What can I do to make curly hair look more edgy?
August 15, 2006 8:22 PM   Subscribe

What can I do to make curly hair look more edgy?

I'm an earlytwentysomething recent university graduate with shoulder length dark brown curly hair who wants a more aggressive hairstyle that requires medium to high maintenance.

All urban hipsterish hair trends that I've seen are for straight hair and require lots of flat ironing. Problem? I receive so many compliments on the texture of my hair that I feel like I'd be wasting a good thing if I spent all that time and money roasting it with an iron and covering it in goop, just to have it spiral in the least bit of humidity. And I don't think flaitironed panels of hair hanging down beside my face has ever looked flattering.

Are there any trendy haircuts suited to curly hair?

My curls are pretty loose, so they can be pulled out into waves or scrunched into ringlets. Blowdrying the hair out straight usually creates thick, 60's era volume that can't be controlled.

I'm willing to do anything with dye except bleach the entire head platinum.

The more creative the better. Specifics please!
posted by sayitwithpie to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Dread or shave.

Curly hair sucks (speaking as one of the afflicted).
posted by pompomtom at 8:28 PM on August 15, 2006 [2 favorites]

I have a really layered haircut which i blowdry around the front and top layers nearly every day (loose curls here too). This is so I don't get the full pouf but I straighten the bangs/front portion. About 10 minutes into the day humidity takes over and neatens the top into one even kink. I kinda like the result.

Or you could cut your hair really short, and not need to use styling gel for whatever shape desired, but this only works if you're willing to go down to about 2-3".
posted by shownomercy at 8:54 PM on August 15, 2006

There is more information than a sane person can possibly digest on the Naturally Curly forums. Figure out which type of curls you have and then you'll find tons of suggestions. Also take a look at the book Curly Girl for a good guide to maintenance, cuts, etc. You should be able to find tons of hip options.
posted by cushie at 8:58 PM on August 15, 2006

My brother has been "afflicted" with curly hair his whole life, and all the rest of us have more manageable, wavy hair.

He generally keeps it about cheek-bone length, and then stops worrying about it. It works.

Seriously, the edgiest thing you can do with curly hair is to just let it do it's own thing. It's also what will look the best.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:59 PM on August 15, 2006

There's a girl at my work who has the best cool curly style I've seen to date: At the longest, her hair is chin length. The overall shape is an angled bob, so it's shorter in the back and gets gradually longer closer to the face.

The cool factor is her bangs--or rather, non-bangs, because where the bangs would be, it's cropped really close to the head in an angle that relates to the shape of her bob.

Find someone who knows how to cut curly hair. A great stylist can be your best friend. I've been seeing mine for about 6 years now and there's no one else I trust with my hair: she's taken me from super-long to boy-short.

Keep in mind too that you'll probably have to get used to using hair products if you don't already. (I've always had straight hair and envied those who have curly--but a perm from hell back in the day convinced me that straight hair isn't all THAT bad. The grass is always greener, etc.) My curly-haired friends' routines include a combination of mousse to prep it, a diffuser attachment for their hairdryers to remove all the moisture and following up with a defrizzing product.

Another alternative is to get a straight perm. There are different methods using different chemicals but a friend of mine gets hers done at a Korean salon. (It was actually quite trendy a few years back for Asians with already straight hair to get a straight perm--dumb and nonsensical, but true.)
posted by phoenixc at 9:13 PM on August 15, 2006

Great styles from cushie's awesome link I've noticed around SF's music scene:

For more oval faces
Classic retro
See this one a lot

Being a straight-haired male, I can't comment on how hard it would be to achieve these styles - just throwing out possibilities.
posted by junesix at 10:35 PM on August 15, 2006


my hair is naturally curly & i do my own dreads with an absolute minimum of fuss. they basically just happen & manage to stay neat by themselves, so i cannot offer you much advice in terms of techniques.

like pompomtom, i find curly hair a right pain in the arse, so the options really are either dread or shave, but there's nothing really edgy about a shaved head.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:22 AM on August 16, 2006

Go for the retro 60s look, and, for consistency, accessorize it with bell bottoms, a wide belt, lots of denim, and the like. In other words, retro hip.
posted by Gordion Knott at 4:58 AM on August 16, 2006

If you're going out for an evening - braid your hair into a bunch of thick medusa braids. They are like dreadlocks, only without the wax and tangling.
posted by jb at 5:05 AM on August 16, 2006

Eeek! No dreadlocks. You will look dumb, not hip.

I too have curly hair that is super coarse as well. I have had my hair chemically straightened in the past, but now I am trying to go with the curls.

Recently I have been keeping a really long fringe (to the eyebrows) in the front and flat-ironing only that, with the rest in long layers. It's pretty hip/edgy looking.

Also, curls are great for color, as you can get really contrasting highlights that look great spiralling down the curl.

(can I aslo just say many of the responses in this thread are just ridiculously off the mark and/or aggressively unhelpful? Maybe it's just me.)

