How to Style Curly Hair: Breaking Down the Basics

We see stylish ringlets in your future.

Knowing how to style curly hair is something every curly-haired girl needs to have down to a science. Curly hair has its own set of hair care rules that are distinctively unique from all of the other hair types. How its texture reacts to certain weather conditions, water, product, and much more requires a different maintenance approach versus other hair types. That’s why learning how to style curly hair is so important.

Having patience with your ringlets and giving them lots of love and care is crucial when creating bounce and movement, not to mention ensuring frizz and dryness are kept at bay as curly hair can be prone to both.

Whether you want to wear your hair down or are seeking a beautiful curly updo, these simple principles can save you time and have you loving your hair more than ever. Read on to discover how to style curly hair:

how to style curly hair natural looking curls
Gorgeous natural-looking curls.

1. Shampoo and condition your hair for your hair type.

Using the right shampoo and conditioner for your curly hair is key to getting the nourishment and moisture that your hair needs. Try TRESemmé Flawless Curls Shampoo and TRESemmé Flawless Curls Conditioner whose formulas can provide your hair with much-needed balanced hydration.

2. Masks are the new normal!

Hair masks are another amazing way to nourish your curls from the crown all the way down to the shaft. Try Nexxus Humectress Moisture Restoring Masque, whose creamy formula can nourish your curly hair without weighing it down.

3. Don’t let your locks get weighed down.

Using too much product on curls can weigh them down or make ringlets limp and lacking in definition. Key products, like a hair oil on the ends, and a dollop of mousse or gel, like Dove Style+Care Curls Defining Mousse on the lengths, can help create definition and shine without sacrificing bounce.

4. Diffuse the situation.

If possible, allow your hair to partly air-dry, and then finish with a dryer that has a diffuser attachment. This helps enhance the appearance of natural curls while giving hair volume and body.

5. Let those curls fall.

Looking to wear curls in a sexy updo? Use bobby pins to keep any flyaways in place, but allow a for few stray pieces to fall naturally around the face. It will give the style a soft yet finished look.

6. Shake what your mama gave you.

After hair is dried (air-dried is the best for less damage) and styled, gently whip hair around to fluff out your curls for a bit of a tousled vibe.

Step 1

Use a microfiber towel.

Use a microfiber (not terry cloth!) towel to semi-dry your hair. It will remove excess moisture while reducing frizz.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t have one on hand? You can always use a clean cotton T-shirt instead. 

how to style curly hair: micro fiber towel
Step 2

Section the hair.

Section your hair horizontally in half, starting just above your ears, and clip the top section up and out of the way.  

This will make the next styling steps easier as you can now access all layers of the hair. 

Curly hair styling girl
Step 3

Use a moisturizing mist.

Starting with the bottom section of your hair, spray TRESemmé Botanique Nourish & Replenish Hydrating Mist directly onto the mid-lengths and ends.

This will help tame any flyaways and prep the hair for additional products. Repeat the process with the top section of hair and finger comb through to distribute the product. 

curly hairstyle: detangle hair
Step 4

Apply a smoothing cream.

Apply a small amount of Bed Head by TIGI On The Rebound Curl Recall Cream to the palm of your hand and apply it to the hair.

Concentrate on the mid-lengths and ends, ensuring you get both the top and bottom sections. 

Next, use your fingers to gently scrunch handfuls of curls upwards to add definition. 

how to style curly hair: cream
Step 5

Add a hair oil.

Lastly, add a few drops of hair oil, like Nexxus Oil Infinite Nourishing Hair Oil, to the ends of the hair, and gently scrunch upwards with your hands. 

This last product will help lock in the moisture from both the previous cream and the spray and works to seal the cuticles of the hair. 

 

how to style curly hair: oil
Step 6

Pin your hair back.

Pin random sections from the top of your hair upwards using metal clips, especially around your hairline.

By lifting the hair up, it will encourage volume and body throughout the drying process.

 

Curly hair
Step 7

Dry hair with a diffuser.

It’s finally time to dry your curls! To get the best definition, use a diffuser attachment on your blow-dryer and go over the hair section by section.

Place the bottom of the curls into the diffuser and scrunch them upwards. Shake through any areas with your fingers to loosen the style. 

 

how to style curly hair: diffuser
Step 8

Add extra definition.

Now that your hair is completely dry and full of bouncy, well-defined curls, you can choose to add extra definition with a curling wand if desired.

To do so, take thin, random strands of hair and wrap them around the heated tongs to impart more definition.

Repeat around the top section of your hair until you’re happy with the final look.

 

how to style curly hair: curling iron
Step 9

That's it!

And… you’re done! Get ready to show off your full, stylish curls. 

