How-Tos > Curly > What a Curl Wants: How To Cut Curly Hair by Damien Carney
Last updated: May 30, 2017

What a Curl Wants: How To Cut Curly Hair by Damien Carney

close formula

What a Curl Wants: How To Cut Curly Hair by Damien Carney

What does a curl want? This specialized step-by-step from Joico International Artistic Director, Damien Carney! Curls need individual attention and that is exactly what they’ll get when you create custom cuts for every curly girl in your chair.

Plus: Damien shares bonus tips for cutting and styling curly hair!

SHOP More How-Tos in the BTC Bookstore

Subscribe to On Paper Magazine!


  • close formula

    Divide the back of the head down the center from crown to nape. Create small horizontal subsections on each side. Establish the length guide at the nape. Hold the hair between your fingers with slight elevation and moderate tension. Chip and point-cut into the hair to produce a softer edge. Following the original guide, work up the head, lifting each subsequent section slightly higher to produce gentle graduation. 

  • close formula

    At the top of the ear, extend the horizontal sections around the sides from the back of the head to the front hairline, incorporating back and sides into one section. Continue to blend with the previous sections and to elevate each section slightly. Complete the back and side sections on both sides in this manner.

  • close formula

    Create a curved hairline section that follows the shape of the head. Allow the hair to fall naturally. Select random hairline sections and nip into the ends to remove bulk and length. Work visually—the object is to create soft, light texture around the face. Continue working up to the crown in this manner, directing each subsequent curved section forward toward the original guide and cutting with slight elevation.

  • close formula

    Cross check by creating vertical sections across the top of the head. Soften corners and remove extra weight by chipping into the hair with the tips of the scissors. If desired, work in a few drops of Joico K-PAK Protect and Shine Serum for gloss and shine. To style, select random curls of various sizes, twist them and allow the hair to settle into place. This produces defined, yet natural-looking curls.

  • close formula

    • Apply styling product before cutting—this allows plenty of time for the formula(s) to settle into the hair.
    • Chipping and point-cutting this hair type is the best way to prevent a blocky, too-dense shape.
    • Because curly hair shrinks considerably from wet to dry, perform as much of the cut as possible on dry hair. This allows you to observe the hair growth patterns and directions and to accurately gauge the finished length and look.
    • Check the balance of your shape frequently and don’t be afraid to make adjustments.
    • Avoid excessive tension when cutting each section—work with the curl rather than attempting to stretch it.
    • It’s best to air dry or diffuse this hair type and to manipulate the curls as little as possible.  This produces crisper curl definition and prevents frizz.
    • Balance and proportion are critical when working with curly hair. Adjust your technique for the hair type—remember that no two curl patterns are the same! Also, take the client’s facial features into consideration and design accordingly. Remember that a square shape will neutralize rounder facial features, and a round shape will soften angular features. An asymmetrical design will distract from weaker facial features and add interest to the overall shape.

  • close formula