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Wet Waves for Formal Events: A Real-Life Yay or Nay?

Cooler weather = wetter looks ✔️✔️✔️

We’ve all been privy to the fever pitch that the wet look reached in recent seasons. This runway fave hairstyle gained real-life traction pretty fast, as we saw celeb after celeb appropriate this formerly polarizing look into something that we all got comfortable with. What once was a highly conceptual, editorial hairstyle has now found its mainstream footing, and if last year’s awards show were any indication, it looks like it’s amassed its own respective following and is here to stay. Needless to say, my late-’80s-early 1990s video vixen dreams are very, very satisfied. Read on to see if this look is something you’d want to rock now that the weather’s turning cooler (any second now!):

Wet Waves vs. Side-Swept Waves

wet waves long hair
Coupled with the right makeup, wet waves can be a fresh, unique choice for evening. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Before we dive into that glistening tub of gel, it bears noting that for big-ticket evenings, Hollywood still, hands-down, loves a formula. Red carpet events usually bring out glitzy, feminine, tried-and-tested looks that check all the boxes of movie star glam: romantic hair, airbrushed makeup, velvet skin, a coif (usually all at once). Side-swept curls and all bouffant everything are staples for formal events—and no shade, because they are all classics for a reason—but it certainly sets the stage for more avant-garde trends like the wet waves look to shine way brighter. For the stars that dared to just slick it back and smile, the payoff was certainly immense.

The prep

We all don’t have to work backstage to know that, for the most part, studio glam is by no means real-life friendly. Most of these looks are created to achieve a certain editorial concept, or are only meant to be worn for a few hours at a time—a far cry from the usual 9-to-5 day, which has its fair share of rigors (Outside weather! Daily commute! Cocktails directly after work!). To wit: To achieve the popular wet look hairstyle that sparked the now-viral trend, TRESemmé Global Stylist Justine Marjan suggests coating locks with a hair mask to nail that signature shine in front of the camera.

wet waves updo
An updo kinda gal? Refresh that classic bun with a slicked wet finish (and maybe even a glistening loose section or two). Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

However, while it does impart a gleam like no other, going throughout your day wearing a product that’s meant to be rinsed off can be off-putting to some (I for one would absolutely panic if I got caught in a rain shower, or had to go to Bikram yoga directly after work.). Layering on a hair gel, or using a hair oil instead of a mask and finishing it off with a high-shine hairspray, might be a more practical choice. Ed’s note: Little tweaks, similar results!

Wet waves for evening

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Straight hair can also look fierce with a wet finish. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

As far as its eveningwear clout, not many people are gutsy enough to consider a slicked-back or, gasp, *gelled* hairstyle “formal enough” for the red carpet. But for those of us who are a bit tired of the same old blowdried-and-curled hairdo—or have been yearning for a hipper, less traditional definition of what it meant to go “formal”—a minimalist, even gender-neutral ’90s-inspired wet waves look is a bold and refreshing statement. And in a time where we’re aching to break down all sorts of boundaries and outdated perceptions of what it meant to “be a woman,” this confident, non-traditional, barrier-breaking look just might be a step in the right direction.



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