Curly haired women are consistently told that straightening for work is a good move. In some professions, curly hair is even seen as unkempt and unprofessional. Fortunately, instead of straightening you can stay true to your natural ways by wearing any of these top 10 curly professional hairstyles. You never know, you may incite a workplace-wide natural transitioning movement! Do you have a professional hairstyle that's tried and true? Let us know in the comments!


Curly Bob

A curly bob is a great way to show off your curls while also giving them a more professional and controlled look. Because maintaining a bob cut will require more frequent visits to your stylist, your hair will be healthier and show it. Tighter, shinier curls will prove your boss’s image of ratty, tangled, damaged curly hair to be just down right wrong!

Curly bobs are not for everyone, though. Square, oval and long face shapes are well suited for the shorter cuts, while heart and round shaped faces will not be flattered.

Also, pay attention to your hair type. Short cuts will increase your curl. If this is something you want to avoid, a bob is not for you.

As with all hairstyles, finding great products to help keep shape and promote definition is ideal. Try products designed specifically for short cuts, especially products designed specifically for both shorter cuts and curly hair.

MORE: Curly Bobs And Why They Rock!


Half Up, Half Down

While not a style all hair lengths and textures can pull off, it is definitely one to keep in your repertoire. Even those with shorter cuts and tighter curls can benefit from letting a few pieces hang down to frame the face.

No matter how much curly hair you decide to put in the up 'do and how much you leave down, remember to style wisely. Half up, half down professional hairstyles are not your average 8th grade throwback.

Strands left down should frame the face and be frizz free. Pieces that are pulled up should lie as flat as possible to give the look of a sleek, well-maintained upper layer. This layer should not be greasy.

The overall style doesn’t need to look like a quick fix to an alarm mishap. Spend some time perfecting the style before you make it a professional look.

MORE: Half Up, Half Out With Bantu Knots



Braids are always a great way to dress up any look and keep curly locks in their place and out of your face. For women with longer hair, a side braid is both stylish as well as easy-going and makes for a good work look. This look will work best if you also have long layers, as the front, loose strands are key to creating casual, but professional hairstyles.

When braiding, start close to the nape of your neck, keeping the braid loose, but tight enough to contain the curl.

Women with tighter curls and shorter cuts can opt for creating smaller, tighter and close to the scalp braids. These type of braids, also known as cornrows, are extremely versatile and can last for an extended period of time, helping to quicken your morning routine.

For both styles, a styling cream such as As I Am Smoothing Gel will help to whisk back fly-aways within the braid(s) and give hair a fresh and professional look.

MORE: 30 New Braid Hairstyles & Techniques

high bun hairstyle paville

Top Knot

More and more women, and designers, are opting for the top knot. These trendy professional hairstyles are easy to recreate and perfect for those days when you sleep through the alarm.

To achieve an optimal look, pull hair up and away from the face, placing the bun at the top ridge of your head. The bun should be resting on a short, flat area, right above the rounding of your skull.

For women with shorter styles and tighter curls, use a silk headband or scarf to gather curls on tops of your head, or where the curls naturally fall. You can either use the headband or scarf as a hair tie, creating a traditional bun, or simply let hair rest behind the scarf or headband, creating a bun look.

Bobby pins will help to keep the scarf in place, if you so choose. Finish your curls with a pomade such as Curlisto Finishing Pomade to hold definition and create shine throughout the day.

MORE: How to Style a Perfect High Bun


Wash and Go

Okay, it's true, we admit it: curly hair left to its own devices can sometimes go a little haywire, but that doesn’t mean you can’t flaunt your natural ways.

Using your finger, twist curls individually, coating each with a dab of pomade from root to tip. The process may seem rigorous, but hey, at least you don’t have to straighten!

Remember to keep your hands off! Excessive manipulation of curly locks during the day can transfer oils that break down curl pattern and create frizz.

Using strong hold pomade will make sure your mind never needs to wander back to your hair. Try something like Wen Sweet Almond Texture Balm.



Hair Accessories

You name it and curly hair looks good in it. Now, while certain workplace protocols might restrict some hair accessories such as hats, other accessories such as headbands, decorative bobby pins and even fun hair ties can dress up most professional hairstyles in a matter of minutes.

Drugstores offer an array of styles for these products, but spending a little extra for nicer, more professional looking products is a good idea. Try scoping out your favorite stores for small accessories and remember, all scarves can be turned in to a hair piece..

Beware, though, of trying to tie in recent trends. Your headband shouldn’t have a huge feather on it, but it is okay to get a little creative as long as it isn’t distracting.

MORE: Lust List: Hair Accessories




While just a couple years ago straighties mastered the front strand braid, curlies have been using twists since, nearly, the beginning of time.

Twists are easy and quick, get hair out of your face, and provide a polished look.

Twists can be on a single side, or on both. To accomplish the look, grab the section of hair you want pulled back, and twist. Be sure to hold the twist tightly throughout the twisting process as the style a tendency to loosen up near the end.

Secure the twist with crossing bobbing pins or invisible hair ties. The end of the twist should disappear in to the rest of your hair.

To combat fly-aways, use a combination of pomade or Shea butter and hairspray.

