Fashion

How To Style Wavy Hair — 4 Editors Share Their Routine & Products

Anyone with wavy strands knows this hair type has a mind of its own. Some days you wake up with cool beachy, mermaid-like locks. While others, you’re a spitting image of frizzy-haired Mia Thermopolis pre-Princess makeover. Ultimately, just like your skin, crafting a wavy hair routine to accentuate your natural texture is probably going to take some work (read: not overnight). But, if testing a dozen products isn’t realistic, not to fret: beauty editors (aka, those who try new formulas for a living) were kind enough to share their top tips for how to style wavy hair, as well as their full regimens.

According to Ama Kwarteng, Coveteur’s Beauty Editor, creating a hair routine is really all about trial and error. And while it might be tempting to get your hands on what you see on Instagram or what your friends are using, she urges against that. “I’ve gone through so much figuring out what products and what ingredients my hair actually likes and takes to,” the editor explains. “You have to have a lot of patience when it comes to figuring out what hair routine works for you.”

One rule of thumb these editors agree on: Refrain from touching your hair too much. Because according to Hannah Baxter, TZR’s Deputy Beauty Editor, the less you touch it, the less frizz you’ll have. And on that note, Ruby Buddemeyer, Cosmopolitan’s Beauty Editor, swears by the mantra less is more. “Whenever I try to fight my hair or throw a lot of products at it, it doesn’t look great and it doesn’t feel great,” she explains. “So, the less I do to it and the more I just let it do its thing the better it looks.”

Below, TZR tapped four editors with all different wavy hair types to get the low-down on their full routines, best tips, and go-to products. Hopefully, this expert advice can steer you in the right direction to achieve the wavy hair of your dreams.

We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Faith Xue, Executive Beauty Director, BDG

Hair Type

“[I have type] 2A hair and [it’s] double-processed. My specific hair needs are always hydration, hydration, hydration.”

Favorite Shower Products

“I’m constantly testing new products, but lately I’ve been obsessed with the Pureology Strength Cure Blonde Shampoo for a toning treatment, followed by K18 leave-in mask for strengthening, or Christophe Robin’s Baby Blonde mask for extra toning and hydration.”

Favorite Styling Products

“I always use a leave-in conditioner to help detangle and prevent breakage after the shower. Right now, I love Ceremonia’s Guava Leave-In Conditioner, which smells amazing and helps my hair feel super-soft as I air-dry. Then, I cocktail Redken’s Oil For All with Oribe’s Supershine Moisturizing Cream and slather it onto my half-dried hair.

“Since my wavy hair is super over-processed, I try to avoid heat-styling as much as possible. To help bring out my natural wave pattern, I always let my hair air-dry from the shower about 75 percent, load up on my hair oil and cream cocktail, then put my hair into two loose, low braids. After an hour or two, I shake the braids out and I get perfectly undone waves with zero damage.”

Shop Faith’s Full Routine

Ama Kwarteng, Beauty Editor, Coveteur

Hair Type

“My natural hair is probably a mixture of type 4A and 4C. But when I have sew-in extensions, my hair is pretty wavy. So in terms of the type of hair, I usually get a body wave texture, so it has some body and movement to it which I really like.

“When I have my extensions in, I need products that are really good for scalp care. Especially when it’s covered up, it can be hard to reach the scalp through extensions, so I like products that have nozzles that make it a lot easier. I also need lightweight hair products because it is really easy for product build-up to happen when you’re using so much on your extensions. I’ll also add in a clarifying shampoo every two weeks just to make sure everything is clean and fresh.”

Favorite Shower Products

“I love Shea Moisture’s Wig & Weave Tea Tree & Borage Seed Oil Residue Remover Shampoo because it has aloe vera in it and I find it to be cleansing but not stripping. It also really keep it hydrated. Before I use that though I use Mizani’s Wonder Crown Scalp Foaming Pre-Cleanse. So it’s like an oil cleanser — it has a nozzle and I just apply it to my scalp and then massage it in. Then you wait a minute and rinse it out. I find it does a really good job breaking down residues like dirt and oil product build-up on your scalp. I feel like my scalp is so sensitive that I just need a ton of super hydrating products when I’m cleansing.

“For conditioner, I really love Design Essential’s Rosemary & Mint Stimulating Super Moisturizing Conditioner. I feel like sometimes my hair gets super dry and this one is also really soothing on the scalp because of the rosemary mint they have in the formula. But I also find that it really hydrates my ends, and when I have the sew-in in, I find that the ends are the driest part.

“Usually, afterward, I spritz on a leave-in conditioner. I’m really loving Aveda’s Nutriplenish Leave-In Conditioner. It’s super lightweight, but it still gets the job done. It has sunflower seed oil, pomegranate seed oil, and jojoba oil, so it’s really rich and conditioning, but it doesn’t feel like you have anything in your hair when you spritz it on.”

Favorite Styling Products

“In terms of styling, the T3 Curl ID Wand is incredible because it’s super high-tech where you put in your hair type and your hair texture and it automatically heats it up to the perfect temperature that won’t damage your hair.

“And I always spritz on a heat protectant beforehand — [specifically] the Dark and Lovely Blowout Silky Slip Styling Blow Dry Hair Cream. This product is technically for blow-outs but I love using it regardless of the style I’m doing just because again, it’s really really hydrating for my extensions and my natural hair because it has a blend of shea butter and castor oil. I find it protects my hair because heat damage is so real and you want to treat your extensions just as good as you treat your natural hair, so I always make sure I’m protecting it.

“Then, I love OGX Renewing + Argan Oil of Morocco Weightless Healing Dry Oil Spray that I’ll use on my mid-length to my ends and it helps add shine and gives it that really glossy finish without weighing down my hair or making it look greasy.”

