18 Fabulous Hairstyles for Short, Curly Hair

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Going Short With a Head Full of Curls

Jessica Chastain
Ian Gavan / Stringer/Getty Images

When you have super curly hair, you usually don't want to go short. Short hair can frizz up on you more easily than long hair and you run the risk of pouffy hair. The longer your hair, the more your curls will weigh hair down.

That said, the right short haircut can work on curly hair. In fact, short, curly hair can look absolutely amazing. These photos show off several curly hairstyles that work. They all feature long layers and, while there is a bit of "pouf" going on in some, they really work on these women.​

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Can You Go Short?

Julia Garner and MyAnna Buring
Getty Images: Gregg DeGuire and David M. Benett

If you have curly hair, you may wonder if short hair would look good on you and just how short you can go.

There are a few factors to consider when making your decision:

  1. Your personality. Can you rock a short curly 'do that bursts forth from the head like fireworks? How do you want to present yourself? Funky? Sophisticated? Edgy? Unique?
  2. Your lifestyle. Are you a wash-and-go kind of woman or do you like straightening your hair with a blow dryer and flat iron, or pulling it into perfect place?
  3. Your head and shoulders. Short hair that hits at the chin or above can look absolutely stunning on a woman with a long neck. It's almost sculptural. But short, curly hair on a woman with a short neck isn't as flattering as hair that falls to the shoulders or just above it.
  4. Your body. Your hair should balance out the rest of your body. Curvy women look great with curly hair because the volume adds balance better than stick-straight hair.

Generally, it's best to consult with a stylist about these factors. The two of you can make a good decision based on your hair, style, and the look you're going for.

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Pick the Right Stylist

Yolanda Ross
Julia Garner and MyAnna Buring

It's a myth that you should choose a salon that specializes in curly hair or a stylist who specializes in cutting curls. Yet, you should choose your stylist wisely, especially when going for a drastic cut.

A good stylist can mean the difference between a horrible haircut and an enviable one. Do your research first. Ask other women with curly hair you admire where they go.

The best stylists stay on top of trends. They know what cuts look good and which ones are dated. They also know about the latest techniques, for example, dry cutting hair or using razors to remove some of the body.

One of the biggest mistakes stylists make when cutting curly hair is pulling on the curls during the cut, says Eva Scrivo in her book "Eva Scrivo on Beauty." "The 'secret' to creating beautiful and accurate curls is to cut the hair with very little tension," Scrivo writes. "Any experienced and skilled stylist should know this."

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Bangs or No Bangs

Angell Conwell
Dr. Billy Ingram / Contributor

One of the general beauty "rules" is that women with curly hair should not wear bangs. This is definitely one of those rules that was meant to be broken. 

Curly bangs are fun and sexy. They draw attention to your eyes, add framing to your face, and can cover your forehead. The trick is to keep the bangs at a nice length and find a balance between too many and not enough. You also want your stylist to include bangs of different layers.

A few spirally tendrils hanging down can be quite lovely. Some women also like just a couple spirals around the edges and others prefer to concentrate some curly locks off to one side.

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A Pop of Color

Curly red headed girl in front of leaves
Westend61/Getty Images

Adding a little color can really spruce up your curly hair. With a full head of curls, you're going to get noticed anyway, so why not play it up and go bold? Whether it's a great coppery red, a deep black or chocolate, or a bold blonde, coloring your curls can really make a difference.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that hair color actually creates more volume. While that's great for fine hair, thick, curly locks cut short should have plenty of layers, even a little razor thinning, to offset the extra body.

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Highlight to Show Off Your Curls

Curly haired woman
PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Getty Images

There's no need to go with an all-over color when you have curly hair. Highlights can really make your curls pop, especially if you're a brunette and go with some golden highlights.

When talking to your colorist, see what she thinks about using the balayage technique for highlights on your hair. It can be a more natural look and she can selectively paint the new color onto certain curls to really customize your look. It's also a much faster process than traditional highlighting with foils, which can take hours on really thick hair.

