Long Curly Hair for Men – The Shoulder Length Hairstyle

Long hair. If you are a male, I am going to bet that the thought of growing your straight, wavy or curly hair has crossed your mind at least once. If you happen to be a curly haired man like myself, the thought was quite possibly short-lived due to how complicated it is to groom one’s curls already at a shorter length. Today, however, I would like to cover the shoulder length hairstyle of long curly hair for men.


Kenny G with his long curly hair in a shoulder length hairstyle

The curly shoulder length hairstyle will fit pretty much any man with wavy or curly hair


Long hair has been a style that has always been there and has been associated with different sub-cultures and movements, from brave and fierce warriors to flower-power hippies. In the 21st century, long hair still has a following and plenty of males who do not belong to any sub-culture or urban tribe also sport long manes, with the shoulder length hairstyle being a popular one for men and there being a good reason for it because the shoulder length hairstyle, when properly styled, suits any face or man (with a few exceptions that I will be covering). Unlike other versions of long hair in which the hair is left to grow almost infinitely (such as curly Troy Polamalu’s long hairstyle), the shoulder length hairstyle implies growing the curly hair up to shoulder level, no more.


Spanish David Bisbal showing his shoulder length curly hairstyle

David Bisbal, who has been illustrated before at Manly Curls, shows how cool a shoulder length curly hairstyle can look


For men with curly hair, the shoulder length curly hairstyle is a great style that requires some attention and patience. Depending on your curly hair type, you will take more or less to achieve the hairstyle’s visible length: that is, the hair length that is required, in a normal and dry state, to visually achieve the hairstyle. In fact, someone with Type V curls can take 2 or even 3 times as long to grow his curls to shoulder length than someone with Type I curls, despite their actual hair growth is the same!


To grow a Shoulder Length curly hairstyle you need to consider the following 4 factors:

– Frequency of trimming

– How long it will take to reach the visible length

Effort needed to keep the long curly hair looking decent

– Whether it will truly suit you or not


Frequency of trimming your curly hair

Since the scalp grows hair all over the head from top to nape, growing to shoulder level implies allowing for the hair on the top of the head to achieve a length that goes all the way down to the base of the neck, while the hair in the rest of the scalp is trimmed to adjust the length according to where it is based in the scalp. For example, while the hair based at the top of the head may require 12 inches of hair to reach the base of the neck (shoulder length), the hair located on the base of the head may only need 4 inches of length to touch the base of the neck. Thus, one needs to adjust the trimming of hair in different segments of the scalp according to the length of the curls.

Building on the above, you can start growing your curls from either a “same length over the head” hairstyle such as the manly Jim Morrison hairstyle or you could just as well grow the hair from a “faded-type” style such as the popular high and tight hairstyle. I would recommend you, however, to not have more than two inches of difference between the longest and shortest sections of hair (e.g crown and nape). If you start from a short hair length, the first trim should be carried out at the 3-6 month mark because this will be the time when the curls growing from the nape (lowest point of scalp) will have reached the shoulders. From there onwards, trim your hair accordingly every 3 months approximately so that no hair segments of the scalp extend over the shoulders.

If you start from a medium hair length, my recommendation is to trim your hair so that it is the same length all over the head, and then adjust the trimmings, as previously explained, as the hair grows.


How long it will take for the achieved visible length

To grow to shoulder length, you will need patience! I cannot emphasize this enough, especially for curly men. Your curls will take quite a while to achieve a shoulder length style and the hair at the top will, depending on your type of curly hair, take approximately the following amount of time to reach shoulder length (assuming growing from a near shaved/short length hairstyle):

  • Type I: 2 1/2 years
  • Type: II: 3 years
  • Type III: 4 years
  • Type IV: 5 years
  • Type V: 6+ years

This is one of the reasons why it is important to know your curl type and why I created such a guide, since the tighter your curls (read, Type IV-V), the longer it will take you to achieve visible length. I am a Type III curl head and it took me 2 1/2 years to get to shoulder length. Wow, was it an experience!


Curly haired Rogelio proudly showing his shoulder length hairstyle

It did take me a while…


In the meantime, as you grow the visible shoulder length, your hair will be in a transient awkward phase. This is basically the time span in which your curly hair will be doing all kind of funky stuff and looking out of order and mildly unappealing as it reaches the final desired length. I will cover in the future the different techniques to deal with the awkward phase but, for the time being, stick through it and just tie those curls into a ponytail!


