7 Best Tips and Styling Hacks for Wavy Hair in 2020

We've got the 411 on taming and styling for full-on luscious waves.

Wavy hair is a type of curly hairstyle that has a ripple-like pattern and texture. This is different to straight hair that comes out from the scalp, wavy hair has bends and waves with a kink to it. Unlike most curly hairstyles, wavy hair is more flat closer to the scalp and wavy towards the bottom.

A quick scroll of your Instagram feed will confirm that wavy locks are so in right now. With that in mind, we’ve compiled an in-depth guide to answer all your curly hair maintenance and styling questions. Plus, give you the 411 on our failsafe wavy hair tips and tricks.

Wavy hair is so appealing because it can be achieved with different techniques. It also looks great on all styles, lengths, and textures. Whether your wavy locks are au naturel or courtesy of a curling wand, it’s important to get to grips with the best tips, tricks, and techniques for messy, wavy hair. Read on:

Best wavy hair styling products

No matter what finish you’re looking for, the key to creating waves that last throughout the day is to start with the right products. When you wash your hair, use moisturizing formulas to keep it from looking frizzy or dry.

We suggest trying TIGI Copyright Custom Care Moisture Shampoo and ConditionerFormulated with Vitamin E, this combo won’t weigh hair down, giving your waves extra body and bounce.

Post-styling, keep your tresses in place with TRESemmé Compressed Micro Mist Hair Spray Extend Hold Level 4. Mist it over just-waved hair if you’re using a heated curling tool or spray it onto naturally wavy hair and scrunch with your hands. This will add definition to the waves and, most, importantly, ensure that they stay in place from a.m. to p.m.

How to get wavy hair

If you weren’t born with natural waves, you can always achieve the look with the help of a curling wand or straightener. Simply section and loosely curl the hair from front to back, comb through with your fingers and add a texturizing spray to finish. Check out our tutorial on how to get waves to see this simple process in more detail.

Starting with wet hair? No problem. Use a hairdryer to create loose waves by curling and pinning sections of the hair up as you go. This technique will not only help set your waves in place, but it will also give you that voluminous just-out-the-salon touch.

How to style wavy hair without heat

Don’t have a curling wand handy? Don’t sweat it! There are still plenty of ways to create no-heat waves, here are our top wavy hair tips:

  1. Sock curls are by far one of the easiest methods to create no-heat waves. Simply cut the toe off a clean sock and roll it into a hair donut. Tuck your hair around the donut and leave it in overnight to form messy, undone waves.
  2. An overnight braid will let you catch some zzz’s while your plaits do all the work. Divide and weave the hair into as many small braids as you would like and unravel them in the morning. The smaller you make them, the tighter your waves will be.
  3. A twisted bun is a great multi-tasking option for day-to-night styling. Twist the hair into an updo during the day, then unravel the style at night and finger-comb your hair to release the waves.

Here are some detailed tips on how to get different styles of wavy hair without heat:

With Pin Curls

how to get wavy hair without heat pin curls
What you’ll need: some duckbill clips and mousse. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Step 1: Start with damp hair that’s at least 90 percent dry—wet hair will not hold a wave or curl at all. Run a ping pong ball-sized pouf of mousse, like TRESemmé Flawless Curls Extra Hold Mousse (less if you have shorter hair) onto your entire head, distributing evenly throughout strands.

Step 2: Divide hair into vertical sections for a wavier look. They don’t have to be perfectly even. If you want a curlier look, make horizontal sections.

Step 3: Start rolling one section away from your face with your index finger (some find it easier to begin near the temples or hairline), curling inward and even looping twice or thrice around the finger if hair is longer. Secure in place with a duckbill or darby clip, checking that the bottom prong is against your scalp and the upper prong is holding the curl in place.

Step 4: Repeat the process on all sections until you’ve pinned your entire head, from one side to the back and all the way to the opposite side. Don’t stress about making the curls perfect or uniform—randomness is cool!

Step 5: Go about your business until your hair is fully dry, or for about two hours.

Step 6: Finally, release clips and gently shake out your curls, aligning the waves for a truly retro vibe.

With a Twist-Braid

how to get wavy hair without heat twist halo braid

Step 1: Start with damp hair, or spritz on some texturizing spray such as Bed Head by TIGI Queen Beach Salt Infused Texture Spray all over the lengths and ends to moisten strands before you begin. This gives the bends some structure when you unfurl them in the morning.

