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The curl is mine: cuts, styles and conditioning tips for curly hair

May 27th 2016 / Anna Hunter

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We all wave in different ways, but if you’re wondering how to make the most of your curl, we’ve got the cheat sheet

In a world of chemical straightening, hair extensions and identikit highlights, it’s refreshing when catwalks not only embrace a bit of natural texture and movement, but actively promote it. Whether you had curls or not hasn’t necessarily been paramount over the past few seasons, it’s more the element of wearing hair ‘your way’. From styling tailored to the individual model at Alexander Wang to waves to suit all at Diane von Furstenberg, spring/summer 16 shows embraced free love in the follicular department. We encourage you to follow a similarly liberal path this summer, especially if you’ve got a kink, curl or afro going on. There’s a way to big up each and every type and shape of curl, not to mention create sinuating strands if you’re straight of hair but fancy mixing it up. Anything goes, but James Galvin’s Cuts for Curls hair menu, created with caring curl pros Kérastase, has been devised to inspire you to custom style your curls to your personal vibe. Think of the following less as curl ‘recipes’, and more as movement moodboards, and don’t let Jon Bon Jovi flashbacks put you off, as James stresses:

“Today's curls move, bounce and are far more playful than the 80s version. Much healthier. They don’t have to be perfect, just healthy and with a little texture towards the ends to keep the ends looking interesting.”

The Bouncy Bob

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Celebrity reference: James has Audrey Tatou in mind, but we think that Rihanna and Charlize Theron have it going on too.

USP: “Short, sassy, cute and cool.”

The cut: “Shape is everything- graduation and round layers will add instant fullness, bringing out a natural bounce.”

The style: “Get the cut right and it’ll barely need styling at all. Apply a smoothing cream to lock curls together and lend them lovely definition. Then simply use a diffuser or air dry naturally before you race out of the door. Once in awhile run fingertips through roots to amp up the body and put the spring back into your style”

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The Spiralizer:

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Celebrity reference: The eternal spiral curl icon has to be Sarah Jessica Parker, but Lorde and Corinne Bailey Rae consistently represent on the corkscrew front.

USP: “Fun, feisty and a little bit kooky. Probably medium length.”

The cut: “Use layers sparingly to bring curls back into balance. Avoid a fixed parting; this curl loves to look dynamic when flicked in different directions.”

The style: “Steer clear of dry and crispy curls- there’s no faster way to date your look. Mix a drop of oil into a curl cream to create beautiful softness and shine. Beware of overdrying the top section or braking curls up by scrunching- both are sure fire ways to add frizz.”

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The New Wave Lob

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Celebrity reference: James modelled this one on Thandie Newton. FKA Twigs is giving the curly bob an edge too.

USP: “Chic and tousled, with collarbone kissing length.”

The cut: “Remove the weight from your jawline and let layers be your guide to playing with the shape, knowing that you have the freedom to go as big as you like.”

The style: “Keep it creamy when it comes to products. They’ll add shape and definition, giving curls back their healthy glow. A cleansing conditioner is an ideal way to nourish without weighing down curls.”

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The Choppy Shag

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Celebrity reference: Salma Hayek manages to pull off glamorous and casually coiled all at the same time. James thinks that Shakira also has the perfect amount of wild movement.

USP: “The more dishevelled it looks, the better this curl feels, so let its naturally shaggy texture do the talking. With its rippling, medium length it juxtaposes sweetness with sex appeal.”

The cut: Hard to pin down. Style it out with a little guidance from James:

“A long, choppy fringe with face-framing layers will max out the movement of this textured wave and make for eyes and cheekbones that stand out in a crowd.”

The style: “Modern’ and ‘low maintenance. Diffuse dry to bump up the body, add a cream or wax to the ends to supercharge shaggy definition. A nourishing shampoo and conditioner are your perfect product partners. Always comb curls through with your fingers when wet and try leaving in a bit of conditioner when rinsing.”

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The Hipster

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Celebrity reference: James loves Lily Cole’s flowing, loose waves, and Selena Gomez swings her relaxed curls over one shoulder with aplomb.

USP: “A delicate wave. This is a curl that’s soft and romantic – with something free spirited about it. Nurture the nonchalant cool of this longer curl.”

The cut: “I’m coining this ‘Venice Beach Hippie’. It’s not about tight ringlets- the trademark aspect of this look is long, easy layers.”

The style: “Attach a diffuser to your dryer to tease out the delicate wave. Over styling is the enemy of this curl, so keep in mind that less is always more. This length needs some serious tender loving care. So pick a cleansing conditioner and masque for extra nourishing benefits.”

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The supermodel curl

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Celebrity reference: Beyoncé all the way. Also see Karlie Kloss’ homage to Diane von Furstenberg at the DVF AW16 show.

USP: “If curls could be gym bunnies, this one would be super fit. Conditioned to perfection and often with definition to die for, this longer, thicker curl has powerhouse connotations.”

The cut: “Streamline the silhouette by adding a few simple layers just around the outline, then keep it current with a crisp centre part.”

The style: “Give your long curls the ultimate workout by wrapping one-inch sections around your finger and gently twisting whilst wet. Flipping your head upside down will loosen up curls for a look that’s both sexy and cool. Set long, thick curls on a path to perfect health with super nourishing products that maximise moisture levels.”

