The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair
June 15, 2009 6:13 PM   Subscribe

My hair is very slightly wavy. I'd like it to be more wavy - almost curly. What hair products should I be using? Is a perm a bad idea?

When my hair was shoulder-length, and I used to put a glob of gel in it after I washed it, scrunch it up, and it would dry all wavy and fun, with some curls around the front, but mostly just wavy. Now my hair is longer and heavier, and gel doesnt quite hold up the curls, and using more gel makes my hair stickier and stiff. What products can I use that will curl my hair more as it dries, without feeling like hair spray? Do any curling shampoos work? Or are they made *for* people with curly hair so their hair doesnt frizz up. I air dry, never blow dry, and will not use a curling iron - I need my hair-styling to take less than 2 mins/day. Any suggestions for products?

I'm white. I've seen asian girls get wavy perms that look like this. I want that level of curliness, but without it looking so fake. Maybe it wouldn't look fake on someone who doesn't have pin-straight hair to begin with? Would it get all frizzy? Is it a good idea, or should I stick to hair products only? Would I still need to put stuff in my hair if I got something like that done? Let me know if you have white-people-hair and you've had this done.
posted by KateHasQuestions to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I air dry, never blow dry, and will not use a curling iron - I need my hair-styling to take less than 2 mins/day.

This is interesting, because you are willing to put chemicals on your hair, and chemically process it with a perm, but not use a curling iron or hot rollers. I'd love more details about why.

To answer your question, you can have your hair undercut, which will help in training it to turn under on the ends with a half-round brush.

The weight of your hair, though, as you say, is keeping it from curling up more, and I don't think that, with air drying, you can keep that from happening unless you either go for a perm or spiral perm (for all over curliness) or use one of those curling implements you shun.

Be aware that once you have a perm, you can really just gel it and go and it will dry nicely naturally--for about three-four months, and then you need to decide if you want to keep up the cycle and have it permed again.

How natural it looks depends on how straight your hair is to begin with, and the size rollers your stylist uses. I know that sounds obvious, but people tend to think, "Well, I'm getting it curled, so I should get the most rollers put in," instead of realizing that sometimes larger gives a more natural curl. If you go for the "regular" perm, purple rollers on already wavy hair should give you that natural look. I'm less familiar with spiral perms, but your stylist can guide you.
posted by misha at 6:23 PM on June 15, 2009

Try a rag roller set
posted by hortense at 6:26 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I found this blog post to be pretty helpful.
posted by smalls at 6:30 PM on June 15, 2009

Aveda Be Curly leave in conditioner and Aveda Be Curly stuff to scrunch it when it dries. Works like magic!
posted by cachondeo45 at 6:32 PM on June 15, 2009 [5 favorites]

I air dry, never blow dry, and will not use a curling iron - I need my hair-styling to take less than 2 mins/day.

This is interesting, because you are willing to put chemicals on your hair, and chemically process it with a perm, but not use a curling iron or hot rollers. I'd love more details about why.

I assume that the part I've bolded is the answer to your question. At least, that's why I never blow dry or heat style.

I use L'Oreal Melting Gel, which is a a very lightweight gel that doesn't get sticky or stiff, even in large amounts. I can't recommend it highly enough.
posted by decathecting at 6:34 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

misha - Read what you quoted. She doesn't want to spend time every day styling her hair. I feel the same.

To the OP, oddly enough I have some Asian friends who've had that kind of perm, and they looked a lot more natural than the photo you posted. If you scope out and thoroughly vet a stylist in advance to make sure you're getting what you want, a perm could definitely work for you.
posted by telegraph at 6:34 PM on June 15, 2009

I use Redken Fresh Curls mousse with good effect. It isn't sticky or heavy so doesn't clog my hair up like gel, which in turn means I can put a decent amount in. I have straight, wavy and curly hair in various places and the curling mousse makes the slightly wavy through to curly stuff all curl, with anything wavy ending up in fat loose ringlet, but doesn't do anything to the straight hair (curses). It also stops the fuzziness and makes everything hold together. My hair is currently about armpit length but I've found extra length doesn't really change my curls anyway.

I never liked the shampoos and conditioners for curls though. I prefer to chose those based on the texture of my hair (dry ends, oily scalp) because not all curly hair is oily or whatever, then use products to make it look how I want.
posted by shelleycat at 6:43 PM on June 15, 2009

I like Sunsilk's Waves of Envy salt spray. My hair is fine and just a touch wavy, and with that spray and some rollers (only takes a few moments to remove them in the morning), I get some nice curls, which I can run my fingers or a brush through if they're too curly and get waves.

Alternatively, use that spray and braid hair. It's like texture in a bottle, and as such, once it dries, don't brush your hair. It won't be sticky to touch, but dragging a brush through your hair with salt in it is not a good idea.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:48 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Is your hair the length it is in your current profile photo, or is it longer? Is that the kind of wave you liked, or is it your current insufficient wave?

