Part of the beauty of curly hair is the versatility when it comes to styling it. And while there is a learning curve when it comes to understanding the needs of curly, textured, or wavy hair, once you've mastered the art of styling and caring for it, the options are endless. So how do you master it? Hairstylist Vernon François, who counts celebs Serena Williams and Lupita Nyong'o as clients, knows more than a thing or two about all hair types and is here to help you discover the full potential of your natural texture. First, forget what you thought you knew about curly or textured hair. François dispels a few hair myths below and suggests alternative advice below to keep in mind while styling.
1. Embrace frizz. "I've found that people try to run away from frizz rather than embrace it and recognize that it's part of the DNA of texture," François says. "We've been told to suppress frizz for so long that we've lost the will to look at its benefits, [like how it] plays a vital role in getting your hair to that big, fluffy, beautiful, soft, elegant, authentic space."
2. Don't force a look. "Each day your curls will speak to you in a different way, and it's important to recognize that and engage with them," he says. "Confidence has a big part to play in that. I often find if you try to over-style or force your curls to do something they don't want to do, you'll have a style that doesn't look authentic. Curly hair is not designed to look finished, whatever that finish may be. It's designed to enhance its true beauty and be glorious within that."
3. Be patient. "I'm always struck by what curl you can bring to life when you have a combination of the right products and patience," he says. "What I always say is never do your hair if you're in an angry mood, because you'll rush it, you'll break the ends, and you'll just be angry. Put some music on, put your favorite track on, dance away, and I guarantee you'll have the best hair day of your life."
4. Do less. "It sounds cliche, but the motto is less is more," François says. "Applying [product to] it, brushing it, diffusing it, combing it through to make sure it's even, and just leaving it. It's as simple as that."
Now, keeping all of that advice in mind, get excited to try one of the below seven styles:
1. Apply styling cream with your fingers and a fine tooth comb. Work the product into small sections to ensure even distribution from roots to ends.
2. Finger twist. Working in consistent 1-inch sections (use diagonal sections around your face instead of square for a softer finish), use your finger to twirl and twist the hair from roots to ends. Continue until all your hair has been twisted.
3. Keeping the twists in tact, allow hair to air-dry or use a diffuser. To get the best results from a diffuser, use a low heat temperature. You never want to dry out the curls, just encourage their shape, so using a little bit of heat with mild air pressure will help achieve that. Diffuse until 90 percent dry, then let the rest dry naturally. François says the process is similar to cooking rice: use a low temperature to let it slowly soak up the moisture for a really full, fluffy result.
4. Flip hair while drying. This will encourage volume in your hair.
5. Separate the twists. Once your hair is dry, working on one section at a time, pull the twists apart from the middle outward. The more you separate the twists, the softer the curls will be. Pump (aka gently lift the hair at) the root with a pick for added volume.
6. Lay edges. Use a clean toothbrush or small bristle brush and edge control to smooth the hairs around your hairline.
7. Finish with a lightweight styling serum for added shine and definition. Warm up a small amount in your hands and work it into the ends of your hair.
1. Detangle. Use your fingers to gently pull the curls apart.
2. Apply leave-in conditioner. Spray leave-in conditioner in sections, starting from the back to ensure even distribution of the product.
3. Blow dry. Set the blow dryer on medium heat using full air pressure. Then begin drying your hair, angling the blow dryer upward, moving it in a circular motion. This whirlwind effect will elongate the curls and encourage the hair to lift for added volume.
4. Pull it up. Gather most of your hair, leaving the bang and face-framing curls out. Use a hair tie to secure a high ponytail.
5. Lay edges. Use a clean toothbrush or small bristle brush and edge control to smooth the hairs around your hairline.
6. Twist and pin shorter pieces. If your hair isn't long enough in the back for a high ponytail, twist and pin up the shorter pieces.
1. Apply leave-in moisture spray. Work it in with your fingers to ensure even distribution.
2. Diffuse it. Use a low heat temperature for best results.
3. Create a low ponytail. Part your hair from ear to ear, creating a top and bottom section, and then gather the lower half into a low ponytail. Use a hair tie to secure it into place.
