Let's make some waves.
December 5, 2006 9:24 PM   Subscribe

I have long very straight hair, and I want it to be wavy or almost curly. Can I do this without a perm?

I have seen ads for things like Wash N Curl and the commercials make it sound like you can just wash with the shampoo, dry, and your hair will suddenly be wavy till you wash it again. After reading the bottles and the website, it seems like it just means after you curl it yourself (curling iron?) it will stay better.

Is there any quick way to get my hair to look like Kate from Lost's?

If not, is a perm a really bad idea? Will it even work with my hair length? (It's a bit longer than the actress's hair.) My hair is not very thick, but it's not thin.

I can't stand styling it, so I never blow dry and I never curl, but if there is a quick way I can get it to be wavy and maybe add some gel or something to hold it, that would rock my world.
posted by jesirose to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Stop washin it. That's what I do.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:29 PM on December 5, 2006

I used to think that about Wash N Curl shampoo, too, but turns out, that's not at all what it does. It just makes your hair more open to being curled (aka cleaner) with an iron, rollers, etc. What a ripoff. :-(
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:35 PM on December 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

For Kate's hair - just put your hair in several loose braids after you wash it. Then go to bed. When you get up the next day, unbraid and tousle. Voila! You may need a bit of styling product to help your hair hold the wave - mousse etc...
posted by Liosliath at 9:48 PM on December 5, 2006

Yeah, what Liosliath said. Except if you have fine hair, the braids may fall out in the night, which is frustrating.

I've used the Garnier Fructis Curl Construct Mousse before, applied to damp (but not soaking wet) hair, scrunch (like so), and let air dry. And continue to scrunch throughout the day. One time I had an exceptionally good hair day using this technique.
posted by sarahnade at 10:19 PM on December 5, 2006

After washing at night, towel-dry your hair thoroughly (maybe use three towels). Let it air dry a bit more, but leave it still damp. Add gel all through the hair, then braid it and use hair elastics on the ends. Sleep on it, then check for dryness when you get up. Unbraid, and you're all set.
posted by amtho at 10:59 PM on December 5, 2006

Perms don't look like naturally wavy or curly hair - they look like perms. Most people can tell a perm from a natural look, and many (if not most) people view permed hair as being low-class.

As to the actress you've mentioned - she's an actress. She doesn't look like that in real life (and publicity photos, red carpet photos, etc. aren't real life). She has an experienced high-quality professional stylist to make her look that way - and it probably takes him an hour or more. Someone without that experience, training, and talent might not be able to create the same hairstyle, especially with hair that isn't like the actress's.
posted by watsondog at 11:31 PM on December 5, 2006

I once owned a large wave iron that worked well on my baby fine hair, but it was very hard on my hair, and it almost looked too neat and wouldn't get "tussled" no matter how much I shook my head. Now I just use a little mousse on slightly damp hair, about eight braids, and a good night's sleep. You can experiment about how many and where to put the braids to work with the natural flow and growth pattern of your hair. It'll look different depending on how you do the braids (as well as how tight or loose they are, how damp the hair is, how much moose, etc.). And yes, it's entirely possible to get the exact same look as the actress in the photo without having a professional stylist or years of training. Women have been doing it for generations.
posted by Orb at 12:41 AM on December 6, 2006

I can't tell for sure whether you mean you definitely don't want to use curlers of any kind, but if not, you might want to try hot sticks (reviews here). My hair is just past shoulder length and fine/silky, and I've managed something like the Kate look using something similar. I think these will probably not work too well for thicker hair with more curl/body (the frizzies! eek!), but may do the trick for you. There are a lot of these on ebay, apparently, if you wanted to try it out with minimum investment.

For what it's worth, these are easier and much faster for me than braiding, but since I never used them on a regular basis, I can't say how much they might damage your hair if you do.

By the way, for those with the right hair and much more patience than me or jesirose, there is a Kate hair how-to here - scroll down to "Step One".
posted by taz at 2:47 AM on December 6, 2006

As someone with completely straight hair myself, I'm paying close attention to the answers in here. I've always longed for that slightly wavey, touseled look.

But I must disagree with watsondog about perms more generally. For around three years or so I had my hair permed by a stylist at a quality salon (thought it was a tighter curl than Kate's), and I can guarantee that my hair did not look cheap, fake, or low-class. In fact, I very often had people with naturally curly hair approach me on the street and ask me how I got my curls to behave so well. Alas, I always had to tell them that I didn't have a magical cure for their frizz.

And for ease of styling, jesirose, there is nothing simpler and faster than permed hair. A quick blow-dry with a diffuser, or scrunch-and-go, and it was done. Gel or no-gel, either way. This is definitely a hairstyle where the initial expense is pretty hefty, but I thought it was worth it.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 6:07 AM on December 6, 2006

Last summer my new SIL had gorgeous hair of this type as we hiked the Grand Canyon. I was so envious until I saw her this Thanksgiving with superfine straight hair like mine.

