Raise your hand if you have wavy hair! Now raise your hand if you want to boost your wavy hair game! That’s the spirit. I will not lie to you. Taking proper care of your wavy mane is not an easy job. First, you must identify your wavy pattern and your hair’s porosity. Also, you need to know how to combat your biggest enemies – loose wave patterns and lack of moisture.
To avoid confusing you right in the beginning, we’ll be taking one step at a time.
I’ll summarize everything you need to know about taking care of your wavy hair in four golden rules and the CGM steps that you’ll find below. Of course, the ultimate guide for perfect bouncy wavy hair would be incomplete without impressive hairstyles inspo pics. SPOILER ALERT: The bonus section will be a cherry on top.
But before all that, allow me to share with you an interesting story about my hair.
MY HAIR HISTORY: An Accidental Shift From Straight To Wavy
DISCLAIMER: This story refers to the period before I became a hairdresser.
Recently I’ve read somewhere that 40% of women are unaware their hair is wavy. Guess what? I used to be one of them. For a decade, I thought I had straight hair that was the unmanageable combination of messiness and frizziness no matter what I did.
One day after washing my hair, I just decided not to comb it at all. I just applied some leave-in conditioner and left my hair to air dry. It appeared that changing my washing routine that day was the ultimate game-changer for my hair. When my hair dried, I was in disbelief at how defined my waves were. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and saying out loud: “Wow, I have wavy hair!”
The saddest part is that my wavy hair was always there shyly hiding beneath all that combing, improper caring, and styling of my mane. So, I decided to do my research and learn how to identify my wave pattern, take care, and style my wavy hair.
5 years later, I’ve become a hairdresser. I feel honored to share with you today the golden rules and plenty of tips for perfect bouncy wavy hair. Ready when you are!
RULE I: Identify Your Wavy Pattern
➼ Why is it important to follow this rule?
If you don’t know your wavy pattern, you may end up using the wrong styling products for your subtype of wavy hair. The result would be messy, frizzy waves that lack definition. We don’t want that to happen, right? So, let’s see!
I’ll start with simplifying hair categories. Straight hair has only one category, while curly hair has three different categories. Wavy hair belongs to the first type 2 category of curly hair types and it can be split into three different subtypes: 2A, 2B, and 2C. Different wavy hair types each have unique characteristics that set them apart.
• TYPE 2A (light and stretched waves)
2A wavy hair has a loose, tousled texture and lacks volume at the root. The wave pattern has less definition and easily loses shape. If you have this hair type, you should avoid using heavy styling products to prevent your strands from weighing down and appearing dull.
• TYPE 2B (soft waves with more definition)
2B wavy hair is flatter at the crown and has more defined waves. It maintains its shape better than the type 2A. To bring out the best in this wavy hair type, I suggest using moisturizing sprays enriched with protein and styling creams.
• TYPE 2C (defined S-shaped waves)
2C wavy hair features well-defined S-shaped waves with a thick texture. This wavy hair type is the most prone to frizz, so it’s important to combine moisturizing products and hair gels. Sulfate-free products benefit all wavy types but especially this one as they prevent stripping essential moisture from your strands.
RULE II: Your Hair Porosity Also Matters
➼ Why is it important to follow this rule?
Hair porosity indicates the hair’s ability to absorb and retain water. Hair with lower or higher porosity requires different care and the use of different styling products.
Hair porosity is determined by how open or closed the hair cuticles are. These cuticles control how much moisture can penetrate the hair shaft. Hair porosity grades are grouped into 3 categories and they are often dictated by your genetics:
1. LOW POROSITY: The cuticles on this hair are extremely tight meaning they don’t allow moisture in or out. This hair porosity type has difficulty absorbing products, so using light styling products such as foams and mousses is the best bet. Products that contain keratin and deep conditioners are also recommended.
2. MEDIUM POROSITY: The cuticles on this hair are halfway open, and they allow moisture in. However, they also lose moisture more easily. Those with medium hair porosity type should use leave-in conditioners, hair moisturizers, and oils.
