Wavy hair is so unique and beautiful, but it can be hard to figure out how to style it. One day, it might look springy and even have some spirals, and the next, it could be nearly straight. Ever notice a different wave pattern in different sections of your hair? Me too. (Why is it curlier underneath?) How do I prevent it from looking stringy, but still achieve soft, defined waves without frizz? Keep reading for my ultimate guide, inspired by the curly girl method!
#1: Start with the Curly Girl Method
The Curly Girl Method is a set of guidelines for styling curly and wavy hair with a focus on avoiding sulfates, silicones, and heat and mechanical damage. There are different lists of CG method approved hair products. It is a great starting point and definitely helps to heal damaged hair, but once you start getting to know your waves, the Curly Girl Method may require some adjusting. If you want to style with a hairbrush, go for it. Waves can be easily weighed down, so I suggest not exclusively co-washing (washing with conditioner only).
#2: Use Lightweight Products, and Avoid Heavy Ones
This one is a real game-changer. Waves can easily be weighed down, so it’s best to use the right type of products: lightweight ones. Lightweight products are those with few or no oils and butters in them. Heavy products commonly have 5-10 oils and butters in them, such as coconut oil or shea butter. To learn more about what makes a product light or heavy, check out the post below! For a list of my favorite recommended lightweight products, see the following post.
- Shampoos (Hairstory, Original Moxie, Cantu, Not Your Mother’s, Treluxe)
- Conditioners (DevaCurl, Giovanni, Herbal Essences, Not Your Mother’s, MopTop)
- Leave-in Conditioners (Hair Dance, Kinky-Curly, Giovanni)
- Creams (Hairstory, Not Your Mother’s)
- Clear Stylers/Custards (Original Moxie, Treluxe, MopTop, Taliah Waajid)
- Mousses (Not Your Mother’s, Curl Talk)
- Gels (Treluxe, Original Moxie, Ecoslay, ION, Giovanni)
#3: Clarify Once a Month
For your regular routine, you want to use a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser. However, products can build up over time, and it’s important to give your hair and scalp a thorough, deep cleanse every now and then. Either grab a sulfate shampoo or one that is specifically for clarifying, and make sure to use it at least once a month! See below for my favorite $1 clarifying shampoo and some extra tips on how to use it!
#4: So Saturated, Feels Like Seaweed
When you’re in the shower, detangle your hair while it’s soaking wet and use a very generous amount of conditioner. Your hair should feel slippery and slimy, just like seaweed. You should be able to easily run your fingers through it! This ensures your hair is properly hydrated, which is a huge key to avoiding frizz and achieving great results.
#5: Condition a Lot or a Little
Think of conditioner as the basis for your entire routine. If your hair is very dry, don’t rinse out all of your conditioner. If you want to decrease frizz and moisturize the hair, this is how you do it. If your waves are very fine, and you would like more volume and fluff, completely rinse out your conditioner or only use a tiny bit of leave-in.
Following are my favorite lightweight conditioners and leave-ins.
#6: Achieve Curl Clumps
You can make curl clumps by using plenty of water and condition/leave-in conditioner. A curl (or wave) clump is the little group of hair that sticks together and forms a thick, single wave, or curl. This is the key to defined waves, and check out my video to see exactly how I do it.
#7: Flip Your Hair
When you’re ready to start styling your hair, flip it upside-down to rinse it. This not only helps those curl clumps to form, but also will really help achieve root volume, which can be especially hard with wavy hair.
#8: Pray the Products Work
For styling product application, start with soaking wet hair and apply with praying hands or glazing. I used to throw my hair in a towel right out of the shower, take it down, and then rake my products in. The result? I got uneven, frizzy, and stringy waves. Having enough water helps to thoroughly distribute the product, and using the praying hands method to apply the product will prevent the waves from stretching out too much. See the difference below?
#9: Modify Your Styling Application
If you tried tip #8, and it didn’t work out great for you, that’s completely fine and means it’s time for some experimenting. Try applying your products in a different order that is a better match for your porosity level, or in different ways, such as with a styling brush or on damp hair. I think soaking wet and praying hands is a great starting place, but everyone is different, so experiment away!
#10: Pile and Plop Your Hair
Plopping is taking your wet hair and PILING it at the top of your head into a microfiber towel or T-shirt, rather than twisting it. Yes, a T-shirt will cause less frizz, but a soft microfiber towel will absorb more water and greatly reduce drying time. Also, a microfiber towel will maintain your curl clumps. See how I do it.
#11: Try to Cup and Hover
The cup-and-hover-diffusing method gives you the most control and allows you to choose if you want a more defined, controlled look or a fluffy, voluminous look. Not to mention it minimizes heat damage to your ends! Begin by hovering the diffuser near your roots and using your hand to cup the hair and bring it up to the diffuser.
#12: Scrunch While Air-Drying
This is a somewhat against popular opinion, which is to not touch your hair while it’s drying, but I always scrunch while air drying! My hair is quite fine, so I will take all the volume I can get. I don’t mind a little frizz if it means my hair is a bit fuller-looking. I just make sure to do it very gently so as to not cause too much frizz.
Related Post: 7 Ways to Preserve Curly Hair Overnight
Join the Wavy/Curly Hair Community
Feeling excited and inspired to start styling and wearing your hair wavy? You are not alone. There is an entire wavy/curly hair community on Instagram that loves to share not only tips, tricks and tutorials, but also frustrations and failures. I adore being a part of this community for the inspiration, encouragement, and curl friends. A couple of my favorite accounts are @coffeecurlygirl and @wavycurly for their gorgeous waves and wonderful tips.
Are you excited to build a curly girl hair routine for wavy hair? Check out my page for many more tutorials, science-y explanations and all things waves. I would love to have you in this wonderful community.