How to Get Perfect Waves, Even If Your Hair Is Stick Straight

Updated 10/06/17

So you’re not one of the lucky few born with hair that dries into perfect Blake Lively waves—welcome to the (non-supermodel) club. If your curling iron hasn’t seen the light of day because your strands tend to do as they please (read: fall flat within minutes after curling), it might be time to dust it off.

In celebration of the season of beachy waves and tousled locks, we spoke with celeb hairstylist Lea Journo of Lea Journo Salon in Beverly Hills (she counts the well-tressed Zoe Saldana and Sienna Miller as clients) and asked for her tips on creating perfectly-tousled waves—even if your hair is naturally stick straight. Because faking Blake-status waves is almost as good as waking up with them.


Click through the slideshow above for Journo’s step-by-step tips on how to create tousled waves!

how to get wavy hair

Step One: Styling Cream

Journo says to apply a light styling cream, like her eponymous line’s La Form Styling Lotion ($28), through your strands before reaching for your curling iron. “You want something that will give your hair hold, but won’t make it stiff,” she says. If your strands are damp, dry them completely with your blow-dryer, and lightly run more styling cream through your hair before you start curling.

Step Two: Curl

Now comes the most important part—curling your hair. Journo recommends using a mediums-sized curling iron with a 1-inch barrel for loose waves. She says to hold the curling iron with the rod facing down, and wrap 2-inch sections around the barrel, away from your face. “Start at your roots and wrap towards the end in a spiral shape,” she says. “This will give you lift!” Avoid the urge to immediately brush out your curls or separate them with your fingers—Journo says to leave the curls the way they are until you’re done curling your entire head.

If your hair is notorious for falling flat after curling, she says you can pin each curl in place loosely with as you wait for it to set.

Step Three: Shake It Out

After you’ve curled all your hair, flip your head upside down and shake your curls out loosely—never pull your fingers through your hair, because this can flatten your curl. 

Step Four: Glossing Cream

“Run a pea-sized amount of glossing shine cream through your hands and “mess” it through your curls,” Journo says. “Don’t put too much, or else it will weigh your curls down!” She suggests her line’s Mirroir Glossing Cream ($26), though John Frieda’s Frizz-Ease 100% Shine Glossing Mist ($6) or Josie Maran’s Argan Oil Hair Serum ($30) are also great for adding shine.

The General Rule of Thumb

As a general rule of thumb, Journo says that those with stick-straight hair should always use a medium-sized iron on smaller sections, instead of a bigger curling iron on larger sections. “In general, if you have straight hair, always take smaller sections no matter what type of curl you are trying to create,” she says. The smaller each section of hair, the more likely the heat from the curling iron will penetrate each strand and keep it curled!

What other hair struggles do you want us to tackle next? Sound off in the comments!

Lea Journo Mirroir Glossing Cream $26

Lea Journo Mirroir Glossing Cream ($26)

Bumble and bumble Styling Creme

Bumble and bumble Styling Creme ($)

Living Proof Full Thickening Cream $26

Living Proof Full Thickening Cream ($26)

Josie Maran Argan Oil Hair Serum $30

Josie Maran Argan Oil Hair Serum ($30)

Paul Mitchell Express Style Quick Slip Styling Cream $18
John Frieda Frizz-Ease 100% Shine Glossing Mist $6

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