety of ways," Caesar says. "Rake pomade throughout the hair with a few sprays of water. It will come off as a refined hairstyle with a sense of laidback effort." Try R+Co BLEU Elastic Styling Pomade ($52).
Natural Even Curls
"Haircuts like these work very well because they give a clean appearance without the need for being too sharp," Caesar says. "On towel-damp, freshly conditioned hair, apply a light amount of grooming spray (for just enough hold and control), and let it air dry for an all-day wear." Again, go for STMNT Grooming Spray ($22).
Brush-Backed Curls With Taper Fade
"This natural swirl in his front hairline commands a strategically executed hairstyle, like the one he's wearing," says Caesar. "Blow-dry the hair while towel-damp (and with a pinch of shiny paste, like STMNT Shine Paste, $25) to give the brush-back a bit of needed hold. Then top off the hairstyle with a hint of matte paste and hair spray to finish." Try BluMaan Monarch Matte Paste ($23) and Oribe Superfine Hair Spray ($42).
Wavy Overgrown Crop
"This looks like it was previously a bit shorter on the sides, and left to grow out," Gutierrez says. "I'd predict he'd have gotten a grade 2 on the sides, kept quite low to hold weight towards the top of the side, and it was cut around 5-6 weeks before." He also wonders if the curls are natural, or if they've chemically created. (Either way, that option is available to guys with straight hair; just visit your local salon to inquire.)
Heavy Disconnected Waves
"The disconnect is never as obvious when it's pushed back and to the side, and this is what he's done here," Gutierrez notes. "I would assume he's used a salt spray or grooming spray to create the volume with a hairdryer, and then used a little shine paste to create the awesome texture on top." Try Byrd Texturizing Surf Spray ($16) and STMNT Shine Paste ($25).
Dyed Dreaded Hi-Top Fade
"The slight natural root under the blonde gives a sense of added dimension to complement the natural-finish dreaded curls," Caesar says. (You've probably seen this contrast achieved with other dyes, too, beyond just the bleach blonde.)
Disconnected Curly Side Part
"This haircut is very current in the contrast between the top and the side, " Gutierrez says. "Often, when people have curls and they have a side-parted haircut (even without a solid line), they tend to create this cool, loose textured vibe which looks like something between a just-got-out-of-bed look and something from the film Fury. I love it."
Afro Shadow Caesar
Here's one from the family of haircuts that is our expert's namesake: The Caesar. "This style is all about simplicity," Caesar says. It's light on styling—perhaps a grooming spray for gentle hold and frizz control—and it doesn't showcase your texture quite as much (unless you've got subtle grays like Kingsley Ben-Adir, or if you use a high-shine cream to finish.
Short Natural Crop
"This is just a natural short haircut for curly guys," says Gutierrez. "I'd assume he got the back and sides clipped with a longer grade (maybe 4) and then left it to grow out. It doesn't look like any product was used, and it works really well with the unkempt vibes from his beard."
Skin-Faded Side-Part Crop
"This looks similar to the previous style, except the sides have been skin-faded down to a 0," Gutierrez says. "And with the length on top, they're pushing it a little bit to the side to create a really nice shape. It's quite harsh on the sides while being unkempt but neat on top. It contradicts itself, but works well."
Diffused Curl Side Part
A curl-brushed or diffused finish can give you just enough definition on an otherwise standard hairstyle, without any extra maintenance. "A natural side part adds a dapper finish, too," says Caesar.
"I like the way the sideburns are left a little bushy," says Gutierrez, pointing out that this style is common on guys who (of all things) don't want to accentuate their ears. "The rest is fairly balanced with the sides being a little short."
Neo Afro Pomp
"This hairstyle really compliments natural thick density of curls," Caesar says. "From the looks of it, this one was cut for this shape, and styling was kept to a minimum. I’d suggest a light amount of light moisturizing spray on towel-damp hair, and left to air dry, or at most slightly diffused with the blow-dryer.” Try SheaMoisture Hold & Shine Moisture Mist ($12).
Neat Natural Waves
"This is fairly uniform in length, which is often done to help complement someone's head shape," Gutierrez says. It's also great if you're trying to mask some general thinning up top.