Step 2: Part your hair into two main sections. Split the first section, which is closest to your temple, into two. This is where your first twist will anchor.

Step 3: Begin by putting one lock above the other. By the second twist, grab a new lock behind your current sections—like when you’re French braiding—and do the same till you’ve reached your nape (and run out of sections to grab). By now you’ll just be twisting the two original sections together and then creating a cinnamon bun over your ear. Secure with a hair tie.

Step 4: Repeat the process on the opposite side. This style is cute enough to wear outdoors, but if you’re sleeping on it, make sure the buns are secure—they tend to unfurl in the middle of the night.

Step 5: Lastly, gently uncoil your buns in the morning and shake off the twists. Flip your hair over a few times for some lift and set with some hairspray like Nexxus Styling Maxximum Finishing Mist, to keep away the frizzies and flyaways.

With Pigtail Braids

Step 1: Start with damp hair and part hair into two pigtail-worthy sections.

Step 2: Divide your first section into three locks and begin your French or Dutch braid. Grab more hair as you go towards your nape. Continue past the neckline and proceed to braid all the way till the ends. Secure with a hair tie and repeat the braiding process on the other side.

Step 3: Pancake your braids—gently tug them to widen the plait—for looser, sexier beach waves. Leave to set until hair is dry, or for a couple of hours.

Step 4: Finally, remove the hair tie and shake the braids loose, tousling as you go. Apply some shine spray, like Bed Head by TIGI Headrush, for extra glisten.

How to style wavy hair without the frizz

While undone, model-off-duty waves are always a style we’re trying to emulate, frizzy locks are most definitely not. The battle against unwanted texture starts with your styling products. Try using a moisturizing mask like Shea Moisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Hydration Leave-In Treatment to keep hair healthy and nourished. The appearance of dryness can lead to frizz, so the healthier your hair, the less surface texture it will have.

How to make curls more defined for wavy hair

When it comes to wavy hair, curl definition is often a top priority. You can easily create a more ‘done’ finish to your waves by using a curling wand. There’s no need to divide the hair into sections as you go; simply pick a few pieces at random to curl. These perfectly-formed spirals will add the appearance of volume to the hair and leave you with a more finessed finish.

For naturally wavy hair, you can also try using the hair plopping technique to create more precise waves. This method keeps the hair compressed to the top of the head while it air dries. Giving loose curls more of a refined look than simply letting them dry loosely.

Do you brush wavy hair?

Depending on your hair type, thickness, and grooming routine, you might need to brush through your curled or natural waves to style them. Before you do, it’s important to take into account whether you have fine or thick hair, and what your styling needs are when choosing your hairbrush.

Whatever tool works for your hair, it’s important to follow one golden rule when brushing wavy hair: Be gentle! As curls and waves are manipulated by the brush, it’s important not to be too rough, as this can cause damage to the surface of the hair, leading to frizz.

Best Wavy Hairstyles

Looking for a little hair-spiration? Here are four easy wavy hair tips and looks that work with all hair types:

1. Sleek and Chic

Sleek wavy hair
Everyone will think you’ve stepped off the red carpet with this look.

As the perfect finishing touch to literally any outfit, polished waves make a statement all on their own. The go-to ‘do for many women as glamorous, soft curls look sophisticated and go with any look, day or night.

2. Boho Vibes

Wavy hair tips boho beauty
Boho beautiful. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Take a walk on the wild side of wavy hair trends by sporting voluminous, untamed curls. Add an extra woke up like this touch to the look by backcombing your roots and mid-sections of the hair. Pair the look with a mixture of braids and hair accessories for instant festival-worthy appeal.

3. Teased and Untamed

Wavy hair tips teased and can't be tamed
Wavy hair, don’t care. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Back-from-the-beach hair will always be a winner in our books, no matter what the weather dictates. If you prefer to keep your wave more low-key, one of our pro wavy hair tips is to style the look with Bed Head By TIGI Queen Beach Salt Infused Texture Spray. This will give you a natural-looking, messy mane.

4. Romantic Retro Waves

wavy hair tips romantic waves
Romantic waves amp up any look.

This retro hairstyle adds loads of texture and body to your look while staying loose and carefree. Bring your waves to the next level by adding in a bold middle part to bring the attention directly to your face. This style is great for date nights and special events.

