8 Pro Tips For Naturally Wavy Hair

Hair can be described by a never-ending list of adjectives. Long, stringy, stick-straight, kinky, poufy... No matter how you characterize your hair or texture, we believe in one very important thing: It is something to be celebrated, not covered up or "managed" — a narrative that we see all too often in the media, particularly when talking about curls. Here at Refinery29, we want you to own your natural texture whether that's wavy, coily, curly, or something in between. So we used this opportunity to take a deep dive into these three categories, featuring only products you can find at Sephora. First up? Waves.
How do you know if your hair is considered wavy? "Wavy hair will never completely coil," says celebrity stylist David Lopez. "It has a very shallow curl, otherwise known as an S-shape." And the thickness can be anywhere from fine to coarse. While there are a million and one tips on how to care for wavy hair, there is one piece of advice experts can all agree on: Focus on moisturizing your hair and using lightweight products that won't weigh it down. "Wavy hair can be the hardest to style," says Bumble and bumble hairstylist Mischa G. "If you use products that are too heavy, it gets greasy, and if you use products that are too light, it expands." So what's a girl to do to create the luscious, sleek waves she so desires and deserves? Give your hot tools a break, and read on to find out our top tips.
Spoke & Weal founder and pro hairstylist Jon Reyman recommends salt sprays for finer hair textures. Simply spritz into wet hair and let it air dry. "Just be sure to avoid ones infused with heavy oils, as they can make fine hair fall flat," he says. This spray will give you that piecey, undone look you crave — without the gritty feeling many other sprays leave behind.
Mousse defines and holds similar to a gel, but it's lighter weight, so you'll get a less stretched-out curl pattern. Rake a golf-ball-sized amount through damp hair and style as usual. Or if you want even more volume and oomph, Mischa G. recommends "twisting large sections of hair away from the face, [pinning] each section [to your scalp] with a small bobby pin, and [letting] your hair air dry before taking out the twists." This foam is a great option because it's lightweight and won't deposit a sticky residue like many others on the market. Plus, it's free of parabens and sulfates, so that's a win.
"Every single hair type should use a conditioning mask to keep hair healthy and hydrated," says Lopez. The key is knowing how often to use one, which varies depending on your hair type and texture. Lopez suggests if you have fine, wavy hair, apply a deep-conditioning treatment once or twice per month. But if you have color-treated hair, you'll want to use one closer to once a week. Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask features hydrating rosehip and almond oils, algae extract (a powerhouse antioxidant that strengthens your hair and protects your scalp), and vitamin B (which restores heat-damaged or chemically treated hair to its former glory).
For a refined, polished look to your waves, celebrity hairstylist Tym Wallace recommends combing a nickel-sized amount of serum through your hair immediately post-shower. Next, "plait your hair into four big braids, and either sleep on them or wait for them to air dry." Come morning, release the braids and zhush the roots, raking through with your fingertips. For next-level sleekness and shine — sans the greasy feeling — look for a serum made with natural oils, like this one, formulated with ubuntu mongongo and baobab oils.
Compared to curly and coily hair types that are drier, wavy hair is often on the oilier side, so be sure to avoid shampoos and conditioners containing any heavy oils (like avocado oil, olive oil, or castor oil). Instead, look to volumizing shampoos and conditioners that will add definition without weighing your hair down. Pro tip: This hair type only needs to wash every other day or every three days, says Mischa G.
Mousse may be your go-to, but gel often provides more grip — particularly in summer humidity. Lopez recommends raking a quarter-sized amount of gel through damp hair and letting it air dry. "The more you touch it, the less wave you’ll end up with," he says. Then, once your hair is fully dry, gently break up the cast that has formed with your fingertips. For a crunch-free finish, try this IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel, which is infused with real coconut oil.
"The key to smooth waves is moisture — and this goes for all hair types," says hairstylist Anu Prestonia. But unless you have thick or coarse hair, a cream will only weigh down your hair and make it greasy. "This mask is nice because it won’t [do that]," says Mischa G. Simply apply it to dry hair, and let its six natural oils (including grapeseed, sweet almond, and macadamia-nut oil) sink in for 10 to 20 minutes. Your hair will only absorb what it really needs and you'll shampoo away the excess, leaving you with moisturized, non-greasy hair post-shower.
If your hair has been properly shampooed, conditioned, moisturized, and dried, and you still want more texture, try spritzing on a matte-finish dry texture spray from roots to ends. "I always use a dry texture spray because I like my waves to look big, crazy, and pulled apart," says Mischa G. This spray features hydrolyzed wheat protein, which builds volume, texture, and body without weighing the hair down.
A Curl Boss is more than just someone with curly hair. It’s someone who embraces and owns who they are and what they've got. To help you unlock your inner Curl Boss, we partnered with Sephora to bring you these handy guides for caring for and styling wavy, curly, and coily hair. The best part? You’ll know exactly what products work for you — and your gorgeous 'do — so that you can have the vivacious, luscious curls of your dreams.
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