Efforts needed to keep the curly hair looking decent

You will have more hair thus you will have to put in a bit more time into grooming your curly hairstyle. You will have to unknot your curls and start using a leave-in conditioner. No longer will you be able to run out the door without having first looked in the mirror and invested some minutes into sorting out your curls. Likewise, the wide tooth comb will be your best ally so invest in one. Lastly, you should also consider manly hair accessories, since the shoulder length hairstyle can be annoying at times, such as on windy days.


Whether the Shoulder Length hairstyle will truly suit you or not

Allright, I left this one till the end on purpose. As I said in the beginning, the shoulder length hairstyle will fit pretty much any curly man. When it comes to the face, the shoulder-length curly hairstyle has the paradoxical effect of softening the face features of “square” faces and toughening “oval” or “rounded” faces. This is very convenient because anyone, regardless of face shape, will find the shoulder length hairstyle of benefit.

The one thing where the shoulder length curly hairstyle will not be suitable is in those who are either overweight or balding. By all means, I always say that confidence makes the hairstyle and I applaud you if you want to have any hairstyle you like regardless of how it may suit you, but if you care about how it will look to others, then you need to consider the aforementioned. Through my conversations with many women, they all agree that the shoulder length curly hairstyle will look good on any man who isn’t overweight or balding. Coincidentally, I have spoken with men about this hairstyle too, both straight and gay, and they tend to also agree on this.


The Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons

Don’t be another Comic Book Guy!


If you are overweight, my styling advice is to not grow your curly hair beyond a medium length (e.g shoulder length). Overweight men tend to benefit from short hairstyles as it adds a polished and neat look, whereas longer hair tends to exude a scruffy look. Of course, disregard this advice if you truly want to have the shoulder length hairstyle and are overweight, but the reality is that other hairstyles will suit you better. You don’t need to be sporting a six pack and have the body of a Greek god to pull out the shoulder length hairstyle, a normal or athletic frame is more than enough to really benefit from this hairstyle, plus being overweight is unhealthy anyway so you kill two birds with one stone if you aim to lose weight. If you want to go down the route of losing some pounds, get some inspiration from my body transformation story and get yourself a good bullet-proof diet and solid weight training program!


Overweight Hugo Hurley with his long curly hair

While there is no denying that Hugo Hurley (Lost) has a nice shoulder length curly hairstyle, he’d benefit from a shorter neater style


If you are balding, again, you will benefit from other hairstyles. I have recently written an article with 3 hairstyles for balding curly men that will look good on those suffering from baldness. The combover is so 1950’s and looking like The Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons will damage your attractiveness. Choosing a faux-Mohawk or a buzz-cut over a curly ponytail made of 3 hairs will go a long way in improving your body image, trust me.


A puppy with a combover

Combovers only suit cute puppies


The shoulder length curly hairstyle is thus a great option for those curly haired men looking to spice up their looks. While it will take some time to achieve, it will look great if you understand the 4 factors that differentiate a bad shoulder length hairstyle from a good shoulder length hairstyle! I, as the author of this blog, actively support you in choosing the best curly hairstyle that will suit you because, in doing so, you join the ranks of those curly men who walk about in life with a proud mane of curls.

All the best.


P.S. if you’re interested in growing your curly hair long or just in improving its texture and looks, then look no further and not only keep an eye out for more articles here at Manly Curls (subscribe!) but do also get my bestselling book specifically on curly hair for men, The Curly Hair Book! (click the link to see the book at Amazon)

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Rogelio is the go-to guy when it comes to men's hair. Having embraced his natural curly hair for over a decade while living in 5 countries, Rogelio has learnt a thing or two along the way. Rogelio is the author of the two bestselling men's books "The Curly Hair Book" and "The Men's Hair Book", and his motto when it comes to hair is, "Gentlemen, having a good head of hair should not cost us our testosterone".