I find that when my naturally wavy fine brown hair gets cut in layers, it's gets really wavy, almost curly, just from washing and air drying. If you want to keep your hair all one length, you can try rag rollers, as suggested above, or put your hair in loose braids when it's wet. (You'll need to braid from the part down to avoid the "Hello, world!" wave starting halfway down your head).
posted by maudlin at 6:50 PM on June 15, 2009

My hair, without product or effort, is naturally very wavy, a lot like your profile picture, but I can get the look of a spiral perm pretty easily. I wash my hair and wring out all excess water with my hands, just to the point where it no longer drips. I then use this mousse and run it through all sections pretty generously. I then wring out my hair again, because the mousse will make it start to drip with product. Scrunch, scrunch, air dry from there, and this is the result, sans mustache. That's probably more curl than you're wanting, but your mileage may vary so it could be worth a shot.
posted by Ugh at 7:37 PM on June 15, 2009

I had a perm, and definitely not a Good Idea.
posted by alon at 8:13 PM on June 15, 2009

IF you decide to go for a Perm, fork out the cash and go to a good salon, someone you really trust. And make sure they know EXACTY what you expect. I got a perm for pretty much the same reasons years ago, and I ended up looking like a reject from the big-hair 80's. As soon as enough of it had grown out I got it all cut off, it was so awful.
posted by Caravantea at 8:13 PM on June 15, 2009

I have hair that looks pretty similar to yours, and the right cut (I have to keep it pretty short if I want curls, and it MUST have layers) combined with Herbal Essences Totally Twisted shampoo and conditioner makes it go SHAZAM. It curls more if I wash it at night and let it dry on my pillow. I also wash it once a week with Drama Clean shampoo, and that helps oomph it up.

(I also refuse to spend more than 2 minutes on my hair in the morning. When it's short enough I don't even brush, just run my fingers through it and apply a few strategically placed bobby pins.)
posted by fuzzbean at 8:49 PM on June 15, 2009

My hair dries curlier if I keep it from weighing itself down. For example, if I drape a few heavy towels over my shoulders, and then drape my locks over the towels, my curls are bigger. I'm not sure if this is an option for you - if your hair is drying at home or as you drive to work it might be, but if you're running out the door to catch the bus, probably not.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:53 PM on June 15, 2009

I'd try a few of the products suggested - and then I'd look into getting a haircut before deciding on the perm. If you find a good salon - and I'm assuming you have one if you're thinking of a perm - they can sometimes give you a cut that will make your hair curl more. The only problems will be 1) you like the length you have now and 2) they think "please give my hair layers" means you want to look like you have a mullet from the 70s (though that's hip now, so I shouldn't say that, sorry!). If you like the length now and your hair curled when it was shorter - you're right in assuming the weight of the length is what's straightening it. Using a lot of conditioner can also flatten out hair - which is why trying various products may add more volume. But probably not help the curling issue.

Perms are much less smelly and much less damaging to the hair then they once were. However if you currently dye your hair you should probably avoid a perm - that many chemicals on top of each other will eventually (if not immediately, depending on the hair salon) cause a LOT of damage to your hair. (I speak as someone who did that, and who then could have made dreadlocks of my straw-like hair. Luckily I was into the frizzy look.) As as already been said, it's very important that you go to a good salon that you trust. I'd advise getting your hair cut (or trimmed) at one first just to see how well the stylist listens to you and tries to give you the cut you ask for. (Bringing a photo always helps.) If you want to see what your hair will look like you can always ask the stylist to set your hair with the curlers of the type they'd use to perm your hair. The only problem with giving you a perm with large rollers - which will give you larger, looser curls - is that your hair can more quickly relax and loose the curl. Or at least that can happen faster than a really curly perm. I always went with a really tightly curled perm because it would last a bit longer than a loser perm - and I wanted my money to go as far as possible. (No idea if it still works like that, you can always ask the salon how long their perms will last.) But the result was just what I wanted - I'd usually just towel my hair dry, lightly comb out the curls a bit so they weren't quite so curly, and then let the rest air dry.

Also, be willing to pay a lot. Perms are usually very expensive, but there's nothing worse than having one done, badly, and then having to live under it for many months while your hair grows out. Or until you can pay more money to fix the damage.

