best product to encourage wavy/curly hair
June 6, 2016 10:43 AM   Subscribe

You all were so helpful with my last hair question so now I bring you another.

My hair is currently cut in a stacked bob, very short in the back, with bangs. My natural hair texture is fairly wavy. However, leaving my hair to dry naturally results in strange lopsided waves that stick out in strange places and looks extremely sloppy/unprofessional, which I don't like, so if i have to go somewhere in public and look presentable I usually blowdry + flat iron it and it ends up looking something like Anna Wintour's hair.

It's getting hot here now in New York and the idea of using hot tools on my hair is really unappealing to me. Is there a product out there that I could use post-hair-washing that would help encourage the waves to be more curly/ringlet-like as opposed to Carrot Top on a bad hair day?

I'm trying to achieve something that looks like this.

posted by thereemix to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Curl scrunch gel works well for me with similar-sounding hair. I towel dry, then flip my head over, put a dollop of this stuff in my hands and scrunch it all through my hair, then flip back, and then allow it to air dry, and it makes a huge difference in curl definition.
posted by brainmouse at 10:58 AM on June 6, 2016

My hair routine - condition in shower, rinse out conditioner while combing my hair down and straight with wide tooth brush. Get out of shower, place towel around shoulders and allow hair to drip onto it. Don't towel off my hair in any way.

Continue my routine, then flip my hair over and work quite a bit of this leave-in conditioner through. Arrange my bangs, and sides, maybe a few clips in strategic places (keep part of bangs held back usually), let hair air dry rest of way.

Leave-in conditioner and hair oil have done wonders for my wavy hair, and I much prefer them to anything that dries sticky or crunchy.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:07 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also really like the Curl Scrunch. There is an art to it - you dry crunchy, for real, but then you geeeently scrunch out the crispiness.

You may also want to do the "squish to condish" (sorry) procedure when you wash. It massively improves my curl on short hair, which can be very random and prone to frizz.

However, if you're not getting super-expensive foofy curl-specific cuts, some of your curls are probably cut at a weird point in the curve, and those are the ones that stick out funny. Do the whole thing, dry crunchy, gently scrunch, and then just fix the sticky-out curls a little bit with a big-barrel curling iron. (Or, if you study on Youtube, you can learn to trim them slightly at the right point in the curve.)

You may also need to tweak your bangs in the same manner, much like it looks like has been done in that picture (which is all heat-set, that's not a heat-free style), but that whole fixing part should only take a few minutes.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:07 AM on June 6, 2016

I do a combo of brainmouse and Squeak Attack's routine. Day 1, condition hair in shower, comb, let dry a little bit, put in leave-in conditioner, then scrunch gel (I use this one). Flip hair over, scrunch, let dry. Day two, slightly dampen hair and work curl cream through to re-define things that have flattened out over night.

Make sure you're not shampooing your hair too often (I do it about once a week), and also make sure that you're not using shampoo/conditioner that will dry out your hair too much (which will cause frizz and general unpleasantness).
posted by damayanti at 11:12 AM on June 6, 2016

I don't scrunch, I apply serum to damp hair, and then put gel on my fingers, twirl a ringlet around my fingers, spray, and then move on to the next section. The more time I spend on this the more defined my curls are.
posted by zutalors! at 11:26 AM on June 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

This leave-in changed my life. You can get it at Whole Foods or Fairway. Put it in and scrunch. They also make a curl-defining gel but I've never tried it.
posted by Mchelly at 11:41 AM on June 6, 2016 [5 favorites]

I was going to ask a similar question, for specific product recommendations. My hair looks a lot nicer when it's more curly than flat. The best results come from using any sort of leave-in product (conditioner, mousse, gel, whatever) and a diffuser. But I don't have time for a diffuser, so here's how I get pretty good, but not amazing, results:
1. Don't sleep on wet or damp hair.
2. After hair is washed and combed, use mousse and scrunch it up. I currently use the FrizzEase mousse. It's fine, I am not super happy with the scent, but it's a good middle ground. It doesn't get crunchy unless I overapply.
3. Let it air dry.

I have a very casual look but it works for me, and it keeps locks from sticking out at funny angles.

