25 Tips for Styling Wavy, Not-Quite-Curly Hair

Have you tried every air-dry cream out there, only to end up with a frizzy, poofy mess of hair? Ever gone to bed with no clue what your hair will look like in the morning? Seen humidity and heat in the forecast, and gone into hiding for a week? (Oh, just us?)

If any of the above sound familiar, you may be blessed with wavy, yet not quite curly hair. And while some days it might feel like you have the best of both worlds, most days it just feels like a hassle.

The good news? With the right routine and know-how, you can manage your would-be curls to get just the look you’re after — whether you’re coaxing your hair into gorgeous curls, embracing your natural texture for an easy tousled look, or smoothing it out with a flat iron.

But first...

Here’s What You Need to Know About Wavy Hair

To understand your wavy hair, you’ll first need a primer on the different curl types. Your genes and the shape of your hair follicles (along with a few other factors) play a part in how your hair looks, which is typically categorized into 4 main types and various subtypes. This categorization takes into account density, volume, length, and consistency, as explained in our curly hair guide here.

While you might immediately identify with one of the 4 main types, it’s also normal for us wavy-haired gals to still be confused. For example, you might feel like you fall in between Type 1 and Type 2, depending on the day, tiny routine changes, humidity in the air, and tons of other factors.

Another one of the biggest challenges for wavy hair is frizz. With its natural texture, wavy hair tends to get frizzy with even a little bit of moisture in the air! If you live anywhere near the ocean, in an area with high humidity, or if you sweat along your hairline, you know this all too well.

Feeling frustrated yet? Yep, we know the feeling.

Short of getting Brazilian blowouts or perms every few months — which can get pricey, for sure —  our best tip is to experiment with products and routines until you figure out what works for you. You may need to decide in advance what look you’re going for, as starting your style from the moment you step into the shower can make a huge difference.

Beyond that, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you get to know your wavy hair…

25 Tips for Controlling and Styling Wavy Hair

General Maintenance for Wavy Hair

  • Know your hair type. Like we mentioned above, hair tends to fall under a main type and/or subtype. 2As, for example, tend to be very fine texture. You’ll need to look for lightweight products that won’t weigh your hair down — mousse is a great choice. But 2Cs tend toward thicker and coarser strands — you’ll need extra moisture to keep your strands hydrated, and your hair can handle heavier products.
  • Rain or intense humidity in your weather forecast? While your inclination may be to hide, you don’t need to — but definitely take that into consideration when you’re styling your wavy hair so you can stop frizz in its tracks. If you have fine hair, apply a lightweight styling product, like our Potion 10 Miracle Styling Potion. Thicker strands can handle a humidity-resistant gel or serum, like our Miracle Styling Serum.  A deep conditioner or hydrating hair mask used once a week can also provide a buffer.
  • If you feel like you’re constantly chained to your blow dryer, flat iron, or curling iron, you’re not alone. Just make sure you’re using a heat protectant first, and keep your tool on a low setting. Even when you’re using your curling iron or wand, a too-hot setting can make your hair cuticles swell (read: frizz!) and actually flatten your cuticle. Keep it low, and loosely wrap your wave to encourage and define the shape of the curl.
  • When your hair is dry, hands off — and brushes, too! Over-brushing can lead to frizz and breakage, and touching your hair can transfer the moisture from your skin to your strands. Resist the urge!
  • Tempted to get bangs? Go for it! But know that you knew style will probably need some extra time before you step out your door — and make sure your stylist has experience with curly and wavy hair. There’s a special way to cut it, and even more so for bangs!
  • Invest in high-quality hair products. While drugstore brands often have great marketing behind them (and a cheaper price tag), salon products typically have more concentrated ingredients and intensive testing to back up their claims. Trust us, the investment is worth it!

