Since I first tried the Curly Girl Method over a year ago, I've gone from someone who knew little about caring for my wavy texture to someone who will gladly talk your ear off about all things curl types, hair porosity, and co-washing. However, I still struggled with styling my hair until recently.
One reason why I never learned to style my waves was that I'd never had anyone show me how—and never had a quality haircut to make styling curly hair easy. So, I decided to visit curl expert and hairstylist Óna Diaz-Santin to learn how to get the hair of my dreams. She specializes in curl education, so not only did I leave the salon with a fresh new look, but also with a ton of curly haircare knowledge—and I'm here to pass the torch.
Keep reading for expert hairstyling advice that all wavy and curly-haired people should know.
1. Layers are your friend.
A Google search of "haircut with layers" will result in endless variations of "The Rachel" haircut—which is to say it's all images of straight hair. Many people with curly hair have a misconception that layers will give them unwanted volume and frizz, but Diaz-Santin set the record straight: Curly hair can absolutely benefit from layers.
Rather than simply adding body to the hair, she explained that layers can diffuse bulk, reveal natural movement in the hair, and lighten the hair's weight. This lightness can allow waves and curls to more easily take shape, rather than being weighed down and flattened out. More curl definition and volume? Sign us up.
2. There's a good chance you're using hair products the wrong way.
With so many curly hair tutorials out there, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the many different styling techniques on the internet. However, if there's one thing you should know about styling your waves, curls, or coils, Diaz-Santin says it's this: Rake, don't scrunch, your hair products.
While some methods may instruct you to scrunch product throughout damp hair to help with curl definition, Diaz-Santin says that this technique can lead to a lot of inconsistencies in product application. To ensure your products are evenly saturated across your head, she recommends sectioning the hair and applying the same amount of product to each section by raking it through your strands, using your fingers as a comb. Only after you've done this should you go ahead and scrunch the product in to encourage curl formation.
3. You probably have a mix of curl types.
Understanding your curl type and its traits can help you determine what kind of cut and style will work best for you and help you avoid showing up to your next haircut with an inspiration photo that is entirely unrealistic for your hair. Curl type one is straight, type two is wavy, type three is curly, and type four is coily—and each type can be further broken down to better determine your curl pattern. However, people often have more than one curl type.
That being said, Diaz-Santin warns against using a plethora of hair products that are marketed for your different curl types. Instead, she recommends using the same product throughout your hair, just measuring how much you use on your different curl types. For example, you may need to use three drops of hair oil on more coarse and coily areas and just one or two drops in less curly sections.
4. Your hair has more potential than you think.
As that aforementioned Google search proved, it can sometimes be hard to find examples of haircuts and styles that are realistic for your curl type. Instead of looking for reference pictures on Instagram or Pinterest, Diaz-Santin recommends consulting with an expert. She says that a good stylist will get to know your hair, curl pattern, and texture and will recommend a cut and style that matches the level of upkeep you're willing to put in.
After consulting with Diaz-Santin and going through with the cut, I truly feel like my hair has a new life. For years, I lived in the safety of the blunt-cut, triangle-head world since I wasn't aware of all the things my curls could do. Now, with fresh layers, my hair has more shape and movement to it, even when I've done very little to style it. Now, when I do style it, my curls last way beyond wash day.