Instead of the famous lyric, "girls just want to have fun," it should be, "curls just want to have fun." Stop holding onto your curls' dead, brittle, or strayed ends. Cut them so your hair can grow back thicker, healthier, and longer. Let your curls live their best life. Oftentimes, the popular opinion mistakenly associates #HairGoals with length. The reality is the two actually aren't attached to each other and never have been. That's all an illusion. Pixie cuts for curly hair are so cool, so in, and so beautiful.
The style may sound slightly limiting, but there are a plethora of ways you can style your pixie that will make your curls look renewed, just ask stylists Gina Rivera and Anastasia Stylianou (we did). It's also the ideal way to start over if you're dealing with damage.
Ahead, marvel at 20 pixie cuts for curly hair we're in love with.
Meet the Expert
- Gina Rivera is the founder of Phenix Salon Suites. She is also the creator of Colours by Gina and the By Gina hair product line.
- Anastasia Stylianou is an internationally acclaimed hairstylist and creative and artistic director of Umberto Giannini. She is the founder of Rehab Styling and is a specialist in curly hair.
Leave it to Zoë Kravitz to wear a curly and spiky texture together like the cool girl that she is. Cropped styles can still have the utmost dimension, especially when you play around with shapes like Ms. Kravitz.
"Zoey left some length on top that she styles to add height and dimension and to create a unique look each time she styles," says Rivera. To achieve her style, she suggests adding a root booster at the base of the scalp. "I like Innersense Beauty’s Volumizing Foam ($12). Then, use gel from mid-strand to the end of the hair in order to shape and generate the look."
Natalie Portman's wavy curls are slightly finger-waved in the front and seem to be her natural curl pattern everywhere else. "To enhance this effortless style," begins Stylianou, "I recommend using lightweight products to allow the hair to do its own thing. I would apply a small amount of DevaCurl Wave Maker ($16) when hair is wet. And finish off using Hair by Sam McKnight Cool Girl Barely There Texture Mist ($30) to soften the hair and give it volume and texture."
We're in love with Jennifer Hudson's feathery curls. If you look closely, you can see that some are even crisscrossing. "Here, a mid-length pixie has a lot of texture yet also presents as being soft since it's slightly longer at the crown," explains Rivera. She adds, "This is a great look that you will not have to over-style. Use a styling mousse and shine serum. To get the slightly tousled effect, use fingers when blow-drying hair. Complete the look with a spritz of Clutch hairspray ($32) from By Gina."
Evan Rachel Wood
Keeping length in the center with tapered sides is what we call a hair power move. Evan Rachel Wood swept her curls over to one side for a touch of flair while her subtle highlights serve to naturally brighten her complexion. To replicate her elegant pixie, Rivera says to create height by adding root boost to the longer hair at the crown. Using a round brush, direct hair off of the face and then curl the ends using a round brush or large barrel curling iron. Finish with a natural hold hairspray ($32). I recommend Clutch by Gina."
You can't talk about pixie cuts without mentioning Halle Berry. It's impossible. Her iconic tousled 'do will always reign supreme and looks timeless to this day. While this style is more relaxed and wavy than curly, the length at the top here is still perfect for her natural texture.
"One tip I would give if you have short hair is that you want to make sure you put the work into getting the quality," says Stylianou. "I would recommend using a good blow-dry primer for this type of texture and hairstyle to ensure it looks smooth and glossy. My fave is Christophe Robin Daily Cream With Sandalwood ($43)."
This throwback of Charlize Theron's bold and upright curly cut will never get old. To lock a style like this in place, get your hands on Tresemmé Tres Two Hair Mousse Extra Hold styling mousse ($6). Rivera adds, "Leave sides slightly shorter and comb down words or pull toward to mix it up when styling. Use a root boost to get height at the crown. I like Matrix Biolage Hydrafoaming styling mousse ($19) for this purpose. Next, use a one-inch curling iron to loosely curl back the hair on the crown, and then separate the curls using your fingers. Finish with Clutch hairspray ($32) for the perfect hold."
Anne Hathaway's wispy, swept-back style is so classic. Again, experimenting with different lengths will instantly add dimension to your cut. For added gloss, finish with a shine spray.
Who remembers short-hair Ri? When it comes to curly pixies, you can keep them closely cropped like so, and add a little volume by using a mini flat iron to lift from the root of each curl. Rivera adds how a fringe that sits high on the forehead works to frame Rihanna's face and "keeps the focus on her amazing eyes and flawless skin.
This style is perfect if you're looking for something low maintenance. "I recommend beginning with Morrocanoil’s Hydrating Styling Cream ($34) then use a small round brush to create soft curls and slightly straighten hair turning at just the ends when styling. Use fingertips to move and place curls. Finish the look with shine spray to get luster, I like Redken’s Diamond Oil High Shine Airy Mist for this purpose," says Rivera.
