I Put 3 Wavy Hair Tutorials to the Test: See the Results

Because "undone" is timeless.

wavy hair
NICOLE KLIEST | Design by Julie Bang.

I love Pinterest dearly. Without it, my life would be less colorful, less creative, and—more importantly—I may have never discovered that the cure for deodorant stains lay in my jeans drawer. Genius. But sometimes Pinterest leads me astray with false promises—particularly when it comes to beauty tutorials—and I’m left with sad, confused feelings and (in one unfortunate instance) bleeding gums. The thing about these beauty tutorials is that they’re not always the most reliable.

Thus, I took it upon myself to find out whether or not three popular wavy hair tutorials really work. Because even though we all have as many hours in a day as Beyoncé (yup, pinned this phrase to my “Inspiring Quotes” board), we are, unfortunately, not all Beyoncé—and thus, we must be especially discerning with our precious time. Keep scrolling to see the results of my Pinterest-inspired wavy hair experiment.

The Quadra-Bun Technique

wavy hair tutorial results
Nicole Kliest

First off, I’d like to begin with a disclaimer: My hair holds curls and waves really, really well. Basically, I have what you might imagine is the opposite of stereotypical “Asian” hair—my roots are naturally brown, not black, my hair texture is slightly coarse, and, when curled, it will stay that way until I decide to wash it next (which might be, like, days later depending on the status of whatever BBC drama I’m currently watching).

For my first wavy hair experiment, I decided to follow this tutorial, which calls for wet hair, bobby pins, and some styling spray. I stepped out of the shower, let my hair air dry for a couple of minutes, and spritzed my hair with Redken’s Fashion Waves 07 Texturizing Sea Spray (Discontinued). Then, I divided my hair into four sections and twisted them into small buns, holding them in place with a bobby pin each. Finally, I dug my old hair dryer from the depths of my bathroom cabinet, and blasted my (hair) buns on high heat for about 10 minutes, during which I caught up on my Instagram feed and the daily headlines.

The Results

Nicole Kliest

After 10 minutes, I unfurled my hair buns (they were still damp), separated them gently, and scrunched Tresemmé’s 24 Hour Body Foaming Mousse ($6) throughout. A final spritz of wave spray and I was out the door, damp strands be damned.

By the time I got to work, my hair had dried into the most natural-looking bombshell-level waves. They were voluminous without looking too perfect, and had just the right amount of undone texture. Multiple people complimented me on my hair, and asked what I’d done differently (compared to my previous wash-and-go method, the answer was “a lot.”) I felt like my hair looked the way it does after a particularly skilled blowout—big, full of body, and not too perfect.

Grade: A+

Flat Iron Waves

flat iron waves
Nicole Kliest

I stumbled across this video tutorial a while back and thought it was too good to be true. It seemed so easy, too easy—if your hair really looked like that afterward, wouldn’t everyone be doing it? With that doubt in mind, I twisted my hair like the model did in the video, and squeezed with a flat iron. After clamping down the entire length of both twists, I once again sprayed Redken’s Fashion Waves 07 Texturizing Sea Salt Spray (Discontinued) and scrunched.

The Results

the results
Nicole Kliest

If the beachy, salt-spray look is your thing, then this technique is worth trying. My normally frizzy strands ended up with a slightly kinky feel (as in, texture, not Fifty Shades). Yes, they could technically be defined as “waves,” but they were definitely flatter and more crimp-like than the rounder waves from the first tutorial.

For anyone who already has wavy hair and just wants to add definition, or someone with frizzy hair, who wants to add polish, flat iron waves just may be the technique you're looking for. But if you have fine, thin hair, consider skipping this tutorial—the body and hold just isn’t there.

Grade: B-

Paper Towel Curls

paper towel curls
Nicole Kliest

I’ve written about the paper towel curling technique long ago, and have been curious if the outcome is as spectacular as promised (basically, big, retro-style curls). This one requires time for it to set, so I decided to twist my freshly showered hair into paper towel curls before bed. Sleeping on a head full of paper towels knots was as uncomfortable as you would imagine, but I employed this breathing technique and managed to doze off.

The Results

the results
Nicole Kliest

The next morning, I woke up and undid the paper towels, slightly horrified at the weird and intense way my hair was curling. The ends, especially, were very curled and going every which way, and had me realizing that 1) it was time for a haircut, and 2) I probably would have liked the outcome much better if I had left the ends out when I twisted my hair into the paper towels. My hair was still fairly damp at this point, so I scrunched some mousse and added a dollop of my favorite shine serum, Bumble & Bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil ($40), hoping for the best.

To my surprise, when I arrived at work, more compliments abounded. I was so caught off guard that I immediately bee-lined to the bathroom, wondering if a miracle had occurred during my drive to work. Turns out, it had—somewhere between leaving my house and arriving at work, my crazy, all-over-the-place ringlets had dried into soft, perfect curls. (These were definitely curls, not waves, which is one thing to keep in mind.) Though I prefer my hair on the looser, wavier end of the spectrum, I couldn’t deny the appeal of this heat-free technique. Try this if your hair has trouble holding a curl, and don’t forget the hair spray!

Grade: B+

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