Payot (or "payos", singular "pe'ah") is the Hebrew word for sidelocks or sidecurls. Payot are worn by Orthodox males, based on the Biblical injunction against shaving the "corners" of one's head. Literally, pe'ah means corner, side or edge. There are different styles of payot among Haredi, Yemenite, ...
Rashi (B'reshis 37:2) calls it an "an act of immaturity [to fix one's] hair (...) so he would look good". Obviously, payos are made from hair, but they are not considered regular hair within kabbala ...
The explanation I have always been given for long, curled peyoth among those that have the minhag, is that it is for beautifying the misswah of peyoth. However, there are seven peyoth, only two of ...