How to Cut Curly Hair: A Step-By-Step Guide


@JAMEALYNEE / Design by Zackary Angeline

Sometimes, cutting curly hair can feel like a daunting task. Cutting curls seems to incite fear in even talented and trained stylists, but with the right knowledge, it can be fairly simple.

01 of 07

Put Down the Shampoo!

The biggest mistake people make when cutting for curly hair is beginning the service with a nice rough shampoo, which frizzes or fluffs up curls. Using conditioner-like shampoo will do the trick instead, and you won't have to worry about roughing up the very sensitive cuticle. Dirt and oil will adhere to the conditioner and rinse out leaving you feeling clean, but without the glassy feeling that shampoo can leave behind.

In general, curly haired people shouldn't use shampoo more than once a week. You'll see a huge difference in your curls once you start laying off the stuff.

02 of 07

Layers are a Curl's Best Friend

A lot of people with curly hair have barely any layers at all. Usually, this is because they've either been botched in the past, or out of fear that if too much weight is removed then their hair will be big and puffy. On the contrary, if not enough weight is removed, then you'll be left with the dreaded triangle head.

Curly hair needs layers to move. Cutting vertical layers, and then going back in and cutting individual curls to break it up and give the hair some movement is best. This technique breaks up the layering, so the hair doesn't have any strong or hard lines in it.

03 of 07

Don't Shred Those Ends!

Nothing destroys curly hair more than too much texturizing. Cut-happy stylists that can't put down the thinning shears are a serious danger.

Curly hair needs weight removed from its bulk, but the weight should never be removed from the ends. Curly hair needs the ends to be heavy so the curl can take shape. When you over-texturize curly hair, you disturb the curl pattern and end up with frizz.

04 of 07

Mind the Length

When cutting curly hair, it's important to remember that the length will shrink up more than expected. Unfortunately, curly haired clients tend to go longer in-between cuts, which means that their ends usually need more off than they're willing to part with. Know how much length you want removed, and always err on the side of less is more. Some people gain as much as 5 inches in length when their hair is wet, and it can be easy to get carried away if you're not careful.

05 of 07

Re-Wet Before You Style

We already know that curly hair frizzes up when the curl pattern is disturbed, so why would you style curly hair after it has been cut and combed without reshaping the curl pattern first?

The easiest way to reshape the curl is by rewetting the hair. Just wet your hair, or if you have fine hair, just spray it down after you're done cutting but before styling.

Use only your fingers when styling curly hair. Combing curly hair can lead to breakage and split ends.

06 of 07

Properly Applying Product

You know how curly hair looks great wet and then dries into a frizzy mess? Well, the water is what's weighing the hair down and gluing it together; when the hair dries, the water evaporates and you lose that adhesive, causing the hair to separate and frizz. By leaving a regular conditioner in the hair, the water can evaporate but the conditioner doesn't, leaving you with perfectly defined and fizz-free curls.

If you're worried hair will feel greasy, know that conditioner goes inside the cuticle and doesn't stay on top of it, so you shouldn't feel it in your hair. That being said, if the hair is very fine, it would be a good idea to substitute regular conditioner for a leave-in.

07 of 07

Don't Touch!

Now that you've applied conditioner with your fingers and scrunched in the gel, you can either air-dry (which usually gives the best results) or dry with a diffuser. The secret to drying curly hair without frizz is to keep hands off of it until the hair is completely dry. That means no scooping hair into a diffuser, or scrunching it with your hands!

Once the hair is at least 80% dry, you can go in and shake out the hair to release the curls and give it some volume.

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