(I know this is not my question but if people could describe how heavy the scent of recommended products that would be awesome.)
posted by stowaway at 11:42 AM on June 6, 2016

Lyn Never, could you link to one of the You Tube curl cutting videos? I haven't been able to turn up one with the level of detail you describe. Thanks.
posted by Riverine at 11:54 AM on June 6, 2016

I can't let my hair air dry anymore. It just comes out completely shaped wrong. I happen to like Tigi's Catwalk Curls right now, but the same's been true of virtually anything I've tried. I like the Catwalk Curls slightly more than the Curl Scrunch, but it's a bit more expensive. My hair needs to be propped up to curl properly as it dries, and that means a finger diffuser. You don't have to run the blow dryer on its hottest setting if you're moderately patient, and it doesn't need to be 100% dry afterwards--just dry enough that it's not weighing itself down as it dries the rest of the way. I think that's the key, for me. Don't worry about bone dry, just give your hair a head start, then if it doesn't dry perfectly you can rearrange it a little with just damp fingers.
posted by Sequence at 11:56 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I want my hair to be curly, I scrunch it with gel or mouse or whatever then I flip my head upside down, and I randomly clip a ton of butterfly-style hair clips to stack the hair up. Then I let it dry while I get ready and blow dry a little bit then let the hair down. My hair is also random-wavy. Now it's very short but the top is long enough to get back into adding texture. I've found doing it this way keeps the waves smaller and keeps the volume near the roots. Again, that's just my weird technique.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:59 AM on June 6, 2016

I have your hair.
This morning I woke up to terrible hair. It was sunbleached, crunchy and frizzy after a really tough two weeks of both too much work and too much out-doors with no prep. My stylist had given me a tester from Kérastase "Masquinstense" I let it stay in for 15 mins, rinsed and then air-dried. ( yea, I got up at 5 AM).
Now my air is soft as a baby's. I'm really impressed. I scrunched it with a simple cheap foam, my stylist would probably have had more expensive ideas. But the basic cure was the key.
I don't think this is the only available product, but I do think your stylist might have some good ideas.
posted by mumimor at 12:34 PM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm going to try lots of these tips! This is a process I'm working on too. My hair is a bit longer, but here's what works for me. I use a small amount of deva curl gel (stowaway, I think this is unscented) on my roots, then apply a bit of Aveda Be Curly (this has a scent, but I find it pretty mild) "enhancing lotion" to the ends of my hair. Then, I usually twist it in to a towel or t-shirt and let it dry a bit while I'm getting ready. Then I take off towel and twist it into ringlets a bit and if I have time, I dry the ringlets with a diffuser to kind of set them. Then I coat the whole business with Aveda Air Spray (this stuff works great, but is really scented). The diffuser and the hair spray seem to be the biggest players in this hair game. And my stylist cuts my bangs and front layers when my hair is dry. This is where I have some kooky flips, and she knows to kind of work around them. When I can't afford that stylist, which is often, my hair does suffer for it.
posted by areaperson at 12:41 PM on June 6, 2016

This one includes bangs. (The whole thing is good, but 4:15 is where she shows how to cut in the right part of the curl)

Start here to see a trim of a curl that's got a funky end.

Somewhere I once saw an excellent annotated photo that shows how to find the spot to cut, but my google-fu is failing me.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:42 PM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Beach spray throughout damp hair, hair oil on the ends. Scrunch to style - scrunch continuously while your hair dries naturally, OR use a diffuser attachment on your dryer, on low speed/temp to expedite the process. Dampen hands with a bit of water to re-scrunch specific areas post-dry.

I totally mastered this look while my hair was short for a few years. With great conditioner to tame the frizz, I could skip the beach spray entirely.
posted by lizbunny at 12:44 PM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

My hair looks very much like what you're hoping to achieve (except without bangs), but I'm sorry to say I've never found a way to get it there without a diffuser being an essential part of the process.

I do shell out for a Deva cut (I live in the Bay Area and it costs me $90, which isn't substantially more expensive than any other kind of salon haircut around these parts) and use Deva products, which I order on Amazon. For the first time in my life, people regularly stop me on the street to ask where I get my hair cut.

My routine: every other day, I wash with Deva No-Poo and "squish to condish" with Deva One Condition. After that, with my hair still dripping wet and flipped over, I scrunch in a sizable palmful of Deva's B'Leave In, which is a combination of leave-in conditioner and volumizer[1]. I do a lot of scrunching and squeezing with my hands to work the product in and get the extra water out, and then I scrunch with a microfiber towel to get it to a still-kinda-wet-but-not-dripping state.

