Weirdly enough, we're high-maintenance about getting the low-maintenance look. The difference between a wave and a curl? Waves translate a certain I woke up like this je ne sais quoi, while curls are created (and worn) with more intention. Personally, we loved lived-in waves all year round, and they're actually super easy to recreate yourself (sometimes you can even create waves without heat styling). To get the lowdown on how to create some of our favorite wavy hairstyles, we reached out to Trey Gillen, creative director at SACHAJUAN, for some expert advice.
Scroll on to check out some stunning celeb-inspired examples of wavy hairstyles.
Jada Pinkett Smith
A stunning wavy hairstyle doesn't have to require much effort at all. Instead, you can simply embrace your natural texture for a stunning wavy look. "I love this look because all season long, depending on weather and time of year, it changes the outcome," says Gillen. To get the look, he recommends using a lot of SACHAJUAN’s Leave-In Conditioner ($36) on wet hair. "Scrunch and allow your hair to air dry without disturbing it too much. For more control and defined curls, take several inch sections in the halo area of your head and twist them before allowing your hair to air dry."
Hairstylists themselves likely opt to go the au naturel route and keep things low-maintenance when they’re not at work, like these air-dried waves. This look can be achieved by applying a texture spray (we love Ouai's Wave Spray, $26) to damp hair, creating a traditional three-strand braid, and allowing your hair to air dry. When your hair is dry, take out the braid to reveal your waves!
A popular way to pull off waves is to leave the ends straight for a modern, lived-in look. But we love how Lizzo's curls maintain their spiral through the ends of her hair, creating a more polished version of a natural wave. To set your style, use Bumble and bumble's Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Dry Oil Finishing Spray ($34).
Here, Nicole Richie defines her natural texture, pairing the look with subtle jewelry and a keyhole neckline. To recreate, use flaxseed gel, like Curl Mix's Flaxseed Gel ($27), to smooth your roots, then pull your hair back into a half-up, half-down style.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
MK&A are the queens of natural waves. Their look is never fussy or overdone and always looks effortless. If they use any heat at all, the iron barrel size used closely mimics what comes naturally to their respective wave patterns, keeping things fresh and controlled. "Spray a generous amount of SACHAJUAN’s Light & Flexible Hairspray ($37) into the hair before curling with a one-and-a-half-inch barrel curling iron," says Gillen.
Tessa Thompson's waves beautifully complement her haircut's layered shape, which opens up to show off that strong, beautiful jawline. The look can be recreated with the help of Moraccanoil's Perfect Defense Heat Protectant ($28) and a quarter-inch curling iron.
Even if you don't have natural waves to work with, you can create the look with a skinny-barreled curling iron, salt spray, and a teasing comb. After curling your hair, spritz Sexy Hair's Texture Beach'n Spray Texturizing Beach Spray ($19) throughout, then use a comb to add more volume and texture to your hair.
Personally, we love the way lived-in waves look on a perfectly chopped lob like Constance Wu's. Use a large-barrel curling iron to create your waves, then mist on Redken's Shine Flash 02 Shine Spray ($16) to finish the look.
Some people are just naturally blessed with beautiful waves, like Hill House Home founder Nell Diamond. The important thing to note is it requires good hair care to keep your tresses lust-worthy. "Treat those wavy ends gently and with care," says Gillen. He recommends using SACHAJUAN’s Overnight Hair Repair ($53), which is like a night serum for your hair. "It works for hours repairing and adding much-needed moisture to those tired long locks! You can even put some in right out of the shower and style as usual," he adds.
Sleeping with a silk pillowcase can help avoid friction, breakage, and damage to your hair while you sleep.
“Lived-in waves" have been a sought-after look for quite some time now, and they don't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. It's a sultry combination of alternating curl patterns and dry texture spray, like It's a 10's Miracle Blow Dry Texture Spray ($25).
A little salt spray goes a long way for Whitney Port, and it can for you, too! If you want a loose wave look, Playa's New Day Mist 3-in-1 Styler Refresh ($24) is all you need.
Hailey Bieber's lived-in waves have that perfectly piecey texture without compromising the full-bodied movement in her hair. The flipped-over part also helps give any wavy hairstyle that effortlessly tousled look. To recreate it on your own, apply Amika's Bushwick Beach No-Salt Wave Spray ($25), part your hair as you normally would, then flip the front section over to the opposite side.
