Having a wavy hair texture might seem like the best of both worlds, but when you want to rock what you’ve naturally got, wavy hair still presents its own set of challenges. You need a product that’s strong enough to shape and define your hair’s natural bends, but still lightweight and, at the same time, hydrating. To help determine the best hair products for wavy hair, Bustle spoke with John Paul Mitchell Systems brand ambassador and salon owner Paula Peralta to get her expert advice.
Before you get to the products, Peralta stresses that how you cut your hair will affect your waves. “Longer hair has more weight, which will drag down the waves, so be sure to have the appropriate layered haircut to allow a cascade of curls,” she explains about enhancing your natural wave formation. Products aside, you’ll also want to be careful of the tools you’re using to style your hair. “Excessive thermal styling can diminish the wave structure over time,” Peralta says, which means it’s essential to apply a heat protectant spray or serum prior to using any hot styling tools to keep your hair healthy and your waves intact.
When it comes to picking a product, Peralta says that whether your hair is short or long, it’s all about looking for a formula that enhances what you’ve got without weighing down your natural wave pattern. “Look for a two-part system,” she says, adding that wavy-haired products should “hydrate the hair and help it develop memory and hold to create definition.” This combo is key when it comes to maintaining your style throughout the day without leaving your hair damaged or dry, and it’s easy to spot. On the ingredients list, look for oils (such as argan or coconut) to restore moisture, smooth out frizz, and add shine. And for hold, look for copolymers like VP/VA copolymer, which are traditionally used in gels and hairsprays to lock your style in place.
But no matter which product you choose, Peralta also recommends adding a diffuser attachment to your blow dryer. “Diffusers are great for coaxing your natural wave, and for even more definition, finger-coiling the hair before diffusing will maximize your natural texture,” she explains.
And now, discover the best hair products for wavy hair, from gels and foams to serums and creams.
1. The Expert’s Pick
Peralta’s pick, this Paul Mitchell Lavender Mint Curl Refresh Foam, works double-duty to create lightweight definition. “You can use this foam on freshly shampooed hair to create and enhance waves, and you can use it on dry hair throughout the week to control frizz and refresh waves,” she explains. The creamy mousse has a calming lavender and mint scent, and the formula is color-safe, paraben-free, and vegan. It’s also loaded with ingredients like jojoba oil, coconut oil, and mango seed butter, which moisturize your hair as the foam defines your natural waves.
2. The Best Styling Cream For Wavy Hair
If you prefer to work a dollop of styling cream through your damp hair and head out the door, the Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Hair Cream adds an extra twist to waves as it holds them in place. Copolymers create memory and hold as you scrunch the cream through your hair, while the sea kelp extract infused in the formula helps strengthen and hydrate.
Because it’s so lightweight, you can combine the cream with other curl-enhancing products, like a styling spray, or, use it before blow-drying your hair with a diffuser attachment — but many Amazon reviewers note it works perfectly well on its own, too. “I have fine, wavy hair that is prone to frizz and will often lose the curl by the end of the day,” shared one reviewer who gives the cream five stars. “This is my favorite hair product that enhances curls and waves, controls frizz, and helps hold longer.”
3. The Best Styling Spray For Wavy Hair
Styling spray is a go-to for anyone with wavy hair. But where the usual sea salt sprays have a tendency to dry out your hair and make it feel crunchy, the John Frieda Frizz Ease Dream Curls Daily Styling Spray helps create silky smooth definition. The alcohol-free formula won’t cause dryness, and it’s suitable for color-treated and chemically-treated hair. Plus, it offers heat protection if you plan to mist this through your waves while they’re damp and follow up by blow drying your hair with a diffuser to further define your curls. To help add hold to your natural curl pattern, whether used on damp hair or to revive a second-day style, John Frieda’s formula combines a blend of copolymers with nourishing ingredients like olive oil.
4. The Best Smoothing Serum For Wavy, Frizzy Hair
Whether you want to add a polished finish to your waves or smooth them out (with the help of a flat iron) into perfectly straight strands, the Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Anti-Frizz Serum will get the job done. This drugstore formula wipes out frizz with argan and apricot kernel oils, which work to moisturize dry hair (aka the reason your hair is frizzy in the first place) and increase shine.
And while it’s traditionally thought of as a smoothing serum for when you want to straighten your hair, many Amazon reviewers note that it’s great for waves and curls, too. “If I use this product before my hair air dries all the way through, I can get away with not having to heat treat it,” shared one reviewer who described their hair as long and wavy with a tendency to frizz. “It looks like beachy waves, and leaves my hair silky and shiny,” they added of the end results.
5. The Best Defining Gel For Waves & Curls
Forget everything you know about traditional gels that leave your curls feeling crunchy and looking flakey. The DevaCurl Light Defining Styling Hair Gel is a soft-hold gel that contains ingredients like castor oil, hydrolyzed wheat protein, and hydrolyzed soy protein, which moisturize and strengthen hair while smoothing out strands and enhancing shine. DevaCurl’s gel gets scrunched into curls while they’re still soaking wet, forming what the brand calls a “curl cast,” which defines your waves and seals out frizz. The formula is also vegan and free of sulfates, parabens, and silicones — the latter being known to weigh down hair.
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