Fellow curly gals! I have long, curly hair that needs an update. Help!
July 14, 2013 8:49 PM   Subscribe

I've had the same hair for a few years now and am looking for a change--however, I'm completely stuck. I'm thinking about bangs to help give structure to my face, but curly hair and bangs don't easily mix, do they? I'd like a style that's compatible with both straight and curly hair. All length suggestions welcome, but I feel my face won't suit a super short 'do. If you have pictures of your own great curly manes, please post! Pictures after the jump.

I have been growing my long, curly black hair for more than 2 years now, so that it grazes the top of my bottom. For styling, I use a little leave-in conditioner and just throw it any which way. Sometimes I use mousse. It has no hair-cut (many of the ends are different lengths) or purposeful shape at this point.

I'd like to get my hair cut off a few inches soon for health purposes--but I am also extremely tired of having very long curly hair as my only hair option--I DO straighten it sometimes, but lately it's looking too dry for the bother. Not to mention, my frizzy long curls take forever to straighten into shape!

Other than a trim to even out my ends/rid me of splits, what kind of hair cut would suit my extremely round face? And I am not willing to put too much damage into my hair on a daily basis, so cool, easy cuts that do well with natural, curly hair (and would also look good for the occasional blowout) would be extremely appreciated!

I wouldn't mind cutting several inches off, but having very short hair for a giant watermelon face like mine would look weird. Wouldn't it?!

I've never had bangs before, but I feel it may help to elongate my face--do any of you curly lasses have them? What kinds of bangs do you recommend for me?

All suggestions welcome. Any favorite styling aids for frizzy hair would also be appreciated.

Also--Please do show pics of your curly manes!!!

Brown girl in beige coat

Goofy photo but tis me

posted by rhythm_queen to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Your hair is gorgeous! I have a similar texture and I've done the bang thing...
I don't recommend it - Unless you're committed to straightening your bangs, or end up choosing a style that gives you bangs long enough to pin up. My issues with bangs were a)laziness and b)any moisture on my forehead resulted in curling/bad 80s fringe. Ymmv though.

eta - Everytime I get my hair cut, my stylist layers and thins. If your hair is super super heavy, getting it thinned makes a huge difference. DO NOT cut your hair above your chin unless committed to straightening. I have made this mistake, and have the pictures of me looking like I'm wearing a clown wig to prove it. Good luck!
posted by meesha at 9:07 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I do have curls, but keep mine in a bob, so no relevant pictures, but I am a stylist, so here are my thoughts:

I really don't think you would need to do a huge amount of cutting to achieve something a bit more "fresh"; if you came in and told me what you wrote here, I would recommend a couple of inches off the ends (but no more!), and then some very loose round layers (again, only taking off a couple of inches at the most). If you're interested in some shape around the face, I think that would look great, but you would still want to preserve the length there, otherwise it will require styling not to look strange. I would ask for a bit of a front angle, but emphasize that you're not asking for layering around the face (that way lies mayhem), and that you want to preserve the length as much as possible. So if you're having it cut wet, making sure that they understand how much the curl will spring up when dry, and err on the side of too long, and adjust once it's dry.
posted by catch as catch can at 9:54 PM on July 14, 2013

My hair's like that too. I winced when I saw you're considering bangs, and I agree with meesha - don't do it. The minute you look at your bangs crosseyed, the ends curl upward and look just awful. I know what you mean about wanting a change, and I've been taking a few inches at a time off my hair until it's almost up to my shoulders. I'm keeping it pony tail long, though, because a pony tail is such a convenient solution.
posted by melesana at 9:55 PM on July 14, 2013

You have the most perfect face for a blunt bob -- but you'd need to get a keratin treatment to make it work. And what is this watermelon face nonsense! You could honestly pull off so many lovely styles and be gorgeous no matter what.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:21 PM on July 14, 2013

Best answer: My hair isn't long anymore, but used to be like yours. (I'm assuming yours is also very thick? It looks it. Thick curly hair behaves differently to fine curly hair, so if yours is fine, please disregard.) Instead of a fringe, maybe try having the bits around your face cut with long layers—and I mean very long, like the shortest ones a good few inches below your chin, because they will spring up. It can help give a bit of a frame to your face without looking clownish or being as drastic as the short short fringe. On preview, what catch as catch can said, and I would use that terminology.

