Summer heat and long, heavy hair do not pair well together. Who wants to be sweatier than they have to be? That being said, right now is the perfect time to embrace a beauty change and chop off your locks for the upcoming season. But curly hair girls know that finding a short look that works for them is no easy feat because, unlike straight strands, ringlets like to do their own thing. Rest assured, there are plenty of short curly hairstyles for every curl type.
First things first — you want to first determine your curl type because if you weren’t already aware, there are a lot of different curl patterns out there. You have your type 2 curls, which consist of 2a, 2b, and 2c. In this range, curls typically go from soft waves to loose but defined curls. Next up is category 3 — here you enter the more curly zone compared to the 2s. There’s 3a (the “S” curl), 3b (spiral curls), and 3c (corkscrews). Last but not least is type 4 curls. These curl patterns consist of tighter curls and coils with much more shrinkage, with 4a being the loosest, finest coil of the bunch, 4b is a tighter (and usually more dense) curl, and 4c is the tightest, most compact curl.
Now that you’re an expert on curl patterns, you’re ready to begin chopping away — or rather, your hairstylist is. If you have curly hair, you already know that finding a new style that fits your curl type and density involves a little more planning, structure, and maintenance, but with a little bit of guidance, you’re sure to find a close cropped style that looks amazing.
Ahead, celebrity hairstylists break down the best short haircuts for every type of curl. You’ll have a chic new curly style just in time for summer — guaranteed.
Short Haircut Inspiration: 2a Curls
Greg Gilmore, a hairstylist and brand ambassador for Matrix, says for 2a curls, a cut that’s short on the sides and lengthier on the top is ideal. He says it gives a carefree, lived-in appearance for this loosest of curl types. Plus, the hair can be washed and air-dried without any heat styling needed.
“That texture is looser, so layered bob shapes [also] work really well here because it does have the ability to hang without so much shrinkage,” Pekela Riley, a celebrity hairstylist and founder of Salon PK, tells TZR. “But, the layers will add a boost of volume as this texture type typically needs a little help with volume.” To give your hair some extra volume, consider scrunching Ouidad’s VitalCurl + Soft Defining Mousse into your curl.
Short Haircut Inspiration: 2b Curls
For 2a or 2b curls, hairstylist Cory Aaron Scott loves a curly pixie cut. “The reason why is that it won’t expand too much after it’s cut,” he says. “To perfect the look, lay the hair flat and closer to the head while keeping body and texture.” Regular visits to your stylist will help you maintain the shape — and make your grow out easier.
Short Haircut Inspiration: 2c Curls
“The shape of this cut compliments the curls,” Gilmore says. “Because of the graduation, the cut actually compliments the curls by making the hair appear to have lots of volume.” If you’re not quite ready for a full-blown pixie length, this is the ideal in-between for you and your curls.
Short Haircut Inspiration: 3a Curls
“When you are thinking about going short with this type of curl, keep in consideration that the length doesn’t go above the ear because it will bow out like a triangle,” Ted Gibson, a celebrity hairstylist who works with Lily Collins and Ashley Greene, says about 3a curls.
And Riley notes that when you go into the 3s, you have that shrinkage factor. “So, this type of cut definitely is where you want to make sure you’re considering how it will be in this lived-in state.” Therefore, she says shapes that work well for this are particularly your heart shape (meaning the overall architecture of the hair, fuller on top and thinner near the bottom) and an all-over round shape. “With a heart shape, you’ll need less layering because the hair does tend to shrink.”
Short Haircut Inspiration: 3b Curls
“[I recommend] shorter on the side [and] longer on top for this type of curl because it will be closer to the scalp, which will make a more flattering shape,” Gibson notes. To add to that, Gilmore says a short cropped cut will give the wearer a low-maintenance look and in turn, they’ll only need to add a leave-in conditioner or a curl cream while wet to style and define the curls throughout the day.
Short Haircut Inspiration: 3c Curls
Because of the hair pattern of 3c curls, Gibson says more of a round shape haircut is best. Larry Sims, a celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of Flawless by Gabrielle Union, is in agreement and says a round style with curly fringe will give the height and density that the cut needs.
Additionally, Gilmore recommends a shape that’s lower on the sides and back, but lengthier on top. “By keeping the hair in [the front] long, the cut keeps the look feminine and unique,” he says.
Short Haircut Inspiration: 4a Curls
Gilmore suggests a short and low-cut style for 4a curls. “However, it requires more manipulation with curl gel or curl custard to complete the look, but worth it since the style will be long lasting and could go for a few days,” he notes.
Additionally, Riley says 4a curls do super well with short tapers. “Shorter tapers are excellent because type 4 hair can have a little more maintenance, so when you go into these deliberate tapered shapes, they cut the style and management time.”
Short Haircut Inspiration: 4b Curls
For 4b curls, Gibson says an afro haircut all over is best because the coil is tighter than the others. And, according to Gilmore, a triangular shape complements the texture by graduating the sides and emphasizing the top, while also accentuating the face and bone structure.
According to Kiyah Wright, a celebrity hairstylist who works with Ciara and Jurnee Smollett, shrinkage is real for those with 4b curls. So, she says a 90-degree haircut that frames the face is perfect for this curl type. “The goal is that the hair is even all the way around.”
Short Haircut Inspiration: 4c Curls
For those with 4c curls, Gibson loves a graduated haircut on the sides and back of the head for this texture. Additional options, according to Sims, are to go with a really short crop haircut or a round afro. “It’s the most versatile texture going from really straight to curly,” he explains. “4c can hold a great foundation creating various hairstyles that the rest of the textures can’t create.”