How to look decent with curly hair
October 16, 2011 2:17 PM   Subscribe

So I'm a 23-year-old guy with curly hair. My hairstyle has been based almost entirely on neglect since I was born. Time to grow up. How does a guy get away with curly hair in 2011?

It's really hard to get this right. A lot of college age guys have their hair a little bit long and poofy, which can look good, but it's more cute than handsome. I want girls to be attracted to me, not just want to tousle my hair. (Both would be ideal.) I'm trying to look pretty normal and put together, maybe with a tiny bit of a rugged indie-folk vibe.

For what it's worth, I'm blond and blue eyed, a little overweight, and my face type is round.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A proper trim and management via products can very much help curly hair. I think Darren Criss would be a good curly hair role model.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:23 PM on October 16, 2011 [7 favorites]

There's absolutely nothing inherently unattractive about curly hair. Some girls love it, some hate it, some couldn't really care either way. So I'm not really seeing what your question is; I'm assuming you're already washing/combing it regularly and the rest of the minimum stuff, and that you're cutting it before it gets past, oh, earlobe-length. Other than that, it's your hair and you should own it.
posted by dekathelon at 2:24 PM on October 16, 2011

Yeah, not sure why you feel you need to "get away" with it.

I have kind-of-crazy curly hair. I don't use any "product" (besides shampoo) or do anything to it besides maybe push it around with my fingers a bit in the morning. Random women compliment me on it at least once a month or so. (OK, I'm sure some hate it too, but keep that to themselves.)

I'm trying to look pretty normal and put together, maybe with a tiny bit of a rugged indie-folk vibe.
Cheesy as it sounds, the thing that will make you most attractive is just being yourself. Don't hedge your bets and try to look "normal." Your best bet is always to pick one thing and own it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:34 PM on October 16, 2011

My guy also has super curly hair that he hates to fuss with. Last week I took him to a trusted hair stylist, showed her some photos of Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), and had her go to town. Super low-maintenance hairstyle and looks put-together.
posted by trunk muffins at 2:43 PM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't go to your typical cheap cuts place - they won't get you a really good cut, as they tend to use a small list of basic cuts that work in general, but may not invest the time in complicated cuts or in continuing education for the stylists. Take the hit to your pocketbook and find a salon that charges more but will work closely with you to find a cut that works well for your face and your lifestyle - be honest if you want a wash-and-wear cut with little maintenance, or if you're willing to buy product and spend some time each morning styling your hair, tell them that and ask them to show you how.
posted by telophase at 2:44 PM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Curly hair is awesome.

The secret to good hair is to pay for it. I hate to say it, but it's true. A good stylist will look at your hair texture, look at your face shape, listen to what you say about your lifestyle and how you'd like to look, and figure out something that will work for you. If you can't afford a good stylist, see if you can be a hair model for a trainee. It takes a long time, but they'll give you a good haircut.
posted by craichead at 2:45 PM on October 16, 2011

As a former hairstylist (without seeing you) Iwould recommend a good haircut that keeps your sides shorter than the top. As long as the sides are shorter, it will keep you from looking like you have a halo of curly hair and will keep your round face from being as accentuated.

Plus, when you keep the sides shorter/closer to your head, then you can have the top of your curly head sort of just do what it wants. That way, you're not fighting your curls (which would suck on a day-to-day basis for anyone and would look ridiculous), working with what you have. Keeping it closer on the sides and however longer on the top will allow for you to look groomed, but also age appropriate and stylish.

From what you wrote, I am picturing Seth Rogen. You can google him and see both bad (unflattering) and great examples of how to wear curly hair.
posted by foxhat10 at 2:47 PM on October 16, 2011

If you're wanting something more polished and less college-y, I would go short. Think Justin Timberlake - in his N'Sync phase he had longer, gelled hair. Now it's very short, almost so short that you can't tell it's curly.

I think that longer curly hair can look a bit messy on men if it's not very well maintained. If you're NOT going to go really short, you need to get a great haircut. On a day-to-day basis, you should use a lot of conditioner in the shower, put some gel in it once you get out, and then don't touch it until it dries. Once it's dry, you can scrunch it a tiny bit to get the crunchiness out. I have curly hair (although I'm a woman), and I also only shampoo about once a week - curly hair is really dry, and shampooing minimally helps it to be less frizzy.
posted by LizzyBee at 2:50 PM on October 16, 2011

Nthing the idea of going to a stylist that specializes in curly hair, even if it costs a little more. Also, I use the Deva Curl line of products, specifically the No-Poo Conditioning Cleanser, which helps keep my very curly hair under control and more manageable on a daily basis. I don't use it every day, cuz it's expensive -- I like to alternate with the Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle products.

