Styling Tips for Curly Hair

Learn how to manage those curls with these curly hairstyle cues.

By Elizabeth Flahive

April 9, 2011 9:56 AM
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curly hair styles
Ben Goldstein
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Deep-condition hair at least once a week and stick to minimal shampooing. If your scalp or skin is oily, use a gentle shampoo just on your roots and leave your ends out of it.

Use a wide-tooth comb to detangle hair while still in the shower.

Cocktail some leave-in conditioner and anti-frizz and run through wet hair. Allow it to air-dry so you get smooth, well-behaved curls.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
DEEP CONDITIONER like Ouidad Deep Treatment, $33.

WIDE TOOTH COMB like CurlMart Cricket Ultraclean Big Time Comb, $3.49.

LEAVE IN CONDITIONER like Charles Worthington Results Moisture Seal Hair Healer Leave-In Conditioner, $5.99.
woman with long wavy brown hair
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Take curly hair from day to night by spritzing with a refreshing, enzyme-rich spray to bring back the bounce. Or use a little beachy spray.

Rake hair back with your fingers (to create lift) and fasten loosely with a small claw clip.

Finger-twirl a few of the loose pieces for extra polish.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
REFRESHING SPRAY like David Babaii WildAid Bohemian Beach Spray, $11.95.

CLAW CLIPS like Goody Clips, $3.99.

SPRAY LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like Alterna Hemp Spray Leave-In Conditioner, $20.
girl with curly black hair
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Deep condition hair three times a week with a super rich conditioner to flight frizz and breakage.

Try a leave in conditioner and a strong hold gel for the perfect mix of control and conditioning.

Let hair air dry and touch up with a serum to control any frizz or flyaways.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS

GEL like, Sexy Hair Concepts Volumizing Gel, $12.49

SHINE SERUM like, Motions Smoothing Shine Serum, $5.99

LEAVE IN CONDITIONER like, L'Occitane Shea Butter Conditioner, $17

red head with medium length curly hair
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Deep-condition hair twice weekly—curls drink up extra moisture like a sponge.

Rinse hair lightly leaving a little conditioner in there—it’s a great base for styling thicker, more coarse textures.

“Rub a shine glaze together in your palms and distribute it evenly throughout your hair,” says NYC stylist Ouidad.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
DEEP CONDITIONER like Burt’s Bees Hair Repair with Shea Butter and Grapefruit, $7.99.

SHINE GLAZE like Ouidad Shine Glaze, $17.

CURL CRÈME like Bumble & Bumble Curl Conscious Crème, $30.
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Try a leave-in conditioner and a strong-hold gel for the perfect mix of control and conditioning.

Rake the product cocktail through damp hair with a wide-tooth comb. Scrunch hair to add volume.

Once hair has air-dried, use a serum to touch up any frizz or flyaways.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS

GEL like Sexy Hair Concepts Big Sexy Hair Blow Dry Volumizing Gel, $12.49.

CONDITIONER like Dove Daily Moisture Therapy Conditioner for Dry Rough Hair, $4.99.

LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like Alterna Hemp Leave-In Spray Conditioner, $20.
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Mix a little leave-in conditioner and gel in your palm and then apply to damp hair.

Use a diffuser and work until hair is mostly dry, but not all the way — it's good to let a few curls dry on their own for a more natural texture.

A deep side part gives this style extra sexiness — it's a great way to give curly hair an evening-ready edge without actually doing anything to your hair.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like Korres Natural Products Leave-On Conditioner, $19.50.

GEL like Pantene Pro-V Curl Defining Scrunching Gel, $4.49.

CURL SHAMPOO like Kérastase Nutritive Curl Definition Shampoo, $31.99.
Ben Goldstein
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medium-length-curls-17

If you want your natural curls to look girly and polished, wrap up sections of hair in hot rollers and mist with a setting spray.

Then, remove the hot rollers from the back of your head after two minutes. Then, take out the rest of the rollers after five minutes in order to create a cascading effect.

Spritz with shine spray to add sparkle, and don't forget to toss your hair when you walk!

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
HOT ROLLERS like Remington All That! Hair Setter, $15.79.

SHAMPOO FOR DAMAGED HAIR like Aussie Moist Shampoo for Dry to Damaged Hair, $7.49.