How to Prep Wavy Hair for Great Style

  • Try sleeping on a satin pillowcase. Cotton causes a lot of friction, which leads to hair breakage and — yep, you guessed it — frizz.
  • Great hair starts in the shower! Use warm water — not too hot, but not too cold — and then follow with a cold rinse after you shampoo and condition. This seals the cuticle and adds shine.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Deep condition once a week to maintain the moisture in your hair. You may also want to look for sulfate-free products, especially if your hair is color-treated.
  • Follow-up your shower with a nourishing leave-in product. Try our Miracle Leave-in Plus Keratin if your hair is damaged, our Miracle Leave-In Lite for fine hair, our Potion 10 Miracle Instant Repair Leave-In for extra-dry hair, or our Miracle Silk Leave-In for coarse or thick hair.
  • Detangle wet with a wide tooth comb OR your fingers. Using a brush can break up your natural wave/curl and also lead to damage.
  • Do NOT rough up your hair with your regular towel! This causes friction, which leads to frizz and damage. Instead, grab a microfiber towel or t-shirt, and gently squeeze or blot out excess moisture

How to Enhance Your Waves and Curls

  • Want to work with your waves? Find a nourishing or curl-enhancing styling cream, and apply evenly to damp hair. Our Miracle Styling Cream, for example, helps to define curls and waves with bouncy shine and a smooth, silky texture.
  • Twisting or scrunching your waves while your hair is still damp can also help. Work in 1-inch sections to enhance the “piecey” look.
  • Try using a diffuser attachment with your blow dryer. A diffuser will reduce the force of air coming through your blow dryer so that your hair isn’t getting roughed up as much. The result: curls remain intact and frizz stays under control.
  • Don’t underestimate hairspray. Find one that delivers the level of hold you need, without the crunch.
  • Give air-drying a shot: if you shower at night, try sleeping in braids to set your waves into a more defined curl pattern. Start with a lightweight balm, like our Miracle Whipped Styling Balm, coating hair from roots to tips. Then, divide your hair into two sections and braid each side, securing with a small elastic. In the morning, release the braids and tousle your hair; use a curling iron for touch-ups if needed.
  • You can also try the “plopping” technique, which many curl-haired girls rely on! After you shower, take a T-shirt or thin microfiber towel and lay it in front of you on a flat surface. Lean over and position your head on top of the shirt/towel, with all of your hair on top of your head. Pull the shirt/towel around your head and secure at the nape of your neck. Go about your business, allowing your hair to “set” like this for at least 30 minutes. By doing so, your hair’s wave pattern remains intact as it dries, as gravity isn’t pulling it downward.
  • Waves tend to look even better with each day, so try to make this style last! If you can go a day or two without shampooing, go for it. If your roots get oily, work a dry shampoo through and touch up with a curling iron or a spritz of texture spray.

How to Straighten Wavy Hair

  • Prep your hair with an all-purpose styling cream, potion, or balm. (Bonus if it has frizz-fighting ingredients: look for natural oils like sunflower oil, humectants like propylene glycol, and silicones.)
  • Perfect your blow-dry technique. Grab a round brush and work section by section, pulling hair tight against it and aiming the dryer down your strands. You should feel tension as you’re doing so (but not too much). Make sure your hair is 100% dry when you’re done — otherwise, it’ll start to frizz up as the remaining moisture evaporates.
  • Use a flat iron to smooth hair that’s still a bit wavy. Similar to our curling iron tip above, make sure the heat isn’t too high! If you have fine or thin hair, set the temperature to around 300 degrees F. Thicker or coarser hair can usually handle up to 400 degrees F.
  • Fine hair fallen flat? Get a volume boost by flipping your head upside down and tousling hour hair; follow with a mist of volumizing spray to hold your style.

How to Love Your Wavy Hair

  • Be patient. You may have to try and try again until you find the products and routine that help you achieve the look you want
  • If you can’t make it, fake it.  By that we mean… there may be days where your waves will have a mind of their own. Embrace it! Let your confidence shine through, and if all else fails, throw it into a low ponytail or a messy bun.