We Tested 18 Easy Hairstyles for Curly Hair and Ranked Them from ‘Super Easy’ to ‘Uh, Give Me a Sec’
Look, we love an all-curls out moment, but sometimes it’s fun to experiment with your locks every once in a while. Scroll through Instagram or Pinterest and you’ll find many styles to like, save and recreate. Whether you have 2A or 4C hair, there’s a look waiting for you, but are they really easy to do (or are we going to need a detailed step-by-step YouTube video to get us started)? We tapped ten women to try some the easiest hairstyles for curly hair and rank them from 1 to 5, with 1 being ‘super easy’ and 5 being ‘give me a sec.’
1. High Ponytail
Hair Type: 3B/3C
In my opinion, this look should get an award for being the easiest curly hairstyle. It doesn’t require a lot of tools and I can work this style anytime. Working out? Yes. On a Zoom call? Yup. Going out for brunch? Absolutely. I was nervous at first that I couldn’t pull it off because of my hair length (shrinkage is real), but it actually looked really cute. I just used a few products to tease the frizzy look and define some areas. This is definitely a go-to I’ll be doing all the time.
- Use a scrunchie to gather your curls to the highest point of your head.
- Pull lightly at the ponytail and begin fluffing out the curls. (BTW, a hair pick or comb can help tease out the strands.)
- Spritz some leave-in conditioner for shine and moisture.
- A silk scrunchie is a must (and a colorful one makes it a fun look).
- Mix water, leave-in conditioner and a hair oil to keep curls hydrated.
- You can do a regular ‘ole ponytail or upgrade your look by stretching out your curls for more volume. (The only time a little frizz is wanted.)
- Take out a few curls for a tousled look.
2. Half-Up Bun
Hair Type: 3C/4A
“I would definitely do this style again, as it’s super easy and a great way to stretch a hairstyle for a couple more days. It's also a really cute low manipulation style that takes around five minutes to complete! It's become one of my favorite styles,” says Sha R., a digital reporter.
- Use a comb to section off part of your hair (that will become the bun) from the rest of your curls.
- Then grab a hair tie to create a small ponytail before wrapping the hair around it to form a bun. Secure with another hair tie or bobby pins.
- Once your bun is set, work on the rest of your hair. Sha used a hair pick to give her curls extra volume. She also used flexi rods on certain curls for some definition.
- Add some oil to your hair to hydrate and moisturize your strands before you begin the look.
- Sha recommends doing this style on second-, third- or fourth-day hair to get the perfect messy top bun (your hair will be at its most voluminous).
- Play with the height and fluffiness of your bun. Really make it your own.
- Finally, complete the look by laying down your edges. (Here’s a handy how-to.)
3. Half-Up Space Buns
Hair Type: 3A/3B
“I would definitely wear this style again. It was easy to pull off and works well with long hair, but it's definitely versatile and could work with pretty much any curl type or length. I also love styles that keep my hair out of my face, so this one's a keeper,” says Taryn P., associate food editor at PureWow.
- Use a comb to part your hair in the middle. Next, use the end of your middle part as a guide to run the comb down towards your ear on both sides to separate the two sections (your buns and your regular curls).
- Then, focus on one section and create a small ponytail. Wrap the section until a small bun forms and secure with a bobby pin.
- Repeat the same step on the other side.
- Finally, style the rest of your hair as desired.
- Use hairspray or dry shampoo to finish off the style.
- Work on any flyaways by tucking them into your bun or laying them down with gel.
Get the Look: Scunci Thick Hair Elastic ($3); Kitsch Bobby Pins ($4); Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Shaping Cream ($14); Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Moroccan Sleek Oil Treatment ($35)
4. Halo Braid
Hair Type: 4C
“I would definitely try this style again. I wound up keeping it like this for five days straight (while tying it down with a satin scarf each night) and it looked pretty the whole time,” says Nakeisha C., assistant news and entertainment editor at PureWow. “Plus, I can rest easy knowing that all my ends are moisturized, tucked in and secure. Since I’m super lazy when it comes to styling my thick hair, I’ll definitely be rocking this look on several occasions. This was pretty easy for me because I’ve done flat twists in the past. But even on my first try, I learned the process quickly because it’s so simple. This style took me about ten minutes to complete, but it might take a bit longer for beginners.”