Shop Ama’s Full Routine

Hannah Baxter, Deputy Beauty Editor, The Zoe Report

Hair Type

“I have 2A and 2B waves. It’s very fine but I have a lot of it so it’s very dense. It tends to frizz and it loses definition throughout the day so I need something that has good hold and can minimize frizz, but since it’s fine, I can’t use a thicker cream because it weighs it down quite a bit.”

Favorite Shower Products

“As a beauty editor I test a lot of stuff, but I usually try to use moisturizing products in the shower. I also have color-treated hair and it’s blonde, so it’s like a mix of purple shampoo or masks and then moisturizing products when I wash — usually every other day or so. I’ll do a hair mask once a week and a clarifying shampoo once a week because I’m using products every time I get out of the shower, and you need to keep your scalp clear and healthy. I love the Odele Clarifying Shampoo. I’m using the Pattern Lightweight Conditioner at the moment. Shampoo-wise, I’m using the Odele Moisturizing Shampoo.

“Then I use the Crown Affair Renewal Mask, the Christophe Robin Shade Variation Hair Mask Baby Blonde, or the Olaplex No.8 mask — I rotate those. I don’t use hot tools but because I color my hair every 12 weeks, it does get very damaged. And I’m wearing it up all the time as I’m growing out a weird length at the moment so it gets damaged that way — hot tools aren’t really an option at the moment. I’d rather my waves be healthy.”

Favorite Styling Products

“I love Ceremonia’s Pequi Curl Activator, which has sort of a milky serum texture. Almost like a gel but better — there’s no leftover crunch. I discovered it because in quarantine I was playing with more styling products than ever before but I realized I can’t use styling cream — that’s just too heavy on my hair and it gets too flat on the top and pouffy on the bottom. So what I tend to do is the K18 Protective Spray and then I’ll do Living Proof’s Restore Repair Leave-in conditioner. I’ve discovered the power of a leave-in conditioner because if you’re not using a creamy product, you’re not imparting as much moisture and emollients into your hair.

“I put it up in a towel very briefly, let it down, spray the K18 in it, do one to two pumps of the Living Proofs Leave-In Conditioner, gather it in a ponytail, and smooth it through from the ears-down. Then, I use the Crown Affair wide-tooth comb and comb that through and sort of gather again so it’s all one section and not piecey, and then I’ll do a nickel-sized amount of the Ceremonia Pequi Curl Activator and scrunch that in. The less I touch it the better. I don’t want to spend a lot of time defining curls, but if anything around my face is a weird shape I’ll twirl it in my finger. And then I usually let it air dry, but if I’m gonna blow dry it, I use the diffuser on the Dyson. Then I just kind of let it be. I might flip it over once to get some volume, but I’m really loyal to an air dry.

Shop Hannah’s Full Routine

Hair Type

“I would say my hair type is really fine with soft, un-defined waves. I also have a ton of heat and color damage just from years of working in this industry and honestly fighting my texture a bit. I feel like I grew up wanting it to be straighter and sleeker, so when I let it do its own thing and use the right products, it’s more defined when I fight it.

“Since my hair is really fine, I need products that are really lightweight. But, because I do have that damage, I need things that are also hydrating. So, finding the balance between the two. Then, finding things that will define and enhance my waves instead of making them look flat and kind of frizzy.”

Favorite Shower Products

“I wash my hair twice a week max, and when I shampoo, I use the dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo. They have a rinse, but I prefer the shampoo. It’s really lightweight and gentle, and I feel like it totally cleans my hair and gets rid of product build-up and it doesn’t leave me with that stringy kind of dry feeling that a lot of shampoos do.

“And then every few washes I also use the scalp serum from Sunday Riley. I kind of have a dry, sensitive, itchy scalp, especially during the summer. So I really like that for soothing my scalp and getting rid of some product build-up, too.

“For conditioner, I use Drunk Elephant Cocomino Marula Cream Conditioner — it’s my favorite conditioner. It’s really hydrating and silky, but again, it’s really good for my hair texture because it is so fine that I need hydration that doesn’t weigh me down or make my hair look flat, and I love it for that. I just comb it through my ends in the shower and I leave it in for a few minutes while I do the rest of my routine.

“And then, once or twice a month I also use the K18 Hair Mask. I feel like I’ve noticed a huge difference in my hair since I started using it — it just feels stronger and healthier.”

Favorite Styling Products

“I feel like hair products are one my favorite categories to test, so I’m constantly swapping in new products all the time. But right now, I really like the Perfect Hair Day Cream from Living Proof. I like to scrunch it through my ends after I get out of the shower, and I don’t towel dry. I basically apply it while my hair is really wet still, and I think that’s a good way to enhance my waves and stay away from any flatness. I also like the Ouai Air Dry Foam. So I’ll use either or, [but] I don’t use them together.

“From there, I usually just like to let it air dry and let it do its thing. Sometimes I’ll go in and soak up a little bit of the excess water with that Aquis’ microfiber towel. But for the most part, I really just leave it alone and don’t touch it.

“On day two or three, sometimes I’ll freshen it up with an oil, and I really like the Crown Affair oil right now. Oils are really tricky for me because I feel like I naturally want to go for the ones that are really thick and hydrating, but then my hair looks greasy and I feel like I need to shower. The Crown Affair one is really light and gentle, and you only need one or two drops. I kind of just scrunch it through my ends and stay away from my root.

“And since I am fine and go flat after a few days, I also like dry shampoo. I feel like I use the Batiste one the most. I’ve used like every fancy dry shampoo and I always go back to that one.”

Shop Ruby’s Full Routine



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