What Kind of Curl You Have?

The term “curly hair” doesn’t come close to describing the range of hair looks and textures this type of hair can be. There are many different kinds of curls, and each needs to be cared for and cut a certain way to maximize its curl quotient and keep it looking its bouncing, beautiful best.

The first rule of curl care is to know exactly what type of curly hair your hair has, which can be anything from loose and languid to tight and textured. Here’s a roundup on the most common curls we see at the salon, and how best to care for them.

Soft Curls

Curl M.O.: Barely there, soft twirls

Who Has Them: Fine hair types

Celeb Look: Kate Hudson, Madonna, Mischa Barton

Best Cut: Soft curls are enhanced with an angled front and layers that loosen up hair, take off weight, and allow the curl to form.

Care: Dry hair with a blow-dryer fitted with a diffuser, scrunching sections as you go. Try mousses and spray gels that will maximize your hair’s curl tendencies and add hold, like BeCurly and Kerastase’s Elastocurl. You can also use pin curls for more definition.

Loose Curls

Curl M.O.: Chunky, wavy curl

Who Has Them: Women with thick, full hair

Celeb Look: Beyonce, Sandra Oh, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Best Cut: This type of curl can be defined nicely with the right cut and products. Layers should be cut into hair, with the top layers left longer. Length will help weigh down and elongate curls.

Care: Curl-enhancing shampoos and conditioners will give your curls a good start. Let dry naturally, or with a diffuser, without touching hair until it’s completely dry. Then break up curls with your fingers. A curling iron can be used to add some flattering, face-framing curls. Smooth or spray on a creme or serum, like Aveda Light Elements Detailing Mist-Wax, to add shine and finish.

Tight Curls

Curl M.O.: Small, tight, all-over curls

Who Has Them: Textured, ethnic hair types

Celeb Look: Oprah, Alicia Keys, Nicole Kidman

Best Cut: There are two ways to go with the textured hair. If you want a retro, afro style, have your stylist cut hair to one length, knowing the shorter the length, the more defined the afro. Or, tame down the texture with long layers that will weigh down hair and control the curl.

Care: Use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, like Pantene Pro-V Relaxed and Natural Intensive Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner, to add condition and weight to hair. Allow hair to dry naturally, then smooth on a creme or serum, like Phyto 7 Leave In Treatment. Olive oil is also great for this type of curl.