Carefree, undone waves are pretty much the definition of hair goals—long wavy hair is that hairstyle. Using a curling iron will give you those tousled beachy waves once you get the hang of it, but what if you don’t want to keep damaging your hair with heat?
Here are the best viral hacks and professional techniques that will give you sexy and effortless heatless waves.
Before You Start: 5 Tips To Make Heatless Waves Last
- Start with slightly damp hair—think 90% dry. If it’s is completely dry, spritz some water to wet it. You can curl your hair after your shower or a day after.
- Apply product with hold before you put in and after you take out the curlers/buns/braids. Applying it beforehand will give your hair some grit so that the waves have something to hold on to, so they will last much longer.
- Leave your curling tool or style in as long as possible, preferably overnight or at least until your hair completely dries.
- Use a silk pillowcase or a scarf to keep your curlers, knots or braids in place when you sleep. Your waves will be much smoother and more even in the morning.
- Don’t brush out your waves. Gently run your fingers through your hair when you take out your curlers and shake it out. Use hairspray or texture spray to reinforce the hold and add volume and a tousled look.
1. Heatless Hair Curling Rod
Using a curling rod is the TikTok hair trend that everyone has been obsessed with. If you use social media, you’ve probably seen it pop up everywhere.
This funky headband has been ~making waves~ and with a good reason: it works. It’s easy to use and when you take it out, you’re left with natural, soft wavy hair that you could never replicate with a curling iron.
The tool comes at several price points, and usually includes scrunchies used to secure the hair after you wrap it around the headband, and sometimes also a hair clip. Some versions are made of silk and are quite pricey, but there are affordable dupes that work just as well available from your favorite shopping websites.
How to use it?
- First, place the band across the top of the head and optionally secure with a hair clip.
- Take a section in the front and wrap it around the band, going away from the face and towards the back of the head.
- Add the next section and wrap them together the same way.
- Continue until until you’ve wrapped all hair on one side of the head.
- Wrap the length around the band, then secure.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Go to bed and wake up looking like a goddess.
2. Robe Belt Waves
What if you don’t have a handy specialized tool lying around, and want those glorious waves tomorrow morning? Using a bathrobe belt, a scarf or even a pair of tights is the next best thing—basically, any piece of fabric long enough to use will do.
In fact, the concept of the commercial hairband above probably started from here, so the method of using them is the same—simply follow the tutorial above.
If you want curls and not waves, instead of wrapping your hair around the belt/tights/scarf, you can braid it using the belt as one of the braid sections.
The band/robe wraparound technique is one of the easiest methods for getting the perfect heatless waves, but it might not work for every hair length and texture. Read on for more options.
3. Knots Heatless Waves
Lots of heatless waves and curls methods are meant for long straight hair, and just don’t work if your mane is different. Shorter tresses can move around, so you might wake up with awkward bends instead of luscious waves. Or if you have natural hair, loosely wrapping it won’t work as well as creating something tighter.
The solution? Knots. Sectioning your hair helps it stay put and lets you make sure your waves are placed exactly the way you want them. Check out this detailed tutorial video.
4. Festival Waves
Follow the tutorial on the infographic for loose, soft waves that work on all hair lengths. Step 7 suggests using a diffuser to speed up drying, but if you’re going fully heatless, just do your hair before bed and in the morning you’re done and good to go!
5. French Braid Waves
French braiding your hair is one of the easiest methods for creating gorgeous waves. It’s pretty self-explanatory how to do it, but here are a few tips.
Don’t create one braid in the middle, but instead two—one on each side of the head. This will give you more uniform waves because otherwise the strands around the face would be too far away and stay straight. Also, it also allows you to sleep with the braid without it getting loose.
Experiment with how tight you make the braids. If your hair is fine, you can make them looser, and if it’s thicker, braid it more tightly.
6. High Pony Waves
This method doesn’t really work for overnight waves because sleeping with a high pony is difficult. But it’s a great daytime hairstyle that you can let loose in the evening and be ready for a night out.
It’s super easy: tie a high pony, then braid it in a style you like and secure the end with an elastic. When you take off the braid and the pony, your hair will cascade down your back in gorgeous waves.
7. Headband Tuck Waves
Get dreamy waves using just a regular headband and a few bobby pins. This method works great for both long and short hair and it’s also a cute hairstyle to wear as you wait for your waves to form.
Tip: make sure you tuck the ends underneath the hairband neatly when you finish wrapping the strands around or they could end up being scraggly.
8. Twisted Mermaid Waves
You wouldn’t believe how easily you can create these magical mermaid waves, so here’s a video tutorial to see for yourself.
9. Soft Curlers Waves
These lovely beachy waves will take you minutes to create and they look gorgeous. Soft curlers are the commercial version of the good old rag curlers, so if you don’t have any, just cut up an old t-shirt to create ~2×8 strips.
- Brush your hair.
- Grab a section near your face and a strip of fabric, and wrap the hair around it. Leave 1-2 inches free to keep the ends straight.
- Tie the two ends of the rag together, making sure the hair is secure.
- Keep them on as long as possible.
- Untie and shake out the waves with your fingers.
10. Scrunch + Salt Spray
Salty water and beachy waves sounds like a no-brainer, but what if it’s not the summer and you’re nowhere near the ocean? The solution: salt spray.
This is the quickest heatless waves method, although it’s not without its downsides, the main being that the texture of your hair becomes a bit rougher.
If putting salt in your hair doesn’t sound like a great idea, you have nothing to worry about: the newest salt sprays have enough nourishing ingredients to keep your hair from drying out, and you can also apply leave-in conditioner before you spray it.
Distribute evenly through your tresses, then start scrunching. You’ll get the best results if you keep doing it until your hair is dry.