And another note, if you're going to a new hairdresser, ESPECIALLY if you're going to get your length chopped, make sure you see a few of his or her cuts on curly people. I've had some really bad luck with screwed up layers because the hairdresser didn't "get" my hair.
posted by miss tea at 5:26 AM on August 16, 2006

Sorry, forgot to ask-- is your hair curly and thin or curly and thick?
posted by miss tea at 5:27 AM on August 16, 2006

From someone with curly hair who has tried many different styles & suffered great jealousy at hipster hair: cut it short and let it be and spend your time working on some other high maintenance hipsterness (I suggest clothes). Something like junesixes For More Oval Faces link is awesome (though often mine gets a lot longer because I'm lazy about haircuts). Honestly, curly hair is a pain for so many reasons, but the one condolence is it always looks best left alone. Don't work against your hair.
posted by dame at 5:53 AM on August 16, 2006

There are actually a whole lot of ways that curly hair looks really good. And straight-haired people envy you.
posted by klangklangston at 6:02 AM on August 16, 2006

Nthing the need for a hairdresser who gets curly hair. I keep mine really short (I'm a girl) and get a lot of compliments from hipsters and middle-aged ladies alike.
posted by desuetude at 6:21 AM on August 16, 2006

My sister recently had Japanese Hair Straightening done. It takes hours and cost her $400 Canadian but her hair looks fabulous and requires very little maintenance. Apparently it lasts 6-8 months.
posted by lemur at 6:25 AM on August 16, 2006

A question I've asked many times...

I have fine curly hair, and most of the advice so far (discounting the "dread it" advice) seems to be aimed at thick curly hair. These are two completely different beasts. If I let my hair just do its thing, it would be a weird, frizzy, lumpy mess (especially when the humidity is high). If your hair's like mine, the advice for thick curls might not be so useful.

I think my hair has looked its hippest when I kept it relatively short. Not super short, but 50's movie star short. I had an awesome hairdresser who knew how to work with curly hair, and i would bring in photos of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof-era Elizabeth Taylor (like this one), and he'd cut something like that with short bangs (think Audrey Hepburn bangs), and I think it looked pretty fine (i did blow-dry it with a small round brush).

I've been growing it out lately though, and now what seems to work is twisting clumps around my finger when it's wet and blow drying a little to set it (and using some styling creme before and after to keep it somewhat smooth). I have some layers cut in it (a blunt cut with curly hair really only seems to work on certain face shapes).

Good luck!
posted by jessicak at 7:21 AM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Aha! Thank you miss tea. I concur that a lot of these answers are pretty unhelpful, as "dread it" or "cut it all off" is not really what I'm going for. I want something that embraces the curl!

It's not coarse at all, and it's not thick in the regular sense. Each strand of hair is actually quite thin, but there's a ton of it so it's really dense and volumous.

Also thanks to jessicak, I really like your idea of going retro. I had considered doing a Rita Hayworth in Gilda sort of dramatic wave thing with dark burgundy colour, but the Liz Taylor/Audrey Hepburn throwback is pretty genius.
posted by sayitwithpie at 7:29 AM on August 16, 2006

I wear my fine curly hair longer in front (chin length), angled on the sides, and "stacked" in the back. The steeper the angle, the more "edgy" it looks. My stylist also razors it a bit along the edges to lighten it up.

I've found that dramatic color seems to garner more compliments than the cut itself. I had cherry-red pieces put in throughout (the rest dark brown) and people seemed to love it.
posted by cabingirl at 7:41 AM on August 16, 2006

If it's that gorgeous and voluminous... what about just growing it and growing it? The whole pre-Raphaelite hair thing is pretty much always stunningly gorgeous. Mountains and mountains of curls! Of course, this would be more about bucking the hipster trend and blazing your own path.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:16 AM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure if the posters suggested this already, but a 1920s wavy bob would be very cute. Us straight-haired hipster girls can't pull off the finger-wave look without burning our heads and wasting hours primping, so we have to settle for asymmetrical hair and dolls bangs. We would all die of envy if some girl walked into a bar with a closely waved bob and eyeliner.

Also, if your hair just looks best long and curly, don't let stupid hipster trends discourage you: black taper leg jeans are no more flattering today than they were in 1985.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:33 AM on August 16, 2006

http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/38001#588050 had a good picture of a curly hair cut.

I've found Texture gel (straightening gel, but I leave it curly) to do a great job of keeping my curl. That & sexy hair volumizing spray.
posted by ejaned8 at 11:13 AM on August 16, 2006

I eponymously second Klang's suggestion.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:17 AM on August 16, 2006

Shorter + angles looks best for me (thin, fine... "3A/B" in the parlance of cushy's site).

I've given out the same envious looks to people I see with cool and funky color patterns, but really, it just doesn't work with my curls; you can easily end up with polka dots* -- not single curls with color or whatever.

I've only recently come to accept that the only fun color thing that I can do is the classic racing stripe at the corner of my forehead. Although I sometimes fear that it's a bit too "Mrs Slocum," I always get compliments on it.

Thanks, cushy, for that link!! Good stuff. I'm now on DAY ONE of their no-shampoo plan, and already my hair looks nicer.

*I know this for sure because I have them right now. Grumble.
posted by mimi at 11:50 AM on August 16, 2006

I have super curly short thick hair, and I get it cut with bangs to play up the ringlet effect, and in layers in the back to give it motion and shape.

Basically it's not ever going to be 'trendy' because when your hair very curly it will never get those angular lines which are so in right now. However you can use lots of good hair accessories (pins, headbands, my favorite is this circular one that looks like a comb and hooks together at the bottom, virtually disappears into your hair but keeps it from going nuts. They sell them in drug stores for 2 bucks.) to keep your look interesting and in line. I also recommend the Deva Chan line of curly girl products

I feel your pain, friend.
posted by np312 at 11:52 AM on August 16, 2006

I just saw Dazed and Confused again so Marisa Ribisi's cutie-pie image is making me also second the 'fro suggestion.
posted by clairezulkey at 1:05 PM on August 16, 2006

Try your ringlet variation in 2 low ponytails. Clip each one up to the side of your head, so the mass of curls at the bottom of each ponytail opens up and out at the top of your head. Superfast and easy, and looks dramatic unusual as all getout.
posted by Failure31 at 1:11 PM on August 16, 2006

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