Different Ways to Get Waves: Styling Tips for Wavy Hair

Who doesn’t love wavy hair? Whether you’ve got natural curls or just want to switch up your style, effortless, natural-looking waves (that stay all day!) always look great. In fact, waves – whether tousled and beachy or glossy and glamorous – are one of the longest-running hair trends we’ve seen in recent years. The key to making them work is all in the styling process. And because we’re so generous here at Rush, we’re happy to let our secrets slip. Here’s how to create killer waves and style them so that they don’t look lacklustre by the end of the day.

How to Get Wavy Hair

Whether you’ve got long or mid-length hair, or even if you’re sporting a bob, you can easily make waves work for you.

For Loose, Beachy Waves

It’s coming up to summer; the season of the beachy wave. To get this look, just follow the steps below:

  1. Wash and towel dry your hair.
  2. Apply a texturizing mouse, running it through your mid-lengths and ends with your fingers. Sea salt spray is also great for achieving beachy-looking locks. Avoid putting product on your roots though, as this could make your hair look greasy once it’s dry.
  3. Braid your hair into sections and sleep on them. For looser waves, two plaits will be enough; the more braids you create, the tighter the curls will be.
  4. In the morning, release the braids and unravel them using your fingers. Don’t brush them out!

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For Glossy, Glam Waves

Hot styling tools will give you a more polished finish; here’s how to create glossy waves with your curling wand.

Before you get started, it’s important that you’re using the right barrel size. Curling tongs with a barrel width of 1 ¼ inch create the right size curls (not too tight, not too loose) for most hair lengths, so start with that. You can go smaller if you’re after tighter curls, or larger (up to 1 ½ inches) if you want to create bigger waves.

You should also make sure that your curling iron has a variable heat setting, because the temperature should change depending on your hair type. If your hair is fine, damaged or colour-treated, use a lower heat setting when curling your hair. You can afford to turn it up if your hair is already curly, coarse or thick, but you should never exceed 365 degrees (whatever your hair type). Any hotter and you risk melting the keratin on the outside of the hair cuticles, which causes heat damage. Always apply a heat protectant before using hot styling tools, and don’t start curling your hair (with tongs) until it’s completely dry.

Once all that’s in order, follow this step-by-step guide:

  1. Wash your hair, but don’t use too much conditioner as this will weigh it down. For lasting curls, you want your hair to be as light as possible.
  2. Towel dry your hair and, whilst it’s still damp, spritz on a heat protectant spray. If you’re after looser waves (and if you’ve got the time!), let you hair air dry. For a more voluminous look, roughly blow dry it.
  3. Switch on your curling tongs and wait until they’re properly heated.
  4. Section your hair. Parting your hair horizontally at this stage will give you more volume at the root; a vertical parting will give your waves a ringleted look, which you can then separate for a more natural finish.
  5. Wrap your hair around the wand in sections, holding for around 3-5 seconds.
  6. Once you’ve worked on each section, you can keep your curls tight or loosen them with your fingers. Finish by misting over with a light hold hairspray.

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How to Style Wavy Hair

Once you’ve created the waves you were after, or if your hair is naturally wavy and you want to make the most out of it, there are a few things you can do to keep your curls in check.

Switch Your Shampoo

Use a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo that won’t weigh down your hair or cause scalp build-up. If you struggle with build-up, you should also use a clarifying shampoo once or twice a month to tackle this. Scalp scrubs are a great way to get rid of any lingering build-up too; you can use them as much as once a week to really keep your scalp in tip-top condition.

Put Down the Brush

Detangle your hair with a wide-tooth comb or your fingers, especially if your hair is wet. Brushes can break your natural waves or curls, which causes frizz. At worst, it’s a one-way street to splitsville.

Tackle Frizz

Frizz is usually caused by a lack of moisture in your hair. This makes the cuticle layer rough and porous; it takes in moisture from the air, which makes the hair swell and frizz. Unfortunately, wavy or curly hair tends to become dry more easily than straight hair, so keeping it properly moisturised is key if you want to banish frizz for good.

If your waves are crying out for moisture, work a bit of dry oil through your strands whilst your hair is still wet (avoiding the roots). You can do this on dry hair too, whenever you need to tame any pesky flyaways.

Dry Your Hair to Define Your Waves

If your hair is naturally wavy, try blow drying it with a diffuser. This will allow the air to circulate, drying your strands without pulling them down.

‘Plopping’ is another hair drying technique that many curly or wavy-haired ladies (and men) rely on. When your hair is wet, it’s weighed down at the roots; if you let it dry this way, you’re likely to experience flatness.

Plopping will give you a head of heavenly waves or curls that’re ultra-defined, frizz-free and full of volume.

To ‘plop’ like a pro, simply follow these steps:

  1. Take a t-shirt or microfibre towel and lay it on a flat surface.
  2. Bend over and flip your hair out, lowering your curls onto the t-shirt or towel.
  3. Pull the top section of the t-shirt or towel over the back of your head, so that it’s sitting at the nape of your neck.
  4. If you’re using a t-shirt, knot the sleeves around your head. If you’re plopping with a towel, twist the ends and then knot them. You want to create a turban of sorts, but instead of the classic ‘towel twist’ (which stretches out curls), your strands will start to dry in their natural formation.
  5. Leave it in place for 10-20 minutes, then blow dry or let your hair dry naturally.

Get the Right Cut

No amount of maintenance will work unless you’ve got a cut that’s not making the most of your hair type and texture. Long, wavy hair can easily get weighed down – especially when the strands are all one length. But if your hair is fine, layers can make your hair appear thinner. Book an appointment with your stylist to get a haircut that’s really going to make your waves – whether natural or not – look their absolute best.

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