Your hair is gorgeous. You have plenty of options other than cutting—you can experiment with different ways of putting it up, from casual things like tying it into a knot using only itself (well, I could with mine anyway) or pinning it with pencils/paintbrushes/chopsticks. I used to gather the front bits and pull them back, then fold them in half and clip with a big barrette. It got the hair off my face and gave the top of my head a bit of body to counteract the length.

I'm not necessarily recommending it, but if you do go quite short (and your face would look fine with short hair too, it's not watermelony at all!) just be prepared that if you change your mind, the growing-out process is hideous. I'd always thought my face needed the hair to balance it out too, but I cut mine all off about 7 years ago and haven't looked back. No more hair getting stuck in my mouth, shedding everywhere, taking 3 hours to dry, combing out tangles... no thanks! Sure my face seems bigger now that it isn't surrounded by all the hair, but I still think it's an overall improvement for me.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:23 PM on July 14, 2013

Response by poster: Yes--I should mention my hair is very thick. Individually, my hairs are fine and are prone to getting tangled, but as a whole I have a lot of hair on my head. (and body, but that's another sad story.)

Thank you for the compliments!!! :P My head is more wide than it is long. Super round. Maybe a large orange then, if not a watermelon, lol.

@Athanassiel "No more hair getting stuck in my mouth, shedding everywhere, taking 3 hours to dry, combing out tangles... no thanks! "

Wow. You make a wonderrrrful case for short hair :P Heinous hair tangles, getting my hair caught in my bag, other people's stuff/fingers on subways, random hooks...Sounds heavenly! How short did you actually go? Can I see some photos?

Another question I have is regarding how you feel now that your hair is shorter--this may sound silly, but do you feel less feminine? Do you feel more free? And if you have tendency to gain weight, is it hard not to hide behind your curls (if you know what I mean)?
posted by rhythm_queen at 10:36 PM on July 14, 2013

My hair is very similar to yours, and I have gone between waist-length to just above the shoulders over the years. The two most important things for any length will be layering and thinning. I go for long layers starting just below my ear.

I have a round face and loved having short hair--I found actually lifted a lot of visual weight from my face because it was so much bouncier! I grew it back out finally because I couldn't stand not being able to put it up in the summer.

You can definitely have curly hair and bangs! Just keep in mind if you get the rest of your hair thinned, get your bangs thinned, too--especially at the temples. Mine are like this right now and I find that having them longer at the sides helps them stay straighter. I only straighten them about every other day, and they are long enough to pin up or braid back when I can't be bothered.

When I've had longer side bangs, I've only had to straighten them when I wash; I just run a comb through in-between and that helps keep them straightened out. Again, you want them longer so you can leave them curly if you're in a rush. Something like this. Also, remember you want to avoid over-straightening, so you don't end up with prom hair!
posted by assenav at 10:44 PM on July 14, 2013

Your hair is gorgeous! And your curls certainly look a lot better than mine do at that length! Mine start to turn really limp and messy the longer they get. FWIW, I cut mine to just above shoulder length with layers to give it a non-triangle shape, because like athanassiel said, it shed everywhere, was getting stuck in everything, got heinous tangles, and made me use up gallons of product. I feel just as feminine and free with shorter hair, and have so many fewer little frustrations in the day from my hair (you know, no hair getting stuck in my clothes and bags, not having to constantly wrestle it out of my face, etc).