4. Turn the ponytail into a bun. Use a small bristle brush to gently tease the pony before rolling it forward and pinning it to the base of the ponytail. Spray it in place with hairspray an arm's length away.
5. Tease and pull back front pieces. Gather large sections and gently tease them at the roots to add volume. Pull the sections back and pin them in place to incorporate them into the bun. Let any shorter pieces fall organically to frame your face.
6. Define curls. When using curling wands, make sure it's set on a warm heat, around 295 degrees, instead of a hot, hot heat. François says you don't want the wand scorching hot or it will flatten the cuticle too much to where there's no hold. Instead, loosely wrap the sections closest to your face around the semi-hot wand to encourage the shape of the curl. You'll still be left with a bit of a kink in your hair texture, but you'll get it smooth enough to define it without losing the hold.
1. Apply leave-in moisture spray. Work it in with your fingers to ensure even distribution.
2. Tie the hair up in small sections around the face. Use a comb to section off a 1-inch square of hair at a time. Use a holding wax and your fingers to slick the section, and then use an elastic band to secure the hair. After you've wrapped the band around the section a few times, partially pull the hair through, leaving it in a looped formation to create a bun.
3. Repeat step two, from ear to ear, until you've sectioned off all of the hair around your face. Leave the back half of your hair untouched for the moment.
4. Apply more leave-in moisture spray to the back section. Use your fingers or a comb to work the product into your hair.
5. Blow dry the roots. Set your hair dryer on a mild temperature. Then, blow dry the back section while gently grabbing and pulling your curls with your fingers to elongate and shape your style.
6. Lay your edges. Use a clean toothbrush or small bristle brush and edge control to smooth the hairs around your hairline.
1. Detangle. François suggests using your fingers to do so before resorting to a comb; that way there's less chance of breakage or pulling on the hair.
2. Apply moisture spray. Starting from the back and moving toward the front, spray the product on the length of your hair and use a wide tooth comb or brush, like the Olivia Garden iDetangle Brush, to distribute the formula evenly.
3. Finger twist. Working in consistent 1-inch sections (use diagonal sections around your face instead of square for a softer-looking finish), use your finger to twirl and twist the hair from roots to ends. Continue until all your hair has been twisted.
4. Diffuse or air dry. Use a diffuser if you're short on time, but François says the best way to dry your hair is it let it air dry and gently scrunch. Then, use the palm of your hand as a base (to hold the hair) and your fingers to scrunch.
5. Pull the top half into a top knot. Section off the top half of your hair and use an elastic to tie it off. Loosely wrap the tail around the base of the pony and pin it into place to create the bun.
1. Apply moisture spray all over. Starting from the back, use your fingers to distribute the product evenly through your hair. Use a blow dryer on a warm setting to activate and penetrate the product deeper into your curls.
2. Apply gel. Use your fingers to smooth the gel onto the hair around your face. Grab a small bristle brush and smooth the gelled hair back.
3. Accessorize with elastic headbands. François used five headbands of different widths to create Sunita's look. Slide the headbands into place one of a time, spacing them out a couple centimeters apart.
1. Apply moisture spray. To revive wavy hair, start by wetting it down completely and comb the moisture spray through with your fingers.
2. Diffuse your hair with mild heat. Flip all of your hair over to one side and diffuse it for a few minutes before flipping it all over to the other side. Continue diffusing as you flip your hair from side to side to encourage lift at the roots.
3. Braid the side sections. Part your hair to the side. Then take a 2- or 3-inch section of hair from the left side and braid it down to the ends. After securing the ends with an elastic, gently pull the braid apart to soften the look. Repeat on the right side.
4. Pin back the braids. Pull both the braids back to the back of your head in the center and secure the plaits with pins.
5. Define your waves. If some pieces are straighter than others, use a curling wand to help increase the wave. To do so, set the wand on a warm heat setting, around 295 degrees. Then, loosely wrap the sections closest to your face around the wand to increase the shape of the curl.