The Definitive Guide to Mastering Wavy Hair
If you’ve always been eluded by the so-called "effortless waves" that have become synonymous with cool girls (and Victoria’s Secret models) everywhere, you’ve come to the right place. With a little know-how and some product, you can finally master the look. We can’t promise it will be effortless, but it will be a whole lot easier.
Prep hair with product
First things first: Freshly washed strands do not hold a wave. Which is why you must add some texture from the start. We’ve tried a lot of products over the years and found that nothing gets the job done better than a generous dollop of volumizing mousse. Rake a golf ball-sized amount through damp strands for a light hold that doesn’t weigh your hair down. Then, spritz a heat protectant spray through the mid-lengths and ends.
Rough dry your hair
Now that your strands are prepped, it’s time to dry. Put your blow-dryer on a low heat setting and keep the nozzle pointed down to avoid frizz. You want your hair to be completely dry before taking to it with heat. (Lest we forget the girl who singed off her hair with a curling iron.)
Use the right sized iron
We’ve asked many a hairstylist and they unanimously agree: A 1 ¼-inch iron is the gold standard for curls that aren't too tight nor too loose. Anything smaller creates those pageant ringlets you wore to prom and anything bigger gives you coils that drop too quickly.
Start the curls at the right spot
The key difference between overly formal curls and relaxed beach waves is that the latter begins about halfway down your head—so right around eye level. Grab a one-inch section and start the curl no higher than the tops of your ears.
Count your wraps
Fact: The more times you wrap your hair around the iron, the curlier it will be. For a looser wave, wrap it no more than once or twice around the barrel. For a slightly more glamorous curl (think retro Hollywood style), wrap it three or more times. And no matter the shape of your curl, always (always!) leave the ends out so they stay straight.
Keep the iron moving
Once your hair is wrapped, make sure not to hold it there for too long. (For reference, we count to three, Mississippi-ly, before pulling the iron through.) Keeping the heat on for too long can leave those dreaded crimps (and cause a lot of unnecessary damage to your strands over time).
Brush it out
After your hair has a chance to cool down, take a brush (preferably one with flexible bristles) and gently run it through to break apart the curls. This will give you a second-day wave, rather than an overly polished coil.
Set it with spray
But before you reach for any ol’ hairspray, think about what you want your finished look to be. For a beachy, slightly mussed up wave, use a sea salt or dry texturizing spray. For a softer, touchable wave, mist a light hold hairspray on mid-lengths to ends. Tip: Hold the bottle about six inches away from your head to avoid over-dousing your strands. Remember: Wavy hair has lots of movement.