3. HIGH POROSITY: The cuticles on this hair are open, and they require lots of moisture because they also lose moisture very easily. Those with high porosity type should use protein-rich products, oils, and nourishing hair masks.
QUICK TEST: What type of hair porosity do you have?
The spray test is my favorite method for determining the type of hair porosity. All you need to do is spray some water on a product-free* strand of hair and observe what happens:
• You have LOW POROSITY if the water forms plenty of little droplets on the hair surface without sinking in.
• You have MEDIUM POROSITY if the water forms some little droplets, but sinks in easily afterwards.
• You have HIGH POROSITY if the water instantly sinks into the hair.
REMEMBER: The higher the porosity grade, the more protein-rich products you should use to strengthen the cuticle structure and allow it to retain moisture.
*There should be no styling products, conditioners, or leave-in products on your hair.
RULE III: Take Proper Care Of Wavy Hair
➼ Why is it important to follow this rule?
Things get much easier once you learn what your wavy hair desires or despises. Washing your hair too often or detangling your hair the wrong way are some of the most common mistakes you should avoid. Learning how to take proper care of your wavy hair is a prerequisite if you want to enjoy perfect, bouncy waves.
Even though every wavy hair is unique, there are some universal principles on how to take proper care of your wavy mane:
1. Don’t wash your hair too often
If you wash your hair too often, it can become dry and frizzy. To avoid dry and frizzy situations, it’s best to wash your hair once a week or twice a week if you really must. That way you’ll make sure that your wavy hair stays moisturized between washes.
2. REVELATION: Apply shampoo only onto the scalp
Many people think that shampoo should be applied to the full length of their hair. The truth is that shampoo should only be used to clean the scalp so that you avoid drying out your wavy hair. Once you start rinsing your hair, the lather will distribute throughout the length.
3. Detangle your hair ONLY after applying conditioner
To protect your hair from breaking while detangling, you should always detangle your wavy hair after applying conditioner. Detangling your hair when dry will only result in disruption of your wave pattern and hair breakage.
4. Comb your hair from the bottom up
Here’s the right way to detangle wavy hair: first, you need to detangle each knot at the bottom and then continue detangling the upper sections of your hair. Why? Because pulling a brush roughly through your hair from top to bottom can worsen tangles, and cause breakage.
5. Make sure that your hair is moisturized
Naturally wavy and curly hair is dry by default because it’s harder for the scalp’s natural oils to coat strands from roots to ends. That’s the reason why you should make sure that your hair is properly moisturized. You can use conditioners, leave-in conditioners, oils, honey, aloe vera, and similar.
6. Protect your wavy hair when you sleep
To reduce frizzy situations and help your wavy hair stay moisturized and defined overnight, consider sleeping on silk or satin pillowcases. You can thank me later.
7. Heat is your biggest enemy – minimize it!
There are different types of heat and each one of them is an enemy to wavy hair to a certain extent. The heat from curling irons and straighteners is by far the worst, so using a heat protectant spray beforehand is recommended. The heat from the sun can also dry out your wavy hair, so make sure to use hats.
8. Regular trims are a must
Frequent trims are equally important as using the right styling methods and products for your wavy hair. That being said, you should trim your hair every 6 to 8 weeks. Also, it’s recommended to trim your hair two or three days after washing it so that it can return to its natural texture.
RULE IV: Style Wavy Hair The Right Way
➼ Why is it important to follow this rule?
Styling your hair the right way is equally important as taking proper care of your wavy mane. Unlike straight or curly hair, wavy hair behaves differently and requires slightly different styling techniques and products to achieve its maximum potential.
The next time you style your wavy hair, keep in mind these styling tips and the products that you should use:
1. Choose the right styling product(s) for your hair type, porosity, and texture
We’ve already discussed the right products for your hair type and porosity in the RULE I and RULE II sections. So, here’s a summary of that:
• HAIR TYPE: Those with type 2A should avoid using heavy styling products and focus on lightweight products like leave-in conditioners and mousses. Types 2B and 2C should use moisturizing and protein-rich products as well as styling creams.
