How To Wear Your Natural Waves




There are countless articles, posts and tutorials on how to manage curly hair. Curly hair, without a doubt, can be a real beast (pun intended), so discussions about how to handle it are more than warranted. In my opinion however, there are not enough discussions about how to handle and enhance wavy hair. Most of us neither have straight nor curly hair. We fall into the camp of having inconsistent wave patterns that never seem to look good when dried naturally mixed with some degree of frizz and fluffiness. Every once in a while, generally after having been at the beach and in the ocean, our hair looks AMAZING! But somehow replicating that seems darn near impossible and out of frustration we put our hair in the frenemy category and all together just give up. Believe it or not however, most wavy hair can be made to look gorgeous as long as the right haircut, hair length, products and setting technique are in the mix. I hope to at least inspire you enough to give it a try with your own locks.


Wavy Hair Types

Each category of hair has a correlating number and letter to term and describe it. Wavy hair is type 2, while straight is type 1, curly type 3, and coily type 4. Each category then has an A, B, and C designation to further differentiate subtleties.


Type 2A Wavy Hair (fine): This type is loose, with an “S” shaped pattern, and is on the thinner side (having a circumference of less than 2 inches when tied in a ponytail). I have this hair on my own head. This type is usually relatively easy to manage and style, however it can easily become fluffy looking or just appear limp and lifeless if given the wrong cut or styled poorly. This is hair that needs a just below shoulder length or shorter haircut that focuses on keeping the ends as thick and as full as possible. In essence, a simple one length haircut is the best choice unless we're talking short bob or pixie territory, then the options open up a bit. Length and therefore weight is challenging with fine wavy hair because it can be pulled straight so easily. Additionally, layers most often detract from fullness by leaving the already somewhat piecey ends as little whisps. In summation, if you want to try to wear your natural waves and you have fine hair, keep it mid-length and simple. 


Type 2B Wavy Hair (medium): This hair type has a more prominent “S” shaped pattern, and resembles the highly coveted beachy wave. Although gorgeous and drooled over by all who don't have it, this type tends to be on the slightly frizzier side of the spectrum and can easily look messy and unruly if not cared for. Wearing it with some length and weight generally helps to defy frizz, however because it is still only medium in texture, too much length and weight will leave it limp and lessen its wave pattern. Striking a balance is key which generally equates to wearing it between shoulder and bra strap length-wise with simple classic layers that create a 4 to 6 inch differentiation between the shortest pieces and the perimeter length. This provides enough weight to help with smoothing but also enough removal to prevent the hair from becoming triangular in appearance.


Type 2C Wavy Hair (coarse): This type has a very distinct “S” shaped pattern, and is borderline curly at some points. Curly wavy hair tends to be frizzier and thicker. Although this type is more resilient (because of its thickness), it is also more resistant to styling. It is best to take advantage of its resiliency and keep this type of hair long. With length and weight, the curls tend to relax and the waves soften and become much more consistent and even. 

Styling Musts For Wavy Hair Types


Don't Throw Your Hair Up In A Towel

Toweling is often the downfall of great hair. Cotton is not gentle on the hair's outer cuticle layer and almost always manages to rough it up thus creating frizz and fluff. If you must towel, swap in a microfiber hair towel, which will at least be a lot kinder to your hair. The best thing to do however, is to simply wring your hair out in the shower with your hands and either diffuse it, or even better, let it drip dry.


Only Comb Your Hair When It's Wet

Brushing your hair when it's anything but sopping wet can cause instantaneous frizz. The best thing to do with wavy hair is to comb through it either in the shower, or right after getting out when it is still dripping wet. Particularly with type 2A, fine hair dries so quickly that is has to either be combed immediately or not at all.


Use The Right Products

A sea salt spray in conjunction with a leave-in conditioning spray is the perfect cocktail for a healthy balance of hydration and texture defining for type 2A hair. The fact that both products are sprays, and therefore light in weight, will keep your strands from becoming weighed down and limp, but will also provide frizz protection and wave enhancement. We love the Sea Salt Spray from Davines and Uniq One All-In-One Spray from Revlon. Type 2B hair still needs some wave enhancement so the Sea Salt Spray is again a perfect product choice. For conditioning, we love the Brilliant Universal Styling Creme from Aveda. It is formulated for use on hair that will be both air dried as well as blown dry and does not leave a gucky feeling of residue, but does seal in moisture, define texture, and add shine. Type 2C is a little bit of a different animal needing defrizzing and curl lengthening more so than curl encouragement. We love the Be Curly Curl Controller from Aveda for this. It is a great one-stop-shop product that lengthens while controlling volume and frizz and also conditions with babassu oil. When applying any of these products, you want to make sure that all of your hair is evenly coated. Even and ample distribution of product throughout the entirety of the hair shaft is key to consistency in your wave. Finally, be sure to apply product when your hair is just past the point of dripping wet, but has not yet begun to dry.


