How to Get Wavy Hair: Get the Glamorous Look You Always Wanted

No matter who you are – surf girl or celeb, it is a look we all want to pull off and the good news is – it’s relatively easy to achieve! Here’s how to get wavy hair.

As somebody with poker straight hair, it just so happens that I wish I was born with curls or waves (that’s always the way, isn’t it?) As such, I have spent a LOT of time trying to perfect the wavy look and the results have been mixed.

This article takes a look at some of the trials and tribulations, and a few tips on what works best. I now choose between straight or wavy hair depending on my mood and have found the perfect ways to have the best of both worlds. If you want to know how to get wavy hair and perfect it, keep on reading.


First things first, anti-frizz serum or spray is an absolute essential to get this look, as is hairspray. You want to aim for a product that looks natural but does the job well; with hair sprays in particular this can take a bit of trial and error. You are looking for a light mist but a medium to strong hold, but one that doesn’t make the hair strands look like concrete!

Sometimes it is worth paying a little extra for good quality, or ask your friends and colleagues for their recommendations. These products will help achieve the tamed and effortless look, as opposed to the ‘mad professor’ style hair you may end up with if you opt for curls or waves without the right approach or products.


Wavy hair is all about body and volume. If you don’t have much time to really work on your waves – simply let your hair dry by scrunching it up into balls in the palm of your hand and using product – this won’t be perfect, but it will give a wild and wavy-type look.

Applying heat

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need heat to get waves. However, it is one of the best ways to get ‘staying power’ for your wavy hair. The main thing to consider is the condition of your hair – if it is dry or damaged, try to limit the use of heat on it. If you insist on heating up your hair, make sure you use a heat protectant spray first as a protective base layer.

Most hair dryers come with attachments (you may have chucked them to one side, clueless as to what they are actually for…). One of these attachments is probably a diffuser (and now you know). Attach this to the barrel of the hair dryer (the nozzle). The purpose is that it disperses the heat over a wider area instead of shooting hot air at one focused point. This helps get waves without the frizz.


The key is to start the drying process with damp (but definitely NOT wet) hair. As it dries, it should start getting wavy. For this to happen, you need to have applied your product (mousse, gel or cream) as well as the heat protectant spray. You then need to scrunch sections of your hair by grabbing a fist of hair at a time and scrunching it together tightly.

Aim the diffuser at that section of hair until dry and then release the section (use a cool setting), spritz with hair spray and move on to the next section. To finish, tip your head upside down for extra volume and blast with heat to make sure it is all fully dry and spray all over with hairspray to fix in place. It should be full of volume and very natural looking with some waves and kinks.

The other way to get the wavy look is by using heating irons. This gives a more professional and formal finished result. Firstly, you’ll want to decide what type of waves you are looking to achieve – loose or tight. Simply section off your hair (this can be as random or neat as your like) and clip the hair in to the heating irons or curlers and wrap around.

Hold in the curled position for about 10-15 seconds and unravel. Again, secure the hair with hairspray. The heat of the appliance gives the hair a wavy look. It’s not quite the natural beach, surfer chick waves, but it can look really glam and great for more formal parties.

Have a play around to achieve waves, rather than curls – there’s a trick in the angle you hold the appliance and how you feed it through (it will take a bit of practice), but if it fails, you’ll end up with curls which are also a pretty style.


Going heatless

There are lots of ways to create wavy hair without absolutely any heat (hooray, especially if you have frazzled and damaged hair). In fact, some of these ways are really effective in getting a natural, subtle looking, feminine head of wavy locks.

Braided wave:

The first is the braided wave. This is a look I discovered as a child and it really does work. This is a totally non-fussy hairstyle that can be done when watching your favorite TV program (ideal).


First of all, comb (with a wide tooth comb) your freshly washed hair. Sometimes it is best to skip conditioning during the wash phase, especially if conditioner tends to make your hair very fine or very heavy in texture and less likely to ‘hold’ styles. Apply some serum to the towel-dried hair (damp, not soaking wet) and divide the hair into sections (as many or as few as you like, depending on what sort of waves you prefer).

Grab lots of elastic hair ties and have them close by. When watching TV, simply French braid the hair right to the bottom (as close to the ends as you can) and secure with an elastic. If you have opted for big sections of hair to braid, the waves will come out looser, but if you have opted for very thin braids, the look will be more like crimped hair.

Once you have braided all the hair, lightly spritz with spray and sleep on them. They will need at least 6 hours for this to work properly (but the longer, the better). In the morning, take the braids out carefully and work them through gently with your fingers (be sure not to brush them, as tempting as this may be).

