Adapting the Curly Girl Method to Wavy Hair Is Easier Than You Think

A woman combs her wavy hair

ohlamour studio / Stocksy

If you have curly hair, chances are you've heard of the Curly Girl Method. And if you haven't: Hi, welcome, you're in the right place.

Author and beauty brand founder Lorraine Massey coined this method in her 2002 book Curly Girl: More Than Just Hair... It's An Attitude, and it's still practiced and celebrated in salons 20 years later. So what exactly is the Curly Girl Method? Simply put, "the Curly Girl Method is a specific way to treat and apply products to curly hair which gives optimal results for this texture," says celebrity hairstylist Joseph Maine.

While the Curly Girl Method works wonders on curly hair, we turned to the experts to find out how to modify the process for wavy hair and if there is such a thing as the Wavy Girl Method. Spoiler alert: "Wavy hair is typically less coarse and may require some modifications to [the Curly Girl Method]," says Maine.

Ahead, Maine and curly hair expert Nubia Rëzo share how to take care of wavy hair for your bounciest, healthiest strands yet.

Meet the Expert

01 of 07

Remove Buildup With a Gentle Cleanser

Like most hair routines, the Wavy Girl Method begins with a proper cleanse. "No-poo shampoos are typically filled with conditioning agents that can often weigh hair down or create buildup on the scalp," notes Maine. "Wavy hair does not need weight in order to feel controlled. I typically recommend starting with a gentle cleanser that will remove product buildup while keeping the hair's natural moisture in place."

"My personal favorite is Color Wow’s Color Security Shampoo ($24), which is as gentle on the hair cuticle as water alone but leaves the hair and scalp feeling fresh and clean," Maine continues. "You can follow with a lightweight conditioner or something a little more moisturizing, depending on your needs."

02 of 07

Condition (But Don't Overdo it)

After cleansing, it's important to gently condition the hair to add softness and shine. The Curly Girl Method gives you the option to deep condition and leave product in the hair. The Wavy Girl Method, however, calls for rinsing the hair and leaving in only a little (if any) conditioner. "Unless you really understand the consistency of the conditioner, I typically don’t recommend leaving in conditioner for... wavy hair types," says Maine.

03 of 07

Comb While Wet

The Curly Girl Method states that you should ditch the comb and opt for fingers to avoid ripping tangles, preventing breakage and frizz. While The Wavy Girl Method doesn't completely rule out the comb, Maine "always recommends combing or brushing while the conditioner is in the hair."

04 of 07

Remove Excess Water With a Towel

Avoiding heat damage is important regardless of hair type. Rëzo advises removing excess water post-wash by squeezing the hair out with a plush microfiber towel. Maine concurs: "It's best to use a microfiber towel or cotton t-shirt to remove excess moisture before adding product," he says.

05 of 07

Add (the Right) Products

Protecting your hair with the right products is a crucial step in any routine that involves heat and styling. "My favorite product for emphasizing waves, adding moisture, and bundling the waves is Color Wow’s Dream Coat Curly ($24)," says Maine. "It’s a water-based spray that is completely weightless while being extremely effective at giving hold without the crunch."

06 of 07

Diffuse or Towel Dry

Once again, the experts agree: If you can avoid heat styling, you should. "The best thing you can do is ‘hair plopping,’" says Maine. "Lay a cotton t-shirt or silk scarf on a flat surface, flip your head over onto the fabric and wrap the bundled hair close to your head. Allow it to dry this way and you will have bouncy waves without any frizz."

That being said, if you're in a rush, towel drying may not be the most time-efficient method. When in a pinch, both Rëzo and Maine recommend using a diffuser to dry the hair. "Diffuse until the hair is completely dry, and finish off with one drop of our Rëzo Curl Manifest Hair Serum ($65)," Rëzo says. "Afterward, do a good Rëzo shake, stimulating the root area by moving your hands back and forth."

07 of 07

Style However You'd Like

Once you're ready to style, your unique hair type and the desired outcome will determine how you style your waves and put on the finishing touches.

"Always remember, the smaller the barrel, the tighter the curls will be, which is important to keep in mind whether you’re looking to rock beachy waves or want something a bit more springy," notes Rëzo. "It’s also best to minimize heat styling to maintain the integrity of the hair shaft. Therefore, I always recommend using a heat-protecting styling product beforehand."

As for the details, Rëzo shares, "for fine hair, you will want to divide the hair into small, vertical sections and, using a small-barrel curling iron, curl the hair and enjoy the amazing volume. For thicker hair, you will take the vertical sections and use a big barrel on smaller sections, creating sexy, flowing beach waves. For natural and more textured hair, we recommend using a 2 to 2 ½ inch curling iron barrel on bigger sections since you don’t need to have as much volume added to the hair."

And voilà: The Wavy Girl Method is born.

So whether or not the Wavy Girl Method officially exists on paper or in a book, using the experts' advice—along with some key products, patience, and a little styling—you can achieve a perfect, foolproof wave.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Massey, Lorraine. Curly Girl: More Than Just Hair-- It's an Attitude : A Celebration of Curls : How to Cut Them, Care for Them, Love Them & Set Them Free. Workman Pub., 2001.

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