Et Al

My Secrets to Styling Thick, Wavy Hair

Some samples of my hair after using my routine. It looks nice from the back, too, but I didn't have any pictures!

Some samples of my hair after using my routine. It looks nice from the back, too, but I didn’t have any pictures!

Thick, wavy hair is a blessing and a curse, am I right? I have struggled to style it my entire life; it’s more straight in the front and more curly in the back. I most often refer to my hair as “naturally weird.” My mom was clearly at a loss with what to do with it when I was in elementary school. We permed my bangs, permed my whole head, and chopped it all off. In middle and high school, I lived in ponytails until I chopped it off again. And again, I’m pretty sure that cycle continued in college.

But thanks to a stylist who understands how to keep my hair happy and Pinterest, I’ve finally managed to tame my locks. In fact, on days when I’m in a hurry, I can wash and wear it. Heck, I can pull it out of a ponytail, tousle it, and it’s ready to go. So here are my secrets to getting my hair to perform.

  • I got the right hair cut. Katie, my stylist, is the weird hair whisperer. When I told her that I wanted to wear my hair more wavy, she thinned it out and cut more layers. This free ups my hair to curl up a bit more naturally on its own.
  • I stopped shampooing and conditioning my hair. I mean, I still wash my hair, but I no longer use store-bought shampoo and conditioner, which strips out the natural good stuff the scalp produces and makes it more oily in the long run. Instead, I use a baking soda and water solution (1 T baking soda + 1 c water) to wash my hair, and I use an apple cider vinegar and water solution (1 c ACV + 1 c water) to condition. If you decide to make the switch, give your scalp and hair about a month to adjust; they’ll produce too much oil and make your hair look gross for a few weeks.
  • I stopped brushing and combing my hair. OK, I don’t even own a brush, so I can’t remember the last time I brushed it. But I still combed it out every day until I made a concerted effort to wear my hair wavy. But combing the hair pulls out the natural wave. Now, the only time I comb my hair — with a wide-tooth comb, mind you — is in the shower after I apply my apple cider vinegar conditioner. In between showers, I comb through my hair with my fingers.
  • I changed my styling products. Can we agree that every bottle of curling hair gel that promises to not leave our hair crunchy is not living up to its promises? And that crunchy wavy hair does not look natural at all? After I towel dry my hair, I spray down my hair with my homemade styling spray, something akin to the John Frieda beach spray that I used in college with curling power. I’ve provided the recipe below. I use this spray when my hair is both wet and dry. After applying it, I comb through my hair with my fingers, tousle it with a towel, and proceed to style it.
  • (optional) I diffuse my hair with a blow dryer. Most days, styling involves pinning my wet bangs back (they never seem to curl as much as I like) and running out the door. If I’m going out or want my hair to look particularly nice, I’ll diffuse it with the blowdryer. And if I had a curling iron, I’d probably hit the top layer and the layers around my face with some manufactured curls. Always, always, I apply a liberal amount of hair spray.

Homemade Styling Spray Recipe

  • 1 c hot water
  • 1 T curling hair gel (+/- for how much encouragement your hair needs)
  • 1 t coconut oil
  • 1 t sea salt

Dissolve the gel, oil, and salt in the hot water. Pour into a spray bottle. Shake before each use, and spray liberally.

So that’s how I manage this hair of mine. Since switching over to this routine, I’ve had more good hair days than bad hair days, and I rarely default to ponytails unless I’m going to the gym.

Do you have any tricks to styling your thick, wavy hair that I haven’t tried? Share them in the comments!



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