I agree with catch as catch can that as it is, your hair just needs some shaping to make it look like it has a purposeful style. See a good stylist with experience with curly hair, and they'll be able to give you a flattering cut with even the vague instructions of "cut a couple-three inches and give me layers that frame my face well." But if you really want a change, cutting to shoulder length can be a glorious one. Your curls will likely become tighter without all the added weight, and with the right long layers around your face, they'll frame your face beautifully. If you go short, you should probably have it thinned out too to avoid excess volume.
posted by yasaman at 11:09 PM on July 14, 2013

my hair is a lot like yours but not quite as long. yours is gorgeous. years ago i had it cut short into a blunt bob where the front was longer than the back and it had an undercut in the back. it was a fun haircut but i only had it for a month as the stylist who filled in suddenly gave me layers. :O layers worked too and i find that bangs worked okay if they were totally swept to the side and sort of layered themselves. personally, i wouldn't do straight across bangs on our type of hair--unless you plan on straightening them all the time. it doesn't seem to work very well from what i've seen. i've thought about cutting my mane short but am sort of resolved to keep it long now as i can do more with it. i keep thinking about getting some long layers cut into it but haven't done so. i'm a little chicken after all my horrific childhood experiences at salons.
posted by wildflower at 11:41 PM on July 14, 2013

Mine is a bit longer than normal at the moment because it's winter and it's nice to have a little hair protecting my ears. :) Longest bits are probably about 3 inches? Most is a bit shorter. The bits at the back especially, but they start curling as soon as they're an inch long; the bits in the front just go wavy. When I first got it cut, I actually didn't want to look feminine. I find as time goes on I sometimes wouldn't mind looking a bit "girlier" but the convenience and freedom of short hair is so addictive! I only have to wash it once or twice a week (it gets wet every day, but proper shampoo wash less often), I never brush or comb it, put a bit of product in it to stop it going fluffy—and that's it! No fussing, no combing conditioner through the tangles, no having it fall down unexpectedly. I used to have to plait it at night so I wouldn't strangle myself in my own hair during my sleep. No problem now! And yes, it did feel a bit naked at first because I did sometimes hide behind my hair, but if I gain weight it shows in other places before my face anyway.

I'm pretty camera shy! Memail me your non-MF email and I'll see if I can find one that actually shows my hair decently.
posted by Athanassiel at 12:23 AM on July 15, 2013

I also have long curly hair, fine but lots of it, and I have a short, blunt fringe (aka bangs). Always have. I do straighten it but it takes literally two minutes. Wet fine tooth comb, stick hair to forehead laying down straight, point hair dryer downwards parallel to hair and blow downwards from the crown until the hair dries and lifts from the skin. Done. Don't use fancy round brushes or whatever, they make it go weird and round. I've been doing this for so many years now that if I keep it short enough I only have to blowdry it every third or fourth day, but I've had it longer and whispier too and that dried just as fast.

I also agree that thinning and layers are your friend. My hair is actually straight underneath and wavy at the back so I have to be really careful about this since it will separate out really easily if layered wrong. Also, being thin but lots of it means thinning has to be done with a light hand, otherwise you end up with all kinds of fuzzy flyaways and lose the structure. But for your hair, a couple of inches off the bottom, a few long soft layers around your face, and careful layering/thinning elsewhere to create structure and prevent triangle head would go a long way to making your already-nice hair look really soft and lovely and styled.

Finding a really good stylist who is used to curly hair is the key. I managed to do this recently, here's the curly picture and the straight one. Honestly, catch as catch can sounds like she know her stuff up there, get a stylist like that!

My hair is a bit shorter than yours right now but it's been everything right up to two inches long. I didn't feel any less feminine but I found short hair needed a lot more active styling than long (to be fair, I wear a pony tail a lot with it long) as well as a very regular hair cuts and it was just too high maintenance. Just below the shoulders (rather than just above), works very well for me as a balance between the two. But a good stylist will also be able to advise you on what length will work for you and your hair as well as the rest, so find one and talk to them!
posted by shelleycat at 3:33 AM on July 15, 2013

Always have. I do straighten it but it takes literally two minutes.

My fringe that is, I don't straighten the rest as a rule and it takes a lot more effort when I do. But lots of people have said you have to commit to straightening bangs in curly hair, and yeah you do but it's so not a big deal at all.
posted by shelleycat at 4:30 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your hair and face are both gorgeous. I don't think you should get bangs; they're way more trouble than they're worth, especially when you have wavy/curly hair, plus they'll hide your face.

