Wavy hair and curly hair are similar, but they're not exactly the same. Waves are not as tightly curved as curls or coils, although with styling, wavy hair can be made curly and curly hair can be made wavy. However you achieve them, waves have a stunning texture and are versatile, pairing well with all face shapes and aesthetics.
For those with wavy hair or seeking to create a wavy look, finding the best styling method can be a demanding task. Some men have very thick hair and dense curls, or they may have frizz and flyaways that change with the weather. With the right haircut and products, however, men of all hair types and textures can both look and feel put together. Take for example, Entourage’s Adrian Grenier, who looks dapper with well-conditioned, shiny waves, or Timothée Chalamet, who styles his natural curls in longer waves to add more dimension. Even Snoop Dogg has tried out the wavy texture.
Los Angeles stylist Samantha Lepre tells us that the wavy or "shag" look originated from hairstylist Paul McGregor for Jane Fonda in the 1970s. “Many actors and musicians during the 1970s and 1980s rocked a shag, such as Farrah Fawcett, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Steven Tyler,” she says. “In the 1990s, Jennifer Aniston made ‘The Rachel’ shag hairstyle a trend.” New York-based stylist Mark Alan Esparza adds that wavy or shag hair has been on trend more recently via social media. “I’ve been seeing a lot of what is seemingly called ‘TikTok boy hair,’ which is cut short on the sides and back with clippers and left long on top with a considerable amount of weight in the front,” he says. “This is a popular style with those who have massive amounts of waves or curls over the forehead.”
Meet the Expert
- Mark Alan Esparza is a New York-based hairstylist whose work has been seen in worldwide campaigns and runways for Balenciaga, Theory, Maison Kitsune, Rick Owens, Coach, and many more.
- Samantha Lepre is a glam rock hair and makeup artist based in Los Angeles. Inspired by the 1980s dark wave, ball culture, and the world of metaphysical energy, she works on editorials in international publications in addition to styling hair for indie artist Perfume Genius.
According to our experts, there are no hard rules that should prevent anyone from going for a wavy hairstyle, but there are some considerations. Esparza explains that while wavy hair can look good on any face shape, it needs a cut that complements the wearer's bone structure. Lepre agrees about length, but also recommends graduating layers “so the crown of the head's hair does not get flat or weighed down. The shag complements every face shape, although you need to consider the type of bang relative to your face framing.”
If you’ve decided to take the plunge and create a wavy look, what exactly should you expect from your stylist? Esparza says that “a hairstylist should always look at the shape and density of the client's hair before deciding what technique is going to work best for them.” Lepre adds that communication is key. “I would recommend being specific with the density of layers you would like,” she says. “The less dense your layers are, the more blended they will be and the easier it will be to grow out.”
As for how to style your wavy hair, Lepre suggests air-drying or using a blow dryer on cool with a diffuser, then combing back the waves and applying hairspray close to the roots before moving the waves into their final position. Of course, feel free to add, remove, or change some steps depending on what works best for your own style.
Ready for some inspiration? See 10 of the best wavy hairstyles for men ahead, along with plenty of expert tips to create your best texture ever.
This look is an evolution of the E-boy haircut. In this cut, the sides are tightly trimmed to the upper ears, revealing a texturized top full of wavy layers and styled in different directions to add complexity and depth. Esparza recommends Sachajuan's Ocean Mist ($15) for a tousled, wavy look. To use this product, spray it on the roots and mid-shaft of your hair before working it into the ends.
Timothée Chalamet sports long, wavy hair to create a look of “organized chaos.” To recreate this look, you could style sections of curls with a flat iron to create wider waves, or you can also try blow-drying with a diffuser to create thicker, long batches in different directions. To create the right amount of hold, Lepre recommends R+Co's Chiffon Styling Mousse ($36): “Chiffon is the perfect lightweight mousse for volume, body and shine.”
Dev Patel sports a grown-out shag look, created by texturizing with scissors to keep the same length all around while adding some depth and distinctiveness among layers. For this look, simply apply a styling product to wet waves and let it dry naturally. R+Co's High Drive Moisture & Shine Creme ($34) is one of Esparza's favorite products for thick curls: ”It has just the right amount of weight and moisture to help the curls clump together perfectly and keeps frizz at bay. For even more definition, I like to layer the Eco Style Professional Styling Gel ($4) on top.”
“Another trending hairstyle for curly haired fellas is Jack Harlow's rounded out mop top,” Esparza says. “This cut is best suited for those with medium to tight curls, which help keep the hairstyle structured. Gentlemen with looser waves will have a harder time achieving and maintaining this particular style without the help of a small curling iron or a perm.”
Classic Middle Part
This hairstyle is an updated version of the classic middle part, with wavy bangs to add some interest. This look could work well for people who have high foreheads they may want to balance out. This is an effortless look where you let your hair do its own thing. Lepre recommends applying Windle & Moodie's Curl Enhancer ($35) to wet hair in order to create definition and separation while adding shine and protecting from humidity.
This look uses a tight fade that graduates to reveal a naturally wavy texture at the top. It's a great choice for people with naturally wavy or curly hair looking to add some interest and structure to their overall look.
This nearly skin-tight fade tapers slightly toward the top of the head, revealing a wavy hairstyle that stands out with the help of a glossy pomade to create shine and accentuate the waves, which move in different directions.
Curly Burst Fade
Never one to shy away from trendsetting cuts, Odell Beckham Jr. sports a wavy hairstyle accentuated by high buzzed sides and a bold use of color.
In this look, Harry Styles rocks a pompadour at the top and shorter waves on the sides. Style the top by applying products such as Sachajuan's Hair Wax ($34), which keeps longer strands blown back and separated from the sides. A texturizing cream was also used on sides to shape the waves.