Not all curls are the same. And so, the question to ask is: how strong are your curls? Think of it as a continuum, from wavy hair types that have a soft curl at its end with a pronounced kink, to the curliest of hair types that tightly coil from root to tip. At their worst, wavy hair types can look flat and unkempt at its ends, but with the appropriate steps, wavy hair can look richly textured with a cool nonchalant appeal. Whereas curly hair types, with its high intensity of texture and volume, require a focussed degree of attention to tame the curls, that eventually yield to the style of your choosing.
Understanding Your Hair Type
Why is this so? Why is curly hair, curly? Trichologists, or 'hair doctors' believe that the texture and volume of one's hair depends on the shape of the hair shaft, which is where the hair grows before it eventually penetrates beyond the scalp and is exposed. Those with straight hair have a vertically straight hair shaft, and thus as the hair grows it doesn't bend. In contrast, those with a comparatively flat hair shaft - like a curved 'L' shape - result in coiled and spiralled hair as the hair is forced to bend as it grows. Therefore, the flatter the shaft, the curlier the hair.
Of course, understanding is key, and once you know what is required for your hair, the easier it becomes to style. Furthermore, curly hair types are generally much more coarse compared to their straight counterparts, meaning that the individual strands of hair are relatively thick. This requires special attention, for coarse hair types are more susceptible to dryness as a result of its thickness
The Best Products for Curly Hair
As with most things, caring for the hair is a good start, and it pays dividends to be scrupulous about the products that you use. Crucially, not all products are designed for wavy or curly hair. Of note, moisturising products are important because coarse hair holds less water, requiring comparatively more hydration. Avoid shampoos that promise volumising and thickening results, for the simple reason that curly hair is already thick and too much volume is overkill. Instead - you want something that cleans and fortifies, with a good medley of antioxidants and amino acids. Patrick’s salubrious SH2 shampoo is especially designed for thick hair types, and Trumper's Coconut Oil Shampoo is perfect for hair that feels particularly dry. Both products hydrate the hair without resulting in unmanageable frizz and excess volume.
Choosing the right conditioner follows the same criteria as shampoo - it should restore the good oils needed for a healthy and hydrated head of hair. Patrick's CD2 conditioner naturally pairs with the brand's shampoo, offering a similar array of nutritional benefits, but also consider men-u's SLIC (Smooth Leave In Conditioner) as an alternative, which leaves curls totally manageable whilst it works at the hair throughout the day.
Furthermore, swap the fine-tooth comb for a brush more accommodating of thick hair types. Mason Pearson produce peerless hair brushes, and the bristles of their Junior Military Brush are adequately spaced to comfortably detangle and style the hair as desired.
And when it comes to product, the rules continue to stay the same. Avoid products which overtly promise volume, but do not shy away from lighter formulations that add some textural interest. Products with sea salt in their formulations offer an attractive post-beach look that emphasise the waviness of the hair. A sea salt spray, like Triumph & Disaster's Karekare Hair Tonic emphasises the kink of one’s curls by adding texture without the weight. Alternatively, Modern Pirate's Sea Salt Creme Pomade or Hanz de Fuko's Quicksand offer a matte hold with a tactile formulation giving texture. A light and considered application of either is perfect for curls that need to be controlled but not tamed. And if you desire definition and a tight curl, a product with strong hold is the answer - but avoid gels and glue-like formulations for fear of rigid, unnatural looking hair. Try Baxter of California's Hard Cream Pomade, which is designed for thick hair, and importantly adds hard acting hold without weight.
The Best Styles for Curly Hair
And what about curly hairstyles for men? You could of course embrace the curls by pursuing a minimal intervention approach. Keep it hydrated, keep it neat and balanced on the sides, and a trim here and there when needed and your curls will sing. This style has an attractive casual raffishness to it, and with the right application of product your curly hair becomes the focus of your overall look.
In contrast, an 'undercut' style, which is a short and clean haircut on the sides and back with some length retained at the top is in style at the moment. This type of haircut manages the overall weight of the hair and creates an impressive sense of texture, looking clean and groomed without too severely diminishing the curl factor of your hair. An undercut controls the hair, and the shorter the top curls are, the less wavy it appears - making it look organised and sharp. A bit of bulk can be removed by the barber, through some careful thinning and texturised cutting, but keep this to a minimum - you want to look effortless.
Finally, for the best of both worlds - an undercut with a serious sense of drama - try a quiff, which takes an undercut and sweeps the top and the length of the fringe back. A sort of windswept pompadour, the quiff is the perfect day-and-night hairstyle, great for wavy hair types.