It seems more men than ever before are wriggling out of the straightjacket when it comes to their hairstyles. Whether they are athletic (think Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player Anderson Varejão or Pittsburgh Steelers' Troy Polamalu), artistic (such as actors Adrien Grenier and musician John Mayer) or corporate execs (like Kinkos founder Paul Orfalea, whose nickname was "Kinko" because of his curly red hair) — you don't have to look far to see how men are embracing their natural waves, curls and kinks.
"In the past, you had to tame your curly hair, but there's no longer that expectation today," says Rodney Cutler, grooming stylist for "Esquire" magazine.
Gone are the slicked-back, stiff styles that gained notoriety thanks to Gordon Gekko's character in the popular, late-'80s film "Wall Street." Today, men still want to fit in with their peers. But they also want to stand out with individual style, and they want to highlight what makes them unique.
"Men are very lifestyle appropriate," says Cutler, who also owns New York’s Cutler Salon. "They tend to want hairstyles that fit their career choices and social settings."
Their look makes a social statement.
"It's about an understated cool," he says. "They're saying, 'I don't have to shave every day. I don't have to have contrived, straight-gelled hair; I can just let my cool curly hair come in.'"
Here, Cutler shares grooming tips for curly men, whether you're living the artistic, athletic or corporate life.
The Lifestyle: Corporate
The Look: Stylishly Groomed
When you're working your way up the corporate ladder, you obviously want your curls to be in place when you step into the boardroom. Still, Cyour textured tresses don't have to be so closely cropped. You can allow at least a half-inch of growth.
"It's more about leaving the interior of the hair a little longer and not making the shape so square, so it's a little more to the shape of the head — a little rounder," Cutler says.
The look you're going for is groomed and styled, but not crunchy, and a soft putty will be your best styling aid. "It will still add moisture to the curls and allow them to breathe, but it's still firm enough so you have control and can keep curls in place," he says.
Try: Bumble and Bumble's Sumo Tech or Redken for Men's Outplay Texture Putty
The Lifestyle: Artistic
The Look: Disheveled and sexy
Artistic types are known as free spirits, often resisting structure. Rules? They don't make too many. They don't want to be boxed in or restricted, and that openness is reflected in their hairstyle.
If you're part of the artistic crowd, along the same vibe as actors such as Orlando Bloom, you want to create an abstract, disheveled texture for your curls in a stylish way.
"This is more about just letting the curls be free and allowing more length, so it doesn't look so contrived," Cutler says. "You'll want to have your hair cut in a free-hand way, not a classic layered haircut. Then, use a styling cream that creates curl separation and definition, so you have that lived-in look."
Try: Redken Get Groomed Finishing Cream or Cutler Specialist Definition Cream or Kiel's Silk Groom Serum or Creme with Silk Groom
The Lifestyle: Athletic
The Look: Go with the Flow
Even helmets can no longer hide the textured tresses we're seeing on the playing field in many sports nowadays. Take this year's Super Bowl, for example. Who knew it would include such a showcase (and standoff) of curls and kinks?
You couldn't miss Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald and his dreadlocks, leading the brash offense against the Pittsburgh Steelers and its tightly coiled safety Troy Polamalu. As the Steelers ultimately won the crown — and the crowd's cheers — this year, Polamalu's free-flowing ringlets also stole a sliver of the spotlight.
But Fitzgerald and Polamalu aren't the only athletes rocking their curls these days. From Cleveland Cavalier Anderson Varejao on the basketball court to Ben Askren on the Olympic wrestling mat, more male athletes are opting for longer, wilder curly styles rather than cropping off their textured locks.
If you're a curly guy whose style leans more toward athletic, maintaining moisture is especially important for your curly texture. With tighter curls and kinks, Cutler says, "the curls are going to be a little drier so you really want to moisturize."
Try: Mixed Chicks His Mix Leave-In and Marrakesh Oil.