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demystifying waves, curls and coils by: Angie Manson

straight to minimal wave

Lucy Liu

Textured hair offers exciting challenges for stylists. The trick to mastering the art of working with any hair type is to first understand the precise challenge that you’re facing. Is it frizz? Lack of shine? Resistance to curl? Resistance to straightening? Faced with these issues, you may be tempted to spiral out of control! Instead, take a deep breath and study this guide, assembled with the help of four gifted textured hair pros. With the genius Mizani Curl Key as a guide, here are characteristics, tips and how-tos for every texture you’re likely to encounter.

straight to minimal wave

meet the texture pros!

Diane Da Costa Author of Textured Tresses

Jill Leitz Redken Global Educator

Veronique M. Morrison Mizani Director of Education

Omar Antonio Sebastian Professional Core Design Team Member

open wave the pro: Jill Leitz, Redken Global Educator, Owner of Salon Salon in Boulder, CO

open wave

the ultimate guide to textured hair

characteristics: This type of hair can be mysterious.

It doesn’t appear to have a lot of body and can actually appear fine or thin, but most women, especially Hispanic women, with this hair type have an abundance of hair. In general, open wave-type hair has marginal stretching with a cuticle that lays flat. It has good wave return and is the most flexible/versatile of the various hair types. Stylists can work with it in many ways to create more or less texture. It tends to be less frizzy because the cuticle is smooth, and it grows down from the scalp with some whorls (every person has a different growth pattern). In moist climates you’ll see a stronger wave, and it waves/curls best with a cut that has layers built in. It responds well to thermal tools and needs little manipulation to style and enhance the wave.

the pro: Veronique M. Morrison, Director of Education, Mizani


The hair grows downward from the scalp with little or no obvious curl definition. Most often this hair looks shiny and in control. It is not prone to frizz because the cuticle layer is compact and minimally raised. Bringing long lasting curl to this hair type—whether chemically, thermally or through styling—is the most difficult of all of the hair types.

Penelope Cruz

celebs with this hair type: Penelope Cruz, Eva

Mendez, Eva Longoria and Vanessa Marcil all rock their own variation of open wave hair.

celebs with this hair type:

cutting tips: Avoid one-length cuts. Give the wave some space.

Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, Uma Thurman, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

cutting tips: Results are best if this hair type is cut wet. Always

Create varying lengths that sit on top of each other. Use notch cutting techniques. Create shorter lengths in the interior to help push the longer lengths outward. Create negative/positive space to enhance the wave and expand the ability to create volume and curl. Long cuts are nice for a “lazy curl” effect, but this hair type can also support a cropped cut. The “new shag” is great for this texture—it’s an above-the-shoulder bob with lots of swingy/sexy movement.

section, comb and position for control as this hair type has a tendency to “clump” when cutting, which could lead to unwanted demarcation. If the hair is short, a creative spunky hairstyle is best. If hair is coarse, you may encounter cowlicks and areas of resistance, so take advantage of those characteristics when styling. Simple medium length geometric cuts (creative bobs) work well on this type—they provide movement and character. Frame the face with blocked fringing if the hair is longer. Minimize the layering as you work down the hair shaft to ensure a polished look.

styling tips:

This type of hair has limitless styling options. To enhance the natural wave shape, scrunch the hair with product for a very organic feel. Another great styling technique is to rough dry the hair with your fingers, then use Velcro rollers and diffuse dry. Rough up the hair with your fingers and product for a beachy finish. When using thermal tools, the sky is the limit!

styling tips:

Loosely designed ponytails are great, as are creative twists and upsweeps.

product recommendations:

If the client is prone to active sebaceous gland activity, recommend a purifier like Mizani Purifying Shampoo. Light glossing products, such as Mizani Supreme Oil, provide long lasting shine and vibrancy.


product recommendations:

Prep this hair type with Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Leave-In Treatment. Redken Spray Starch and Ringlet are great for enhancing natural wave. Gwyneth Paltrow

meet the texture pros!

feature | a guide to textured hair

Eva Mendez


feature | a guide to textured hair

wavy the pro: Jill Leitz, Redken Global Educator, Owner of Salon Salon in Boulder, CO


characteristics: Not all wavy hair is coarse. Hispanic women with wavy

hair tend to have finer hair but it looks thicker because of the strong wave. The cuticle is rougher and more open. You might see a whorly grain. It’s voluminous, tends to be on the drier side and can be frizzy. It’s essential to have an in-depth consultation with wavy haired clients to ensure that you’re comfortable working with their hair.