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28 comments for “Long Curly Hair for Men – The Shoulder Length Hairstyle

  1. Erick
    August 26, 2016 at 7:04 am

    Hi Rogelio,
    I wanted to thank you for this blog and the effort you’ve made to put out information on a topic that is generally unspoken! I am a 21 year old painter currently growing my very curly, very dense hair out (it has been one year and 9 months and my hair is around 10 inches). When wet, my hair is very similar to yours (although shorter and lately a lot more uneven), while when dry it will range anywhere from slash (on my best day) to a full on, dry Afro with many curls that are both standing and drooping in all directions. I am about to move away from the humid environment which has harmed my hair quite a bit, but have been following your advice for about three months in regards to leave-in conditioners, wide tooth combs, ect. I guess I’m getting very frustrated with how much time managing my hair and even detangling it takes, in addition to my having to wear it in a little Afro bun all the time to avoid looking too wild. If there is any way you could help me, I think having shoulder length hair that lacks frizz and extensive amount of maintenance would make me very happy.
    Thank you in advance for any response,

  2. JP Jordaan
    August 26, 2016 at 1:49 am

    Hi, my hair has about the same curl as Kit Harrington’s and is on the short side and I want to grow it out. Now my predicament is that I have eczema on my scalp and have to use a medicated shampoo at least every 3 days, any helpful tips? Especially in managing it during that awkward in between stage as I have to be super careful in using products on my head.

  3. Jawad
    July 30, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    I forgot to ask this, sorry. Right now I have used many products to make sure that my hair doesn’t get dry and gets a lot of volume at parts that I don’t want to such as the sides. It eventually turns my head into a very round shape, is this problem because of the way that the hair was cut or is it the moisture? I used the Moroccan oil mousse than replaced it with Moroccan oil and the Aveda Men pomade (Pure Performance) liquid and also used a hairspray to keep my hair in check since if i don’t use the hairspray, well, my hair becomes like a clown thing.

  4. Jawad
    July 30, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    This is what I needed, I have been trying to get the shoulder length hairstyle for some time now, and well let’s say that the hairdresser cut too much. I have been trying to find out how to get the shoulder length style and now I finally know how. Thanks, oh by the way I got dry hair, do you think if the hair at top of my head goes longer, then the big volume at the side of my head will vanish? Or should thinning be done to the sides?

    Love your articles.

  5. Miguel
    February 2, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    Hi. First of all, thanks for creating this blog. It has tons of great info and it is like a source of inspiration and support for guys who want to grow their hair out. Ok so now, let’s go to my question. Do this is my second attempt at growing my curls (type 3). The only thing is that I’m coming in the same problem I encounter the last time I tried grow my hair, and what made me cut it. So what happens is that I want my hair, because it is curly, I think, the front always looks shorter than the the sides and the back and so my hair looks as two open umbrellas or musrooms on top of each other, the one on top smaller than the bottom. I guess that it could be discribed as a combination of your two pictures shown on the link
    The front obviously is not as short as the one on ur pic, but it does look shorter than my own hair on the back, and it is not like my hair is not growing, cuz it is, I do not know if it is cuz it is curlier on this section or what. Anyway, any suggestions as to how I should cut it or trim it….. I just don’t wanna cut curls again
    I appreciate your help

  6. Miguel
    February 2, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Hi. First of all, thanks for creating this blog. It has tons of great info and it is like a source of inspiration and support for guys who want to grow their hair out. Ok so now, let’s go to my question. Do this is my second attempt at growing my curls (type 3). The only thing is that I’m coming in the same problem I encounter the last time I tried greo my hair, and what made me cut it. So what happens is that I want my hair, because it is curly, I think, the front always looks shorter than the the sides and the back and so my hair looks as two open umbrellas or musrooms on top of each other, the one on top smaller than the bottom. I guess that it could be discrabed as a combination of your two pictures shown on the link
    The front obviously is not as short as the one on ur pic, but it does look shorter than my own hair on the back, and it is not like my hair is not growing, cuz it is, I do not know if it is cuz it is curlier on this section or what. Anyway, any suggestions as to how I should cut it or trim it….. I just don’t wanna cut curls again
    I appreciate your help

  7. Michael Eduard
    January 27, 2015 at 3:14 am

    HI’m Mexican and I have dry hair and medium length curly and I need to know what care to have curly hair coiled a simple way, I do not know how take care because before i had very fluffy with great frizz but decided to change style and my hair in this style


    I would like to tell me I have to do to have those curls, I have styling cream, mousse, conditioner, gel molding please Thanks

  8. Alejandro Gomez
    January 12, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Hey Rogelio, I’m Alex from Mexico and I’m currently trying to grow my hair out until it reaches my shoulders. I’ve been reading all about curly hair in your website and you have helped me a lot. I’ve made several changes in my shampoos and conditioners and I’ve been more conscious about my hair treatment thanks to all your amazing tips and recommendations. My hair falls into the category l and ll and I was wondering if my hair would ever look like this:

    This guy in the picture seems to have very thick defined curls when mine are not that thick and they aren’t that defined. Mine just go in all directions and don’t look very neat. I’ve been growing my hair for 7 months now but I’m still not close to achieving the length that I want. I was just wandering how to get those majestic curls that look amazing!! I hope you can respond, and I can’t thank you enough for all your advice.

