A curated guide to Auckland’s best hairdressers for curly hair

Those lucky enough to be blessed with bouncing curls will know how important it is to find the perfect hairdresser to tend to your precious tresses. To help steer you in the right direction, we’ve curated a list of hairdressers around Auckland with reputations for being the best in the business when it comes to celebrating curls in their most natural form.

Leigh Keepa at Commune
Leigh Keepa is the founder of ultra-popular Grey Lynn salon Commune, and throughout his 27 years in the business has taken a bespoke approach to all his cuts. “My approach to cutting curly hair is, to first of all, listen to the client. They know their hair and all its weird and wonderful quirks better than anyone.”

After that, he approaches curly hair as he does everything else: “It’s case-by-case, as all curly hair varies wildly. Some I will cut wet but most I’ll cut dry, working very visually and with the natural movement of the hair.”

What all curly hair needs is hydration, he says. “Give it the love and it will love you right back by giving you the best version of itself. I love curly hair, and encouraging people to go with it and embrace its gorgeousness.”

Adele Rodda at Colleen
With 15 years of hairdressing experience under her belt, and her own brand of New Zealand-made natural haircare called Botaniq, safe to say Adele Rodda is a hair guru. She’s a fan of starting curly haircuts dry while the curls are in their natural formation. “Everyone’s curls are different, and it’s very visual cutting curly hair. Cutting dry lets you see how the curls respond.” That being said, she will sometimes cut curly hair wet with a straight razor — “It all depends on the shape you are trying to achieve and type of curl” — and names Solange, Zendaya and Mica Arganaraz as her curly haired muses.

Katherine Gray at Bulls & China
As the owner of Herne Bay salon Bulls & China, Katherine Gray has 28 years experience in the hair game. She has a natural affinity with curly hair and her approach with all cutting (curly or straight) is to work with what nature gave us. “The consultation is so very important,” she says. Talking about lifestyle, maintenance (how the client handles their hair and preps the curl) desired shape, face shape, texture, density and most importantly the bounce-back, which is the amount of length in relation to bounce back from curl.

“It can vary dramatically depending on how tight the natural curl is, and if you don’t understand the bounce back you risk cutting too short!” Gray’s approach for naturally curly hair is to work first with the curl in its natural state, dry cutting initially with a softer edge (never blunt) and no comb to sculpt and create the desired shape and length. 

Benjamin James at Ryder Salon
For 12 years, Benjamin James has demonstrated a passion for hair in all its infinite forms and nuances, and the in-demand stylist is very adept at curly-haired cuts. “I like to cut curly hair in its natural state; seeing how the hair bends and moves is so important to the finished result.” James never hesitates to have his clients back in the salon for a follow-up check of the cut, after they have washed and styled it themselves. “I’m alway happy to make slight adjustments if need be, for them to feel 100 percent about it.” James’ motto when it comes to curly cuts? “Natural curls should feel easy.”

Chris King at Common People
The co-founder of Eden Terrace salon Common People has over 20 years experience, originally hailing from the UK where he worked at renowned salon MacMillans. “There’s no single method for cutting curls, as all heads of curl are quite different,” he says. “First and foremost is to acknowledge that at some point in the life of curly hair it’s probably had a nightmare cut!”

King looks at the condition, texture and the actual elasticity of the curl to determine within the scope of the client’s ability what the best regime for them is. “I tend to do a lot of freehand cutting (cutting dry hair in its natural curly state without the use of a comb) allowing the curl to show what it needs, as in most cases it has a mind of its own and this is something I encourage the client to love.”

Cole Schierenbeck at M11 Studio
Sought-after senior stylist Cole Schierenbeck recommends sitting down with a new hairstylist for a blowdry before you commit to having them cut your hair, to assess whether they have a good understanding of curly hair. “This can occasionally be a trick question as some curly locks look better without being blowdried,” he says.

Another fan of starting a cut dry before washing, Schierenbeck (who has 27 years experience) says his general rule of thumb is to cut the hair longer than anticipated to allow for the hair to shrink once it’s washed. “Finding out what a client’s normal hair routine is, is crucial — how much time they are prepared to put into styling, how often it’s washed, what products to use and how to use them. Sometimes it’s just a matter of using a leave-in conditioner perfectly.”

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