The Cutting Edge: The Right Way to Cut Your Aging Curly Hair


There’s something so luxurious about a trip to the salon, even if you’re just getting a haircut. Allowing someone to play with your hair for an hour while styling it to perfection is not only a great way to relax, but it just makes you feel good in the end. For curly girls, a haircut may be a bit more involved than those with straight hair, but with the right stylist, it’ll go off without a hitch. It’s all about understanding hair texture, curl definition and curly hairstyles! 

There are a few things to know, though, about getting a haircut for curly hair, especially mature curly hair, and finding the perfect curly hairstyles. We spoke with hairstylist Monica Davis, who is also the founder and editor in chief of My Straightener, for some details on the right way to cut curly hair (and how to take care of it at home between salon visits).

First Things First—Understand Your Hair Type

It’s not totally uncommon to hear someone realize later in life that they actually have curly hair and never knew. Perhaps you’ve been straightening your hair so long that you didn’t realize or you’ve just never let your curls thrive. But if you have any inkling that you might have curly hair, it’s time to let it shine.

But how to figure out your hair texture and type? Davis says there are a few signs to watch out for to know your hair is actually naturally curly:

  • Your hair gets a lot more volume in the humid weather.
  • Your hair forms into waves and ringlets when you wet it.
  • Frizz and static are your everyday friends.
  • Hair straighteners straighten your hair only for a day or so.
  • Curlers provide you with super-sturdy curls for up to three to five days.

If any of these applies to you, before you even begin looking into a haircut for curly hair, it’s time to buy some curly hair products and start nurturing your curls.

Opt for Dry Cutting When Cutting Curly Hair

Some hairstylists will cut wet hair even if it’s curly, but you’ll find it common to see a stylist utilizing dry cutting when you have curly hair. This allows the stylist to really see how your hair looks in its natural state. Wet hair is naturally longer, and obviously straighter. And just as each girl’s curls differ from the next, your curl patterns likely vary throughout your head of hair, making dry cutting especially helpful in achieving your ideal haircut.  

Work With Your Curls, Not Against Them

It’s important that you and your hairstylist are following your natural curl pattern while cutting and styling. Your curl pattern is the shape and size of your curls, and how your hair is cut will depend on the curl pattern. Your hairstylist should be examining your natural curl pattern to determine how to properly do a haircut for curly hair to enhance the curls and their shape and really feature your curl definition.

Choose Layers When Cutting Curly Hair

In the spirit of working with your curls, that includes leaning into layers in a haircut for curly hair as layers give curly hair movement. Davis names a number of types of curly haircuts and styles that work for curly hair, including layers.

“The best styles and cuts for curly hair include long curls with fringes, short side-parted curls, bob cut, shoulder cut, long layers and center-parted curls,” she says.

With layers in particular, you’re making sure your hair doesn’t have too much heft at the bottom, all in one place. Curly hair is naturally full, and layers help break up that fullness to give your hair shape. It's also important to cut a mix of vertical layers and individual curls to prevent harsh lines. So when looking at types of curly haircuts, keep this in mind. But what if you have fine or thinning curls? We get into that below!

Consider How Your Curls Have Changed

It's important to remember that our curls in our 40s and beyond may not look like the curls of our youth. As our hair becomes weaker with age and from hot styling tool damage, our curls more easily droop from gravity, making strategic layering essential for adding back bounce to our curls.

Also important to consider is the thickness of our strands. If you have experienced some thinning, shorter hairstyles with light layering will also help to bring back bounce and add more volume. Just be careful not to add too many layers as this can accentuate thinning curls and make ends appear stringy. Over-texturizing at the ends also disrupts the curl pattern, which can lead to frizz.

Find a Stylist Who Specializes in Curls

In an ideal world, every hairstylist would know how to work with any hair type, but in reality, that isn’t the case. “Every pro hairstylist should know how to deal with curls, but you should always ask a new hairstylist if they're familiar with Curly Girl, Ouidad or Sahag cutting techniques and have a set of salon products formulated especially for curly hair,” Davis advises.

It’s not necessarily that curly hair is more difficult to deal with than straight hair, but it does take time for stylists to get used to doing a haircut for curly hair and mastering these cutting techniques, so going to a salon where you can find someone who will treat your curls properly is your best bet.

Taking Care of Your Curls at Home

Make sure you take care of your hair between haircuts for healthy hair! That means using curly hair products designed for your hair that will fortify your curls and keep them intact. “The best set of products for maintaining curly hair includes a moisturizing shampoo, a conditioner, a high-quality blow-dryer, a heat protectant spray, a bedroom humidifier and a silk pillowcase,” Davis says of the important curly hair-care products.

Our curl-enhancing License to Curl: Curl Revival Boost Spray can also help boost curls in thinning, aging hair, if you’ve started to notice them drooping a bit. It’s lightweight and non-greasy and also provides 24-hour frizz control to maintain healthy hair when used as part of our 3-step regimen. If you use proper curly hair-care products and get your hair trimmed about every 10-12 weeks so you can be sure your ends are in tip-top shape, your curly hair will stay radiant.

Tell Us: Do you follow any of these tips when caring for your curly hair? Share in the comments below!

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Better Not Younger has all the tips and hair-care advice curly girls need to cut and style their curly tresses. From shampoos and conditioners to curl enhancers that bring bounce back to aging curls, we have the products you need to refresh, redefine and revive your gorgeous curls.