    Saludos hermano!

    • Rogelio
      January 13, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Hi Alejandro,

      The link to the picture was broken (didn’t work), can you put a new one that works? You can now post and yoru messages will go through without me having to approve them.


      • Alex
        January 14, 2015 at 2:50 am


        I hope that you can see this ones,

  9. Joel
    July 21, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I know you have had a question before about Michael Hutchence’s hair before but it did not answer what I wanted to know. I have searched all over looking for how to get one of his certain hairstyles and no result so I am wondering if you have a solution. I have naturally curly, somewhere in between thick and thin hair and I really would like this certain hairstyle of his:


    (I hope it’s okay I posted this link here)

    Do you reckon you could give myself and any others a way to get this certain hairstyle,

    Thank you

  10. Sebastian
    January 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Hi there,

    Just wanted to know how you think my curls are coming along? I’ve been growing them for exactly 3 years and 1 month. :)

  11. Francisco Unda
    December 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Hi Rogelio, first let me congratulate you on Manly Curls Blog, its great! As a curly man I always hated my curls because I did not know how to grow and groom them, but your Blog has been really helpful and know I love my curly hair. I have a couple of questions I wanted to ask, as regarding to growing your hair shoulder length.

    First let me tell you what I´ve been doing with my hair. I am a type III on top and IV on the sides; my hair length is about 5 inches, 6 on the front. I currently use a jewfro witch is kind of messy but I like it that way, I used to cut only the ends of my hair and the girl used to cut it with some kind of scissors witch reduced the volume. As of September, I stopped trimming it because I want it long, it was like 3 inches long. Also I use the no poo method 1 day on 2 days off and I use a curl shampoo and curl conditioner (Pantene for defined curls). I have read a lot of your articles for some direction and have followed many of your instructions, one that has not worked entirely for me is the leave in, it causes me dandruff so I don´t really use it that much, instead I use linseed water (boil linseed in a pot with water then I strain it and use the water witch gets like jell and keep it in the fridge) and it gives me the effect of a leave in without the dandruff and it is not as moist as the leave in. Have you used this? Do you recommend it? Also I am doing the no poo method, I am at 1 day on 2 days off and my question is, how do you know if you need another day off? I ask because on the second day off I like how my curls form, they are more defined so I think I should be working on 1 day on 3 days off or even 4, what do you think? Also I think I need to trim my hair in January, but I don´t know how, I was thinking of cutting the nape hair shorter and the top leave it as it is, but I don’t know if I do this in January or wait for it to grow longer? It still defies gravity.

    Thank you for your time and for the webpage its great! I hope I hear from you.

    Best regards,

    Francisco Unda

  12. DGutierrez
    September 20, 2013 at 12:04 am

    hey Rogelio, i have a question about growing hair long. my hair in the front reaches about midway my forhead. i am type III hair like you, how long would it take for my hair all around take for me to put it in a man bun

  13. Jesús
    June 5, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Hi Rogelio. How much scalp has to be shown to consider thinning hair or early stages of baldness? (sorry if double post)

  14. Jesus
    June 5, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Hi Rogelio. Your hair is AWESOME. I’m growing out my hair to Shoulder length (right now I’m 5inches, starting to hang down – Awkwaard stage), I have a mix of Type I(very top) and TypeII(hairline and sides). Do you think is normal for thin haired people (low density) to show scalp when parting hair? If it’s true, how much scalp have to be shown to have “thinning hair” or early stages of baldness? Under very bright light I can see my scalp and it’s driving me crazy, long hair has been my dream since I was little (I’m 18 yrs old) and hairloss wasn’t in my plans :( … I don’t know if I should keep going, or I’m just suffering from paranoia… I’d love to hear your opinion :D … Btw, sorry for my english, it’s not my first language.

