As a child, I can recall the sound of the blowdryer roaring away as my father tried to beat his curly locks into submission. For much of the early ’70s, he sported a frizzy, pouf — not quite curly, but not quite straight.

Over the years, he learned to accept his curls and got a short flattering cut that played them up rather than hiding them.’

These days, men with curls can stop fighting their curls. The trend is toward natural hair — making the most of the texture.

‘Men right now can wear their hair curly much more than they could in the past,’ said Ruth Roche, global artistic director of design for Redken. ‘Just like with women, textured hair has made a comeback.’

Roche adds that ‘women love running their hands through curly hair.’

Men need only look at curly-headed stars like N’Sync’s Justin Timberlake, who has attracted a throngs of adoring female fans. When rumors recently surfaced that Timberlake was thinking about cutting off his curls, some fans went so far as to launch a petition drive to stop him.

Moisturizing shampoos are a must. And although men traditionally have shied away from conditioners, they can make a big difference when used once or twice a week.

At American Crew — the best-selling line of men’s hair products — the trend is toward natural hair. The look gets its inspiration from the ’70s look of stars such as Robert Redford, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. This also was a time when actors like Paul Newman, Elliott Gould and Kris Kristofferson let their curls do their thing. The look was natural. ‘We’re focusing on the death of the purposely undone hair — contrived bed head,’ said Kurt Kueffner, vice president of American Crew. ‘We’re going toward a look where the hair isn’t in any way, shape or form forced.’ A good solid haircut and a good shampoo and conditioning regime are key, Kueffner said.

Men with curls also have more options than they had in the past. They can go long or short. ‘Short is still real big,’ said Jon Fishwick, educational director of Giovanni & Pileggi, a Philadelphia hair salon. ‘The kinkier the hair, the shorter they want to keep it.’

A variation on the short look is to cut the sides and back short, while leaving the top a little bit longer — 1 to 2 inches long, Roche said. To play up the texture, she likes to put a strong gel into the hair when it’s wet and let it air dry. For those who want to show off their curls, longer hair can work well.

For long hair—chin length or longer—Roche suggests long layers.

Because curly hair tends to be dryer, it must be handled with care.

Moisturizing shampoos are a must. And although men traditionally have shied away from conditioners, they can make a big difference when used once or twice a week.

Many haircare companies make leave-in conditioners that double as styling aids, which work well in men’s hair. These products include Sebastian Potion 9, Redken Speed Control Smoothing Treatment & Styler and Graham Webb Synchronicity. Frizz-fighting gels and serums also can work well in men’s hair, controlling the curls while leaving hair soft and natural looking. For a natural feel, styling pastes and pomades are good. For a crunchier feel, gels work best.

‘We’re using real subtle products — aerosol sprays, light-hold gels, silicone-based products for shine,’ Kueffner said. ‘In the ’70s, we were trying to get rid of fizzy, flyaway hair. That’s the same goal today. We want hair that looks really, really healthy.’

Apply styling products when the hair is wet, suggests Jarrod Harms, national educational manager for Graham Webb International, which is launching its new Back to Basics Authentic Mens Grooming line this fall.

However men choose to wear your hair, the message is simple:

‘Make the most of the texture that you have,’ Harms said ‘Guys with naturally curly hair already have natural detail. It’s just a matter of activating that.’

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Michelle Breyer

Michelle Breyer

As co-founder of, a website for curly hair she began with her business partner and friend, Gretchen Heber, Michelle Breyer helped create the leading community and resource for people with curly hair. Frustrated by the lack of information on curly hair and the limited products available in the marketplace, the duo launched the site in 1998 with the help of a 14-year-old web designer. When Procter & Gamble called three years later to advertise to the® audience, Breyer knew they had indeed created a force in the industry, providing helpful information and unparalleled expertise for what was then considered a niche market.

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