5. Wavy Lob

short wavy hairstyles on a lob
An easy hairstyle to try out on your lob.

For a super-chill look, try your hand at a wavy style that’s effortlessly cool and easy to style. We love how this wavy short hair can be air-dried, creating an easy wash and go style that anyone can master!

6. Flirty & Bouncy Waves

short wavy hairstyles bob
A bouncy bob we can’t get enough of! Photo credit: Faraz Essani Photography

Whether you have somewhere to go or are just lounging with the girls, flirty, bouncy waves are always a good idea. To create this look, on second-day hair, refresh with Dove Refresh+Care Volume and Fullness Dry Shampoo. Prep your hair with a heat protectant, then use a flat iron to create your fun and flirty short wavy hairstyle. Remember to seal the deal with hair spray for a long-lasting style.

7. Defined Waves

short wavy hairstyles with defined waves
Rock your short wavy hair with defined waves. Photo credit: Indigitalimages.com

If you’re in the mood for a more polished look, consider wavy short hairstyles like the above. Nail this look by washing your hair with a hair care system that helps tame frizz, then apply your leave-in of choice. Then use a product like TRESemmé Make Waves Defining Cream to create polished wave-like curls. Diffuse your hair to dry and you’re all set.

8. Wavy Side-Parted Bob

short wavy hairstyles updo hairstyle
Gentle retro waves look great in short manes! Photo credit: Indigitalimages.com

Bob haircuts can look really fantastic—and they don’t need to be super sleek and smooth to look stylish. When it comes to short wavy hairstyles, a softer, textured bob is definitely one of our favorite looks as it gives a more feminine and laid-back feel. Also, working in some subtle layers can really help to enhance fullness and movement, giving your mane a real style boost. Try it with a deep side part and a soft sweeping fringe, styled across your forehead, before working in some mousse to add body to your waves. We suggest Nexxus Styling Mousse Plus for maximum body and fullness.

9. Short Shag Cut

short wavy hairstyles on a shag
Make your short wavy hair pop with a platinum hue. Photo credit: Indigitalimages.com

at the same time. To create this hairstyle (best for those with medium to thick hair), add lots of layers at varying lengths to produce a lighter and more dainty, feminine feel. And don’t forget to pair it with a full, choppy fringe to perfectly complete the look.

10. Layered Long Bob

short wavy hair with layeres
Try out layers as a way to break up your short hair. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Want a cropped ‘do but worried about your voluminous mane? Say no more, because short hairstyles for thick wavy hair are easier than you think. All it takes to transform your wavy tresses is to get yourself a long bob and add plenty of layers into it. Not only will this enable you to keep the length a little longer around your face, but it’ll also help to frame your pretty features, too.

11. Soft Pixie Cut

short wavy hairstyles on a pixie
Pixie cuts are one of the ideal short hairstyles for thick wavy hair. Photo credit: Indigitalimages.com

If you’ve got gorgeous soft waves, a grown-own pixie cut is a great option if you’re looking to go a little shorter. For a naturally-tousled pixie, scrunch in some gel and let it air-dry for a frizz-free, defined curls effect.

12. Dramatic Part

short wavy hairstyles with a deep part
Rock a middle part on your hair. Photo credit: Indigitalimages.com

Changing how you style your part can be a great way of mixing up short wavy hairstyles. Swap your classic center part for a zig-zag to create a more relaxed, rock’n’roll-inspired look, or try a deep side part for a more dramatic and voluminous effect. It’s really just as simple as switching up how you normally wear your hair, creating a new, and somewhat dramatic style.

13. Unicorn Braid

short wavy hairstyles unicorn braid
Opt for a cool middle braid in your wavy hair. Photo credit: Indigitalimages.com

Getting short haircuts for wavy hair might make you think that you’re limited in the styling department but you’re not! To achieve this unique unicorn braid style, brush your wavy lob or bob and part your hair down the middle. Create a small braid in the middle of your head that will go towards the back of your head, or upwards towards your crown. For an edgy effect, opt to leave out the end pieces of your hair to create quasi bangs.

14. Flat-Iron Waves

short wavy hairstyles bob red hair
The easiest and perhaps fastest route to short wavy hair.

Use your flat iron to create these easy and chic waves. With a little bit of practice and just a flick of your wrist, you can create these easy waves. Alternate the direction of each wave to create the most natural-looking texture.

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