• POROSITY: If you have low porosity, you should use light styling products such as foams and mousses as well as products that contain keratin. If you have medium porosity, you should use leave-in conditioners, hair moisturizers, and oils. Those with high porosity type should use protein-rich products, oils, and nourishing hair masks.
• TEXTURE: Coarse and thick wavy hair textures require heavier and larger styling products, whereas fine and medium wavy hair textures are best styled with smaller amounts of lightweight styling products.
2. Don’t layer too many styling products
Layering too many styling products will weigh down your wavy hair and cause a serious product buildup. Therefore, you should never layer too many styling products but choose one that is more beneficial to your hair according to your hair type, texture, and porosity. If you aren’t satisfied with the results, then consider changing the product or adding more of the same product.
3. Apply products on soaking wet hair with your head upside down
Applying products on soaking wet hair with your head upside down will give your wavy hair more volume and definition. Also, styling your hair when it’s soaking wet helps lock in moisture. If you follow these tips, frizzy and undefined wavy hair will be a thing of the past.
4. Scrunch your wavy hair with a microfiber towel
Wavy hair is extremely fragile, so you should never use regular bath towels to dry or style your hair. Instead, you should use a microfiber towel to scrunch the excess product out of your hair when styling it. As a result, your wavy hair will be defined and bouncy.
5. Refresh your wavy hair between washes
To refresh your wavy hair between washes, fill a spray bottle with water and a leave-in conditioner. Spray this hydrating mixture through your wavy hair and then apply regular styling product(s). Remember: less is more!
6. Dry your hair upside down with a diffuser
Air drying your hair is indeed the most healthy option, but your wavy hair won’t be as voluminous and rich as when you dry it with a diffuser. After you’re done styling and scrunching your hair with a microfiber towel, dry your hair upside down with a diffuser for mega volume.
7. Keep your wavy hair defined overnight
A scarf or a bonnet made of satin or silk is your best friend when it comes to keeping your wavy hair defined overnight. Wrap your hair with a scarf or a bonnet and sleep soundly knowing that your hair will stay moisturized overnight, which means one thing – you’ll have another good hair day!
If you don’t have a satin/silk scarf or a bonnet, you can loosely gather your hair at the highest point (pineapple style) to protect your hair while sleeping.
8. Don’t forget to use a shower cap when bathing
Wavy hair and too much moisture aren’t really good friends, so you would want to use a shower cap when bathing to prevent your hair from getting frizzy. I suggest choosing a satin or silk shower cap so that you’re 100% sure your hair will be frizz-free after a shower.
THE ULTIMATE GAME-CHANGER: The Curly Girl Method
Despite the name, the Curly Girl Method is not only for curlies (curly gals) but also for wavies (gals with wavy hair). Here’s a brief history of CGM. A hairstylist, Lorraine Massey, introduced The Curly Girl Method in her bestselling book, Curly Girl: The Handbook in 2001. Since then, the CGM has become a universally popular hair guide for people with both curly and wavy hair.
The Curly Girl Method revolves around enhancing the natural beauty of curly and wavy hair by avoiding certain ingredients (such as sulfates or silicones), focusing on the best products for your hair, and using specific methods for styling it.
Here are the basic CGM guidelines to incorporate into your wavy hair regimen:
• Avoid products that contain harmful ingredients
Products that contain sulfates, silicones, mineral oils, wax, perfumes, and alcohol should be avoided because they can cause frizz and dryness. Also, they can’t be removed from your hair without using sulfate-based shampoos, which are also on the list of forbidden ingredients.
• Co-wash your hair and use a clarifying shampoo (every once in a while)
Co-washing your hair means washing your hair only with a conditioner which helps improve hydration. Clarifying shampoos are deep cleansers that you should use from time to time to eliminate product residue and deep cleanse your scalp.
• Avoid heat from styling tools
It’s universally acknowledged that heat can damage your wavy hair, so it’s best to let your hair dry naturally. If you really must, you can use a blow dryer with a diffuser in a low-heat setting.
• Say no to regular combs, brushes, and bath towels
Brushes, combs, and bath towels can cause frizz, lack of moisture, and damage to your wavy hair. The CGM suggests that you use a microfiber towel instead of a bath towel and detangle your hair using your fingers.
