BY LAURA BRAUNSTEIN
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!