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How to Get Wavy Hair: Top Tips and Tools for Bouncy, Beachy Tresses

BY Jana Russick

It’s hard not to love the look of beautiful beachy waves. But achieving this hairstyle can be a challenge, especially if your strands are naturally straight. If you want to unlock the key on how to get wavy hair, you’re in luck. 

This guide will help straight-haired beauties achieve luscious, hydrated, ultra-defined wavy locks that’ll be the talk of the town — or at least the beach. You’ll discover helpful hair hacks and hair products for attaining and maintaining wavy hairstyles. And since we don’t like to leave anyone out, if you have naturally curly or coily hair, we’ve thrown in a few tips for you too. Let’s get started!

How to Get Wavy Hair for Straight Strands

Woman with wavy hair, pouting

For those with straight hair (also known as type 1 hair), getting mermaid-like tresses can seem like a pipe dream. Silky locks are fabulous, but they don’t bend and crimp the way naturally wavy hair does. Trying to scrunch stick-straight hair with gel or using the plopping method often isn’t enough because there’s simply not enough body to back it up. If you want to get waves that last, consider the different methods that follow.

Using Bobby Pins

  • Wash your hair with a curl-enhancing shampoo and conditioner.
  • Air-dry until you have damp hair and apply a mousse or texturizing cream.
  • Separate hair into top, middle, and bottom sections.
  • Within each section, further separate hair into three to five sections, each about 2 inches wide.
  • Wrap each section around your finger and roll the ends of the hair into a loose loop.
  • Press the hair to your scalp to form a flattened circular section of hair and secure it with bobby pins.
  • Proceed with this process until all of your hair is pinned up.
  • Leave overnight, then remove the pins. Shake out your hair by flipping your head upside down. 
  • Run your fingers through your hair to break up your curls and form looser waves. 

Pro Tip: Check out these wash ‘n’ go techniques and styles no matter what hair texture you have.

Using a Flat Iron

For a lot of straight-hair folks, attempts at using a curling iron or waver often result in flat hair within an hour or less. That’s likely because you weren’t using the right styling tools and hair products. To get long-lasting beach waves, a straightener may be your best bet. This may seem counterintuitive, but flat irons can actually help you create distinctly defined waves. 

Here’s how to get wavy hair with a flat iron: 

  • Grab a one- to two-inch section of hair (bigger sections for thin hair and smaller sections for thick hair). 
  • Create an S-shaped bend by slightly twisting the flat iron while you clamp down on each section of your hair. A half-turn should create a nice wavy shape. 
  • Once the top of the bend is formed, move down a few inches to create a bend in the opposite direction and complete the full S-shape. 
  • Repeat this process throughout the rest of your hair.
  • Once you’re finished with the heat tool, apply hair serum throughout the length of your hair to loosen up and separately define the waves. 
  • Add a spritz of texturizing spray to give your locks extra definition and hold.

Pro Tip: Find out how to add texture to straight hair.

How to Get Wavy Hair for Curly Tresses

How to get wavy hair: woman drying her curly hair

For those with curly hair, brushing your hair out to get a looser texture doesn’t exactly create enviable waves. Instead, there’s a good chance your hair looks like a poofy, frizzy mess. (Not the effortlessly tousled look you were aiming for, right?) However, don’t stress. If you want to convert your curly locks into beautiful beachy waves, follow this step-by-step process:

  • Apply a curl-defining mousse from the mid-shaft to the tips of your damp curls.
  • Divide hair down the center and form each side into a tight braid using hair ties.
  • Form wavy hair overnight by keeping the braids while you sleep.
  • Untie the braids in the morning and gently blow dry with a diffuser to form loose waves.

This look takes advantage of your already curly texture and loosens it up for a more laid-back look. These waves can be kept up to a few days and styled into a loose bun, side ponytail, or elegant half-updo.

Pro Tip: Try these five tips for sleeping with curly hair.

How to Get Wavy Hair for Coily Tresses

If you have naturally coily hair, getting those classic mermaid waves may seem like an impossible task. But it’s not. You just have to do some prepping, blow-drying, and careful brushing to get the waves of your dreams — here’s how:

  • Start the wave-creating process while you’re still in the shower. 
  • Detangle your wet hair with a wide-tooth comb or brush for your hair type
  • Once your hair is drier but still damp, divide it into four sections, two buns on your head and two ponytails for the lower sections. 
  • Use a heat protectant (such as Function of Beauty’s hair serum) and use a diffuser while blow-drying your hair from the tips of the strands to the root. Keep air moving constantly to minimize heat damage. 
  • Once your hair is blown out, separate hair into two sections on either side of your head. 
  • Start creating a hair halo where instead of french braiding the hair, you are progressively twisting sections of hair around each other, similar to a rope braid. 
  • If you have short hair, the braided halo will end once it has reached the back of your head. But if there is still hair left over when you reach the back of your head, twist the remaining length around each other to hang down and tie off at the ends. 
  • Keep this style overnight to unveil dramatic, voluminous S-shaped waves.

Pro Tip: Find the best tips and treatments for coarse hair.

Protecting and Preserving Your Wavy Hair

Achieving a picture-perfect wavy hair look often requires the use of hot styling tools, which can lead to heat damage — and potentially breakage and split ends. But let’s be real: you probably don’t want to fully give up the occasional flat iron and blow dryer. (After all, it’s fun to try new styles and sometimes you have to bring on the heat!)

Fortunately, you can help soothe the damage with Function of Beauty’s hair mask. This product can help prevent hair from drying out and becoming breakage-prone. It’s also ultra-hydrating, fights frizz, adds shine, and can even be customized to help you achieve your hair goals.

Getting Wavy Hair Is Easier Than You Think

Whether you have straight hair or natural curls, getting the gorgeous beach waves of your dreams is totally doable. With some careful pin curling, blow-drying, straightening, and braiding techniques, you can have people second-guessing whether you were born with naturally S-shaped waves.

Want more ways to enhance and create a wavy hair texture? Take our hair quiz and create a custom shampoo and conditioner combo just for your hair type. You can also customize your set to include your most desired hair goals like volume, color protection, length, frizz, and more.