SETTING SPRAY like Bumble & Bumble Does It All Styling Spray, $24.99.
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Apply a hair mask in the shower for a strong dose of hydration. Detangle with a wide-tooth comb in the shower. Rinse almost all of it out — however, a little residual moisture is a good thing.

Work a mixture of shine glaze and leave in conditioner through wet hair and let it air dry.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS

HAIR MASK like Alberto VO5 Hot Oil Treatment, $3.93.

SHINE GLAZE like Ouidad Shine Glaze, $17.

LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like Bumble & Bumble Leave-In Conditioner, $22.99.

Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

To loosen natural curls, take a wide-toothed comb and rake some mousse through dry hair.

Then, grab a large-barreled curling iron and wrap different sized sections (1-3 inches) around the iron loosely. The heat will help cut down on the frizz. Don't do your entire head, just a few pieces.

Then, flip your head over and spray with hairspray.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
MOUSSE like Paul Mitchell Extra Body Sculpting Foam, $19.99.

WIDE-TOOTH COMB like Scunci Style and Detangle Wide Tooth Comb, $1.99.

CURLING IRON like Infiniti By Conair Tourmaline Curling Iron, $28.99.
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Naturally curly hair sucks up moisture so stick with a great, emollient leave-in conditioner on soaking wet hair.

When you get out of the shower, towel-dry lightly. Use a wide-tooth comb to detangle hair working from the ends up to the roots.

Use a diffuser on a low heat to dry hair partially, letting it air-dry the rest of the way for best results.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS

LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like Modern Organic Products Leave-In Conditioner, $10.99.

WIDE-TOOTH COMB like Vidal Sassoon Wide-Tooth Comb, $1.29.

DEEP CONDITIONER like Neutrogena Triple Moisture Hair Mask, $6.99.

Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Refresh slept-on curls with a few sprays of leave-in conditioner mist.

Tame flyaways with an anti-frizz serum. Work it through your hair and scrunch to reform curls.

Use a little mousse on the ends so they don't droop.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS

CONDITIONING MIST like Aussie Hair Insurance Leave-In Conditioner, $4.43.

ANTI FRIZZ like Sebastian Laminates Crema Styler Anti Frizz, $27.92.

MOUSSE like TRESemmé Curl Enhancing Mousse, $4.35.

Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

A close crop requires heavy-duty hydration to look chic. Always use a moisture-rich conditioner.

Wet hair with a setting lotion and sit under a drying hood on low heat to bring out hair's natural texture.

Work a little leave-in condition through a few pieces in front.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS

LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like Charles Worthington London Results Leave-In Conditioner, $5.99.

HAIR MASK like Pantene Pro-V Strengthening Mask, $3.99.

GEL like Soft Sheen Carson Protein Styling Gel, $4.29.

Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

In the shower, go easy on the shampoo — the more natural oils left in your hair the better.

Steer clear of vigorously towel-drying and instead, blot hair so your bathroom floor doesn't end up covered in water.

Then cocktail equal parts gel and leave-in conditioner and coat damp hair in the mixture. Carefully and lightly scrunch hair (stopping a few inches below the root, so you get the top to lie flat). Air-dry, and keep your hands off since touching your hair creates frizz.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
CURLY HAIR TOWEL like Aquis Microfiber Hair Towel, $16.99.

GEL like TIGI Bed Head Power Trip Hair Gel, $11.99.

LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like Paul Mitchell The Conditioner, $16.99.
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Shampooo with a sulfate-free formula once a week — it won't strip natural oils from your hair, which keep curls under control.

Half a dropper of organic hair oil on very damp hair keeps ringlets looking healthy especially during dry weather.

Layer a cocktail of leave-in conditioner and gel over and let hair air-dry.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS

HAIR OIL like Dr. Hauschka Neem Hair Oil, $29.95.

SULFATE-FREE SHAMPOO like Back To Basics Color Protect Shampoo, $11.99.

CURL GEL like Ouidad Climate Control Gel, $24.20.

Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

If your hair is on the thin side-and curly, you want shine and control without the weight. Look for stylers without silicone and use leave-in conditioner sparingly on damp hair.

Flip head over and scrunch curls lightly with a towel. Finger-curl a few pieces to give definition, but avoid heat styling.

Finish off the look with hairspray.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like Philip B Lovin Leave In Conditioner, $24.

NON-SILICONE POMADE like Aveda Anti-Humectant Pomade, $21.49.

