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4 Types Of Curls & How To Master Them

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    Illustrated by Isabel Castillo.

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    If you're reading this, you're probably ready to embrace your curls. Amazing. We already heart your first selfie. But before you trade in your straightening balm for mousse, know that just because you were born with natural body and luscious texture, doesn't necessarily mean you're a natural when it comes to styling it. And that's okay. The truth is that it can take years of trial and error for a curly girl to master her perfect hair routine. That's where we come in.

    To help reacquaint you with your long-lost texture, we're giving you a mini crash course from the curl experts at Ouidad, as well as NYC stylists and salon owners Nunzio Saviano and Kattia Solano. Lesson number one: Curls come in a range of shapes. From loose to kinky, each type has a specific personality that requires its own styling and care. Read on to determine your unique curl pattern and get customized advice for soft, defined, frizz-free curls no matter where you fall on the spectrum. The fight with your hair is finally over. Now go post that curly-haired selfie, girl.




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    Loose Curls

    The Pattern:
    Waves with a stretched-out S-shape.

    The Personality:
    Unlike the precise loops created by an iron, naturally loose curls can keep you guessing. While the hair at the top of your crown may appear more lived-in, the mid-length to ends will ripple into wavier sections.

    How To Style: “Too much moisture will deflate your natural volume,” warns Solano. So steer clear of heavy cleansers and conditioners. Instead, lather up with a sulfate-free shampoo (these don’t contain any harsh detergents), and follow with a lightweight conditioner to balance your hair’s hydration levels.

    While you have textbook wash-and-wear hair, you’ll need a little product to fight frizz and plump up your waves. “I like to start with a curl cream and follow it up with a gel or a beach spray on wet hair,” says Solano. Ouidad Wave Create Sea Spray adds texture without giving your hair that dreaded crunch feel. Next, allow your hair to air dry or blowdry with a diffuser attachment. Then finish with a mist of texture spray for a final tousled touch. This perfect product combo will leave your waves soft yet full of body and long-lasting hold, she notes.

    Haircut Tip:
    Love long layers, a textured bob, or softly blended bangs? Go for it — any of it. Your versatile texture gives you plenty of freedom to play with different styles, says Saviano.

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    Classic Curls

    The Pattern:
    Springy, defined S-shaped curls.

    The Personality:
    They're uniform and predictable — as long as you keep your hair healthy.

    How To Style: To maintain the oomph in your curls, avoid drying them out by over-cleansing, and shampoo just once or twice a week. Like loose curls, your best in-shower formula should consist of a non-drying cleansing product followed by a light conditioning mask once a week. When you hop out of the shower, resist the urge to wrap your hair in a bath towel. It causes too much friction, says Saviano. “Use paper towels instead. They force you to blot the hair, plus they absorb more water.” Next, you’ll need to layer products with lightweight hydration and hold. Gel or mousse will define curls and keep them in place, while a cream adds shine and controls frizz. Thoroughly rake both through your strands, then air dry or diffuse dry. Finally, keep your hands to yourself! The more you touch your hair, the more frizz will come out to play.

    Haircut Tip:
    Layers help curls look their best. You can be more playful with the length, says Saviano, though bangs may be a challenge for you. (But hey, we're not afraid of a challenge.)

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    Tight Curls

    The Pattern:
    Densely packed, corkscrew-shaped ringlets.

    The Personality:
    Tight curls have a lot of spring and stretch, says Solano. They expand when they get too dry, which will make your curls get bigger and puffier.

    How To Style: Moisture is key to maintaining your curls. (Do we sound like a broken record already?) Sneak in some extra hydration in the shower by not fully rinsing out your conditioner. It'll act as a nice leave-in treatment. And if you can deep condition at least once a week, you'll get an added boost of elasticity and moisture.

    Since you're #blessed with great definition, look for moisture-rich products to help loosen your curls and prevent them from getting too puffy. Start with sopping-wet hair (the water weight will help keep it from getting big, says Saviano), and gently apply curling cream. Next, twist random sections with a little bit of mousse or gel for hold. Air dry or diffuse, and go.

    Haircut Tip:
    Think of your stylist like a doctor, and see a specialist for the best results — a curl specialist, that is. “There’s a special way of cutting tight curly hair, and it’s all about working with the curl pattern and opening spaces to control the bounce and size of the curl,” says Solano.

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    Kinky Curls

    The Pattern:
    Z-shaped curls that bend at sharp angles instead of coiling.

    The Personality:
    Fine and delicate, your curls are extra dry and vulnerable to heat and style damage because they have fewer cuticle layers than other textures. And because they are so tightly coiled, kinky curls can shrink up to 75% of their natural length.

    How To Style: When you have the thirstiest curl type, you can cut down on cleansing to once every 10 to 14 days. And you'll want to take extra steps to retain your natural oils. Start by slathering on coconut or almond oil. After washing it out, use a deep conditioner, like Ouidad Triple Treat Deep Conditioner, to soften your curls and restore their shape. To seal in even more moisture, try not fully rinsing it out.

    Post-shower, blot your curls with a microfiber towel or cotton T-shirt, and apply a small dollop of styling primer through your hair. The multitasking hybrid drenches curls in moisture and encourages coil definition thanks to its olive-oil blend and green-tea extract. Next, combine equal parts curling cream and gel, and twist your hair in small sections to add separation and reduce frizz. Want to rock a '70s vibe? Once hair is completely dry, massage your curls at the roots or use a hair pick to fluff up the volume, says Solano.

    Haircut Tip:
    You can wear your curls in a variety of lengths, but you’ll want to steer clear of one-length bobs or bangs. “It could look wiggy,” says Solano. Your stylist should also cut your hair dry to find the best shape. (But we know you can work anything.)

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