If you haven't joined the Camila Mendes train yet... get on it. Her choppy, collarbone-length hair is styled into loose, voluminous waves using an iron with a larger barrel. To add a bit more texture to the look, apply a small amount of Ouai's Matte Pomade ($24) to further define your waves.
If you plan to rock this look, a regular trim will keep your ends looking clean.
If you start by using a smaller barrel curling iron and then vigorously brush through your curls, you'll get a style similar to Kathryn Newton's long waves seen here. A very modern ode to the '70s, make sure to top off the look with Living Proof's Style Lab Flex Hairspray ($27).
Kelly Rowland's waves are the epitome of glam. Her look can be achieved by creating tight waves throughout your hair from root to tip with a deep side part. Make sure to finish with a shine spray, like Drybar's Sparkling Soda Shine Mist ($28).
Gabrielle Union rocks this loose yet structured wave hair style. To get the look, alternate your curl patterns towards the face and away from the face. Don’t curl the ends and instead leave about one inch out of the barrel. To take things up a notch, define your waves with Living Proof's Amp² Instant Texture Volumizer ($27).
We love how Amanda Seyfried's waves combine old Hollywood with the '70s, and remind us not to be afraid of statement hair accessories to formalize an otherwise casual hairstyle. A wearable and on-trend hair accessory we love is pearl hair clips, like Tasha's Imitation Pearl Hair Clips ($28).
Wind-blown, voluminous, and perfectly tousled, these are the waves of our dreams. To get the look, Gillen says to apply SACHAJUAN's Mousse ($28) from roots to ends. Then blow out your hair with a round brush and curl with a one-inch barrel curling iron. "Brush the curls out to keep them separated so it doesn’t turn into vintage waves!" To finish the style, he recommends applying a small amount of SACHAJUAN's Hair Wax ($28) for shine and separation.
This style is the perfect way to complement a middle part. To recreate without heat styling, apply a volumizing mousse (we love Sebastian's Whipped Crème, $19) to freshly washed (and conditioned) hair, then twist and define your waves with a curl cream. Finish off with a dry texturizing spray once your hair fully dries to get that piecey look.
To recreate Tiffany Haddish's waves, only curl your hair from the chin down. "Hold the curling iron horizontally and brush through while your curls are still warm," Gillen says. This will turn them into cascading waves.
The soft waves Sophie Turner wore to her Dark Phoenix premiere are mature and sophisticated without being stiff. To get a similarly soft, Hollywood-glam wave, try using a one and one-quarter-inch iron in the same direction all the way around the head, and then brushing through with a boar-bristle brush (try The Hair Edit's Boar Bristle Finishing Brush, $19).
When you pair soft waves with a side part, you've instantly stepped your style up a notch. Teddi Cranford, the celebrity hairstylist behind A-list weddings and owner of White Rose Collective, has a knack for providing that next level style without compromising its cool-girl vibe, which is exactly what she did with Alexina's hair. Set your waves with L’Oréal's Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold All Day Volume Hairspray ($15).
Jessica Biel is definitely giving off a vibe with her soft, beachy waves look. Her wave hairstyle is refined and simultaneously effortless. Make sure to add some extra body to the length of your hair to mimic the look. Try spritzing Living Proof's Full Dry Volume Blast ($29) throughout your hair.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Priyanka Chopra Jonas's loose angel waves fall into a beautiful spiral. To recreate, curl only your ends, then spray with a dry oil (like Kenra Professional's Dry Oil Conditioning Mist, $18) for extra shine and brush through.
Megan Thee Stallion
If you don't want to look like Shirley Temple, Gillen suggests trying a fallen wave hair style. "Curl your hair without any product, then brush out with a Mason Pearson's Pocket Mixture Bristle Hair Brush ($120) until it’s the desired long wave." Finish with a spray of SACHAJUAN’s Ocean Mist Spray ($34). "It’ll memorize and hold that subtle bend."
Bryce Dallas Howard
If you want waves but dislike how much shorter they can make your hair look, take a note from Bryce Dallas Howard. Part your hair into three thick sections, then use a large-barrelled curling wand (we love Drybar's The Wrap Party Curling & Styling Wand, $165) to bend your hair into barely-there waves.