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Don't Fear the Frizz

Curly haired woman looking up
Steve Debenport/Getty Images

Women with curls try to fight the frizz. You can spend a lot of money and many hours in an attempt to avoid it, but sometimes you just have to accept the inevitable. After all, it is impossible to avoid every rainy or humid day, though you can make adjustments to control the frizz on those days.

With a full head of curls, a little frizz can be really cute, especially if you own it. A big part of looking beautiful is feeling beautiful.

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High-Volume Bobs

Woman with curly hair
Jacqueline Veissid/Getty Images

One of the best looks for really curly hair is the chin-length bob. It has a ton of volume and is great for showing off a playful personality. By leaving just a few spirals long up front, it also adds interest and can frame your face beautifully.

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A Curly Bob

Woman with curly blond hair
Getty Images/utkamandarinka

The bob also works with hair that is between wavy and curly. The graduated bob is cut a couple inches shorter in the back and the front is left longer to frame the face. The curly waves right in the middle can accent a great cheekbone as well.

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Healthy Curls

Older woman in suit
Hero Images

When you go short, you want to keep your curly hair healthy. The healthier your hair is, the better it looks. With thick curls, this means that you want to ensure it stays moisturized, that any split ends are removed, and that you choose the least damaging styling products and techniques.

Shampoos designed for curly hair will help, as will leave-in conditioners. You may also want to avoid the blow dryer because air drying is often best for curls. 

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Go Natural

Adama Paris
Frazer Harrison for Getty

African American women are often blessed with super curly hair. Going natural and enjoying the fullness and bounce is a great choice and it's a very popular style. You also have many options when it comes to adding definition to your curls, which can really customize your look.

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Curling Relaxed Hair

Taraji P. Henson
Frederick M. Brown/Getty

Many women also choose to relax their black hair, but that doesn't mean you can't get some curl back when you want it. From curlformers to straw sets, there are many ways to get curls on relaxed hair. It's a fabulous option for changing up your look and looks amazing on a short bob with face-framing bangs.

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Styling Your Curls

Camren Bicondova
Dia Dipasupil / Staff

When you go in for your short cut, talk to your stylist about any styling products he recommends for your specific hair. Quite often, less is more and a little leave-in condition and gel are all you need to keep definition all day.

One of the secrets to styling curly hair is to apply products while it's still wet. Twist your curls for more definition, then let it air dry. Once it's dry, leave it alone. If you have to use a blow dryer, always use a diffuser.

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Soft, Elegant Curls

Curly hair
Cristian Bortes / EyeEm

The more length you add to your hair, the more it will weigh down your curls. Many women find that a cut just above the shoulders offers the perfect balance that produces great curl. A long bob or a shoulder-length cut may be right for you.

If you've been wearing your curls long for some time, this is a great transition length. You can live with this for awhile and see how your hair acts before deciding if you want to go any shorter.

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Soft Ringlets

Kristen Schaal
David Livingston / Contributor

Cutting your hair above your chin can be a great move, especially if you have tight ringlets. Even if you don't, you can add definition with small curlers or your curling iron. It's an adorable length that shows off the neck and adds volume to the sides of the face, so it's perfect if you have a long or oval face shape.

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Bouncy Blonde

Kelly Osbourne
Paul Redmond / Contributor

Many blondes have straight or wavy hair, but it's a fabulous color for bouncy curls and short cuts as well. This is a great look for hair that isn't too thick with looser curls. Add some blonde highlights around your face if you like and be sure to get extra layers. With the right styling products, it's a very hot look.

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The Flapper Bob

Woman with tight ringlets in front of yellow background
m-imagephotography/Getty Images

Straight out of the 1920s, super short curls with tight ringlets offer a vintage look that is also very modern and classy. The cut is just below the ears and gets shorter in the back. It's a great choice for hair that isn't too thick​ but has great curls, which you can give even more definition.

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Mussy Curls

Girl with dark brown curls
Getty Images/janetleerhodes

Mussy bobs are very popular and you'll see them often on women with fine, straight hair. With curls, the "bedhead" look does need to be managed a bit more or it can get out of control. Using a light product and letting your hair dry naturally is a great choice though. This is a look you can wear every day and it's relatively low-maintenance.