30 Curly Hairstyles to Inspire Your Next Look

From bouncy ponytails to flexi rod swirls

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We love our free-flowing curls, but sometimes we like to switch things up. Whether you’re looking for more volume or wanting to define your pattern a bit, we’ve compiled a list of 30 curly hairstyles to try out, from bouncy ponytails to flexi rod swirls. The next step is showing one of these photos to your stylist or attempting to recreate one of the looks right at home. 

Meet the Experts

  • Shaniqua Garcia is a hairstylist, trichologist and CEO of Pearl Salon Suites in Atlanta and New Orleans. She has over 18 years of experience, specializing in coloring, cutting techniques and hair restoration. Her previous brand collaborations include Aunt Jackie’s, Design Essentials and Dr. Miracles.
  • Monaé Everett is a celebrity hairstylist and a natural hair educator, who has two decades of experience in beauty. Her work has been featured in film, television, print and numerous New York Fashion Week shows. Everett is also the founder of the Texture Style Awards, a beauty competition that celebrates and honors hairstylists that work with all hair textures, while bringing awareness to more diversity and inclusion within the haircare space.
  • Larry Sims is a celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of Flawless by Gabrielle Union. He has over two decades of experience doing editorial, red carpet and brand campaign looks. He has a long list of credits including Vogue, Allure, Essence Magazine and Elle. His previous clients include Janet Jackson, Zendaya, Regina King, Kerry Washington and Tracee Ellis Ross.
  • Davontae Washington is a celebrity hairstylist and specializes in wigs, hair extensions and natural hair. His work has been featured in numerous publications, red carpets and brand campaigns. His previous clients include Kim Kardashian, Victoria Monét, Ciara and Keke Palmer.
  • Becca Raziuddin is a hairstylist, cosmetologist and director of artist education at Blo Blow Dry Bar in Los Angeles. She served as a lead stylist for numerous New York Fashion Week shows including Bronx and Banco, Princess Polly and Vogue.

We Tested 17 Easy Hairstyles for Curly Hair and Ranked Them from ‘Super Easy’ to ‘Uh, Give Me a Sec’

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1. Coiffed Twists

Consider coiffed twists for your next shindig. Alexandra Shipp shows off her caramel curls in a sculptural updo complete with braids that run along either side of her head for extra detail.

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2. Fountain Pony

Here’s Rihanna demonstrating the power of a well-placed pony. Simply gather your curls up high to let your hair (and cheekbones) shine bright like a…you know.

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3. Tousled Pixie

For those with a looser curl like Joey King here, a short cut is a style unto itself. Keep the sides closely cropped and lengthier on top for that effortless swoop over the forehead. (Tip: Scrunch some mousse on damp hair for added definition as it dries.)

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4. Disco Hair

Keke Palmer dazzled at the Met Gala with soft, brushed out curls that evoked Diana Ross comparisons—plus, her fanned out smokey eye added to the whole disco effect.

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5. Goddess Braids

Garcia previously told us that goddess braids were a popular hairstyle to try out because they put less tension on the roots, and add more texture overall. They’re also a softer version of traditional box braids. He explained, the look is achieved by “braiding your natural hair at the scalp and feeding in curly/wavy hair extensions as you braid down the shaft of the individual braid and then leaving out a few loose strands of hair throughout the braid.”

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6. Tousled Bun

Need a low-maintenance look? This tousled bun is super easy to do and very chic to pull off, as evidenced by Ciara above. Use a silk scrunchie to gather all your curls up into a loose bun on top of your head (and if a few tendrils spill out, even better). If you prefer a more dolled up approach, consider adding a bedazzled headband to complete the look. 

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7. Fluffy Curls

If you like a bit of volume, this hairstyle (rocked by the OG curl queen Tracee Ellis Ross) should be on your radar. Once third or fourth day hair rolls around, grab a hair pick to tease the roots. The more you tease, the fluffier it becomes. Just remember: Go big or go home. 

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8. Curly Faux Hawk

This edgy look will definitely switch things up in your catalog of curly hairstyles. If you have finer locks, use a banana clip to gather your hair towards the center before finger-coiling your curls for more definition like Tamera Mowry’s ‘do above. And if you have thicker locks, we suggest dividing your hair into three sections and wrapping them into small curly (or coily) puffs and fluffing them out for more volume. 

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9. Side Twists

If you prefer a side part these days, adding a simple twist will elevate your look. To recreate Issa Rae’s hairstyle, apply styling gel (or cream) on a small section of hair before twisting it inwards and securing the ends with a bobby pin. The best part is it’s quick and easy to do and you can rock it with your hair down or in a ponytail. 

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10. Side Braids

As Everett previously shared, braided styles are here to stay. Side braids add a nice touch to curly hair and show off your skills. He told us, “They offer so much versatility, and with the popularity of embracing natural hair textures, this allows those with medium or long, curly hair to recreate the shape of their hair.” 

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11. High Puff

This high bun is great for coarser and coilier locks as it brings all the attention to your wonderful pattern. To get Sanna Lathan’s look, brush and smooth out your hair on top and leave the ends out in defined coils.  