CURL CONDITIONER like John Frieda Frizz Ease Curl Around Conditioner, $5.99.
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Deep condition hair three times a week with a super rich conditioner to flight frizz and breakage.

Try a leave in conditioner and a strong hold gel for the perfect mix of control and conditioning.

Try not to play with your hair as it dries, the more you touch it the frizzier and less chic it will look.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS

GEL like, Ouidad Climate Control Gel, $22

SHINE SERUM like, Motions Smoothing Shine Serum $5.99

LEAVE IN CONDITIONER like, Joico KPax Conditioner, $16

Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Condition hair overnight so ends stay healthy-looking. Rinse hair in the shower in the a.m.

Run a leave-in conditioner through your hair and take one- inch pieces and twist them, creating a ringlet curl that goes about halfway up.

Diffuse the ends to the mid-shift so you get conditioned bouncy curls.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS

OVERNIGHT TREATMENT like Phyto 9 Day Cream for Dehydrated Hair, $26.

LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like EO Conditioner in French Lavender, $8.59.

DIFFUSER like Conair Tourmaline Ceramic Hair Diffuser, $13.99.

Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

The great thing about curly hair is you don't have to wash it every day to look great. Two to three times a week is plenty so your curls hang onto moisture.

Refresh curls with a styling spray that's loaded with conditioning botanicals. Use your hands to scrunch curls back to life.

To tamp down frizz, smooth a little silicone-based serum over trouble spots.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
BOTANICAL SPRAY like Ouidad Botanical Boost, $16.

SILICONE-BASED SERUM like Ouidad Shine Glaze Serum, $26.

CURL SHAMPOO like Kérastase Nutritive Oleo Shampoo for Curl Definition, $31.99.
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

To keep thick, tight curls from taking over, use a leave-in conditioner and a gel with serious hold for the perfect mix of control and conditioning.

Pull hair back while still wet, training curls to lie flat.

Once hair has air-dried, use a serum to touch up any frizz or flyaways.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
GEL like Frédéric Fekkai Styling Gel, $17.50.

CONDITIONER like Terax Crema Ultra Moisturizing Daily Conditioner, $22.

LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like Alterna Leave-In Conditioner, $20.
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

To get perfect, tight curls sans frizz, you need a cut that supports your curl pattern. Make sure to tell your stylist that you wear your hair naturally so she can give you the cut you need.

Make sure to deep-condition overnight so you get that extra dose of moisture coarse curls need.

Run a thick leave-in conditioner and serum through your hair.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
DEEP CONDITIONER like Burt's Bees Hair Repair, $7.99.

LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like Jonathan Product Conditioning Leave-In Gloss, $22.

SERUM like John Frieda Frizz Ease Hair Serum, Thermal Protection Formula, $9.

Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Curly hair lends itself nicely to a messy chignon.

Flip hair over and spritz with hairspray all over. This will give your hair a little extra grit and keep your chignon from wilting after an hour.

Rake hair up and back with your hands, pushing it forward at the roots to encourage lift, and secure ends in a twist at the nape of your neck. Keep sticking in bobby pins and pulling out pieces to loosen the style.

Then, mist the twist with a little shine spray. This shouldn't look perfect but fast/sexy/chic.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
HAIRSPRAY like Aussie Catch The Wave Hairspray, $3.99.

BOBBY PINS like Scunci Comfort Curve Bobby Pins, $1.29.

SHINE SPRAY like Charles Worthington All Over Shine Spray, $6.49.
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Shorter layers give thick, coarse curls more volume. As long as you control the frizz, this style is the perfect way to work with your hair's natural height. Run a conditioner and moisturizing gel thorough wet hair.

Twirl two-inch pieces around your finger to give them a more pronounced shape.

Flip your head over and diffuse every curl-take breaks so you don't get light headed and fall over.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like KMS Moistrepair Leave-In Conditioner, $16.96.

MOISTURIZING GEL like Dove Define and Shine Control Gel, $8.95.

CURL CONDITIONER like Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Conditioner, $7.49.
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Deep condition hair three times a week with a super rich conditioner to flight frizz and breakage.

Try a leave in conditioner and a strong hold gel for the perfect mix of control and conditioning.

Let hair air dry and touch up with a serum to control any frizz or flyaways.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS

GEL like Ouidad Climate Control Gel, $22

SHINE SERUM like Motions Smoothing Shine Serum, $5.99

LEAVE IN CONDITIONER like Joico KPax Conditioner, $16,

Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

A cropped pixie cut for curly textures looks so chic — but you need to use products that add a lot of moisture and shine to keep hair from puffing up. Even though hair is short, use a rich conditioner.

