12 Ways to Style Short Natural Hair

Less hair doesn't mean less options.

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12 Ways to Style Short Natural Hair
Photo: Getty Images

While all lengths of natural hair are beautiful, your curls don't necessarily need to be extra voluminous or super long to make a statement.

Sometimes, less is more. And celebrities like Sanaa Lathan, Lupita Nyong'o, and Viola Davis have proven this time and time again over the years.

"There are so many styles you can do with short hair especially natural hair," says Nai'vasha, Celebrity Curl Expert and Founder of Curl Queen. "Exploring the limitless options is a beautiful freedom and sense of liberation."

So whether you're just starting out your natural journey and need some inspiration for your big chop, or you're simply looking to switch things up, let these styles be inspiration for your next look.

Buzzed Is Better

Hairstyles for Short Natural Hair - Sanaa Lathan
Amy Graves/Getty Images

Sanaa Lathan has been known for having thick, lush hair since the '90s. So when she shaved it all off in 2017 for her role in Nappily Ever After, it initially came as a shock for most fans — but it was definitely a pleasant surprise. To get the look, apply Afro Sheen's Texture Setting Cream Gel all over the hair, then use a hard brush to slick down any strays.

Finger Wave Glam

Tiffany Haddish recently showed that finger waves are a great way to bring some 1920s glam to short natural hair. Not only is the style is low maintenance, but it can last up to a week. "I'm a huge fan of finger waves," says Nai'vasha. "I think it's such a classic and confident style and a cool option to mix things up a bit, especially for a red carpet look."

If your hair is thinning in certain areas, finger waves have an added benefit as they can be styled to cover up patches.

New Heights

Hairstyles for Short Natural Hair - Taraji P Henson
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Taraji P. Henson is the queen of versatility when it comes to hair. So naturally, her take on a curly high-top fade left us wanting to re-create the style ourselves. To get the look, use the Tough Cookie styling gel from the star's eponymous haircare line TPH by Taraji to give your curls definition and hold.

Blonde Bombshell

Color is always a risk, but Cynthia Erivo's bold look is evidence that it's worth it! If you're looking for a complete hairstyle revamp, blonde is the way to go. "There are so many shades of blonde and there is a blonde for every skin tone, that's the magic," says Nai'vasha. "There's a sense of liberation attached to statement hair. Blonde is indeed that."

Jazz It Up

Hairstyles for Short Natural Hair - Lupita Nyong'o
Larry Busacca/VF14/Getty Images

Lupita Nyong'o wore a similar hairstyle in 2014 when she accepted her first Oscar in 2014 for 12 Years a Slave. She took the look up a notch by adding a sleek golden headband.

Extend With Extensions

If you wake up one day and fancy adding a bit of length to your short cut, extensions can do the job. For this look, Sonequa Martin-Green added cornrow to her short cut but there are so many ways to add length to your style, from box braids to weave, to a wig, the choices are numerous. "You can't go wrong with extensions. The sky is the limit and the style range is endless. It's such a great option in the transition stage as well," says Nai'vasha.

Let Loose

Hairstyles for Short Natural Hair - Zendaya
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

Zendaya gave her bob Old Hollywood glam by adding some loose curls. To get the look, apply Briogeo's Farewell Frizz Blow Dry Perfection Heat Protectant Crème from root to ends, then use GHD's Curve 1.25 for styling.

Perfect Pixie

Hairstyles for Short Natural Hair - Ruth Negga
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

If there's one short crop that will never go out of style, it's a pixie cut, which perfectly suits Ruth Negga. To get the look, use OGX's Moroccan Curling Perfection Defining Cream to separate curls and add shine.

Lady In Red

Hairstyles for Short Natural Hair - Viola Davis
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Viola Davis' natural hair on the red carpet is undefeated. But back in 2012, she took it up a notch by trading in her signature jet black hair for an auburn red. To get a similar look, reach for a box of Dark and Lovely's Fade-Resistant Rich Conditioning Hair Color in Red Hot Rhythm.

VIDEO: The Best Hot Oil Treatments You Didn't Know Your Natural Hair Needed

Be Blunt

Hairstyles for Short Natural Hair - Yara Shahidi
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Yara Shahidi's curly blunt bob took center stage at the 2018 MTV Movie and TV Awards. To get the look, use Eco Styler's Professional Olive Styling Gel to give your hair curl definition, shine, and hold.

Pretty in Pink

NATPE Miami 2020 - Facebook with Gloria, Emily and Lili Estefan - Jada Pinkett Smith
Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Jada Pinkett Smith started 2020 off with a bang when she upgraded her tapered pixie cut by dyeing it cotton candy pink. But since you'll likely first need to bleach your hair to get this exact color, your best bet is to do a test first. To try it out, grab a jar of ORS Curls Unleashed's Color Blast Temporary Hair Makeup Wax in Dragon Fruit.

Sculpted

Hairstyles for Short Natural Hair - Danai Gurira
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Danai Gurira's sculpted, tapered cut is proof that coily hair can literally do anything. 4C hair can be molded on its own, but use Nexxus' Finishing Mist Hairspray to give the hair a little extra hold.

This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.

Updated by
Omenaa Boakye
Omenaa

Omenaa Boakye is a fashion and beauty editor with a wealth of experience working with publications in Europe, Africa, and the US. She was born and raised in the UK and attended the London College of Fashion, where she studied Fashion Promotion and Journalism. Omenaa loves all things related to fashion and beauty but is also a big ‘techie’ and enjoys reading about UX Design trends. When she is not in front of her computer, she can be found cycling, baking, and trying out new recipes.

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