    Saludos desde Venezuela \o/

  15. Cubert
    February 25, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I was wondering f there’s any tips on how to get your curls to drop or dangle or to have movement with a medium length thick III sle curls?
    Similar to Michael hutchence.


    • Rogelio
      February 28, 2013 at 7:27 pm


      For Type III curls you need about 12 inches of length for them to start hanging down. In my book, I talk about using hair products to “force” your hair to hang down and dangle at lengths where the curly hair still puffs out. Basically, coat your (damp) hair with leave-in conditioner and then a hair cream (e.g. styling cream); this will work when you have 8 inches of length. If your hair is shorter than 8 inches, then my advice is to either grow it longer or concentrate on making your hair look great without having it hang down.

      All the best.

  16. xeeh mohamed
    February 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Dude can i have your facebook ID

    • Rogelio
      February 22, 2013 at 8:17 pm

      Hi Mohamed,

      I don’t have a personal Facebook account. I only have the official Facebook fan page on Facebook. I just saw you became a fan, I appreciate it :)

      All the best.

  17. Q
    October 10, 2012 at 2:19 am

    I am a 14 year old boy. Hi, I would like some tips as to how to grow my curly hair out long. I have never tried growing my hair out long so I have no idea what it is like. I think of myself having hair similar to Corbin Bleu but I don’t really now what my hair would do when it’s longer. And I am also biracial. I am African American and Filipino which is probably why my hair looks similar to Corbin Bleu’s. If you would please tell me if there are certain products I should use or what I should do. The hairstyle is would like is long curly hair. Like shoulder-length hair. Here are some links of men with hair I would like mine to be similar to if possible:




    And if my hair wouldn’t turn out similar to these hairstyles then would you be so kind as to tell me how you think it will turn out and leave a link of a picture if possible
    12 minutes ago. Also right now, my hair is like an curly afro type hairstyle. I think it is more curly than kinky but it has a slight kink to it. But I not that experienced with curls….well hair period. Ahahaha

    • Rogelio
      October 18, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      Hi Quentin,

      Hope all is well. The Shoulder Length hairstyle is quite a cool one, and I actually have this hairstyle; actually, used to, as now my hair is longer. My first tip is to read this article of mine where I cover the main tips to grow to shoulder length:


      The hair that you see there is mine, and you can see that I too grow quite the puffed out Afro hairstyle when my hair is short. Since you also contacted me through Facebook, I saw on your profile pic that your curly hair is, in fact, quite similar to mine, a Type III curl type. You can read more about curl types here:


      Overall, I advise you to do the following:

      1) Be patient. Hair grows about 1/2 inch per month, and you need about 12 inches of hair length to read the shoulder from the top of the head. This means that you should give it at least 2 years for all of your hair to read the shoulders.

      2) Look after your hair. Start using a conditioner after shampooing (conditioner is applied for 2 mins after shampoo, then it is rinsed). Likewise, find your proper shampooing frequency, you can read more about it in this popular article of mine:


      My current shampooing frequency is 1 on/6 off, and it is important that you find yours. Moreover, start using a leave-in conditioner for styling your hair until it reaches shoulder length. You can read more about leave-in conditioners here:


      And while you are at it, learn how to properly style your curly hair here:


      3) Get a haircut so that your hair is even all around your head. This is a must to start growing your hair: the difference between the longest hair on your head (e.g. the top) and the shortest hair on your head (e.g. sides) should be a maximum of 2 inches.

      That’s pretty much it. Read the articles linked and, like I say, give it time, my friend.

      Feel free to update me as you grow your curls!

      All the best.


  18. April 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm


    • Rogelio
      April 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      Anything that modifies the structure of the hair will damage it ultimately. Yes, you can use a curler to enhance your waves/curls but take what I have said earlier into account. Use extra amounts of conditioner if you are going to use a curler.

      All the best.

  19. April 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm


    • Rogelio
      April 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      Hi Ed,

      Start with a conventional shampoo for now, using it every 3 days only. Then reassess, is your hair looking too dry? cut down to once every days, if it is looking too greasy, do once every 2 days.

      Sulfate-free shampoos are another option but are not optimal for infrequent shampoo use. You should concentrate on using a conditioner (every day), regardless of the shampoo that you use.

      All the best.

  20. Anders
    January 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Great article, this is all I needed as I was thinking of growing my curls.

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