Do you have wavy hair too? Wavy hair’s versatility gives us the best of both worlds, curly and straight.
What we give up in predictability (wavy hair might look great one minute and crazy the next), we gain in adaptability (hair can go curly or straight, and it can really hold a style.) Wavy hair looks friendly, approachable, and natural. While sometimes I find it easier to just blow out my hair straight, I really do prefer the way it looks when I wear my hair wavy.
I loved when Lorraine Massey’s book Curly Girl changed the way that women looked at and took care of their curls. Finally people took notice that you can’t treat all hair types as straight.
Wavy hair, too, needs special care to coax the curls instead of controlling them, add moisture without weighing hair down, and protect hair from rough treatment. Let me show you how I style my natural wavy hair.
It takes a lot of styling product to achieve a natural look. I use mousse and pile it on. You want to try to boost and enhance the curl.
While I like Aveda’s Be Curly enhancing cream, I actually prefer using a less-expensive product such as Herbal Essences’ mousse. It doesn’t make much difference, and if the product is expensive then I tend to skimp and use less, and my hair doesn’t look as good. Use a lot and scrunch it in while your hair is wet. You have to use a lot of product if you want your hair to look as good after lunch as it does in the morning.
(For smoothing my hair, Frédéric Fekkai’s glossing cream is nice for the rare times when I blow dry it straight.)
Cleansers & Conditioners
When it comes to shampoos and conditioners, I think I’ve tried everything. While the Curly Girl book advises to only use conditioner and never shampoo, that’s a bit extreme for wavy hair. I use the gentlest cleanser possible based on what my hair needs that day.
- Sometimes it just needs a little conditioner on the ends and also rubbing it on your scalp like you would do with shampoo.
- I mostly use sulfate-free gentle shampoos such as Jason Biotin Shampoo. I also like Kiss My Face Whenever Shampoo which is even more gentle and made mostly from aloe vera (that’s what I use on my kids.)
- Once in a while I use a regular shampoo such as Dove Volume Boost Shampoo if my hair is looking limp and it seems to have a lot of build up.
I even tried the “no poo” method for almost a year which involves using baking soda instead of shampoo and diluted apple cider vinegar for a clarifying rinse. That seemed to be better suited for shorter or straight hair, not long, wavy hair. It made my hair heavy, and I had to brush it often to keep it looking clean. I switched back to a regular shampoo method when I grew tired of keeping my hair straight all the time.
For conditioners, look for moisturizing formulas such as Jason Biotin Conditioner. Avoid conditioners and products with silicones which coat your hair to give it that slick feeling in the shower, but don’t give moisture to your hair at all, so your hair ends up dry and brittle. (Look at the ingredients to avoid words that end in -cone.)
I was amazed at the difference water can make when I moved to a city with extrememly high mineral content in the water (also known as hard water) from the mountains. It felt impossible to get my hair clean, there was a lot of calcium buildup and residue, and my hair felt both oily and frizzy. Shampoo made my hair worse and even more frizzy.
To counteract the hard water, I only used conditioner on my scalp instead of shampoo (even though it seems counter-intuitive) to add as much moisture to my hair as possible. I had the best results when I did a final rinse with a liter of filtered water. The filtered water made my hair lighter, cleaner, softer, and curlier. If you have hard water, try rinsing with filtered water to see if it makes a difference to help your hair feel cleaner. It might not be your hair’s fault after all.
When you use enough styling product, you can avoid the damaging heat from styling tools such as curling irons and hair dryers. I can tell a huge difference in my hair’s health (less frizz) since I stopped using a hair dryer so regularly. I usually let my hair air dry, but if I’m in a hurry then I might blow dry my hair with a diffuser, always on low heat and aiming at the roots for fullness.
Brushes are for straight hair. I might use a wide-tooth comb in the shower, but I only use my hair brush when I dry my hair straight.
Wavy hair starts in the shower. When I’m almost finished, I do the final rinse on my hair while looking down so that the top section of my hair goes in front of my face instead of behind me. I comb through my hair with my fingers or a wide-tooth comb while the water rinses out the last of the conditioner. This helps to separate and form the curls and gives extra lift at the roots.
After the shower, my hair is still kind of hanging in front of my face, so I wrap up my hair in a towel. You don’t want to towel-dry your hair, you just want to soak up the excess water. If you have curly hair you might want to use a t-shirt or something more gentle than a terry towel.
Then I apply a ton of product while my hair is wet and scrunch it in, and let it air dry.
Time-Saving Tip for Mornings!
I like taking a shower in the morning, but with two little kids, I don’t have time to do the whole shower routine and let my hair air dry. It’s much better for me to take a shower at night when the kids are asleep and I’m winding down from the day. I wash my hair and go to bed. In the morning I lean over the bathtub and rinse my hair under the faucet to get it wet again, then I apply product and let it dry as I get ready for the day.