Run a cocktail of styling cream and gel through damp hair. If you can stand it, let your hair air-dry.

Otherwise, use a small round brush to smooth out the very front sections, then blow-dry brush-free on a very low setting.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
STYLING CREAM like Rusk Str8 Lotion, $10.95.

CURL CONDITIONER like Deva Curl Conditioner, $37.

CURL GEL like Garnier Fructis Style Curl Scrunch Gel, $3.99.
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Try a leave-in conditioner and a strong-hold gel for the perfect mix of control and conditioning.

Rake the product cocktail through damp hair with a wide tooth comb. Scrunch hair to add volume.

Let hair air-dry and touch up with a serum to control any frizz or flyaways.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS

GEL like Sexy Hair Concepts Volumizing Gel, $12.49

SHINE SERUM like Motions Smoothing Shine Serum, $5.99

LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER like Alterna Leave In Conditioner, $20

Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Make you curly hair look date-worthy-sexy by adding extreme lift at the roots. When your hair is damp, flip your head and work a volumizing mousse near your scalp. Scrunch the ends with a moisturizing, curl-defining cream and blowdry on low with a diffuser attachment. Mist with finishing spray for shine and humidity protection.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
VOLUMIZING MOUSSE like Alterna Life Solutions Volumizing Spray Mousse, $21

CURL CREAM like Bumble and Bumble Curl Conscious Calming Crème, $27

FINISHING SPRAY like Joico JoiMist Medium Styling & Finishing Spray, $14.95
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

Get this shaggy, layered cut to turn your naturally straight hair into a sexy, tousled style. Start by air-drying your hair; then, mist in some surf spray and scrunch. To make your bangs look more finished, roughly blowdry them. If you still need oomph, wrap large sections around the barrel of a curling iron — twisting some forward and some backward for an intentionally messy effect. A dab of shine cream on the ends finishes off the look.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
SURF SPRAY like David Babaii for WildAid Bohemian Beach Spray, $9.99

CURLING IRON like Hot Tools Jumbo 1" Professional Curling Iron, $20.99

SHINE CREAM like Pureology StylingLotion Support Hold Shine, $21
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

To evoke an authentic '70s-era style, all you need is your natural hair, a wide-tooth comb and detangling spray. Mist your dry hair with the detangling spray; you'll want to use enough to make it slightly damp. Then, separate small sections and hold them between two fingers. Gently rake through each piece with the comb, pulling up and out. (Holding it prevents tension on your scalp, which causes breakage.) Keep going until you've combed out all your hair. For much-needed hydration, apply a deep-conditioning mask every time you wash.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
DETANGLING SPRAY like Graham Webb the Untangler Light Detangling Spray, $11.49

WIDE-TOOTH COMB like Conair Styling Essentials 3-in-1 Comb, $1.87

HYDRATING MASK like Motions at Home Deep Penetrating Treatment, $5.99
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

To quickly turn your naturally curly hair into soft waves, let it partially air-dry and mist it with a prepping spray. Then, using a round brush, blow-dry the front sections smooth. Spritz with a frizz-controller and wrap large sections around a big-barrel curling iron, starting about halfway up the hair. For shine and extra conditioning, twist the ends with a hydrating oil.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
PREPPING SPRAY like Jonathan Product Prep Spray, $20

FRIZZ SPRAY like Citre Shine Miracle Mist Anti-Frizz Spray Laminator, $4.05

HAIR OIL like Oscar Blandi Jasmine Oil Serum, $16
Ben Goldstein
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Hairstyle Handbook

To make your curly hair look more polished, let it air-dry and then smooth out strategic sections. Start by misting a glossing spray all over. With a curling iron, flatten any cowlicks around your face and curl a few front pieces to create more dramatic ringlets. (The size of the iron should be only slightly larger than the width of your natural curls.) Spray hairspray on your fingers and carefully run your hands over the curls to de-frizz them without breaking them up.

MARIE CLAIRE RECOMMENDS
GLOSSING SPRAY like John Frieda Frizz-Ease Instant Glossing Spray, $5.95

CURLING IRON like Conair Satin Finish Ceramic Curling Iron, $23.99

HAIRSPRAY like Garnier Fructis Style Full Control Hairspray, $3.99
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