• Use the Curly Girl Method techniques for washing and cleansing
Detangle and moisturize your wavy hair with the following techniques:
– Pre-Poo: Apply conditioner or oil to your hair a few hours before washing it. This will help detangle hair and encourage the forming of bouncy waves.
– Bowl method: This method is about dipping your hair multiple times into the bowl of water and conditioner.
– Squish to condish: Squish the co-wash or conditioner into the hair with water. This technique will result in extra moisture and perfectly defined wavy hair.
• Use the Curly Girl Method techniques for styling
Give your wavy hair more definition with the following styling techniques:
– Scrunching: After applying styling products (curl creams, gels, or mousse), gather your hair and scrunch it upward toward your scalp.
– Plopping: Use a microfiber towel or a cotton T-shirt to squish your hair toward your head and then secure it. This will reduce your drying time and create beautiful waves.
– Brush styling: Use a styling brush such as the Denman brush for wavy hair to create more defined waves.
A MUST-SEE: 30 Jaw-Dropping Styles And Cuts For Wavy Hair
These trending hairstyles for wavy hair are real head-turners, and they are perfect for every occasion. Make sure to pin your favorite ones to show your hairdresser or hairstylist the next time you go to the hair salon. I’ll make sure to share with you as many helpful tips as I can in the next paragraphs. Enjoy!
1. Long Layered Beige Bronde Balayage With Curtain Bangs
Beige bronde balayage is the new blonde balayage! A combination of beige, blonde, and brown will give your wavy hair lots of depth and dimension. For a beautiful face-framing effect, opt for curtain bangs.
2. Mahogany Orange Layered Wavy Hair
Pairing darker mahogany roots with a brighter orange shade through the ends will give your hairstyle a stunning contrast effect. Besides that, lighter and darker shades will make your hair look more dimensional.
3. Wavy Pixie Cut With A Low Taper
Low taper haircut starts tapering around the ears and neck. This hairstyle is all about creating a contrast between low taper fade and long wavy hair on top. You can adjust your hair at the top according to your hair thickness. If you have thin hair, I suggest using hair gel to create the illusion of more textured, fuller hair.
4. Pull-Through Braid For Wavy Hairstyles
A pull-through braid is a romantic and textured hairstyle perfect for wavy hair. Here’s how to achieve it:
• Step 1: Gather a small low ponytail and secure it with an elastic. Create a second ponytail below the first ponytail. Split the first ponytail into two sections.
• Step 2: Pick up new hair below and create a third ponytail below the second. Add the two sections from your first ponytail into the third ponytail so that they wrap around your second ponytail.
• Step 3: Continue splitting your top ponytail into two sections and wrapping it around the lower ponytail. Secure it and repeat step 2 until you have a few inches of your hair left. Also, pull out the braid in each section to loosen the hair and boost the volume.
5. Copper Brown Voluminous Wavy Shag
This wavy shag features voluminous hair at the top with shorter and longer layers. If you have thin hair, you should avoid this type of shag due to lots of layers that can make your hairstyle look more like a mullet than a shag.
6. Blonde Wavy Bob With A Deep Side Part
Classic wavy bob is a perfect mix of elegance and effortless vibes. A deep side part will give your hairstyle mega volume and soften your features. Pro tip: If you ever get bored of your classic bob, you can always spice it up with bangs.
7. Half-Up Braided Wavy Hairstyle
If you ask me, soft waves and braids are a perfect half-up hairstyle suitable for every occasion. Also, adding highlights will accentuate your wave pattern and make your hair look thicker. Sounds like a great deal, right?
8. Short Wavy Shag With Choppy Layers
Wavy shags are effortless by default, and adding choppy layers makes them look even more laid-back and sassy. Bangs are a perfect way to make this hairstyle look more personalized.
9. Long Wavy Hair With Curtain Bangs
This stunning hairstyle is a perfect mix of warm and cool tones. A sprinkle of blonde makes this warm brunette blonde hairstyle more dimensional thus giving it a cool undertone. And yes, curtain bangs on wavy hair are just a cherry on top. Perfection.