(Background: have been having my hair either dyed or permed, sometimes both, since high school 40+ yrs ago. Have also been dying my own hair for ages, but also have the "I've ruined my hair" stories to go with the experience. I only stopped getting perms because I decided to choose dye over perms.)
posted by batgrlHG at 9:08 PM on June 15, 2009

Oops, not 40+, I'm not that old yet! 20+! Heh.
posted by batgrlHG at 9:09 PM on June 15, 2009

My hair is about as wavy as you want yours, I think (at least when I can resist over-brushing it). When I want a little more wave or volume, I use the Sunsilk Waves of Envy Gel & Cream Twist. It's pretty easy -- get out of the shower, squeeze excess water out of your hair, rub a small dab of gel between your hands and then scrunch that through your hair. You can put it up on rollers after that, they say, but I never do because I'd also rather spend <2 min/day on my hair. Just letting it air-dry, my hair looks wavier right away, and I love that it still feels totally natural to the touch.
posted by booksandlibretti at 11:10 PM on June 15, 2009

Try plopping!
posted by hibbersk at 12:52 AM on June 16, 2009

Plopping really works; also drying your hair with one of those fingery diffusers is a good idea. While I guess it can take more than 2 minutes, like they say in cooking, it's largely unattended. Both of these techniques are in the blog post smalls linked to -- I would definitely read that; you don't have to follow all the advice. I just do a couple things, sometimes more, sometimes less depending on time. Finally, I think the thing that helps the most is a decent haircut. Having some sort of layers really promotes curl.
posted by bluefly at 3:24 AM on June 16, 2009

My mum had a perm in the eighties, we laugh at those piccies now.
posted by mooreeasyvibe at 5:09 AM on June 16, 2009

I have very wavy hair. I don't use a blow dryer because of the time, the frizz and the electricity. I will not do hair care that takes more than a few minutes. I use lots of silicone shine goop and lots of gel, and I scrunch it. Undercutting is a disaster for my hair. Lots of layering releases the curl.
posted by theora55 at 9:39 AM on June 16, 2009

I have wavy hair and I always want to nudge it toward curly. I've experimented with pinning my hair up quickly and kind of haphazardly to keep the curls from weighing themselves down. This does help, as long as the sections aren't pinned too tight. Generally, it seems like if I do it quickly and without paying too much attention or thinking about it or even looking in the mirror, it works best. My hair is thin so it dries pretty quickly. The pinning only takes about a minute.
posted by rascalface at 7:03 AM on July 1, 2009

I also have wavy hair, although I cut mine a little shorter. I learned this from my stylist, and I can be ready in 15 minutes each morning:

After a morning shower and brief towel dry, put in some frizz-ease or such into the wet hair, then take parts of your hair (I do small pieces in front and larger in back) and twist them like string. Keep twisting until it starts to loop, then use pins to pin the end of the twisted hair to your head. Spray a holding spray (I use Bumble and Bumble's surf spray) that will work on wet hair over the pinned curls. This process takes maybe 5 minutes.

Drive to work/school/etc or give it half an hour to dry a bit. When you arrive, pull the pins out and let your hair down. It should be wavy without Shirley Temple-curling. Move around any stray bits as needed with your hands, but don't brush or you'll take out the curls. If you want very strong curls, you'll need to blow dry or (what I do) and shower at night, leaving the pins in overnight.

If you have more time, do this same process with a blow-dryer and diffuser attachment. This will give you much curlier hair with better body. I used to have a problem with bad frizz, but use a leave-in conditioner and frizz-ease and you won't have a problem.
posted by veritas at 11:22 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have the same type hair that you do - My recipe for success:

Wash and condition with a moisurizing shampoo and then use a leave in conditioner like Joico's Altima. I comb it through IN THE SHOWER, gently ring it out and wrap my hair in an absorbant microfiber towels for a few mins.

After I throw on my makeup, I take my hair out of the towel and put in a little bit of mouse on the areas framing my face to keep it from frizzing and either air dry it or hit it with a diffuser attachement. This all takes me about two minutes.

Then don't touch it for the rest of the day and the curls will stay amazingly well. Touch it and die a million frizzy deaths.

Another thing that is key is having a good cut - DO NOT ALLOW your stylist to layer your hair heavily, slide the sheers down a strip of hair to save them time in cutting layers or using those damned thinning shears. Too many layers will corrupt the curl pattern and hello Frizz Hell. Have Fun!
posted by inquisitrix at 2:22 PM on July 1, 2009

I am late to the game, but just in case you swing back by...

The WORLD'S BEST PRODUCT for those of us with kinda-wavy-not-really-curly-don't-feel-like-spending-time-on-it hair:

Kerastase Oleo Curl

It ain't cheap, but it doesn't take much (something between the size of a nickel and a quarter for my thick, shoulder length mop).

Work through towel-dried hair. Scrunch. Go. Be curly.

It smells yummy, and it's super light -- not at all crunchy or sticky. Just how awesomely curly you get will depend on how good of a cut you start with, but this stuff works wonders even when I am WAY overdue to see my stylist.

(I swear I don't work for them -- this stuff was just the answer to my prayers.)
posted by somanyamys at 8:43 AM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

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