- Use a comb to dive your hair into two sections.
- Grab one section and split itnto two smaller parts. Begin twisting until you reach the nape of your neck and securing with a bobby pin.
- Repeat step two on the other side and add more bobby pins to stay in place.
- You can brush or blow out your hair to make it easier to braid. Nakeisha points out that it’s easier to manage, but warns that you shouldn’t rely on a hair dryer too much.
- Apply leave-in conditioner and castor oil for added moisture to your ends.
Get the Look: Diane Detangler Comb ($3); Conair Secure Hold Bobby Pins ($7); SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave in Conditioner ($13); NaturallClub Original Jamaican Black Castor Oil ($15)
5. Messy Bun
Hair Type: 3C
“I love this hairstyle! This is usually the last hairstyle I do before wash day. I also style my hair this way sometimes when working out—it makes me feel cute while I break a sweat,” says Leomary R., filmmaker and photographer at Directed By Leo.
- Use a hair tie to place your hair into a ponytail.
- Begin to twist the ponytail loosely into a bun around the hair tie.
- Secure the bun with bobby pins.
- The messier, the better. Don’t be afraid to pull out a few curls for a casual look. It’s called a messy bun for a reason.
- Leomary recommends a styling cream or lotion to keep curls hydrated and defined.
- Add some accessories like scarves or hair clips to upgrade your style for any occasion.
6. High Bun
Hair Type: 3C
“It's so damn easy and stylish. I plan to do this when I'm in a rush but want to do more than just a simple bun. It's regal, stays in place all day and accentuates your bone structure,” says Jiya P., social media coordinator at Color of Change.
- Brush the front of your hair and create a tight ponytail at the crown.
- If you have short hair, simply wrap the ends around the hair tie for a bun-like look. If you have long hair, wrap the ponytail around loosely.
- Secure the bun with bobby pins or another hair tie.
- Use a gel or custard to lay down your edges to complete the look.
- Jiya recommends wetting your hair to make it easier to brush through your curls when creating the high bun.
- For height and depth, Jiya tied her hair one inch above her hair tie.
7. High Pigtails
Hair Type: 3A/3B
“It was something different, fun and it matches my personality,” says Samara A., art director at VaynerMedia. “This was a great way to have a fresh style without having to wash—so I started with 6-day curls!”
- Use a comb to part your hair all the way down the middle.
- Grab a hair tie and create a high pigtail on one side (close to the crown of your head but the height is entirely up to you).
- Repeat the second step on the other side.
- Samara used bright colorful scrunchies to really make the style pop.
- She also suggests leaving out a few curls in the front to show off your bangs and frame your face.
8. Flat-Twist Ponytail
Hair Type: 2B/2C
“It felt slightly more elevated than a regular pony, and I think the twists actually framed my face nicely,” said Sofia K., Design Director at Gallery Media Group. “I did re-do it about 3 times, in an effort to get both sides of my hair to look even and symmetrical. Side note: I didn't have any bobby pins, so that might have helped with this step!”
- Use a comb to part your hair down the middle.
- Focus on one side of your hair and start twisting your section inward as you move toward your ear. (If it’s easier you can separate into two strands and follow the same process.)
- Apply bobby pins to keep your twist in place before starting on the other side. (Repeating steps two and three.)
- Use a hair tie to gather all your hair and create a low pony.
- As Sofia learned working on the style, bobby pins are a must. It can be difficult to do the twists and add to your ponytail later.
9. Slicked-Back Ponytail
Hair Type: 4C
“I would definitely do this style again. It is very easy to maintain and gives me such a neat look that I love. My favorite part is making it my own with my edges,” says Tonicia M., a freelance visual assistant.
- Use a comb to part your hair before applying gel (with a heavy focus on the front).
- Grab a brush and begin working it down (aka flattening your hair as sleek as possible).
- After it’s as slick as you want, reach for a hair tie to secure the style.
- Tonicia recommends trying the style on freshly washed hair for an easy brush through.
- She also added an extra step by applying hairspray to keep any flyaways at bay and improve shine.
- Upgrade your look by laying down your edges and defining your ponytail.
