It’s a common desire to yearn for what we lack. People with straight, lifeless hair often long for volume without the need for excessive styling tools or an abundance of products. Conversely, those blessed with tight curls envy the ease of straight hair. However, nestled between these polarities lies the blessing of natural waves. Despite occasional grievances about its quirks, wavy hair, with its effortless wash-and-go quality, is something to cherish. While you can chemically alter hair textures, the in-between magic of waves doesn’t come in a bottle.
Wavy hair typically boasts thickness, density, and a reduced tendency for thinning. Moreover, it has garnered admiration through style icons like Timothée Chalamet and Harry Styles. Isn’t that enough to appreciate the genetic lottery you’ve won in the hair department? Discover the finest wavy hairstyles below, coupled with insights from grooming experts, and you’ll soon see the perks. Embrace the experimentation, and later, you’ll be thanking us for the hair-inspiration boost.
HOW TO MANAGE WAVY HAIR
Although humidity may not be your ally and there’s often that one stubborn section of hair, these are hiccups easily smoothed out with the right hair products—think premium hair mousse, men’s hair gel, or pomade—alongside adept styling techniques. Tim Pateman, the esteemed director of Clerkenwell salon, The Lion and The Fox, as well as a seasoned session stylist known for his work with artists like George Ezra, Russell Kane, and Jake Bugg, shares valuable insights on effectively taming waves.
Let’s begin with the fundamentals. Pateman leans towards co-washing when it comes to wavy hair, a technique commonly known as ‘conditioner washing.’ “This method should follow two steps akin to shampooing,” notes Pateman. “Skip the shampoo, apply a portion of conditioner to emulsify throughout the hair to cleanse it, rinse, and then repeat.” He favors products like Redken Curvaceous Conditioner and Kiehl’s Hair Conditioner and Grooming Aid. Additionally, we recommend Davines Love Curl Cleansing Cream.
“If you’re co-washing, it’s best to minimize the use of heavy styling products,” Pateman advises. “With the accumulation of natural oils, the hair becomes impenetrable and learns to self-regulate, reducing the need for excessive styling aids in the process,” he explains. “It’s crucial to find a skilled barber or stylist familiar with cutting curly hair.” Surprisingly, many hairdressers lack the expertise or knowledge in this area.
“Focus on discovering the right products,” he suggests. “As a general rule, curls and waves favor creams: products that absorb easily and offer a natural finish. Avoid anything tacky to prevent resembling a wet poodle curl.”
Note: For hair types prone to frizz, there are more lasting solutions in the form of keratin ‘Brazilian’ chemical relaxers, which can be sparingly applied around the hairline or other problematic areas.
THE BEST HAIRSTYLES FOR WAVY HAIR
Numerous well-known individuals proudly sport wavy hair, but if you’re aiming for a unique style that reflects your personality, here are five haircut inspirations to ignite your creativity.
MID LENGTH, GROWN OUT
“This hairstyle embraces a soft, slightly overgrown appearance reminiscent of the 1990s,” remarks Pateman. The ‘Curtains’ style, iconic of that era, involves wearing hair at a medium length with a side part, creating a wedge shape with shorter layers underneath and at the back. As hair transitions from a quiff style, it seamlessly transforms into this look.
“To perfect this style, it’s essential that you can effortlessly run your hands through your hair. Apply a small amount of hair oil to damp hair and let it air dry,” recommends Pateman. “Alternatively, for heat styling, I opt for a small amount of Original & Mineral Project Sukuroi Gold Smoothing Balm. I prefer this product because it gradually makes hair more manageable and easier to style.”
To achieve this particular style, Pateman suggests asking for “a barbershop fade with a shorter back and sides, while leaving the top longer.” “Maintain a distinct, prominent line at the fade point and transition from roughly grade one to three, keeping the beard at the same length. Utilize a robust matte wax, such as Bumble and Bumble Sumotech or Davines Strong Dry Wax, to accentuate the texture and define the look.”
LONG & NATURAL
This particular style essentially represents an extended version of ‘curtains,’ designed for individuals with curlier hair. “This requires layers and additional length at the back,” explains Pateman. “It’s essentially an evolved form of the initial look. The length may vary depending on the tightness of the curl, but it should ideally fall at the level of the cheekbones in the front. Precision is key—ensuring a point cut to soften the ends of the curls. If the hair is notably thick, employing slide cutting techniques can alleviate some of the weight, ensuring a more balanced shape.”
For a finish akin to Chalamet’s, “Take portions of damp hair, and with each curl, use a product like Davines Curl Building Serum or Redken Curvaceous Ringlet Perfecting Lotion. To expedite the process and manage the curls, employ a diffuser.”
UNDERCUT WITH FRINGE
Thick hair can transform into a more manageable style, presenting an excellent choice for men who grapple rather than style their hair. This option also leans slightly more towards a corporate-friendly appearance compared to the beachy looks listed.
“Simply request an undercut but maintain the length on top for emphasis,” suggests Pateman. “Style it according to your preference. I’d recommend using a salt spray like Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray and finishing with a shine wax, such as Bumble and Bumble Sumowax. It’s low-maintenance, but to keep it sharp, regular trims every three weeks are necessary.”
MID LENGTH SMART SWEEP
Known as “the McConaughey,” this style commences with a quiff and a side parting, while allowing the back to grow out, creating more textural interest, as advised by Pateman. “Apply a salt spray for hold, followed by a styling cream like Kiehl’s Creme with Silk Groom to achieve that finger-mark movement throughout the top. Employ a hair dryer to guide stubborn hair in the desired direction—it typically takes about two weeks to coax it into place.” Awright, awright, awright.