Whether you opt for one of the above cuts or not, James has some general advice for achieving a style that falls beautifully, with minimal daily faff on your part:

“Make sure that the cut you go for is fun and flattering. Don't have a fringe if you have very tight curls, as styling wise this could prove to be a bit of a disaster. Save a little more length for tighter curls as they tend to spring up a lot more. Longer lengths have more weight which will help to pull the curl down a bit, making it more manageable. If you have loose curls and a hairline that will take it, then do consider a fringe, with lots of loose textured layers around the face and shoulder to collar bone lengths. It’s such a cool look and so current”

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Troubleshooting for texture

There are days when your curls undulate glossily, have the perfect amount of bounce and spring into place without you so much as having to lift a finger. Unfortunately, there are also days when curly hair goes haywire, with a halo of frizz, lack of definition or general misbehaviour in terms of shape and direction attempting to break your spirit. Don’t let it get to that- celebrity sessions stylist and doyenne of curls Jennie Roberts has some wave wisdom to ensure that you’re in control of your curls, and not the other way around:

“The mistake most people make when styling curly hair is over handling it when wet. Use your fingers like a comb and gently move roots for lift. All work on roots should be done from underneath hair so as not to disturb the top texture.”

“Also, healthy hair is the perfect canvas to create effortless beautiful curls. Instead of stripping hair by over-washing I always recommend using a co-wash, like the Ojon Rare Blend Moisture-Rich Cleansing Conditioner, £18.50. The low lathering cleanser is a great way to nourish, condition and refresh hair without stripping it any of the necessary oils, leaving curls deeply conditioned after use. I would also recommend using a cotton t-shirt in place of a towel. Wrap around hair and squeeze and blot- don't rub as this causes friction and can rip the hair.”

“A pre poo (pre-shampoo) treatment such as Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment, £19, is always good for curly or afro hair. It is perfect for detangling and softening and locks in moisture before you go in with a cleansing product. A co-cleanser is advisable for curly hair, as it’s naturally dry and fragile it shouldn't be exposed to harsh shampoo additives such as sulfates and silicones. The Ojon one as mentioned above is packed with coconut oil so softens and gently cleanses without drying out and over cleansing already fragile hair.”

“My top tip for styling curly hair is to make sure every inch of your hair is covered evenly with your chosen styling product, for example I use Ojon Volumizing Hair Mousse, £23, with Ojon Instant Restorative Hair Serum, £24.50, and a paddle brush. Either air dry or dry with a diffuser at a warm temperature and low speed. Put your head upside down and place curls in diffuser, don't handle curls too much as they dry. This calls for patience I know, but I use this method with my own curls and it works.”

In addition to Ojon, Davines OI range keeps curls strong and in check, while Redken Curvaceous is a good curl-activating option if you crave more of a kink in your lengths.

If you desire a bit more of a curl, you’re not alone. Charles Worthington MBE recently created a very bold spiral perm look for blogger Fleur de Force, declaring that ‘the perm is absolutely back and I am so excited about it!’. Is there a revival of the perm afoot? Worthington thinks that there could be, but of course as with all resurging trends, this time it’s tweaked to suit contemporary tastes, in line with modern technology:

“Hairstyles are always coming back around and it’s time for the straight hair of the noughties, which have slowly been transitioning into boho beach waves, to turn into curls. I hope they will be here to stay.”

“There are definitely many options now to create a modern take on the huge perms of the 80s. The perm renaissance will be different this time around as curls will be more tamed and less frizzy, plus they’ll be tailored to suit each individual's requirements- bespoke curls were not so accessible in the 80s. I love that Kylie Minogue recently stepped out with a perm-like new hairdo, let’s hope more celebrities follow suit!”

Even the men are at it according to the Charles Worthington team, a movement we’re hereby referring to as ‘the GOT effect’. From Jon Snow to Khal Drogo, wildly tousled male Game of Thrones characters are being emulated on a high street near you, with some apparently resorting to chemical means to achieve the perfect warrior wave according to Charles Worthington volume expert Johanne Herald:

“I love that we are seeing men embrace curly hair, and I think we could be seeing a return of the male perm, majorly influenced by actor Kit Harington ( who plays Jon Snow in the GOT series). I’ve been doing perms on some of our male staff and younger clientele for a while now, mainly for those who are looking for the Dalston shaggy look, and in general we’ve definitely been getting more enquiries lately for male perming.”

“More often than not men have grown their hair long on the top, with shorter sides, but they don’t know what to do with the length. In general they want a little bit of movement, and the male perm means that they can style it with product for a more controlled look, or simply wash and spray with some sea salt for a messy, beachy look.”

"Another great thing about the male perm is that men don’t normally colour their hair, so most are suitable for perms (whereas if a woman has 30% or more of their hair bleached they can’t have a perm). A male perm only takes an hour, and will be executed so that all curls fall in the same direction, unlike the crazy perms of decades gone by.”

Turns out Jon Snow didn’t ‘know nothing’ after all; he was very much onto something grooming wise. The fact that Charles Worthington salons have a volume expert on their books at all is telling of a growing trend…

Follow me on Instagram @annyhunter

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