One of the most debated topics online is which are the best haircuts for curly hair. I wasn’t surprised when someone submitted this question to my Good Hair Q&A series I ran recently, and while I’m a little bit nervous to tackle it, I do have some tips that I wanted to share with you.
First up though, I want to explain that I am not a hairdresser; I am a person with curly hair who has been to many hairdressers over the years and has seen and tried lots of different techniques.
I have many great friends who are hairdressers and I have enormous respect for the industry.
Here’s what I think are the best haircut techniques and styles for curly and wavy hair, plus some popular ways to cut curly hair that I think you should avoid at all costs.
And if you’re looking for more curly hair tips and tutorials, you’ll love my 30 Days of Curly Hairstyles.
Check out my video talking about haircuts for curly hair below or keep reading for more tips.
The best haircuts for curly hair
Tips for a great curly haircut
1. You don’t always need to see a curly specialist
Yes, there are different standards that hairdressers are trained to, and while seeing a curly hair specialist can help, it doesn’t always necessarily guarantee that you’re going to get a great haircut.
Many curly training skills seem to be a little outdated. So going to see a hairdresser who takes the time to listen to you and understand your hair is far more valuable than a particular specialist.
2. Wet cuts versus dry cuts
In the hairdressing industry, it’s pretty standard to do cut hair when it’s wet. There is a movement amongst curly girls to prefer a dry haircut. This is where they cut your hair curl by curl. It does have some advantages, but it also has some disadvantages.
Personally I prefer wet cuts because they end up more even and give me versatility. And because in dry cuts my curls are never the same, I always end up with something uneven.
Depending on your curl shape, this will be very different for you and you might prefer dry cuts.
This style of curly hair is called a DevaCut was started from the Deva chain of salons in New York. This was also formalised by Lorraine Massey in her book Curly Girl. This technique is a dry cut, where they cut curl by curl, examining your hair as they go.
The benefit of this cut is it’s less likely that you’ll end up with a haircut that’s too short because it takes into consideration the way the way that curls ‘shrink’ once they dry.
However, if you have way more heavy hair like I do and your curls can change from day to day, this type of cut produces a very uneven result. It can be quite a time-consuming process and the stylist will charge more for this type of appointment.
4. Ouidad style
The Ouidad school of hairstyling (pronounced ‘wee-dad’) has a kind of hybrid haircut theory. They start with a wet cut, slicing into the curls to shape your hair. Then they dry cut and do a recheck and cut again when it’s finally dry.
Many hairdressers I know follow this style of technique – or at least along those lines, whether your hair is curly or straight. Cutting it wet and then, once its dry, rechecking to make sure that its even seems to make the most sense.
I don’t see this technique mentioned as much online, though I think it gets a more versatile haircut that can suits lots of different types of curls – and hair types in general.
5. One thing to avoid: thinning scissors
If you’ve ever seen these scissors at salon or had them near your hair, you know immediately why I’m saying no to thinning scissors.
Very popular in the ‘80s for that Farrah Fawcett flick, these are not the kind of scissors that you want to thin out curly hair. These scissors have one blade that’s a regular scissor blade and a comb-like blade on the other side. They cut out half the hair as they go through.
While they will thin out your hair, they will also leave it looking very fine on the ends, which can make your hair look thin and stringy.
6. The ‘unicorn cut’
I’ve seen this mentioned a lot on YouTube recently and a lot of curly girls in the forum talk about giving themselves a home haircut by doing a ‘unicorn cut’.
I don’t really want to go into it because I don’t want to encourage you to do it, but briefly this is what you do: roughly put all your hair up into a ponytail on top of your head and then cut straight across.
The idea of this technique is to create a shag haircut where all of the layers are the same length. Most of the time though, it’s very difficult to cut your own hair evenly – or even someone else’s if you’re not a trained hairdresser.
What you’ll end up with will be something that looks more like a mullet. Try this one at your own risk.
And an extra final note on home haircuts:
There’s a reason why hairdressing scissors cost hundreds of dollars. They’re incredibly sharp and they’re a precision instrument.
Don’t think you can do a home haircut or trim your own split ends at home with a regular pair of scissors. You’ll more likely create more split ends using scissors that aren’t incredibly sharp.
Blunt scissors cause a blunt edge on your hair strands, which will in turn lead to more split ends.
In Australia, hairdressers do three to four years of apprenticeship training, so don’t discredit their work by trying to do it yourself at home via a YouTube Video.
I’m actually in need of a haircut at the moment as it’s been at least four months since I had a trim. It’s been growing out really well because I’ve had some long layers cut into it, and a few shoulder- and face-framing layers.
In the past I’ve also had what’s called a V-cut where my hair is trimmed into a sort of V-shape at the back. I’ve also had a version of that called a U-cut, which has a more rounded edge.
These haircuts both suit longer curly hair because they allow more layers to include more curls around the sides. A V-shape or U-shape cut can look good on curly hair, but do note it can really thin out your hair, which is why I’ve gone back to more of a long layered style.
I prefer having more volume this way. And the longer layers are easier for me to style and braid.
I hope this helps you understand what the best haircuts for curly hair are and, as always, I recommend taking photos to your hairdresser. Check out this post to see why.
I’d love to know what your favourite way is to have your curly hair cut. Tell me in the comments below!
PS. If you want to see more curly hair videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel here.
PPS. Want to learn more about styling your curly hair? Check out my 30 Days of Curly Hairstyles here.