(Note This product has been discontinued, but for something similar, we recommend Redken Glow Dry Style Enhancing Blow-Dry Hair Oil, $32)
Short-haired Scarlett Johansson is our favorite. There's something so incredibly breathtaking about her shaved curly style. It could possibly be the juxtaposition of her feminine, loopy curls combined with her rocker-esque, tapered sides. Either way, we'll take it. Rivera agrees: "The short pixie with the shaved-up sides and the smart pompadour crown brings out the best in Scarlett Johansson," namely, "her beautiful cheekbones."
To get this style, Rivera advises, "Shave the sides leaving your natural color as the base. At the crown combine a highlight with a root melt in order to create dimension. I recommend a root booster to provide lift and volume at the crown. Finish with a lightweight hairspray; Clutch ($32) from By Gina is the perfect choice as it provides hold while allowing for movement."
French women have nailed chic yet visually effortless hair, and they've divulged how. Exhibit A: Audrey Tautou. Her soft, voluminous curls have a slightly undone finish, proving that there is perfection in imperfection.
Actress Ruth Negga's natural curls look gorgeous in her ever-changing pixie styles. These defined spirals suit her so well. And in case you're shopping around for other short, natural hairstyles, we've rounded up our favorite inspiring looks.
Zendaya is an old-Hollywood glam queen with these perfect finger waves. This vintage style looks best on short hair. "Reminiscent of days gone by, Zendaya shows that great looks never go out of style when it comes to finger waves. To achieve this look part the hair deep to one side, use styling gel when creating these gorgeous finger waves. Finish with a shine spray like Morrocanoil’s Glimmer Shine ($28)," says Rivera.
For the ultimate slickness, be sure to tie your hair down with a silk scarf for 20 minutes beforehand.
Amandla Stenberg stepped on the red carpet paying homage to this angular, high-top fade that took over the '80s and '90s. Their curls look healthy and hydrated; however, according to Stylianou, the burgundy color is the real star of this 'do.
"One thing I love about this look is the color," she says. "I feel when you're going for a style like this, a simple bold color really finishes it off perfectly. I recommend using color glosses to enhance the cut and give the hair depth. Christophe Robin has a great selection of Temporary Color Gel ($35). Prep curls using DevaCurl Styling Cream ($28) to enhance curls and give them a little structure."
Joey King's hair is an example of how you can grow out your pixie (while it still being a pixie) with style and grace. Aim for volume and lift at the roots where curls shine brightly up top but are more relaxed at the bottom and sides.
Feast your eyes on Janelle Monáe's ethereal, imitable pixie that is simply perfection. Her free-flowing curls adorned with a bejeweled headband make her look like a walking goddess. "Monáe’s beautiful layers are just long enough to provide a soft rather than spikey look," comments Rivera.
To style, she recommends, "Apply a styling cream and a shine serum, then using a round brush, dry hair and slightly direct bangs to one side. To really nail the look, add a headband and tease slightly at the back. Style curls gently over the backcombed area for some extra volume. Touch off with a finishing spray."
It was a moment when Solange stepped back into the platinum realm. Although it's not specified if these curls were achieved with Bantu knots, a twist-out, or even a braid-out, they are thriving. This is another Afro-textured style that natural girls should try if going shorter is in the future.
"The extra length combined with the stunning platinum is the perfect way to embrace your curls. The combination keeps this look at center stage," notes Rivera.
If this is a style you're interested in, Rivera suggests meeting with your colorist to determine the perfect shade for your skin tone. Also, keep some length and add a curl-enhancing product to get the perfect shape.
Sometimes all it takes to light up a room is a smile like Samira Wiley's and a hairstyle to match. Her look is minimalist, but it makes a statement. We're loving the contrast of texture with shaved sides and a longer curly mop on top.
Victoria's Secret Angel Maria Borges exemplifies the beauty of Afro-textured pixies. Although a lot of naturalistas praise big hair, this trimmed style is equally eye-catching. According to Rivera, "Maria Borges is the epitome of a natural-born beauty with this short-cut pixie. This is the perfect look for emphasizing her gorgeous long neck and beautifully shaped eyes and brows." She underscores that the key to creating this style is healthy hair.
To get you there, Rivera recommends "using a very good wetline that has biotin, collagen, and the B Vitamins that ensure hair health. Pure BioGen Complex is my favorite shampoo ($30) and conditioner ($30) for improving and maintaining extremely healthy hair."
Alia Shawkat is one of our fave poster girls of curly hair. She makes an argument for embracing hair's natural texture. All you need are a few styling products and a killer red headband to pull off this moppy pixie.