My Styling Cocktail For Beachy Waves
Earlier this month, I started a series outlining how I care for my wavy hair. As someone who has regularly straightened her hair for years (most of my adult life), learning to style my waves (and actually liking the way they looked) has taken time—like a year and counting. For a longtime beauty editor, it’s been a surprisingly steep learning curve. Thus, I decided to share the tricks and best products I’ve discovered along the way in hopes it will help those of you trying (or tempted) to go au naturel too.
I began by writing here about the importance of moisture when it comes to preventing frizz. Another key lesson I’ve learned: There is, alas, no holy grail styling product for textured hair. Instead, I find waves are best coaxed and controlled with a cocktail of two to three products:
• An all-over styler that imparts control and body—but not too much, mushroom-y fluff
• A texturizing/beach/salt spray
• A finishing serum or spray applied once hair is dry to tame frizz and revive lackluster waves
The Body-Building Styler This is typically a cream or mousse that slightly thickens hair, giving finer strands some guts, and providing all-over-control (but not 80s-gel-crunch). A few I like: Living Proof Full Thickening Cream; DevaCurl Styling Cream; and Bumble and Bumble Don’t Blow it (comes in two formulas: one for fine and one for thick; I use the fine version.) I apply to clean, damp hair, starting at the ends and working up to my roots, then comb through with a wide-tooth comb.
Texturizing Spray Salt-spray/beach-wave/sea-mist stylers (one product, many surfer-girl-inspired names) encourage beachy, textured waviness. But not all formulas work for me, as many leave my hair matte and dry-looking. Maybe this would work if I was 22, living in Venice Beach and I actually surfed on the regular to score my beachy waves. But I’m 46 and living in Michigan…so, not so much. Thankfully I did find three that impart soft texture but aren’t overly drying: Herbivore Sea Mist; Kerastase Aura Botanica Eau de Vagues (that’s French for Wave Water), and a drugstore find with a teenybopper name but a result and price tag ($6-7, depending on the retailer) that are very appealing: Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray. After I’ve combed in my body-building styler and parted my hair, I take a microfiber towel (like the kind you clean the house with) or just a paper towel, and lightly scrunch my hair, grabbing the ends and gently squeezing. Then, I spritz on my texturizing spray: usually four to five pumps around my head, concentrating on the mid-lengths to ends. Finally, I use the same towel to gently scrunch a second time— and don’t touch my hair again until it’s at least 90 percent dry. For me, this can take anywhere from one to two hours, depending on the weather/humidity.
Finishing Product Once my hair is dry (or nearly dry), I re-evaluate. In very rare occasions, my waves have dried into shiny, soft, surfer-girl ropiness. (This has happened maybe twice.) The vast majority of the time, I need to use a little something to tame frizz and and/or revive some waves that are underperforming. Side note: Most textured hair is uneven. My hair is waviest in the back, the underlayers, and along my forehead. On the sides, it is decidedly straighter. So I use a finishing product that tackles both issues: frizz and lazy waves. When reviving lackluster waves is my main concern, I reach for Ouai Dry Texture Foam, which (yes) is a mousse you use on dry hair. I squirt out one generous dollop, rub between my palms, then gently grab and scrunch areas that need reviving. Its damp texture slightly rewets the hair (and diminishes any frizz) and it dries in under five minutes. When frizz is my primary gripe (e.g. on rainy, or very humid days), I will take one of Nunzio Saviano’s Anti-Frizz Sheets (they’re like fabric softener sheets lightly coated in a coconut oil complex), and use it on the outer layer of my hair to flatten fuzz. I finish by using it to give my ends a soft squeeze, helping reshape waves and deflate any puffiness.
So how do I tackle styling the next day, when I awake to bedhead and fuzz from hormonal night-sweats? Check back later this week when I share that strategy.
Got a favorite wave (or curl) enhancing product to share? Please tell us all in the Comments, below.