10. Dreamy Blonde Short Wavy Hair
Blonde short wavy hairstyle has a soft texture synonymous with a youthful aesthetic. Highlights and a deep side part will make this hairstyle look even more stylish.
11. Wolf Cut With Choppy Bangs
Hello, effortless and undone vibes! Choppy bangs are cut at varying lengths and they give a soft wolf haircut a dash of edginess. The best is that this haircut grows into a hot shaggy wolf cut over the next few months.
12. Wavy Pixie Hairstyles
If you want one edgy cut with which you can create endless styles, a wavy pixie haircut is your best bet! Depending on the length of your pixie cut, you can make it look more voluminous or polished by using hair oil and gel to create wet hair look.
13. Super Long Wavy Hair
If you have super long wavy hair (or you will have one day), keep in mind that you shouldn’t use hair gels because they can weigh down your long hair. Instead, you should use leave-in conditioners, foams and other lightweight styling products. From braided to half-up half-down hairstyles, with super long wavy hair you can rock any style you want!
14. Color Blocking Wavy Hairstyle
Color blocking is a trendy technique of adding contrasting hair colors for a more personalized look. If you want a more soft color blocking effect, then opt for pastel shades. For those who want a bold color blocking look, they should choose more intense shades of contrasting colors.
15. Copper Brown Butterfly Haircut
A popular butterfly haircut features shorter face-framing layers and longer cascading layers with wispy ends. The best way to accentuate butterfly layers is by adding lighter or darker shades to your base color. Of course, you can add both highlights (lighter shades) and lowlights (darker shades) to create contrast and the illusion of depth.
16. Pastel Purple Blue Wavy Hair
If you want to look super cool, then choose the colors from the cool spectrum such as pastel blue and purple. If you want to rock a bolder look, you can always add a few contrasting colors from the warm spectrum such as red and orange. The world is your oyster!
17. Golden Blonde Long Wavy Ponytail
Styling a long wavy ponytail has never been easier:
• Step 1: Curl your hair with a curling iron and lightly brush through it to create waves. (You can skip this step if you have natural wavy hair).
• Step 2: Gather your hair with a bristle brush forming a ponytail and secure it with an elastic or a decorative hair clip or tie. Tease the base of your ponytail with a fine-tooth comb to make it appear fuller. Use volumizing hairspray to lock the tease in place.
18. Soft Shaggy Mullet
A soft shaggy mullet features a classic mullet shape with longer layers at the back and shorter layers at the front. There are also shorter, soft layers at the crown that add volume and texture to this chic hairstyle.
19. Half-Up Soft Glam Waves
Hello, glam lady! Glamorous half-up wavy hairstyles are real head-turners and the best is that they are easy to style. To create soft glam waves, all you need to do is wrap sections of your hair around the curling iron in the same direction. Then lightly brush through it to create waves and use lots of hairspray. Congrats, you’re done!
20. Mermaid Side Braid For Wavy Hair
Is there anything more romantic than a long side braid on wavy hair? Combine Dutch and French braids to make your mermaid side braid look more textured. Also, pull out a few pieces around the hairline for a face-framing effect.
21. Long Wavy Hair With Layered Bangs
If you’re looking for bangs that can be easily pinned out of your face, then layered bangs are the way to go. Layered bangs have a soft texture that frames your face in an effortless and chic way. The best is that they can be easily transformed into side-swept bangs.
22. Long Black Wet And Wavy Wig Hairstyle
Long glam waves are synonymous with a sleek and stylish look. This type of wave is achieved by wrapping sections of your hair around the curling iron in the same direction. Good news: you don’t have to bother with that because you can choose some of the most realistic Hollywood glam wet and wavy wig hairstyles!
23. Glam Wavy High Ponytail
A high wavy ponytail is an evergreen hairstyle perfect for any occasion. It can be styled in just a few minutes: after applying styling cream, smooth and gather your hair with a bristle brush. Tie it with an elastic, forming a ponytail. Then wrap your pony with a small strand of hair (optional). Curl the pony with a curling iron and lightly brush through it.