10. Passion Twists
Hair Type: 3B
“This style requires precision when you’re separating hair into the symmetrical sections, and having a good amount of hair makes it very tedious and time consuming,” says Jessica C., a freelance photographer and videographer. “But it's a protective style that looks very summery and flirty, so it's a nice switch-up hairstyle.”
- First, part your hair the way you want the style to look.
- Use a comb starting at the back of your hair (going across) and dividing into four even sections (almost like a square). You’ll want to work on at least an inch of hair at a time, and make sure to tie up the rest of your hair so it’s not in the way.
- Split the section into two smaller parts before you begin twisting them together. Make sure you’re tightly wrapping them together before securing the ends with elastic bands.
- Seal the ends with hair oil and spray some leave-in to keep the style shiny and moisturized.
- If you have short hair (and have experience working with extensions), Jessica suggests buying hair that’s already done (buy four to six packs worth for a full style). Plus, a latch hook crochet to insert the hair and weave into your own.
- If you have fine hair, consider creating small pigtails (using elastic bands on the top first), braiding them and securing with elastic bands at the ends too.
11. French Braids with Ends Out
Hair Type: 4C
“This was fairly easy for me to do. The only thing was that I had to use a ton of bobby pins because I struggled to secure my thick braids,” says Nakeisha. “I most likely won't try this style out again. Yes, it definitely looks cute, but I'm worried that my strands will be more prone to split ends and breakage when the back of my hair constantly brushes against my clothes. Call me paranoid, but I tend to be extra careful with my ends because I'm currently trying to retain length.”
- Use a comb to part your hair into two sections.
- Apply gel onto the area before you start French braiding the section. (If you’re new to the braiding game, here’s an easy tutorial to check out.)
- Secure the braid with a hair tie and repeat the process on the other side.
- Work on the ponytails by applying water and styling cream to define your curls.
- It’s worth brushing your hair out so that braiding is easy, smooth and tangle-free.
- If you have long hair, consider braiding the sections until you’re close to the nape of your neck and leave the rest of your hair curled. If you have short hair, braid until you reach the middle or end of your ear and leave the rest in a ponytail.
- Gel is your friend, so use it to keep your hair hydrated while you braid.
Get the Look: Metagrip Bobby Pins ($10); ECO Style Black Castor & Flaxseed Oil Styling Gel ($11), Tropic Isle Living Jamaican Black Castor Oil ($14); Pattern Wide Tooth Comb ($15) Briogeo Boar Bristle Hair Brush ($28)
12. Half-Up Half-Down
Hair Type: 3C
“This is my favorite mid-week hairstyle! It’s great for working out and running errands,” says Leomary. “It was a simple process, the hardest part was sectioning the hair.”
- Divide your hair into two parts, using a comb to define the line.
- Wrap the section closest to the crown of your head into a ponytail using a hair tie.
- Leave the bottom half completely loose and styled as desired.
- Spray both sections with a mix of water and leave-in conditioner for more volume and definition.
- Leomary has bangs, so she divided her hair into three parts to incorporate them into the style.
- She recommends a styling cream or lotion to keep curls hydrated and defined.
13. Big Double Buns
Hair Type: 3C/4A
“I would do this style again, but it's not one of my favorites because it takes a lot of time and arm strength to get the buns symmetrical,” says Sha. “Trying to recreate the same bun on the opposite side of your head without ruining the first bun is actually pretty hard and time-consuming. I had to redo my bun at least twice to either move it higher or make it bigger to match the first one.”
- Part your hair in the middle using a comb to divide your hair into two sections.
- Apply a dime-size amount of gel onto one of the sections and use a brush to smooth down the area.
- Wrap a hair tie around a few times before creating a bun on the last go around.
- Secure the section with another hair tie or bobby pins.
- Repeat steps two to four for the other side.
- Have fun with the size and placement. This style can work on all hair types and lengths.
- If you have fine hair, consider creating ponytails before wrapping your hair into buns instead.
Get the Look: Mane Choice Crystal Orchid Styling Gel ($12); Lululemon Glow On Hair Ties ($14); Super Grip Bobby Pins ($15); Christophe Robin Boar Bristle Detangling Paddle Hairbrush ($83)
14. Braided Hairline
Hair Type: 2B/2C
“I did not like the way this looked,” says Sofia. “The braids jutted out at the top of my head. I think if I knew how to French braid, it might look good. I also definitely didn't like the way it looked with just two braids hanging out of the pony.”