Leaving my hair flipped over in front of my face, I leave it alone for however long it takes me to do the rest of my post-shower sunblock etc. routine, and then I use the diffuser to get it mostly dry. (The key for my hair is to keep it flipped over and diffuse while I'm bent over at the waist so that it hangs away from my head. If I try to diffuse while standing up, even if I use clips to give it some height at the root, it's noticeably flat at the crown.) Once it's 75% dry, I stand up and flip it back over. Sometimes I need to put in a few clips around the temples to keep the curls organized away from my face.

After that, I studiously avoid touching it or playing with it in any way. Hands off completely for the rest of the day.

I can sleep on it for one night without damaging the curl too much (satin pillowcase FTW!). If there are weird flat spots in the morning, I just use damp fingers to reactivate the product and re-twist the curl back in. Unfortunately I've never been able to get third-day hair.

I know the whole process sounds super involved, but it really only takes about fifteen minutes total. I've always been unwilling to sacrifice sleep in the morning in order to spend time fussing with styling products and hair gadgets; I didn't even own a hairdryer until I turned 40! I am also the world's laziest person in general, almost always choosing to take the easiest route to something even if it means sacrificing a little bit of quality for the end result. So for me to be willing to do this consistently, it must be quick and easy!

I also have MS and am very, very sensitive to heat. Blowing hot air on myself will result in my feeling pretty crappy, so at first I was deeply skeptical about using a hair dryer/diffuser, but the indirect heat of the diffuser doesn't affect me at all.

[1] I don't use any of their gels, because I don't like how they make my hair feel the second day, sort of dull and straw-textured, but that's just my hair and I know lots of curlies who use them without any problem. I don't tend to need any "hold" to keep my hair curly, so the leave-in stuff is enough for me.
posted by jesourie at 1:00 PM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also use this refresher spray for good second day hair. It seems to help with curl definition.
posted by answergrape at 1:25 PM on June 6, 2016

I've found that getting a Deva Cut makes a big difference in whether I get waves or curls. I'd also recommend the DevaCurl products as well as the Curly Girl book.
posted by oceano at 2:00 PM on June 6, 2016

I really like Unite's Boing Curl Cream. It's available at Amazon and some salons. It's a leave-in cream that you scrunch through your hair when it's wet or damp after conditioning. I let mine air dry after scrunching through my wet hair and shaping curls with my fingers/twirling curls to separate.

I like refresher sprays for the next day, and if you do a refresher spray, you can make your hair damp enough to add just a little bit more of the Boing cream and shape individual curls to define them.

Also, do you have some cute headbands/scarves for days when you want a change but your hair isn't cooperating? It's a cute summer look with shorter bobs.
posted by shortyJBot at 2:03 PM on June 6, 2016

I have hair fairly similar to the picture you posted, and here's what works for me:
- I do the "Squish to Condish" thing mentioned above. (The name is awful, the method is fantastic) - I use the Sally's knock off of the old Biolage Conditioning Balm. (Biolage has changed their formula several times, making it worse every time, but the Sally's version mimics the formula from 10+ years ago, and is fantastic)
- Lately my curl cream of choice has been another Sally's product - Beyond the Zone Kick up Your Curls, It works great for my hair, but curl creams are really personal, ask 10 curly haired people, you'll get at least 15 different recommendations.
- I only wash my hair at night, and tie it up in a tshirt before I go to bed, so it dries up off my roots, not plastered to my head.
- I shampoo my hair 3 times a week at the most, 2 if my schedule allows and my hair cooperates.
posted by antimony at 4:27 PM on June 6, 2016

Nthing the suggestion of the book Curly Girl. Getting a good cut (from a stylist who really understands curly hair) and using the care techniques recommended in the book will probably change your experience for the better.
posted by Lexica at 5:00 PM on June 6, 2016

I let my stylist talk me into buying the Aveda products at the salon. I got the Be Curly and the Smooth Infusion. I mix a little bit of each on my hands and scrunch through wet hair. They weren't cheap, but they work and so far the bottles are lasting pretty long. The curly girl website is helpful, too.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:29 PM on June 6, 2016

Thanks everyone!

shortyJBot I would love recommendations for cute headbands/scarves to wear/how to tie hair scarves. All of the headbands I have are for the gym, and whenever I tie a scarf in my hair it seems to make the hair below the scarf balloon out like crazy. If I use a larger scarf it ends up looking a little bit like a religious headcovering, which I fear will confuse people.
posted by thereemix at 7:23 AM on June 7, 2016

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