The awesome thing about hair your length is that you can change things up while still keeping a lot of length. Instead of going straight to a bob, I'd suggest somewhere between shoulder length and bra band length. It'll look and feel different, but it'll still be long. If you're not happy with that after a few months, go shorter still. If you want to go shorter but don't want to straighten your hair, you could do a messy/piecey/beachy bob.

As for feeling and looking feminine with short hair: I tend to wear my hair between chin length and shoulder length, and I've never felt less feminine with shorter hair (except for the cute-in-theory-matronly-in-practice pixie cut. Pixie cuts on wavy/curly hair do NOT work). I feel a little less trendy with short hair, but trendiness is overrated. I have trouble shaking the cognitive dissonance that head hair is sexy but body hair is gross. So there's that.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:36 AM on July 15, 2013

Short hair is the bomb, y'all. I have a friend with very similar curly hair (and the same skin tone), and she carries more weight than you so her face is way rounder, yet she rocks a trendy, stylish short hair cut like you would not believe. Memail me if you'd like to see pics. (I too have short hair but it's fine and straight so not relevant to this post. There is a bit of a brain adjustment to the feeling feminine thing and all that but I'm at the point now where I look at old pictures with long hair and think I look better now. And my boyfriend loooooves my short hair.)

The key for my friend is that she goes to a curly hair specialist, who cuts her hair dry. Also, she doesn't shampoo much and never combs through the curls.

Your hair is SO long now that I'd suggest moving towards possibly going short in stages. You could easily go to something longer than shoulder length that would look a lot less mermaid-y but still be quite long and ponytail friendly. As you get used to that, you could then consider something shorter.
posted by misskaz at 7:11 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think I'm actually also friends with the girl misskaz is describing, and you should totally memail her for a picture; her hair is adorable.

I have very fine straight hair so I can't speak as to what cut would work well for your face, but I recently cut the heck out of my hair and can address a little bit of the psychological terror.

You know how girls with cute little short haircuts have delicate elfin features? And you (or I, or whoever is telling themselves they're doomed to a life of long hair) have a big ole round moonface that looks like a greedy chipmunk tryna smuggle too much nuts in their cheeks?

THAT IS A LIE! Huge secret: the short haircut is what is making those faces look delicate and elfin! I spent years thinking I could never pull off short hair, and now I have women sighing over my haircut and telling me "well, you can pull it off, but I never could."

The secret is going to a hairstylist who specializes in the haircut you want (I went to a short hair specialist, who specializes what Autostraddle has dubbed "Alternative Lifestyle Haircuts," you need a curly-hair specialist), being very frank and honest about what you're scared of and want to avoid, and keep faith that you're going to be cute as hell.

(btw, based on your descriptions of yourself, i was not expecting such a young hot thing as in your photos. you're fricking gorgeous and will continue to be with any length hair)
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:45 AM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I agree with the consensus above: you are goooorgeous and will remain so no matter your haircut. That said, please don't get bangs. My hair isn't even as curly as yours and bangs have always always always been more trouble than they're worth. Plus, if you're worried about the length vs width of your face, drawing a horizontal line above your eyebrows is jsut going to shorten the rest of your face. Maybe some long swoopy bangs that you pin to the side or whatever, but then you've got to deal with straightening them religiously, and if your forehead gets a little too glow-y, they'll frizz right up.

I've got a curly/wavy medium thick hair. I've also got a chin length bob and here's an office selfie I took just for you. I love it, but I've always loved short hair (I had a supershort pixie in high school, before I learned to embrace my curls, and someday I wanna go back in that direction. So. Easy.) I agree with others that maybe going shorter in stages will be easier for you to handle mentally. I don't know if you follow the curly-girl rules of no-poo, lots of conditioner, don't touch it while it dries, etc, but devachan is the high temple of embracing your curls and they have a stylist-finder for people they've trained to do dry-cuts, etc. and Lorraine Massey is the founder. Her cut in that video might suit your requests, too, now that I think about it.
posted by hungrybruno at 8:10 AM on July 15, 2013

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