She mentioned then that it was a perm - she had gotten it because she traveled a lot last year, and the perm made styling dead simple, especially when a blowdryer was not an option. She also used braiding along with the perm.

I left resolving to find a great perm stylist. I imagine it will be pricey and worth it.
posted by FuzzyVerde at 6:46 AM on December 6, 2006

I tried the braid thing last night, and it looked okay, not quite what I wanted, but then I guess my hair was still too damp this morning cause it just went straight again a few minutes after leaving the house. I will try again over the weekend with gel and stuff, thanks for all the links everyone!
posted by jesirose at 6:57 AM on December 6, 2006

CtrlAltDelete - How long did the perm last, and what happened when you stopped perming? (I've been thinking of doing this for a while. Have super fine hair, though.)
posted by Amizu at 7:12 AM on December 6, 2006

When I was a kid with long, fine, straight hair, my mom would put it in sponge curlers for a couple of hours (until it dried) when I got out of the shower. When I took the curlers out my hair would look like Shirley Temple. Then, I mye the curlers out my hair would look like Shirley Temple. Then, I would lightly brush out my curls and spray them with hair spray so they looked more natural. It was a process, so it was only for special occasions. If you can find a way to sleep comfortably, the curlers can also be left in over night.
posted by Packy_1962 at 8:09 AM on December 6, 2006

I've got super fine straight hair (like you Amizu) that will. not. curl. No amount of scrunching or braiding will do anything. A few years ago I got it permed and it was AWESOME. I have never been so consistenly happy with my hair. At the salon I asked for a really loose curl using big rollers. It looked naturally wavy (like Kate from lost), and I could curl it up more if I tried. I let it grow out and it never looked strange. I think the perm relaxed a little as time passed so there was never any visible straight/wavy line. Get it permed at a NICE SALON (do not skimp on a perm) by someone who clearly understands that you want a loose perm and you will be oh so happy.
posted by robinpME at 9:48 AM on December 6, 2006

Curly Girl.

Truly, truly. Lots of great info and ideas.

And I'll second Baby_Balrog -- don't wash your hair. Or, if you must, use conditioner FIRST, all along the shaft of your hair, then leave it on while you use a TINY amount of shampoo at your roots. Do this for a few days, then try the mousse/overnight braid/scrunch thing.

also, off topic, in that link from taz:
"In her role as Kate for Lost, Evangeline's long bra strap length tresses are coiffed in a windswept style that plays up her natural textures."
Long bra strap length tresses? What an odd descriptor!

posted by inging at 10:59 AM on December 6, 2006

Amizu -

My hair takes to chemicals really well, and grows really slowly, so one perm for me lasted almost a year. Of course, over time the curls gradually loosened up, but I think this is good because it makes "roots", such as they are, less noticeable.

Like you and robinpME, my hair is super fine and super straight, and the perms fulfilled my little girl dreams of having hair that did, well, anything besides just lay there. I only stopped getting it done because I needed a change. I actually had an "anti-perm" because I wanted to get rid of the curl before it loosened out on its own - for complicated reasons having nothing to do with the quality of the perm - so that's always an option, too, if you don't like it.

In short - do it, but definitely spend the money on someone who is up on the latest technologies. Also make sure you have a very clear dialogue on exactly what kind of shape you want - I was a little disappointed in my first perm because the curls were looser than I was expecting, but it was only my own fault for not specifying exactly what I was looking for. Next time, it was perfect.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 3:59 PM on December 6, 2006

I think I will print out some photos of Kate's hair and take it to our upscale salon, and see if they can do it.

Next: her body :-P

Thanks again everyone!
posted by jesirose at 6:07 PM on December 6, 2006

Pin curls are fun! For looser curls, do bigger sections of hair at once.
Do it at night while you're watching tv or something, then sleep on it and let it dry overnight.
posted by exceptinsects at 6:16 PM on December 6, 2006

So for future reference - I got the perm, and it was kinda disappointing. Maybe it was the woman who did it didn't quite get it, but now I have semi-wavy hair that I have to spend an hour styling. Even if I want it straight. After I wash it it begins to become wavy, but in order to have it not be frizzy, I have to comb it, and that takes three times as long and detangling spray. By then it's straight again and if I want it wavy I have to add spray and scrunch.

It stays how I want it for about an hour after it dries, then goes flat and frizzy.

Not worth the cost IMO. I did get a decent cut and the color has lightened, so it was worth half the cost maybe.
posted by jesirose at 9:40 PM on December 21, 2006

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