I wrap a microfiber towel around my hair after washing, and air-dry it once it's no longer dripping wet. I might comb it through to get any excess knots out, then i scrunch with my fingers.

NB: I'm a female, but there's no reason why any of this can't work for male hair.
posted by mirepoix at 2:58 PM on October 16, 2011

A more direct link to the Deva site. (I don't work for them; just a fan.)
posted by mirepoix at 3:22 PM on October 16, 2011

Besides the celebrities mentioned above, there's Simon Baker (from The Mentalist). I don't know that his is naturally curly, but I'm guessing it is. Eric Dane also seems to pull it off well. This site has talks about Colin Firth and some guy from Glee (among other examples). I think Kirk Douglas had pretty thick (and likely curly) hair. I'd guess that Walt Willey keeps his curls tamed down a bit. For the full on curls there's always Will Ferrel.

So after looking at the photos (and the others suggested above) print out the ones you like and take them to a good stylist and ask his/her opinion about what will work for you and what the maintenance will be like.
posted by sardonyx at 3:30 PM on October 16, 2011

Mr. Beans has really curly hair and I absolutely adore it! he has kept it both longer and short and both have looked good. He gets it cut shorter on the sides and longer on top. His number one must have is CONDITIONER! He uses regular conditioner for curly hair, sauve brand, and does not put it in until he is out of the shower. He doesn't wash it out like you normally would. I thought he was absolutely crazy when I first saw him do this as my straight hair would be a nasty mess if I didn't wash it out. It totally works for him and he's a super curly haired hottie!
posted by Pork n Beans at 3:35 PM on October 16, 2011

Another vote for short on the sides and back and left a bit longer on top. Top should be kind of rumpled, not combed or brushed. Use your fingers to tidy it a bit and let it be.
posted by deborah at 3:56 PM on October 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's really hard for curly hair to look very stylish or manly on guys. I'd try buzzing it (at one of the longest lengths that still qualifies as a buzz), which will probably look pretty good. And then as it grows out, try experimenting with letting the top grow out a bit while keeping the side/back short, or try growing it out and then cut it when it starts to look bad :)

Also: only brush it when it's wet, and use gel.
posted by Kololo at 5:03 PM on October 16, 2011

The woman who owns Devachan wrote Curly Girl, which despite the title has a chapter for men.
posted by brujita at 5:20 PM on October 16, 2011

I wish more guys would rock the Encino Man look. Maybe the '90s revival will bring it back.
posted by mirepoix at 6:08 PM on October 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

I have *crazy* curly hair, and very, very thick- I can stick a comb or pencil in it and leave it there once it gets long, and it forms a natural 'white-man fro' as one of my friends put it. I just hate it and keep it short as much as I can, since it looks less curly and ugly then. It also feels lighter and needs less washing. Avoid buzzing, that just makes you look like a military punk or wannabe.

Now, this is based on my hair, which is pretty much impossible to do anything with- it is so thick that brushing it gets impossible, even right out of the shower before I towel off, it just leaps back into place. Some of the above tips might work for you if your hair sucks less then mine.
posted by Canageek at 7:08 PM on October 16, 2011

Voice of experience here: definitely short on the sides and back, long on top. The longer the better. If your hair has a tendency to frizz, then you will need a hair product to keep it curly. You have to get it wet then towel dry before applying product. Your stylist will teach you. And like everyone says, a good stylist makes all the difference. Also, go to the stylist on a regular basis - every four or five weeks.
posted by conrad53 at 8:30 PM on October 16, 2011

Mr Corpse has very curly hair. When he was your age he clipped it short on the back and sides and let the top grow much longer, so he looked like Morrissey.

I highly recommend this approach.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:31 PM on October 16, 2011

Oh, in terms of styling product: he used Murray's Pomade.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:34 PM on October 16, 2011

I have curly hair, although these days I keep my hair buzzed. But back in the day I rocked a big curly fro which was a lot of fun. Curly hair is definitely something the ladies will either love or hate. But yeah I'd say going to a more high profile hair stylist will definitely help. Or you could always just go with the buz cut. Do you what you feel comfortable with. Don't worry about impressing yourself.
posted by ljs30 at 8:41 PM on October 16, 2011

Nothing to add, but I have to say that I love curls and don't cut 'em off.
posted by hotelechozulu at 8:06 AM on October 17, 2011

my curly guy does the longer on top shorter on sides (cheap cut at a barber even, no salons) towel dry, product (non glossy matte pomades) and here is a hot tip, really: go to sleep or spend the wet hair hours with a ski hat on to flatten some things down naturally. it ends up more wavy than super curly.
posted by c at 2:48 PM on October 17, 2011

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