celebs with this hair type: Jennifer Lopez—it’s perfectly

wavy, can be straightened easily but can be worn naturally and organically. Sophia Vergara—it’s thick and long; length provides control over the cut. Salma Hayek—very thick, coarser hair. Shakira—she’s been embracing her natural waves and it looks great!

cutting tips: Don’t thin out the ends—leave them with integrity. This hair

type is best with a blunt end rather than feathery. No razors. Never cut in above the halfway mark of the hair length. You want the client to feel in control of her curls; maintaining length at the ends helps.

styling tips:

Give the hair a little bit of weight to control the cuticle/curl. Let it dry naturally. Avoid brushes or combs—use product and your hands/fingers to style. Use a large barrel curling iron to manipulate/smooth curls and add shine.

Jennifer Lopez

product recommendations:

Redken Ringlet for moderate wave. Redken Curl Wise and Redken Soft Spin are also great. Use Redken Wax Blast and a dryer on low setting. Detail with Outshine/Soft Spin to control frizz.


Alicia Keys

very curly

characteristics: Curly hair is exciting. It’s erratic and chaotic with a beauty and grace all its own. Its versatility is endless when styled with different products and setting techniques. Curly hair is a blank canvas in its natural state. With color, curly hair can sparkle with multi-dimensional undertones and showcase depth and mobility. It ranges from thin to thick. It grows down from the scalp, then curls. The cuticle is slightly raised, making it prone to frizz and moisture loss.

the pro: Diane Da Costa, Curly Textured Expert, Author of Textured Tresses

characteristics: Very curly hair features defined, s-shaped curls

celebs with this hair type: Rihanna, Taylor Swift,

AnnaLynne McCord, Julianna Margulies and Keri Russell have all rocked their curls onstage and on the red carpet.

and forms distinct loopy coils. This texture can be thin or thick and have combinations of textures. The hair grows down and away from the scalp and can have volume or minimum volume. This texture has stretch and elasticity—good bounce-back. It is likely to frizz and tangle.

cutting tips: To reduce mass, use a slide cutting technique with your

celebs with this hair type: Alicia Keys, Jada Pinkett-

Smith, Tracy Ellis Ross and Heather Headley all wear this hair type very well.

shears following the curve of the hair in its natural state. To enhance erratic texture, use a twist and cut technique by twisting large sections of the hair and using a razor to create open spaces. For a cleaner, more controlled look, use deep point cutting to enhance an external shape. If you want to create a short style on a client with this hair type, erratic is the best way to go. For mid-length cuts, concentrate on styling it with shape and width, and with longer curly hair, the key elements are multi-dimension and flow.

cutting tips: Very curly hair should be blown out and cut dry

to allow for curl retention and bounce-back. The hair does not have to be totally straight or flat ironed completely if it is natural, but leave enough texture to observe the fullness of the curl. If relaxed or texturized, the hair can be cut when it is completely straightened with a flat iron.

styling tips:

styling tips:

Think carefree with a shape. Control but not restraint. Perfectly imperfect. For mid-length curly hair, focus on shape and width, balance with contrast, smoother curls on top with a more organic feel on the ends. Soft, touchable and with an emphasis on shape. For long curly hair, it’s important to promote health and hydration with a strong sense of fluidity. Using lightweight products, design the curls with uniformity to create rhythm and pattern.

product recommendations:

Sebastian Texturizer for control. Sebastian Whipped Crème for soft, touchable hair. A special cocktail of Sebastian Potion 9 and Micro-Web Fiber is perfect for longer curly hair.


very curly


the pro: Omar Antonio, Sebastian Professional Core Design Team Member

Styling is a breeze for this texture with the right enhancing products. This texture has the fullness to be styled curly, wavy or straight. Leave-in conditioners and curl enhancing crèmes work wonderfully.

product recommendations:

AnnaLynne McCord

A great nourishing, moisture-filled shampoo and conditioner do the trick. A light gloss or emollient, as well as a light hairdressing cream, will maintain shine and moisturize the hair.

