Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

Curly Hair Layers?

I received an email today from a young woman who is getting married in six months.  She has spent the past year growing her naturally curly hair down to her shoulders and it's currently one length.

She told me that according to the famous Andre Walker Curl Classification System she has what is commonly known as Type 3 Curly Hair but it has a few waves and it is mainly loose curls.

(Juliana Margulies - "Ghost Ship" Premiere - 10-22-02 - - All Rights Reserved).

Her problem?  Although she loves the way her curls become more defined the longer they grow with the weight of her hair holding down her normal wavy sections, she is craving a "hot new look" for her wedding.  She is also thinking the answer would be layers or a shaggy style.

She wanted to know if I thought getting layers cut into her hair would give her a hot new hairstyle for her wedding.

My response was to first ask her more questions about the type of curly hair she has.  It is well-known in the natural curl world that not all natural curls are created equally.

In fact, many curly hair experts have spent a lot of time classifying, defining and prescribing the best hair cuts, hair styles and treatments for natural curls.

(Image of Julianna Margulies - VH1 Big in 2002 Awards Arrivals - 12-04-02 - - All Rights Reserved).

One of the first to get serious about defining and classifying natural curls was Oprah Winfrey's hairdesser, Andre Walker.  Since Oprah has natural curls and Andre has been working with her hair for years, who better to define the different types of curls.

Even when natural curls are classified into clear cut categories, natural curls are still very unique for every person who has curls and/or waves.

The Andre Walker Curl Classificaton

Andre's famous Curl Classification defines four Types of hair with Type 1 being straight, Type 2 being wavy, Type 3 is curly with sub-categories and Type 4 which is kinky and has subcategories.

(Julianna Margulies - 4th Annual Friends Finding A Cure Gala -04-29-04 - - All Rights Reserved).

Naturally curly hair can be a combination of more than one type of hair and within each curl category can even span more than one subcategory.

Andre defines Type 3 Curly hair into two distinct types, Type A and Type B.

Type 3 Curly Hair - Type A usually consists of loose curls which are at their optimal shape when hair is shoulder length or slightly longer.

Type 3 Curly Hair - Type B covers a range of curls which can range from soft and bouncy, more like Type A to very tightly coiled.  When curly hair is Type 3, Type B the curls will have generally have different curl patterns at different points on the head.

(Julianna Margulies - HBO Party Celebrating The 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards - 01-16-05 - - All Rights Reserved).

Should this naturally curly haired bride-to-be get her natural curls cut in layers?

Actually this question spans a variety of points.

Which includes the following:

1.  Do you really want to change your hair, even a little bit, right before your wedding?

Remember, those wedding photos will be with you for many years to come.  Although many brides get the itch to do something dramatically different with their tresses before their wedding, it is best to control that itch so you don't spend the rest of your wedding life regretting that hairstyle that looks like someone other than you.

2.  Do you really want to get layers for your natural curls?

Like everything else in the hair world, layers can mean a variety of things from super short layers to super long layers.  Can naturally curly hair be layered?  Again, this depends on different factors.

(Julianna Margulies - 21st Annual American Cinematheque Award Honoring George Clooney - 10-13-06 - - All Rights Reserved).

Before even considering whether layers are appropriate or not it is best to find a hairdresser who specifically specializes in cutting naturally curly hair.  This is very important.  Since this bride-to-be says she has Type 3A curls, the shorter her hair is cut, the straighter her curls may become.  It is also important to take into consideration how her natural waves will respond to loosing the weight of longer strands.

When waves are layered they tend to become more pronounced which may or may not be a good thing.

3.  Consider A Custom Curly Hair Cutting Technique

The Queen of Curl, Ouidad, created a curly hair cutting technique known as "slicing and carving".  Ouidad believes before natural curls should be studied carefully to understand the curl growth and formation pattern.  Once the unique pattern is discovered, the curls are carefully carved to follow their natural growth pattern.

Not all natural curl experts follow The Ouidad method but there are lots of curly hair experts who have their own method of cutting natural curls and waves for maximum benefits.

(Julianna Margulies - 21st Annual American Cinematheque Award Honoring George Clooney - 10-13-06 - - All Rights Reserved).

4.  Avoiding The Triangular Hair Cut

The reason for selecting a natural curl expert is to avoid the potential disasters that a traditional blunt cut can cause.  When naturally curly hair is cut too short, too blunt or with too many or very short layers the curls, depending on how tight they are, can form a triangle or a big wedge shape.

5.  Avoiding Short Fringes Or Bangs

Depending on the natural curl, it is also not usually a great idea to have short or layered bangs created around the hairline or in the form of bangs.  Why?  The hair will revert to its natural texture and if it is tightly curly or wavy, a lot of time will be needed to straighten that area of the hair.

(Juliana Margulies - "Ghost Ship" Premiere - 10-22-02 - - All Rights Reserved).

Curly Hair With Layers?

The answer for this naturally curly haired bride?  Since her wedding is only six months away I would strongly recommend she avoid going with a major change at this point in her wedding cycle.  If she wants a really sizzling look for her wedding, I would suggest she find a hairdresser with natural curl expertise and schedule some styling practice sessions to try out some new hairstyles that do not require her to cut her hair.

Can people with naturally curly hair get their strands layered?  It depends on the type of curl they have, whether there are wave or straight strands interspersed with the curls and how much time they want to spend on their hair.  If they do want layers, its important to work with a hairdresser with natural curl expertise who can cut layers to help refine and define the natural shape of their curls.

When layered or cut by an expert who truly understand curls, natural curls can be incredibly beautiful.  When layered inappropriately or by someone who doesn't comprehend natural curls, disasters can occur.

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