Having seen a more loving embrace in the mid-2000s with the natural hair movement, natural curls are here to stay, and we couldn’t be happier. But that doesn’t mean that curly hair doesn’t take a bit of work. No matter how well-acquainted you are with your natural curls, any curly girl can tell you that curls have a mind of their own. But, armed with an arsenal of leave-in conditioner, hair oil, and an excellent collection of trendy padded headbands and chic clips, you’ll find that finding low-maintenance short curly hairstyles is even easier than you might think.
Here, find 19 short curly hairstyles that’ll inspire you to try something new with your natural hair, or put a twist on an old favorite.
These Delicate Baby Hairs
Tight curls like these ones do their best when they’re well-hydrated and given the freedom to explore. Let your curls loose, but keep your face framed with gelled baby hairs to highlight killer brows. I like Slick, the edge control treatment from TPH, Taraji P. Henson’s haircare line. The castor oil is a nice touch to keep those edges sleek.
This Shoulder-Length Bob
Nothing says low-maintenance like letting your curls do their thing. We all know that day two hair is (somehow) the best hair around, so refresh your curls with a sulfate-free leave-in spray and let them find their shape with help from a hair lotion like Rita Hazan’s Curl Creme ($28). Add a bit of oil around your scalp and ends to give your hair a bit of TLC, and then enjoy your relaxed look.
A Curly High-Pony
Short curly hair, whether it’s on the wavy or the kinky side, will thrive in an adorable curly pony. Flip your head upside down to pull your hair forward, and take it higher than you would for your usual ponytail. Knot your hairband closer to your forehead, and let your curls fall forward for a look perfect for your low-key selfie.
These Space Buns
There’s a reason we adore space buns: they’re sweet, they’re simple, and, most of all, they’re easy. After detangling, apply a product like R+Co's Twister Curl Primer ($28) to prep your curls. The combination of aloe leaf extract and shea butter will help your hair move easily as you section it off. Once you section, feel free to play with smaller sections and twists to make the look feel more artful.
A Loose, Curly Topknot
The bun is the lazy girl’s best friend, but with just a bit of effort, you can take your usual messy bun to a topknot that feels like it took way more work than it did. Curly girls should take time to detangle before applying a dollop of a moisturizing leave-in (I adore Eva NYC’s Rock-A-Wave Curl Cream, $12) and piling their hair right in the center of their heads. Free a few strands, and you’re ready with a casual but clean look.
This Curly Pixie
If your curls like to reach for the sky, let them. A look like this curly pixie is easy to maintain, and looks great as it grows out over time. Use a light cream, like Prose Frizz-Reducing Curl Cream ($12) to add shape and skip frizz.
Long live the lob. Keep your long bob current by letting your natural curls flow free, and shooting for a middle part, rather than a side-part.
A great low-maintenance style starts with wash day. Kick things off with a fresh wash with a cleansing product like Act+Acre's Cold Pressed Hair Cleanser ($28). Then, scrunch and done.
This Kinky Chop
Use a leave-in conditioner and seal with an oil (I’m a huge fan of Pattern Beauty's Jojoba Oil Hair Serum ($28), which is made with argan oil) to keep kinky curls hydrated. Let your hair thrive by letting it air-dry, and use a spritz of leave-in day after day to keep this style going into day two and three. Because the best low-maintenance styles for curly hair are the ones that keep your curls going day after day.
This Bright Look
A conundrum: you want your hair to look amazing at all times, but you also don’t want to have do constantly think up a new look. Your solution? A bright dye job. By dyeing your hair a bright color like this stunning green, you’ll always look next level whether you tuck your hair into a low bun while it drinks up a leave-in conditioner or leave it to its own devices.
This Vintage Pixie
Craving retro vibes? A super short pixie or finger waves, especially in a sleek color in cool tones, will bring the vintage vibes to short curly hairstyles. The secret is to use a nice, thick gel, like Shea Moisture's Coconut and Hibiscus Curling Gel Souffle ($24). Blend with a lighter product like R+Co’s Turntable Curl Defining Creme ($29), working the formula through short curls before letting the style tighten into place. Wrap nice and neatly at night to preserve the style for another day of wear.
A blend between a curly bun and a curly pony, this merging of short curly hairstyles is a go-to for days where you want to feel a bit more put together without doing anything too high-maintenance. To pull of this look, begin to loop your curls like you’re going to do topknot, but instead of doing a second wrap, let your curls fall free. You can tuck in any curls that are going a bit more haywire, and free the curls that are nice and springy.
Loose Double Buns
It’s easy to add interest to short curly hairstyles, even on those deep conditioning days. For this look, part clean hair down the center until you reach the nape of your neck. Leaving out a few stands in the front (don’t worry, we’ll come back to these), moisturize your curls with a light product like Ouidad Deep Treatment Curl Restoration Therapy ($37). Bundle each section into a neat knot. Then, lightly twirl the strands framing your face to help put those curls into place.
A Super-Sleek Look
On days where you just need to pull your hair back and focus, go for a super-sleek look like this one. With a style defining gel like the TPH Tough Cookie, which has flaxseed and castor oil to help add shine, comb or brush (the Pattern Shower Brush is great for this) curls back into place, leaving a part at the center. Pull curls back and band at the nape of your neck. Then, use a little Tough Cookie to smooth down baby hairs.
A Patterned Wrap
The smartest short curly hairstyles involve one simple product: a hair wrap. Try a neutral hair wrap like The Sofia from SILKE for lazy days around the apartment, or go for a fun print like leopard. Make the look do more work by adding in a hair masque, like the Coco and Eve Like A Virgin Hair Masque.
Accessorize Your Twist Out
Twist outs are a lot of work, but the results are nothing short of phenomenal. If you like to see happy, healthy hair, this is it. Start the day by freeing those twists, and, once they’re freshly spritzed with a product like Not Your Mother's Naturals Detangler, tie a pretty scarf or bandana (like this holy grail from Madewell) around your head as a headband.
Embrace the Waves
If you’re thinking about chopping bangs, now might be the time. If you have looser waves that lean toward 3A or 3B, you’ll find that leaning into the world of bangs might not be as complicated as you thought. Go for a cut that’s closer to the bridge of your nose, and when they spring forth you’ll feel edgier than ever, especially if you add some purple dye to go along with your new look. Top things off with a styling butter like Oribe’s Curl Enhancing Crème.