After years of hiding her curls behind extensions and the ubiquitous high ponytail, Ariana Grande debuted soft, natural curls yesterday on Instagram. Last year Ariana was getting so much flack for her repetitive ponytail that she took to social media to defend her style choice, saying it was a result of the damage her hair underwent on her Nickelodeon show, "I had to bleach my hair and dye it red every other week for the first 4 years of playing Cat… as one would assume, that completely destroyed my hair," she said. "I wear it in a pony tail because my actual hair is so broken that it looks absolutely ratchet and absurd when I let it down. Trust me, it’s… difficult for me to have to wait forever for my natural hair to grow back and to have to wear more fake hair than every drag queen on earth combined." 

Her curls are still looking a lot looser than the few photos that we've seen of a young, naturally curly Ariana. This could be due to a number of factors, from hormonal changes in her curl pattern to heat damage, or perhaps her curls were manipulated by a curling wand in this photo. Either way, we're happy to see her curls making a comeback.

We have all experienced hair damage at some point in our hair journeys, so we know that it takes nurse your hair back to health, and how rewarding it can feel when your curls grow back. If you're transitioning from damaged hair to wearing it naturally curly, here are a few tips from our writer Nora, who has been transitioning from a Keratin treatment gone bad.

  • Wear your hair in stretched styles
  • Choose styling products that will stretch out the curly roots and make the straighter ends appear curlier
  • Master a braid out or twist out, to give your curls a more uniform curl pattern
  • Be patient! Your curls will grow back, but it takes time
To learn more about the stretched styles Nora uses and the products she likes, check out her full article here.

peekaboo healthy curls long time no see

A photo posted by Ariana Grande (@arianagrande) on

We also recommend mastering a few heatless hairstyles that will make this often tricky transition a little more fun. Ariana shared her excitement on Instagram with this side braided selfie. Whether you're bringing back your curls or have been natural for years, you can rock this side braid too.  We turned to curly hair stylist Ricky Pennisi for his guide on how to recreate the look.

Get the look

  1. Start with freshly washed hair. Towel dry and apply about a dime-sized of a styling cream or gel, like the RICI Thirsty Styling Gel, to create hold for your waves.
  2. Diffuse your hair for more body and more prominent curls. If you need a little more hold add a finishing product like the RI CI Memory Setting Spray.
  3. When your hair is about 90% dry, hit the cold button on the dryer. 
  4. When your hair is 99% dry take the diffuser hit the hair again with the dryer. This will give you a softer, looser curl like Ariana.
  5. Section off the hair that you will be braiding (from just above the ear up to where you part your hair) and loosely tie back the rest of your hair to keep it out of the way while you braid. 
  6. Divide the remaining section into two, and French braid the top half alongside your head, pinning the braid at the base of your neck. Repeat this with the bottom half. 

 *Optional if you have any curls that dried out of shape, you can spot treat those curls by finger twisting with a little gel or using a curling wand similar to your curl pattern.

If you don't know how to braid, Ricky says you can create a similar look by "pinching a section by the hairline slowly twisting back" then as you continue to twist back "grab each section behind it to create this braided look."

We actually filmed a tutorial a couple of years ago when Miranda Kerr wore a similar style to the Met Gala (back when my hair was long) which you can reference as well.