Creating 360 Waves, the Right Way

Eunice Lucero | 26 April 2016

Listen up: You’ll need a brush and a lot of patience.

360 waves is a hairstyle worn by African American men and is one that’s been around for decades. In case you’re wondering, it gets its name from the circular wave pattern that naturally spirals out from the cowlick over time.

A good thing to note about this hairstyle: Any person with short, curly hair can achieve it, as long as you’ve got the patience—and a few key tools. Previously referred to by some as “brush waves” because of how you get them to form around the head, 360 waves has now become a popular hairdo choice for a lot of African American guys. We completely agree: They’re a cool, professional way to embrace your natural texture while giving your ’do a stylish spin. Read on to try out this oldie but goodie:

How to Get 360 Waves

You’ll need:

  •  A medium to firm-bristled hair brush (natural bristles are the best)
  • Wave or curl-enhancing cream or pomade
  • Small towel
  • Do-rag (optional)

Step 1. Get a haircut

Make sure your hair is around 1 ½” short for an optimal wave, but you can start the brushing process (read on) on short cropped hair if you like. You’ll be trimming with short clippers just around your head from this point on for at least six weeks, so make sure to go to a barber you trust.

360 waves start on short cropped hair
Short, cropped hair is a good base for your waves to grow in. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Step 2. Shampoo and condition

Rinse hair with a dynamic shampoo and conditioner before you start to cleanse off any buildup. You’ll be going longer between washes when you’re waiting for your waves to form, so it’s better to start with a clean base. We like the fresh scent and light afterfeel of Axe Dual 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner.

Step 3. Apply your product

Usually a quarter-sized dollop of wave cream like TRESemmé Make Waves Shaping Gel Cream is enough for the entire head.

Step 4. Warm up your towel

Do this by soaking it in hot water and thoroughly wringing it out.

Step 5. Allow product to soften

Place your towel onto your head for around two minutes, allowing the warmth to help emulsify the wave hair product into your strands. Give yourself a gentle head massage while you’re at it!

Step 6. Start brushing evenly, from the crown to the hairline

Begin at the crown or where your cowlick starts, brushing away and downwards from that spiral. Brush time: 2 minutes

Step 7. Wear a do-rag, skullcap or wave cap at bedtime

This is optional, and only if you want to protect your waves from mussing up while you sleep.

Step 8. Remove the do-rag in the morning

Don’t brush your hair or shampoo for two weeks, or as long as you can tolerate it (we think after one week is forgivable). Note: Shampooing breaks up your curl pattern, so the longer you can go without it, the more defined your waves will be.

Step 9. Repeat Steps 1 to 8

Do this for the next three weeks, or until your waves start to come in, then go for a haircut with a 1.5 guard on the grain.

Step 10. Use hot water

If you’re iffy on piling up on product without washing regularly, use hot water to moisten the top, back and sides of your head before brushing. Wear a do-rag to hold the wave in place while you sleep.

Guys, a friendly reminder: To set a tighter wave, hair should only be brushed when it’s moist. This also helps prevent hair breakage. Remember to brush evenly around the head—patience is a virtue!—and you’ll be rocking that enviable 360 waves hairstyle in no time!

Have you ever tried getting 360 waves?