How to Style Men’s Curly Hair: Tips and Hairstyles

A lot of guys used to buzz their hair off instead of taking the time to learn how to style men’s curly hair. Increasingly, men aren’t letting the extra grind deter them from growing their curls out and showing them off. We’re here to help you harness the power of your curls. 

“Generally, people with curly hair face issues with unruliness or lack of moisture,” says celebrity groomer Jessica Ortiz, whose clients include Timothée Chalamet, Darren Criss and Shameik Moore.

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    Curly Hair Priorities

    “Due to the coil shape of the follicle, naturally produced oil from the scalp has a harder time traveling down the shaft,” Ortiz says. “This can create dryness toward the ends.” Hair relies on your scalp’s natural sebum production for moisture, and the route to the tip of a curly strand isn’t straightforward. 

    Below is some advice from Ortiz to help you maximize your curls’ potential. You’ll find tips on how to style curly hair and hairstyles inspired by her own curly-haired clients.

    How to Style Men’s Curly Hair

    1. Air-Dry or Learn To Blow-Dry Strategically

    “Air-drying curls is best,” says Ortiz. “But if it’s not an option, blow dry with a diffuser on, using cold air first, until curls are formed and semi-dry. After the initial once-over, switch to hot air on a low setting and finish drying. Starting with cold air, without touching the curl, really helps reduce unwanted frizz when incorporating heating tools.”

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    2. Fight Humidity With Curly Hair Styling Products

    Humid air can lead to a big, poofy mess. To combat unwanted frizz, Ortiz says to use a specially formulated product, ”like a hair gel or wax, in damp hair, or as an anti-humidity shield applied after styling.” 

    Curly Hair Tips

    1. Choose Moisturizing Haircare Ingredients

    You might need to test different key ingredients to find the ones that work specifically for your curls. No two people experience identical benefits from the same product. “But in general, I like to look for natural oils, like argan oil or coconut oil, that can add extra moisture and create a protective seal,” Ortiz says. “Aloe and glycerine tend to be good, too.” Bottom line: Prioritize moisture, always.

    2. Tighter Curls Usually Need More Moisture

    Curls require moisture — and lots of it — typically pulled from conditioners or hair masks. But, “the tighter your curl, the more hydration they need,” says Ortiz. So, keep the conditioning products stocked up.

    3. Try “Pre-Pooing”

    Pre-pooing can keep curls from tangling, breaking and frizzing. Ortiz achieves this by applying oil-based products to her clients’ hair before shampooing. She especially recommends this for clients with extra fine or coiled hair. Your hair oil formula may differ from the next person’s, but consider key ingredients like argan, shea and rosehip oils.

    4. Incorporate Dry Shampoo

    Ortiz recommends using dry shampoo between washes since you’re ideally shampooing once every 5 to 10 days. Dry shampoo targets the scalp, where it soaks up excess oils without compromising the strands of hair themselves.

    Curly Hairstyles for Men 

    Looking for a few curly hairstyle ideas? Here are some looks Ortiz fashioned for her own curly coiffed clients.

    For receding hairlines:

    “This cut relies on length and texture to enhance curl volume,” Ortiz says. “The style is flattering for anyone with a high hairline to push the curls slightly forward and minimize areas above the temples. Leave the top to temples medium length and point cut the ends to give them form and movement.”

    For tight curls:

    “This natural afro is channeling the ’70s and focuses on shape and length,” says Ortiz. “What makes it modern is breaking up the full, round shape with a slightly more tapered neckline. The go-to length is around 5 inches up top and slightly shorter at the neckline and sides. This style would need the simple maintenance of spritzing periodically with some leave-in conditioner to avoid the tight curl pattern from drying out.” 

    For grown-out fades:

    “This curly pompadour is the result of a grown-out fade into a taper,” she says. “Allowing a fade to grow out into a taper cut can maximize the time between haircuts. This cut relies on the length in the front, keeping the focus of the curls forward while the rest of the cut is tight around the head. To change up this style, smooth and volumize the front with a blow-dryer and wear straight.” 

    Customized Haircare Products For Men

    Ready to find curly haircare products tailored to your hair type and goals? Take the Prose hair consultation.