How to Trim Curly Hair


Image of a woman with curly orange hair

Though some may think curly hair doesn’t need much maintenance or upkeep, it actually looks best when styled regularly and treated with specific professional hair care products. A good routine for curly hair types should include minimal use of hot tools and the use of nourishing hair products to maximize curl definition and keep the hair looking healthy. A good curly hair routine should also include regular hair trims at the salon, which helps curls look bouncy, touchable and weightless. Here’s a step-by-step guide and a few helpful tips on how to trim curly hair.

Preparing for the Trim

Before the shears are put to use, there are a few things to know about curly hair in particular. Unlike straight hair types or those that fall somewhere in the wavy zone, curly hair continues to set into its most natural state as time passes between washes. For this reason, curly hair is best trimmed a day or so after it has been washed with a curl preserving professional shampoo because it is around that point when the curls are in their prime shape.

Stylists should note this and clients should plan accordingly when scheduling a routine trim at the salon. Of course, if the appointment requires a wash after professional hair color shades or treatments have been deposited, the stylist will cut the hair dry before wetting it or applying products. Stylists can prep dry, curly hair for a trim by making sure there are no knots in the hair and parting the hair at the middle or the client’s desired side. These simple steps help to create a good working space and ensure even results.


stylist cutting curly hair
Prostockstudio |

Trimming Tips and Tricks

Once the hair is prepped and ready to be trimmed, stylists can start the actual trimming process. It’s good to work in small increments with curly hair because tiny trims can be more noticeable. Stylists should consider starting with a half inch section at a time to start out and get a feel for the hair, evaluate the change in the mirror and go from there.

One option is to work in sections of hair using clips and other hair salon accessories. This technique makes it easy to focus on one section of hair without other sections moving around or getting in the way. Starting with a single curl, stylists should hold the piece of hair out towards them a bit and cut the curl. It’s important to do a “straight across” motion instead of cutting on an angle because this can misshape the curls and cause fluffiness and frizz.

Amidst the trimming process, stylists should stop to analyze their work from time to time. It’s a necessary check that helps both the stylist and client with visualizing the end result. These periods of pause should involve tousling the hair a bit to help settle the curls and make them look the way they normally would.

smiling woman with curly hair
Mykola Kravchenko |

Once the trimming process is complete, the client is ready to rock their fresh, healthy curls! Stylists can then remind their clients that a good curl routine filled with professional products and minimal styling will make their curls look their best between salon visits.

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