MORE: How to Create a Flat Twist Updo



Curly bangs can be a challenge, but if worn correctly, can make for nice “grown-up,” professional hairstyles. Be sure, always, that the bangs never cover your eyes. Especially in a work environment, you don’t want your hair to be a distraction to either you or others.

When going for the cut, be sure that your stylist makes the chop on dry hair. Cutting curly bangs wet will create shorter than wanted locks. Once the cut is in place, use pomade or Shea butter to definite each curl. Curly bangs should never be frizzy. Go ahead and use a curling iron or rollers to set the look before you add products. Women whose hair naturally creates an afro-like effect are well suited for curly bangs. Parts can create a confusing curly look and seemingly chop the hair up in sections. Those with looser curls and prominent parts can opt for an up ‘do, letting their bangs frame their face.

MORE: Curly Hair Bangs are Back in Style


French Twist

Straight-stranded gals have been using this trick for centuries and there is no reason curlies can’t take a page from their book. French twists create classic and iconic professional hairstyles that gives off a polished and professional look.

To create a French twist, follow the instructions below.

  1. Put your hair in a ponytail, fixing it on your head with a hair tie.
  2. Make a firm twist, like you would to create a single twist, and continuing twisting all the way to your ends.
  3. Lay the twist straight up the back of your head. Continue twisting if needed. Begin pinning hair starting from the bottom and hiding pins inward where you cannot see them.
  4. Give the middle roll a pinch to open up just enough to place your ends inside.
  5. Take hair pins or a hair comb and slide in the upper section, grabbing just a bit of hair in the twist and sliding it in and under, into the roll. Do the same for the lower section.To keep the up ‘do in place, apply hairspray where needed.

MORE: How to French Braid Curly Hair



A pin-up hairstyle works great for all lengths and textures of curly hair and it gets hair out of your face, off your neck and, best of all, gives extra volume and curl.

First, pin up the top half of your hair to get it out of the way. Then, get creative with the bottom half. Using bobby pins, twist curls up and secure.

Once you are finished with the bottom half, move to the top and begin again.

Once all pieces are firmly secured on your head, apply hairspray. If needed, use a curling iron to curl ends that are sticking out.

When your 'do looks as though you just received a perm and a pixie cut, you'll know you have it right.

WATCH: Retro Pin-Up Natural Hair Tutorial

I think whatever hairstyle you do, the important thing is to keep it frizz-free. that's why I recommend using the pro naturals argan oil =)
I resent coming to Naturally Curly in search of help styling my naturally curly hair, only to see photos of women with STRAIGHT HAIR. Not to mention the majority of these styles are NOT professional.
These are excellent tips on how to rock your natural hair in the workplace! I particularly like the bun and all down styles!
These look awful. "Kinky bun"??? In what world is that a professional style. She looks like a child playing at the park. "Curly braids"??? You've got to be kidding. You know what, for all of you looking for great professional styles, check out old photos of Jasmine Guy as Whitley Gilbert. She always wore really chic styles but they were almost always just natural curls.
Womp...Womp! These are the most boring styles ever, and nothing new. I have a looser curl, but I think this doesn't help people with kinkier hair one bit!
I came here looking for a couple of professional up-dos, but instead it seems like every style imaginable was listed. Not necessarily helpful, but I do agree that a huge part of looking professional is well-maintained, frizz-free hair.
going shorter does not necessarily make your hair curlier. I went shorter and lost the spring to my curl. My hair gets curlier as it gets LONGER
I'm a #4b hair type and I'm sad that there are only two real curly hair styles. I've been all natural for almost five years now and wear it the same way, please come with the real good, good!
Ok, Now I'm really offended. So you don't think CurlyGirls who may have short to medium length hair want style variety? you missed the mark on this article. (very one-sided) :-(
Okay a little disappointed seeing that these styles are more for ppl with long hair or mid length hair that can go up. I would have like to see some styles for short hair in this. Yes one of the other comments is right this is ppl with none curly natural hair.
These pictures suck. Sorry, NC. First problem, none of them have curly hair. It's all straight hair that has been curled. Second, a side braid is not professional. A ponytail is not professional. Third, not everyone knows how to do a french twist. Fourth, not everyone has the length. NC, this was very disappointing.
omg som of them dont have curly hair its ugh fake gosh i just try flat iron my bang an put my hair in a pony tail an call it a day
Wow... Now that I have a bit of length, I thought this would be the PERFECT article. I would get some ideas on what to do other than a puff, a wash n' go, or a twist out. Boy, did I get this one wrong. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE work some versatility into these types of articles. Seeing 10 options for long-haired, mostly looser-curl folks was disappointing to say the least.
Okay...I'm sorry but I have about 5in of 4a hair. None of these styles will work on me. Also do to the fact that I'm in the military, I couldn't wear any of these styles to work or prob wouldn't wear them in any other work environment. I was hoping for something a little better :(.
Most of these hairstyles are far from professional. I'm not sure if a side braid screams "Take me seriously, I'm a professional!"
I agree with the previous comments. Also these styles are for long hair. I didn't see many options for short curly hair...
So true Aruizbrown. :-(
Half of these styles are straight hair that was curled, not naturally curly hair =(