Jada Pinkett-Smith


feature | a guide to textured hair

very coiled very coiled

the pro: Veronique M. Morrison, Director of Education, Mizani

characteristics: This hair type starts to curl directly from the

scalp. It is quite compact and therefore has minimal movement and swing. It is definitely susceptible to frizz. The twists and turns of the curl raise the cuticle layers, which leads to maximum secretion of natural moisture; thus it’s prone to dryness, frizz and breakage.

celebs with this hair type: Jill Scott, Angela Bassett,

Solange Knowles and Erykah Badu each have some seriously beautiful, very coiled hair.

cutting tips: Cut this hair dry with shears. Because it has a

tendency to shrink or snap back when wet, blow-dry it into a straighter formation prior to cutting for control. This hair type works best in layers when short, medium or long.

styling tips: There are multiple styling opportunities with this hair

type. Braiding and twisting the hair and keeping it fresh with Mizani True Textures are great ways to embrace the natural curls. For versatility, go from curly to straight with a sleek blowout; just be sure to use products that restore moisture and sheen.

product recommendations:

coiled the pro: Omar Antonio, Sebastian Professional Core Design Team Member

zig-zag coiled

characteristics: Coiled, “over-zealous” hair gives the eye a

the pro: Diane Da Costa, Curly Textured Expert, Author of Textured Tresses

sense of frenzy and excitement—it’s the ultimate texture for shape. It can be thin-to-thick or a combination; it grows up and away from the scalp, then curls. It’s likely to be compact with less movement and tends to frizz and tangle. Keep it nourished and well-moisturized.

characteristics: This texture can be thin or thick in diameter and has very

tight coils in a zig-zag pattern. The hair is usually cottony and soft but can also be very coarse. The hair curls directly out of the scalp and is very compact with minimum stretch or bounce-back. The raised cuticle gets very frizzy and tangles and knots easily. This texture reacts well to thermal irons and straightening but excessive heat will break the hair. This texture tends to straighten very easily and quickly when relaxing.

celebs with this hair type: Coiled hair is worn

as a statement by celebrities like Lauryn Hill, Janet Jackson and Leela James. It has endless possibilities.

cutting techniques:

When cutting coiled hair, precision is the key. Brush out the hair completely and use 7-inch shears to shape up styles so they’re neat and finished. Shorter looks can be tapered with clippers to produce a solid shape.

celebs with this hair type: Cicily Tyson or model Roshumba.

styling tips: Short coiled hair looks best when worn tight. Give

cutting tips: When cutting this texture it’s best to condition it well, blow it out

You’ll often find this texture on men with short hair—the hair does not tend to grow long unless it is locked.

and cut dry with shears or clippers.


it a strong shape with a set finish. Try rocking mid-length coiled hair with wet styling; as the hair dries you’ll get a range of curl patterns that create a piecey, undone finish for a softer side of edgy. For long hair, the less done the better. Make it bouncy and feather-weight by condensing it at the base and leaving it full and frothy at the ends. A soft balayage color placement on the ends could complete this look.

styling tips:

This texture can be worn in natural set styles like coils, twist and locs (the hair grows very long if locked). It can also be thermal straightened with a Marcel thermal comb and then smoothed with a ceramic iron or curled.

product recommendations: Zig-zag coiled textures require

product recommendations: Sebastian Potion

Leela James


Solange Knowles

9 for a softer look and feel. Sebastian Mousse Forte is also a great product for this hair type. Sebastian Liquid Gloss and Molding Mud is an “Omar Special Cocktail” for coiled hair.

Roshumba Williams

a lot of humectants, nourishing and moisturizing conditioners. Avoid using protein reconstructing masks on this texture—they will make the hair hard and cause breakage. Leave-in conditioners and shea butter-rich moisturizers and natural essential oil pomades can be used to soften, lubricate and moisturize.


zig-zag coiled

Lauryn Hill

Curls need moisture! Care for this hair type with moisturizing shampoos and conditioners such as Mizani Moisturfusion Hair Bath and Silk Crème Conditioner, which help to replenish lost moisture and restore natural balance. Leave-in conditioners like Mizani D’Tangle are also great for minimizing the tedious task of combing aggressive curls, while leaving hair manageable and soft. Avoid products containing large amounts of alcohols and affixants as they tend to dry out the hair. Thermal protecting agents such as Mizani Thermasmooth Smooth Guard and Thermasmooth Shine Extend help hair respond well to thermal styling tools. If you’re creating a straight blow out, use Mizani Supreme Oil.

Behind The Chair Texture Guide  

Behind The Chair Texture Guide