The 16 Best Haircuts for Curly Hair in 2021
2021 brought some of the coolest (and most low maintenance) styles for curly hair, like the popular shag cut and the curly bob. If you've been searching for a sign to make the chop, here it is. And if you're just not sure where to start, we reached out to five hairstylists on the best haircuts for curly hair of 2021, so you don't have to mindlessly scroll through the 'Gram to find the right picture for your hair type or texture. And we have to say, all these celebrity inspirations are making a strong case for why curls are the hottest way to wear your hair, and their statement styles are ones to copy (as in, bring these photos to your stylist). Take a look at our list to find the one that’s right for you. (Just be prepared to turn heads.)
This natural haircut is all about tapering the sides and the back of the head, so that your curls or coils sit in the middle (and show off your striking bone structure). "This cut became very popular with the rise and acceptance of natural hair," said Ursula Stephen, celebrity hairstylist and Pinterest creator. "It works well with coarse, 4c hair."
Stylist Recommendation: Use pomade and a curling sponge to define curls.
2. Long Layers
"This is an amazing way to get body and movement into long loose curls. They can get a bit flat if left to their own devices," said Marilisa Sears, artistic director of Marc Anthony True Professional. It's all about point cutting layers before working the diffuser on the ends for texture and shape. This style works the best for longer, looser locks.
Stylist Recommendation: A combination of a denman brush and finger coiling to define strands.
3. Star Shape
Touchably soft waves that are frizz-free, defined and structured? Basically what dreams are made of. "This cut is best for someone who wants to enhance their natural beach wave texture," said Sarah Potempa, celebrity hairstylist and founder of The Beachwaver Co. It starts with sectioning hair (like a star shape), lifting the section 90 degrees before slide cutting at a vertical angle.
4. Diamond 'Fro
This stacked layered haircut is all about height. The bigger the fro, the better. How's it done? It's tapered at the neck before leaving it wide around the ears and long on top. "I think we’re seeing a lot more women become more experimental and have more fun with their coils. This is such a fun and creative way to add body to curls," said Irinel De Leon, hairstylist and Ouidad brand ambassador.
Stylist Recommendation: Moisturizing and nourishing coils is key. Try a protein-based treament (like Ouidad's Curl Therapy Lightweight Protein Foam Treatment) to prevent dry and dull strands.
5. Low-Cut Caesar
Do you see a big chop in your future? Well, here's a nice example to give your hairstylist. "This classic clipper cut is gorgeous when you add a design like a deep side part or abstract lines!" Cataanda James, celebrity hair expert and brand educator for The Mane Choice, expresses. "It gives the look a fresh, more fashionable feel with a feminine touch."
Stylist Recommendation: If you want your waves to pop, add a nourishing oil to your strands for moisture and shine throughout the day.
6. Layered Curls
If you're looking to give your curls shape and bounce, try this layered style. "This cut helps create volume and give the illusion of thicker, fuller hair on textures that are not as dense or defined," Stephen explains.
Stylist Recommendation: A weekly wash and go before applying your go-to curl cream.
7. Graduated Blunt
A blunt cut (aka a bold triangular shape) is just the thing your curls need to make a statement. "The trick is not over-layering this as you still want to keep a blunt vibe overall," Sears says. Her tip? Asking your stylist to cut it at or below the jawline. Anything longer than that takes away the signature style.
Stylist Recommendation: After getting the cut, focus on maintaining frizz and definition. Sears suggests a curl cream to give you the bounce you're looking for.
8. The Lob
What's a lob? A long, curly bob. In 2021, Curly gals are looking for shorter, more low maintenance styles (especially when some of us spent months without a salon appointment) and this is it. "It's a really popular style because it doesn’t weigh down the curls," says Potempa. "It works really well for someone who wants a lightweight feeling and to maintain [their] length."
Stylist Recommendation: Use a charcoal shampoo bar to clear up any scalp build up that may weigh down curls.
9. Wavy Lob
Yes, wavy gals can get on the Lob train. If you have 2A to 2C hair, consider adding layers that bring fullness and flexibility. "The wavy lob is perfect for anyone wanting to do a chop to get rid of dry and damaged ends," De Leon explains.
Stylist Recommendation: Adding a mask to your routine can maintain volume and hydration in your bob.
10. Curly Pixie
The pixie is a classic among all hair types, so it's no surprise curly gals can join in on the fun. This look is all about short to medium layers (with more length around the sides and nape of the neck). "This cut works well with 2c hair showcasing the curl in a beautiful way and create volume," said Stephen. "We love it because it’s low maintenance and looks great at many stages."
Stylist Recommendation: Use styling cream and/or pomade to maintain style.
11. Barely There Layers
The key to this style is getting a regular trim. When you have a very specific style with a very specific shape, you want to maintain it and keep things fresh. "This is a popular haircut because the upkeep is low commitment for those that only want to get haircuts/trims every 10-12 weeks," James explains. "It will keep the split ends at bay and your hair in a healthy state, so you are able to maintain the current length, or grow it out."
Stylist Recommendation: It always starts with a strong base (aka a nourishing shampoo and conditioner combo). James recommends The Mane Choice Tropical Moringa Sweet Oil Endless Moisture Shampoo and Tropical Moringa Sweet Oil Endless Moisture Mask to strengthen and nourish your hair.
12. Fringe and 'Fro
"This haircut gained a lot of popularity post-quarantine. Many women started to really embrace their natural texture and realized life is too short to not do something fun with your curls," De Leon says.
Plus, elevating this cut by adding a curly bang is *chef's kiss*. Simply put: The idea here is controlled chaos. It works best if you have a slightly looser curl, but as long as you heavy up on the frizz-fighting products, you can sport a more textured style, too.
Stylist Recommendation: Using products with an heavy emphasis on stopping dryness, frizz and damage.
13. Curl by Curl
A universal dry cutting technique that works on any length for define, frizz-free curls. "It’s a dry cut, where you look at how someone's hair naturally dries. Once the hair naturally dries, you take each curl and cut it on an angle and blend with the rest of the hair," Potempa explains.
Stylist Recommendation: Use a sulfate-free shampoo and a paddle brush (like the Power Paddle Pro Brush) for detangling after a wash. For styling, apply leave-in conditioner and cream before drying with a diffuser.
14. Curly Shag
The shag cut is the style of 2021. From London to New York, everyone was heading to their nearest salon to get the look. "Each curl type gives different results. [It's] one of the reasons I LOVE this cut," Sears says. "I love a longer fringe for this. I feel it's where it gets that little bit of flirt. The eyes peeking through a fringe or framing your eyes is mad cool."
15. Long Layered Bob with Bangs
Yes, this is your sign to get bangs. This layered bob is all about framing your face and layering your curls. "It has more style when you add a fringe!" Potempa adds. "Anytime you add bangs or face-framing pieces, it can be really trendy!"
Stylist Recommendation: A regular 'ol wash and go works for this look.
16. Shoulder Length 'Do
Sometimes it's not all about layers. This cut is all about trimming straight, with curls sitting at the same length on your shoulders. "This is the go-to cut for most curls. It easy and low maintenance and can easily be pulled into a cool top knot," Stephen adds.
Stylist Recommendation: A simple wash and go routine with your go-to curl cream for styling.