Remove knots with your fingers only because if you brush the hair, it will end up looking frizzy. As soon as you have released all the braids, get some hairspray on it.

Bun wave:


If your braiding skills are a little rusty, there’s another great method to get the wavy look without heat – and that is to wrap your hair in buns.
Again, wash your hair and style when damp. Apply your mousse or styling cream and section off the hair. For tight waves, you will want lots of small buns, and for loose waves, opt for large buns.

Twist the sections of hair into buns and up high on your scalp. Secure them with bobby pins and elastic bands. Once all the hair is pinned up, you will need to sleep on it. This can be a little trickier than braids because some of the grips can dig into your head or it can all be a bit bumpy, so you might need to adjust them a little to get comfortable.

Again, 6 hours should do the trick (but the longer the better). As with the braided style, unravel the sections with your fingers (and don’t be tempted to use a brush). Secure the hair with spray. You can also do the same thing with one large bun, but set with heat and then leave in to fully dry overnight.

Have you ever noticed how your hair is naturally full of waves and kinks once you undo a bun that you have worn out in the rain and have unraveled once dry? This is basically the same effect. There will be less structure with the one bun, but it gives the rough and ready waves.

Pin up waves:


Another way to get the wavy and heatless look is by pinning up the hair. To start, wash the hair and then wait around 30 minutes for the hair to dry naturally and comb it through. Once it is dry (this might take longer than 30 minutes for your hair, depending on its length and thickness), twist strands of hair with your fingers into tight twirls and pin them with a hair clip tightly.

Sleep in this hair style and remove them in the morning. This look tends to be more subtle than other ways, such as braids. For a more intense look let them loose and do not touch them with your fingers or a comb/brush – just spray in place with hairspray.

Wrap waves:


Back in the 1930s and 40s, waves and curls were very fashionable. The way they tended to achieve the look then (before the days of heated curling irons) was to use ties – or shreds of material to wrap the hair up and tie to the top of the head. There’s no reason why this still won’t work well today!

Simply section the hair and use a piece of material (such as a clean handkerchief or small tie) and wrap it around the hair and up towards the scalp – when all the hair is scrunched around the material and secured, tie into a bow to hold it in place. Repeat with the other sections of hair (you’ll need a handful of material ties or rags).

This can be done with fairly damp hair and left in overnight with a spritz of volumizing spray. Another way they styled hair was using rollers – but this is often best for curls rather than waves.

Some celebrities who sport fantastic wavy hair include Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Alba, Jessica Simpson and Kate Hudson. Take a look online for some stylish inspiration. All of these women have shoulder length or long hair and brown or blonde hair, and the wavy, sun-kissed style is a perfect look.


If you want to figure out the best way to wave your hair, experiment! Try each way and see what works for you. Everybody has different hair, some hold styles longer, some are thick and others fine, some are prone to getting frizzy. Because of this, certain ways suit different people best – whether using heat or attempting the heat-free ways.

I tend to opt for heat because I’m not the most organized when it comes to getting my hair sorted the night before and sleeping on it, so I usually whip up some waves with curling irons in the morning. There’s a real technique in using straightening irons to wave your hair (as strange as that sounds!), by twisting it a certain way and once you have cracked it, you can wave your whole hair in around 20 minutes!

However, as a child and teen, I often experimented by sleeping in French braids and it never failed to work a treat and stay in place for hours.

Have a go at the different approaches above and see what is best for your personal hair type and lifestyle.


The best thing about wavy hair is how effortlessly cool you look. Once you have perfected the way in which to wave your locks, you can play around with the finished look – for example, wave the bottom of the hair but not the top, or wave it all tightly or loosely. Different looks suit different occasions – from a summer’s day out at the beach to a wedding or formal dinner.

You can easily dress up a wavy hairstyle with a pretty clip, fastener or bow. Most people look great with wavy hair – that is part of the beauty of this hairstyle, as well as how versatile it is.

You usually need hair that is around shoulder-length or longer to get the best finished result, but otherwise, most hair types and face shapes can and should give it a try.

How do you wave your hair? Do you opt for the heated methods or have you experimented with these heatless approaches? Who is your wavy hair celeb icon? We would love to hear your tips, advice and thoughts on this topic by commenting in the section below!

About the author

Rachel A.

Welsh Journalism graduate and full-time writer Rachel has a love of words! A workaholic with champagne desire on a lemonade budget, Rachel is most at home with her laptop on her knee and a cup of tea close by.

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