The key to this look is long hair, a small barrel, and stick-straight ends. To recreate these waves on your own, curl your hair in alternating directions with the skinniest curling wand you have, avoiding the roots and ends. Then follow up with a straightener on your ends for these intentional waves. Finish by running Redken's Water Wax 03 Texturizing Pomade ($20) through your waves with your fingers.
Like Camila Cabello, you can enhance your natural wave pattern with a curl-friendly conditioner, sea salt spray for texture (try IGK's Beach Club Volume Texture Spray, $29), and going through in choice areas with a small curling wand to add curl and volume where you might want to enhance it.
Beyoncé can obviously do and wear anything, but we love how these face-framing angel waves show off her caramel highlights. To create this look, Gillen says to use a three-inch barrel curling iron all around the face from roots to ends. "Behind the ears and back area, just wave the bottom half." Before brushing out your curls, he recommends applying SACHAJUAN Finish Cream ($31).
Flat iron waves are definitely on the rise, as seen here on Awkwafina. We love the idea of keeping one tool on our vanity to create multiple looks. To help further define your flat iron waves, apply Living Proof's Perfect Hair Day Heat Styling Spray ($28).
We love Nicole Kidman's spiral-wave look. Unlike loose, beachy waves, this look definitely requires heat styling and working on smaller sections at a time to get more definition throughout. "Try twisting your hair onto a styling wand. This gives more of an ''S” shape instead of round barrel curls," Gillen says. When you're finished, put a bit of hair wax, like Kenra Professional's Platinum Working Wax 15 ($22), on your fingers and palm of hands and backcomb through the waves with your hands.
Aimee Song gets festival-ready with some super textured flat iron waves. For dimension, add more bends to the sections of hair that frame your face, then shake your fingers through your roots to loosen up the waves. Bonus points if you spritz a bit of Living Proof's Full Lift Root ($29) on your roots.
Remember those "S" waves we mentioned earlier? They're one of the many types of waves you can get with a flat iron and can be achieved by simply feeding your hair between the iron plates in an "S" pattern. Feel free to add a little braid or accessory to jazz things up—and Sexy Hair's Smooth Sexy Hair Smooth & Seal Anti-Frizz & Shine ($20).
A flat iron can also give you the option of keeping your waves smooth and subdued. If you over curl with your wand or iron, just run over your curls loosely with a straightener. Remember to use a heat protectant, like R+Co's ONE Prep Spray ($22).
Obviously Victoria's Secret model Jasmine Tookes has runway-worthy waves. The blown-out look is a great way to add sophistication to waves when you have a special occasion or more formal event—but still don't want to wear full-on curls. To give your hair that extra volumized boost, mist Matrix's Biolage Volumebloom Full-Lift Volumizer Spray ($20).
Sporting good waves and good volume without an iron requires a very skilled blowout. Practice makes perfect, but a great tip is to blow dry your hair upside down and in the opposite direction of your part for added volume.
Sometimes, the easiest way to get beautifully blown-out waves is to cheat your sectioning. Prioritize the roots and the hairline so that everything surrounding your face has that soft, airy movement to it. You can "fake" the rest with a large barrel iron.
"To achieve this you’ll need fantastic brushes and a good blow-dryer," says Gillen. Getting good waves from a blow out means making sure you're using the right brush to get your desired result. One size does not fit all, but it's ok because we've done the homework for you here.
If you want to create mermaid-inspired waves, look no further than this wavy hairstyle on Justine Skye. Use a small barrel curling iron to wave your hair from root to tip. Then, take a small amount of Bumble and bumble's Brilliantine ($25) and run it through your hair.
If you have long bangs, you also have the perfect palette for blow-dried waves. Don't think of it as high maintenance. You can get away with blow-drying a nice wave in your bangs and leaving the rest of your hair au naturel to get that cool-girl vibe.
Taraji P. Henson
For a short, crimped wave hair style, you'll want to put a hair waver to use. Try using Amika's High Tide Deep Wave Hair Crimper ($120), which can be used to create flawless beach waves by simply clamping down both plates.
Nicki Minaj's waves start off large and loose at the root and transition to a tight, spiral curl at the ends. The variation in wave size along with her chunky highlights makes for a hairstyle that's full of dimension and movement.
To get Selena Gomez's wavy blowout, you'll need plenty of thickening spray (we love R+Co's DALLAS Thickening Spray, $30) and a volumizing mousse. Try recreating this look with a blow-dryer and a round brush for added volume and less-defined curls (as you would get with an iron or wand).