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12. Curl Rods

Want more defined swirls without using heat tools? Try flexi rods. This heatless tool can manipulate your pattern to create larger corkscrew curls. After washing your hair, apply mousse to damp strands for added hold and shine. Then, put the flexi rod close to the scalp before twisting a section of hair around the rod and locking it into place by bending the ends of the tool inwards. One more thing: The smaller the sections, the tighter and fuller the look. Need more help? Here’s a helpful tutorial to get you started. 

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13. Shaggy Curls

Take a page from Sandra Oh’s book and try out the trendy shag haircut. A stylist can determine what look works best for you based on your face shape, so your curls can really accentuate your dazzling features. 

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14. Pineapple

This staple bedtime look can definitely be turned into a chic hairstyle for any occasion. Like Yara Shahidi, show off your defined ringlets by gathering your hair at the top of your head, letting it plop down naturally and giving it free reign to flow nicely around the hairline. 

15. Barrel Curls

According to Sims, this combo is a great style for formal events. “This look puts long gorgeous locks front and center with a deep side part and big voluminous curls,” he says. “The side part enhances the look because it adds volume and elegance.” To recreate the look, Sims says heatless curl methods like socks or curlers can work just as well as a heat tool. 

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16. Curly Fade

If you’re rocking a short haircut, let Samira Wiley’s curly fade lead by example. The sides are completely tapered down, while the top has small intricate curls for a chic finish. 

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17. Wash and Go

Yara Shahidi gives so much inspo for curly hairstyles and this wash and go style is proof. Once you shampoo and condition, the styling portion is what brings your swirls to life. Whether you follow the traditional curly hair method (aka leave-in, hair oil and cream) or prefer a lighter hold with mousse and gel, find a regimen that works for your hair type. 

18. Bantu Knots

This protective style works well for curls and Chloe Bailey offers a great reference to recreate it right at home (or hand this photo over to your stylist). Bantu knots are completely customizable, so play around with the number, size and direction of them. 

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19. Curly Fro

Getting a curly cut can provide shape and definition to your strands. This fro sported by Solange Knowles accentuates her jawline, while giving more volume and definition to her blonde curls. 

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20. Le Petit Bob

2024 calls for a short curly bob, according to Washington. In a previous trend story he told us, “This bob has a straight line and cut, which helps to create a more striking effect for individuals with fine or thin hair. It’ll give more volume because the ends are cut in a blunt style, as opposed to angled. The ends are cut sharp, which helps make your hair look fuller.” To recreate Rihanna’s look, the stylist recommended a hair serum or mousse for texture and shine. 

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21. Slicked Down Curls

Gel is your friend if you want to mimic Tia Mowry’s look. Try this Old Hollywood style and smooth down your curls for a night out. 

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22. Updo

This tousled updo won’t take too much time in the bathroom (which is a win-win for curly gals). Just make sure to leave two loose strands that frame the face in front to accentuate your features and showcase your natural pattern like Lori Harvey here.  

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23. Finger Coils Curls

If you want more definition and have some time on your hands, try finger coiling your curls. This heatless technique is all about taking each curl—and, you guessed it—wrapping it around your finger in the direction of the curl before unraveling it to reveal a tighter pattern. Whether you have long locks or a shorter fro like Ice Spice, it’s going to take some time, so don’t say we didn’t warn ya. We recommend popping on your favorite TV show and going to work. 

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24. Half-Braided Half-Down Curls

As Venus Williams shows us, braids and curls are a match made in hair heaven. Leave the top in small micro braids, woven into a crown design before applying some styling cream to the rest of your hair for shiny, bouncy curls through the ends. 

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25. French Twist

This updo can keep curls away from your shoulders, especially for the hottest times of the year. As Raziuddin previous told us, a French twist is simple to put together. Once you twist your locks inwards, "The remaining hair is teased and placed into an elegant bun on the crown of the head. You can also choose to style this look in different variations. For example, you may want to leave a few side pieces out or slick everything back."

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26. Low Ponytail

Keep curls away from your face and in a nice low ponytail for your next event. All you need to do is brush your hair back and wrap it at the nape of your neck. Then, finish the look off by applying mousse at the tail for more definition. 

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27. Loose Ringlets

Recreate Julia Garner's ringlets and let your loose pattern shine through. Grab some texturizing spray (or a lightweight mousse) and scrunch the ends before using your diffuser on the lowest setting for a soft, defined finish.

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28. Low Pigtails

Can we all agree that Yara has the best curly hairstyles? This low pigtail has a youthful vibe to it that’s great for brunch or a night out with friends. P.S. Don’t forget to lay down those edges, folks. 

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29. Angled Cut

This ‘20s inspired cut adds some movement to short curly locks. For Halle Berry, it draws attention to her heart-shaped face and smokey eyes. In sum, it’s the perfect style for a red carpet moment. 

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30. The Wet Look

Tracee Ellis Ross is the OG curly gal and quite the fashionista. We love how this slicked back style is equal parts edgy and chic, while showing off her texture. 

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