24. Intense Mahogany Wavy Wet Hairstyle
Wet hairstyles have been all the rage as of late and we all agree that they look best on wavy hairstyles. To achieve a wet hair look, simply apply hair oil and gel to damp hair and allow it to air dry. Easy-peasy, right?
25. Color Blocking Wavy Shag With Micro Bangs
Micro bangs and wavy shags are best friends forever because they both belong to the effortless category and they seamlessly blend on all hair types. To spice up your cool wavy shag, opt for color blocking technique that promotes combining contrasting colors for a unique look.
26. Chestnut Brown Vintage Glam Waves
Chestnut brown is a combination of medium red and brown shades that looks so rich on vintage glam waves. This hair color is named after the nut of the chestnut tree, and the alternate name for chestnut brown is badious. Yes, we can agree that this hair color is an absolute baddie among other colors.
27. Color Blocking Layered Wavy Hair
If you want to enhance the wave pattern on your layered wavy hairstyle and become the epitome of the coolest gal ever, I suggest spicing up your hairstyle with contrasting colors. Pro tip: pastel shades are always in style!
28. Brunette Balayage With Curtain Bangs
Everyone knows that voluminous wavy hair with bangs (especially curtain bangs) is a match made in heaven. If you have thin hair, brunette balayage will create the illusion of a thicker and more voluminous mane. As always, you feel free to thank me later.
29. Blonde Wavy Wolf Cut With Micro Bangs
The wolf cut is a combination of a mullet and a shag. It is one of the most versatile hairstyles for wavy hair and it looks amazing on both short wavy hair, medium wavy hair, and long wavy hairstyles. Pro tip: For a super cool and effortless wolf haircut, opt for micro bangs.
30. Blonde Wavy Hair With Birkin Bangs
Named after the iconic French actress Jane Birkin, Birkin bangs are soft, long bangs slightly shorter in front and longer on the sides. Birkin bangs are easily modifiable to flatter all face shapes. You can adjust the layers around the bangs to either slim your face or make it look fuller. The choice is yours!
BONUS: Top 5 Wavy Hair Myths And Misconceptions
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions regarding wavy hair, and today we’ll debunk the top five wavy hair myths:
MYTH 1: Wavy hair is curly
Sure. Wavy hair is curly and the Earth is flat, right? Even though wavy hair belongs to the type 2 category of curly hair types, it doesn’t mean we should perceive it as curly. Wavy hair has its own three different subtypes: 2A, 2B, and 2C, and each subtype has unique characteristics that set them apart. So, no, wavy hair is not curly.
MYTH 2: You can comb and brush wavy hair
Yes, you can comb and brush wavy hair but is it a good idea to do so? Even though wavy hair is not curly, both hair types shouldn’t be combed or brushed unless you want to disrupt the wave pattern and make your hair look frizzy (intentionally). Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean you should never brush wavy hair. The only time you should brush it is after applying conditioner.
MYTH 3: Wavy hair doesn’t require any styling products
Many people think that the wave pattern cannot be improved, so why bother using styling products? Just because wavy hair is not curly hair, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t require any styling products. Using products like foams, creams, or leave-in conditioners can make wavy hair more defined and bouncy.
MYTH 4: Wavy hair should be washed every day
Washing wavy hair every day is a surefire way to dry it out and make it appear dull. For the best results, wavy hair should be washed once to two times a week. This will allow your wavy hair to retain moisture between washes.
MYTH 5: People with wavy hair can use any type of shampoo
Yes, people with wavy hair can use any type of shampoo but should they? Every hair type is unique, and wavy hair (just like curly hair) is not friends with sulfates, silicones, and other harmful ingredients that can be found in regular shampoos. To prevent frizz, breakage, and drying out your (already) dry wavy hair, it’s best to use sulfate-free shampoos.
Remember To Take Care Of Your Wavy Hair!
Keep in mind that it takes a lot of trial and error to find what works best for your type of wavy hair. So, feel free to experiment with different styling techniques and hair products to find the right combo for maintaining your wavy mane. Best of luck!