 

how to style curly hair: final

how to style curly hair: All Things Hair - IMAGE - hair accessories
How to style curly hair: Use hair accessories! Credit: Indigitalimages.com

1. Review your hair accessories.

Inspect your bobby pins and make sure that the protective plastic tips are still on, as well as trying to select hairbands and ties that are seamless and snag-free. Why? Well, not only will this make achieving your hairstyles easier, but it will also limit any accidental damage caused by hair accessories while styling your curly mane.

2. Blow-dry with a diffuser.

Be honest with us: when was the last time you used your hair dryer’s attachments? Believe it or not, you can make styling curly hair much easier if you start using a diffuser when blow-drying. It can help dry your hair and retain the shape of your curls, by evenly directing the heat on your mane.

3. Assess your appliances.

We know that you might be attached to your trusty hair straightener and curling iron, but if you’ve had these heated styling tools for a significant amount of time, you might want to consider an upgrade.

While early straighteners were simply made of metal, there are now new versions with advanced materials (like ceramic and tourmaline) that employ ionic technology to limit hair damage and dryness.

4. Select haircare products designed for curls.

This might sound like an obvious one, but try to use shampoos, conditioners, and styling products specially formulated for curly hair. These products are created with curly locks in mind and will help you care for them properly.

We particularly love Dove Advanced Hair Series Quench Absolute range, which is specifically designed for naturally wavy and curly tresses. Developed with formulas for curly textures, the products will help strands get the hydration they need.

5. Take it easy with your towel.

Drying your hair with a traditional towel can easily lead to frizz if you have curly hair, so when you can, air-drying is better. However, if you do need to dry your tresses a little more quickly, gently squeeze the excess water out and dry your hair using a T-shirt instead. The cotton helps absorb the water, while its smooth finish will limit the amount of frizz!

6. Use your styling products on wet hair.

Try applying your styling products while your hair is still wet, as this will help it absorb and lock in moisture while keeping your curls defined. We suggest giving Dove Quench Absolute Intense Restoration Mask a go. Not only does it take just a few minutes to work, but it can help reduce your precious styling time. Bonus!

how to style curly hair: All Things Hair - IMAGE - ombre curls
How to style curly hair. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Lock in moisture with hair oil

Using a hair oil helps prevent tangles. Enough said!

I usually let my hair do its own thing, I like to define the curls and then just see what happens! – Dani
How to style curly hair girl flicking hair back and forth
Calling all curly-haired queens! Photo credit: Kiefer McGinn
Step 1

Start on clean, freshly washed hair.

Prime hair for curling with a moisturizing shampoo so your curls don’t frizz out. We like the conditioning formula of Dove Quench Absolute Shampoo and Dove Quench Absolute Conditioner, which give ultra nourishment but retains the bounce.

how to style curly hair start with clean hair
Step 2

Create a center part.

Using a fine-toothed comb, part your hair in the middle. This includes any fringe you might have.

how to style curly hair comb
Step 3

Apply a thermal protectant.

A heat protection spray, such as TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray, applied towards the root helps achieve a sleeker style after flat ironing and blowdrying — not to mention shield hair from any potential mechanical damage.

how to style curly hair heat protect
Step 4

Iron the root.

Using a narrow flat iron for more precision, straighten the area surrounding your middle part, from the root to just above the ear. When straightening bangs, be sure to go all the way to the tips, ending with a slight soft bend. Be mindful of the hot tongs touching your scalp!

how to style curly hair flat iron
Step 5

Grab some gel.

Apply a small amount of gel to fingers. We like the shiny, party-ready finish we get from TRESemmé TRES Two Extra Firm Control Gel.

how to style curly hair gel
Step 6

Apply to the root area.

Using flat palms, apply gel to your root area, making sure hair is evenly coated all around.

how to style curly hair gel
Step 7

Grab some mousse.

Mousse helps define your curls and give them extra body. We like how TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume Mousse leaves hair with a nice bounce and no crunch.

how to style curly hair mousse
Step 8

Scrunch onto curls.

Using a light touch, gently apply mousse to your mid-lengths by scrunching them in. You can also opt to run moussed-up fingers through your hair and dry with a diffuser attachment in a pinch.

how to style curly hair scrunch
Step 9

Create pin-curls.

How to style curly hair so that it holds its shape and structure? Employ some good ol’ pin curls, of course. Grab each spiral and tighten it by curling it up and around your finger.

how to style curly hair finger curl
Step 10

Pin it up.

Secure each pin curl with some bobby pins.

how to style curly hair pin curls
Step 11

Iron the curl.

For a runway-inspired bend, clamp each pin curl in between your flat iron for a few seconds for a more zigzag feel.

how to style curly hair use flat iron
Step 12

Done!

After repeating on all sections, you’ll find your head of loose curls has now become a volumized, textured look with a lot of personality. You’re all set!

how to style curly hair final look

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