How to Style Your Curly Hair Without Drowning in a Sea of Frizz

It can be done

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I was in the midst of extricating half a broken tortilla chip from a bowl of guacamole at a Mexican restaurant last Saturday when my friend asked me, “How did you get your hair to look like that?”

I fingered one of my freshly air-dried curls. “What do you mean?” I asked. “You’ve seen my hair curly before.”

“Yeah, but…” she hesitated. “Isn’t it usually frizzier?”

I had to laugh. One of the trickiest things about my naturally curly hair is not being able to predict how it will look. Sometimes I wake up with perfect squiggles, other days I’m confronted with Medusa-like snakes or an explosion of frizz. There are so many uncontrollable variables — weather, movement, the angle of my head when I sleep, Brad Pitt’s mood, etc. I manage it as best as I can with a healthy pump of DevaCurl styling cream (the only product that’s ever successfully tamed my frizz) right after washing, but after that it’s sort of a choose-your-own adventure situation, and I’m not the one choosing the adventure. My hair is.

That’s why in terms of “styling,” I always just leave it down when I’m wearing it curly. No fuss, no muss. It’s the safest option. With straight hair, you can mess around with it and still return to a clean slate if you don’t end up liking the result, but with curly hair, any touching inevitably exacerbates the frizz or upsets the curl pattern. It’s risky.

Leaving my hair down every day isn’t much fun though. It feels pretty limiting. I want options — foolproof curly-hair styles I can factor into my rotation. So I reached out to DevaCurl, the brand responsible for my favorite curly-hair products, and asked for help.

Two days later, I was sitting in a chair at Man Repeller HQ experiencing delightful ASMR chills at the hands of Eladia LeBron, DevaCurl stylist extraordinaire. She kindly demonstrated two curly hairstyles (a fancy “night-time” one on me, and a QT pie “daytime” one on Erica). They’re both so easy you can do them at home in just four steps, potentially with your eyes closed, but I have yet to attempt that myself. In the meantime, watch and learn, fellow curly whirlies:

The style: Fancy schmancy fishtail bun
Recommended for: Wavy to curly hair

1. Mist the hair with water, then slick it back using a soft bristle brush and a light pomade (Eladia used DevaCurl’s Beautiful Mess Sculpting Pomade).

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2. Secure the hair into a ponytail with a soft elastic and divide into four sections.

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3. Create a fishtail braid with each section, securing at the end with a small rubber band. Holding the ends of the fishtail, gently push the braid up towards the root to condense it and make it look extra textured.


4. Wrap the braids around the base of the ponytail, securing with bobby pins to create a bun and teasing the ends of the braids to even out the shape if necessary.

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The style: Casual twisted pony
Recommended for: Curly to super curly hair

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1. Start with dry, defined curls. Section out the hair above the ear to the nape of the neck at both sides.

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2. Wet and slick down the remaining middle section, securing in place with a styling cream (Eladia used DevaCurl’s Wave Maker Touchable Texture Whip).

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3. Take the left section, and starting at the root, twist the hair up and in, working your way down until the entire section is twisted. Secure with bobby pins and repeat on the other side.


4. Take a loose curl from the bottom center section, and wrap it around all of your hair, including the twists, to create a ponytail. Secure in place with a pin.



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Special thanks to DevaCurl and Devachan stylist Eladia LeBron. 

Photo by Edith Young.

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  • Irene Laura

    Wish I had curly matter how i style my hair they always end up being STRAIGHT. HATE THEM!!

    • Kaitlin Atkinson

      have you thought about a perm—-like a wavy perm? even for halfway through your hair it would probably look super nice

  • Kaitlin Atkinson

    nothing is better than devacurl! i just got one of their cuts at devachan——fixed my curly hair problems oh i love them so

    • Harling Ross

      they are MAGICIANS

    • Agreed! Devacurl changed my hair life! No looking back.

  • Aydan

    I’m about to try the living proof leave-in conditioner for curly hair, so we’ll see how that goes! I’m in desperate need of moisture for my curls with this weird NYC weather, but def don’t want them to be too weighed down. Was recommended to use creams by my hair stylist roomie, so cross fingers this leads to success!

    • Harling Ross

      my fingers are crossed an also my toezzzzZ

      • Aydan

        used it on my hair last night!! looking pretty fly and curly in the best way this morning–let’s see how it lasts over time! 🙂

  • Krys A

    I can’t say enough good things about the Devacurl system! My sis has curly hair and I didn’t even know mine was curly until I went to a hair appointment with her. I ditched the straightening iron, harsh products, got a new cut by a stylist who studied the program, bought their book and purchased Devacurl products. I have never looked back!

  • KillerKate

    This is my situation during the week (I blow it out straight for weekends). I wish I had more easy fail-safe styling options at my disposal… if it’s not a good curl day because of one of the many factors you’ve mentioned above, I usually just resort to a braid, or French braid if I want to look like Anne of green gables :/ . I love and use devacurl too though; their products are great.

  • chouette

    Just wanting to jump on the Devachan circlejerk bandwagon… NoPoo 4 LYFE!
    Also, any tips on pulling back layered curly hair? Any ideas beyond 8000 bobby pins?

    • Harling Ross

      what about butterfly clips?

  • tiabarbara

    Devacurl apparently doesn’t exist according to Australian retailers… though tbh I’ve been a big fan of Garnier’s curling mousse for a long time. My hair is super thick, so I have to use loads, but the ~lewk~ is worth it. Honourable mentions go to Moroccan Oil Curling Creme for being my mainstay all through high school and baby-20s.

    • Nina

      Same prob! I just had a look online for it- I don’t know if you’ve ever shopped at, but they have it in stock.

      • tiabarbara

        I’ve never bought anything off strawberrynet – do you know if they have a good rep?

        • Nina

          I’ve bought a few things from them, mainly cosmetics, and haven’t had any issues.

          • tiabarbara

            Awesome! I’ll be sure to give them a go. Thanks!

  • Ally H

    omfg “the angle of my head when I sleep” YES GURL nothing worse than waking up with wonky flattened roots

  • Suzan

    I looove it when you guys make instructional gifs! They’re soothing and make me happy 🙂

  • kate

    I feel like I’m in the minority here, but Deva Curl does NOT work for me. Maybe it’s because my hair is fine in addition to be curly? I don’t know. I embraced the whole Deva Curl those and it didn’t pan out. Hair was crunchy or greasy or frizzy. I live in a super humid city and have found that straightening my long bob and pulling it back is the best option, at least until October.

  • Meghan

    I have to be honest I wish DevaCurl worked for me, but it just doesn’t. It leaves my hair feeling so greasy. I am a huge fan of Ouidad. All of their products are AMAZEEEEEEEEE.

  • Emily Mieure

    The frizz free trick (for me) has nothing to do with product – although I love Beautiful Curls found in the beauty section at Whole Foods. I only wash my hair once a week, which is the dirty secret I’m not scared to share.

  • Irene

    I really appreciate that Man Repeller embraces natural hair—but it’s harmful to hinge that acceptance on how frizzy said curls are. I think a fellow reader, Temo, said it best several years ago: “As a Black woman with a huge big frizzy afro I am like wha?? Is there a problem?” The title of this article is “How to Style Your Curly Hair Without Drowning in a Sea of Frizz.” How can women with very, very frizzy hair (that will never form ringlets) reconcile this with Man Repeller’s message of self love?

    • Haley Nahman

      As a lover of frizz, I see your point! Going to think on this. Thank you!