Sam Villa Shares 6 Tips for Cutting Tricky Curly Hair

Naturally curly hair scares a lot of hairdressers—and you can’t blame them! Highly textured hair likes to be left alone. When it’s touched, it expands and gets frizzy. But it’s just hair, and you can learn to outsmart it!

1. Read the curl. Ask your client, “When did you last shampoo your hair?” The more recent the shampoo, the more you’re seeing the hair in its true natural state. Next, consider your climate. A curly head in humid Miami will have more expansion than one in dry Phoenix.
2. Recommend a leave-in treatment. A good leave-in treatment will calm down the hair, impart shine, keep the hair soft to the touch, refine the shape of the curl and control the frizz.
3. Cut the hair wet. You’ll have greater control of the curl and of your sectioning with wet hair, because you’ll be reading the natural silhouette. Wet hair will not expand and frizz—even if you keep touching it!
4. Work with zigzag sections. Whereas taking solid, straight-line sections for the cut will result in a very structured silhouette, taking zigzag sections will enable you to complement the curl by creating a broken-up silhouette. Unless you’re going for an afro’s perfect circle, you’ll want to achieve softer edges with a more deconstructed look.
5. The ends need friends. Keep the ends blocked rather than point-cutting into the ends. The hair needs weight. The zigzag sectioning will naturally give you solid chunky lines, not feathery ends that become frizzy and flyaway.
6. Educate your client. Teach your client how to combat the climate by spraying a light-control product onto a makeup powder brush and using it to “polish” the curls after the hair has dried. This will calm down any frizz around the hairline while delivering shine and gloss. If she’s out, she can go into the ladies’ room, wrap any problematic curl areas around her finger and polish them with the spray.

Relax! The great thing about cutting curly hair is that if you don’t hit the same zigzag sections every time, you’ll just be creating more deconstruction—and that’s good! So calm yourself down, and you’ll calm the hair down. Find your confidence, because that’s where you have to stay with curly hair, and then it’s easy!

sv headshot high res 180x300 Sam Villa Gives a Glimpse at Life on the RoadSam Villa has more than 25 years experience as a platform artist and educator for major salon professional companies. Part of the Redken family for the past 11 years, Sam is Redken’s Education Artistic Director and Design & Training Consultant and appears on as a spokesperson for consumer consultations. He is in constant demand at international and domestic trade shows and in-salon programs, where his progressive teaching approach enables stylists to absorb new techniques quickly and for practical use in the salon. In 2008, Sam launched his website,, along with his own brand of digital media education and styling tools for salon professionals.