Set Your Waves

In order to get really defined-looking waves, you need to give your wet locks a little push in the right direction. Your hair will dry in the shape that you leave it in, so the more attention that you pay to twisting your waves and placing shape in your hair, the better your outcome will be. This means, as mentioned, wringing excess water out of your locks rather than overdoing it with a towel and, after working the product into your hair, twisting your locks into spirals. We recommend taking 2 inch by 2 inch box sections throughout the head, however if you need to take slightly bigger sections because of time constraints, the method will still work.


Ask For Help

If you try all of the above at home and your hair just isn't coming out as you'd hope, call us to schedule a styling lesson. We're always delighted to help!

What To Do With Fine Hair


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Those of us who have the shared experience of fine hair know that the daily struggle is real. Between feelings of our hair being flat, limp, lifeless, flyaway, and boring, it can be hard to appreciate what genetics gave us. The fact that our hair dries quickly and smoothes out easily is hardly a consolation when it looks almost exactly the same no matter what we do. While it's important to try to remember that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, I am definitely not here to lecture anyone on their emotional reasonableness. What I can provide are a few tips for maximizing and working with what you've got.    

(1)     Cut Choices

Each hair on our head is preprogrammed to max out at a certain length. On people with fine hair, this is often shorter than on others. This means that if you want to wear long hair, not every hair is going to be able to reach the desired perimeter length. What do you do, you may ask? If you are committed to wearing your hair as long as possible, keep it simple, a one length cut is the best haircut for you. You can have your stylist cut in a minimal amount of face framing pieces, but skip the layers. They'll only end up detracting from the look of a clean strong line and leave your ends looking scrappy after only a few short weeks. Peggy, pictured to the left, has this simple cut. If you're interested in trying a shorter style, a long bob (lob) is generally great for fine hair. The defining characteristic of a bob is a strong line and since all of your hair is capable of growing to your shoulders, voila, it's easily achievable. The minimal amount of graduation put into a lob will also help your hair to tuck every so slightly under creating the illusion of thickness, a definite bonus. Finally, if you're really interested in going short, you can't go wrong with a pixie when you have fine hair. As long as the cut is not so short that your scalp is shining through, removal of length always means removal of weight. What does this translate to? Locks that are short always have an easier time gaining volume and thus the look of fullness, no matter what the precise shape. 

(2)   Using Color To Create Interest

Slight variation in color creates the illusion of depth and dimension and therefore fullness. For us fine haired girls, this is key. Even if your first inclination would not be to add color to your hair, you may want to reconsider. Adding a highlight and lowlight that is one shade lighter and darker respectively, than your natural hue, will not change the overall appearance of your color much, but will add tremendous variation to your palate, thus creating dimension. The subtlety will leave you with a very low maintenance look that will barely be noticeable as it grows out, meaning that you could do it once and let it go without a problem. For those of us who would color anyway, paneled looking highlights and lowlights help to create the look of depth within the hair. Conversely, a very finely woven highlight that just creates an overall lighter look, is actually not as beneficial. It's important to be able to really see the color differential because that's the best way to add interest. In Peggy's hair, pictured at left, you can see a lot of variation without it looking stripey. This can be achieved with both a foil and balayage technique. Any talented NYC hairstylist, but especially everyone in our west side salon of course, will know what is best for you in particular.

(3)   Conditioning

It's very easy for fine hair texture to become damaged because the molecular makeup of the hair is actually weaker when compared with coarser hair. Fortunately, there are many great products on the market that can reinvigorate hair with both protein and moisture. Shampoo. It's important to use a gentle shampoo that is sulfate free and not full of other harsh cleansing agents. When shampooing, focus on the lather at the scalp and simply allow the product to run over the ends while rinsing. Unless you were rolling around in the mud, there's really no need to rough up the cuticle layer of your hair by scrubbing your ends unnecessarily. Conditioner. Conditioner is key to keeping fine hair strong and moist. Don't be stingy, really fully saturate your hair with conditioner after each shampoo and if possible, allow it to really seep in for a minute or two before rinsing. While you can use the same shampoo every day, you want to rotate your conditioners between a protein conditioner made to rebuild and a moisture conditioner made to rehydrate. We swear by the Dry Remedy and Damage Remedy conditioners from Aveda in our NYC hair salon and in our own showers at home. Proper conditioning definitely makes a huge difference. 

If you'd like to continue this conversation and customize it to talk more about your own hair specifically, give us a call! Consultations are always complimentary!