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This Is the Ultimate Wavy Hair Routine

woman with wavy hair

Wavy hair comes in various textures and patterns— 2a, 2b, and 2c, to be exact. As celebrity hairstylist Bradley Leake explains, “2a hair is usually finer with smooth roots and a soft, subtle [s-shaped] wave. 2b wavesare more defined but more susceptible to humidity and frizz. 2C hair is generally [an even tighter wave] that is thicker, more coarse, and needs more hydration.”

While each wave type has its own needs, Leake says the ultimate key to maintaining all wavy hair is establishing a go-to routine. “Establishing a routine trains the hair to consistently deliver the look you want,” he says. Ahead, Leake and fellow hairstylist Nazomi share a step-by-step wavy hair routine that will help you have your best hair day yet.

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Wash With a Wavy-Hair-Friendly Shampoo

According to Leake, those with wavy hair need to find shampoos that strike the proper hydration balance. 2A waves typically do well with lightweight shampoos, while thicker hair can tolerate slightly richer cleansers packed with moisturizing ingredients. The right shampoo can also help reduce frizz without losing the integrity of the wave pattern. “I like Kerastase’s Curl Manifesto Shampoo ($21), which helps to reduce frizz and redefine [the hair],” Nazomi adds.

Keep in mind that overwashing wavy hair can cause its natural oils to wash away, leading to a dry scalp and hair. “A helpful tip for locking in moisture is simply adding more time between hair washes,” Leake says.

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Focus on Conditioning

After shampooing your hair, it’s time to focus on conditioning. Once your hair is freshly cleansed, Nazomi suggests applying a deep conditioner and combing it through your hair as they help infuse moisture (and make it easier to work through tangles). Nazomi says to stick with lightweight options like the Function of Beauty Wavy Hair Mask ($10) or Ouai Treatment Mask for Fine and Medium Hair($38). Once you’ve rinsed the product out, you can apply a leave-in conditioner. “It helps with routine styling maintenance, will help lock in hydration, and can make it easier to achieve smoother hair.”

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Detangle Your Hair

If you’re still left with knots and tangles after shampooing and conditioning, tackle them gently. First, apply a detangling spray to your damp hair, and if you can, use your fingers to detangle. If finger raking isn’t in the cards, reach for a wide-tooth comb and run it through the hair to allow the natural wave pattern to take hold.

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Use a Microfiber Towel

After detangling the hair, use a microfiber towel to remove excess water, which can weigh down waves. Rather than wrap the hair up in a towel, scrunch it in the towel by lightly squeezing it from the bottom to the roots.

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Apply Styling Products

Styling products used on wavy hair shouldn’t be heavy or oil-laden, as they can give waves a greasy look and make them lose shape. Leake recommends lightweight products like water-based gels, mousses, serums, and creams that will define the hair without making it feel stiffy or crunchy.

“Always distribute [styling products] using a wide-tooth comb,” Nazomi says. Her favorite styling products for wavy hair types include Oribe Curl Control Silkening Creme ($42) and MilbonCreative Style Wave Defining Cream ($35).

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Let Your Waves Dry

You can opt to air dry or diffuse your waves. With the first method, Leake suggests splitting damp hair down the middle and wrapping hair into two buns. “Allowing the hair to dry this way is especially beneficial for hair types 2a and 2b because the hair will dry with soft but defined waves.” Braiding damp hair loosely will create a similar effect.

You can use a diffuser when you are short on time. It will disperse heat effectively and add volume throughout without affecting the hair’s natural wave pattern. “Always set the blow dryer on a low setting to help reduce frizz while drying and use heat protection when using any hot tools,” Nazomi says.

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Protect Your Waves

Make sure your waves last by protecting them while you sleep. You can avoid putting tension on your hair and scalp by using a satin or silk scrunchie, pillowcase, and headwrap. This combination will ensure your waves hold their shape and keep frizz at bay.

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Refresh Your Waves

For day-to-day maintenance, keep your refreshing styling products light. Nazomi recommends a wave-friendly mist like Kerastase Refresh Absolu Luxury Hair Spray ($24). Our experts also recommend gently combing or raking through your hair each morning to detangle your waves.

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