- Use a comb to part your hair in the middle before sectioning only the crown of your hair.
- Take one section and begin braiding parallel to your hairline. (Basically working from the part to your ear.)
- Secure the section with a bobby pin (for now).
- Repeat the same steps on the other side.
- Remove the bobby pins, grab both braids and work it into your low ponytail.
- Play around with the size of your braids and how you want them placed.
- Brush out the section you’re braiding to make it easy and smooth.
- You can secure your hair at the end into a ponytail or bun or just leave your curls out.
15. Faux Bangs
Hair Type: 3A/3B
“I don't think I'd try this style again (at least not while my hair is this long). It's tough making it look neat in the back. I think it'd work best on shorter hair and likely better with coily curls. Thick, short curls with more width probably fill out the back naturally,” says Taryn.
- Put your hair in a ponytail (similar to the pineapple style). Taryn recommends people with long hair to do a low ponytail, twist it and clip it in place before folding the rest in front of your head. You want to make sure the ends of your hair are in front of your forehead.
- Fold a silk scarf or bandana diagonally before placing it on your head, covering where the hair tie is visible from your ponytail. Tie the ends of the scarf and reposition your “bangs.”
- Use bobby pins to secure any flyaways or frizzy curls.
- The position of your ponytail will determine how far down your forehead your faux bangs will go.
16. French Braids
Hair Type: 3C
“WHEW! I don't braid my hair often, so this was a bit difficult for me,” says Jiya. “But overall, it took me 25 minutes and is an easy style to do when you're going out and want to switch things up and still look cute. Also, you can create alternative hairstyles with the pigtails, like rolling the braids into buns. It's cute, comfortable and lasts about a week.”
- Part your hair down the middle before brushing one section and applying some gel onto your hair.
- Comb out that section before diving into three parts and begin to French braid.
- Repeat the steps for the other section.
- Secure both braids with elastic bands.
- You can rock this look wet or dry. It’s a great overnight protective style too.
- Jiya has short hair, so she opted to use extensions to upgrade her style.
Get the Look: Ecostyler Gel Olive Oil ($3); Eaone Elastic Hair Bands ($5); Revlon 2-Piece Comb ($7); Miss Jessie’s Coily Custard Hair Styling Cream ($24); Mizani Miracle Milk-In Leave-In Conditioner ($34)
17. Cornrows with Ponytail
Hair Type: 4C
“If you have experience cornrowing your own hair and can spare 30 to 45 mins, this won’t be too hard of a project to complete,” says Tonicia. “I would definitely do this style again because it is very easy to maintain, and you can wear this look for any occasion, which I love.”
- Prepare your hair by combing or blowing it out.
- Use a comb to part your hair down the middle so you have two sections. (Wrap a hair tie around the section you’re not working on so it’s not in the way.)
- Divide the area you are focusing on again (and then once more) until you’re left with four sections.
- Begin braiding each small section and secure the ends with elastic bands.
- Repeat steps three and four on the other side.
- Use a hair tie and bring all the braids together into a low ponytail.
- Unravel the ponytail for a curly look.
- If you have short hair, consider extensions or a curly ponytail clip.
- Apply gel as you work on your braids.
- The height of your ponytail will determine how far you braided. For Tonicia, she braided towards the nape of her neck for a low ponytail.
18. Mini Braids
Hair Type: 3B/3C
I’m not the best braider but I attempted and didn’t fail completely. The most important takeaway is that brushing out the section before braiding is a must. It makes the process easier, but because they are small braids, it’s very tedious. You really have to have patience and time to recreate this look. Overall, I like the result and it gave me major ‘90s vibes.
- Use a comb to part the middle of your hair before creating a line on one side. (Try wrapping the rest of your hair so it’s not in the way.)
- Apply gel and begin braiding your hair back until you reach the crown.
- Secure the braid with an elastic band.
- Repeat steps one to three for the next braids.
- After you’re done braiding, focus on your loose curls by adding definition and moisture.
- It’s entirely up to you how many mini braids you do. I did four because my arms were already starting to hurt.
- Consider brushing and combing out the section to make it easy to work with. I learned this the hard way.
- This style can work with a bun, ponytail or just letting your curls loose.