There’s curly hair and there’s straight hair, right? Your natural hair either looks like this:
or like this:
Obviously, that’s not true at all. The Naturally Curly hair typing system suggests there are at least 10 hair types, and that’s only one of the hair typing systems out there. In reality, though, most of us have a combination of these basic hair types, and that’s not even factoring in how porous, thick, or dense your hair is. (Mine is very porous, medium density, and fine.)
I used to hate my hair. It wasn’t curly enough to wear naturally, but it wasn’t straight enough, either. It was just poofy. I had no choice but to flat-iron it or curl it, and that only held in dry weather. I hated it until I realized my hair wasn’t just poofy and unruly, it was actually wavy.
While you can find a lot of products and information for straight, curly, and coily hair, wavy hair seems to get very little love. Google wavy hair and you’ll find a lot of articles about how to make your hair wavy if it’s naturally straight, but almost nothing about how to style your hair if it’s naturally wavy.
There are a couple of vloggers and bloggers making pretty good content about wavy hair, but even most of them have hair that tends to be on the curlier side. (The Polished Curl and Rockyn Curls are two that I love). I know of only one blog, The Wavy Nation, with current content about looser waves.
But this hair type can be one of the finickiest and hardest to manage. Judging by the comments I’ve seen from others, it seems to be the one most often mis-characterized as “poofy,” “puffy” or “fluffy” and loathed by the girl who has it.
But this type can be worn naturally, too. And it can be quite pretty. Here’s how:
1. Hydrate the Living Bejeezus Out of Your Hair
I had no idea my hair was dry when I first started trying to take better care of it. I figured dry hair would look dryer, or even coarse. But fine hair can get dry, too, and it might not exactly look it. Trust me, though, if your hair is wavy or curly, it needs a lot of moisture. Conditioners, deep treatments, and leave-in conditioners are your friend.
2. Follow the Curly Girl Method (with some adjustments)
This is really optional, but it will help you improve the health and texture of your hair over time. It will also help keep it hydrated. Here are some before and after pictures of wavies who have tried it. Here’s a brief overview.
For looser wavies, you may want to wash more often, use sulfate-free shampoo occasionally, and clarify your hair with a shampoo that contains sulfates every once in a while.
3. Smooth and Scrunch in Your Conditioner
Good waves start in the shower. The squish to condish method helps to give those waves a boost before you even apply your products. The Polished Curl made a video of a modified version that you can watch to see this in action.
4. Scrunch, Don’t Rake, in Your Products
Here’s where looser waves really differ from curls and coils. Most curly hair tutorials recommend finger-raking products into the hair, but if you do that to loose waves, you will pull the wave out. I like to smooth the product very gently from root to tip of each individual wave and then scrunch up. The most important thing is to make sure not to pull the wave so hard that it straightens. I also do this while my hair is very wet, because the hair is more malleable. I scrunch the water out as I scrunch the product in.
5. Revisit the 90s and Say Hello to Hard Hold Gel
Ok, trust me, I remember how bad this was. I’m not sure what all of us were thinking, but 90s curlies tended to have crispy, crunchy, wet looking curls that were flattened onto their scalps.
That was bad, I know. That is not what I’m suggesting. What would you say if I told you I have globs of gel in my hair in this picture?
Convinced now? Ok, here’s what you do. Find a gel that has a very hard hold. I like Ecostyler Argan Oil Gel, which you can get at Target or Sally’s. Either dry with a diffuser or allow to air-dry until the gel has formed a hard shell on your hair. Do not touch it until it’s 100% dry. It will look very bad at this point, and that’s ok. See example:
Then, turn your head upside-down and scrunch out the crunch.
What has your experience with your wavy hair been? What has worked well for you?