People with wavy hair get the best of both worlds — they can straighten it for a sleek look, or curl it for more of a bounce. Plus, they get a seemingly permanent beachy look with an effortless texture, youth, and natural malleability that people with other hair types struggle to obtain. For those who are curious about what makes this kind of hair magic happen, the experts at Madison Reed have put together an all-you-can-read guide to wavy hair.
Scientific structure of wavy hair
Naturally wavy hair, also known as Type 2, develops its structure from the shape of the cortex. The fibers of wavy hair are oval-shaped, making it mostly round, but twisting ever so slightly upon the other follicle. Wavy hair is also determined by its protein structure. Wavy hair has a light to medium amount of the disulfide bonds that occur between hair proteins. It also has a slight hook at the end of the follicle, which makes it grow at a minimal angle. In some cases, hormones and certain medications can change the texture of the hair, making it grow in a different way than it was originally formed.
Wavy hair also changes in thickness and s-shaped waves. Here are the three types:
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- Type 2A Wavy Hair (fine/thin): This type is loose, with an “S” shaped pattern, and is on the thinner side (has a circumference of less than 2 inches when tied in a ponytail). This type is usually very easy to manage and style.
How to wear it: Shoulder length & trendy. This type of hair is already pretty easy to manage, but is often fine in texture. To give it the appearance of more volume, a shoulder length cut is the most flattering and stylish look to go for.
- Type 2B Wavy Hair (medium) This hair type is shorter with a more prominent “S” shaped pattern, and resembles that “beachy” wave that women often want to attain. Although beautiful, this type tends to be on the slightly frizzier side of the spectrum.
How to wear it: Pinned to the side. Since this hair type is a medium wave and thickness, it can give in to a little bit of pinning. The pinned to the side hair style looks gorgeous for all occasions and is flattering on most women's face shapes as well.
- 2C Wavy Hair (coarse) This type has a very distinct “S” shaped pattern, and is borderline curly at some points. This hair type tends to be frizzier and thicker. Although this type is more resilient (because of its thickness), it is also more resistant to styling.
How to wear it: Long and parted in the middle. This type of wavy hair is both thick and has tighter “S” shapes, so it's best to take advantage of the resilience and keep the hair long to weigh it down a little bit more. The weight will help soften and even out the waves so they look more natural, and you'll have less frizz to deal with.
Pros of wavy hair
- The ultimate beach wave. The natural beach wave is what many women try to achieve (sea salt spray, anyone?) This summery hair type can be playful at the beach, and still make itself trendy in the fall. the unique “S” shaped waves are what many women want, but not all can achieve, so if you have it, wear it proud.
- It’s youthful. There’s something about wavy hair that makes the woman wearing it appear more youthful. It's got the right amount of texture and volume to impart a feminine personality, and it’s the perfect balance between straight and curly.
- It's easy to style. A woman with natural wavy hair doesn't need to go to great lengths to achieve either a stick straight, a flirty curly, or a beachy wave with her hair. Her hair is generally malleable and easy to play with and switch up the look. Variety, anyone?
Cons of Wavy Hair
- The in-between struggle. As fun as the variety that's associated with wavy hair, so is the in-between struggle. Is it straight? Is it curly? Oftentimes women with wavy hair have a slight hair identity crisis, and can't figure out exactly how to accept their hair.
- It falls flat. Although wavy hair has slightly more volume than straight hair, it still falls flat often enough. If the wavy hair is type 2A, it's typically on the straighter side, and needs a bit more texture and volume on the top.
- It's frizzy. Frizz is never a good look, no matter how many high-fashion spreads have “made it work.” Wavy hair often struggles with frizz, because when it's brushed out or over-styled it usually develops more split ends and dryness. That dryness can affect the hair's sleekness and shine, and therefore make it prone to more flyaways.
Styling Wavy Hair
Give it something to play with. The hair identity crisis will be gone as soon as you take a “glass half full” mentality and experiment with styles to match your mood. Wear it straight if you want to feel put-together, keep it natural and use some leave-in conditioner (you know it'll look beautiful), and bust out the curling wand if you want an extra bounce.
Flatness, be gone! Just like straight-haired women, wavy-haired women can go through a struggle of flatness at the top. Next time you're letting your hair air-dry naturally, give it some volumizing spray at the top and a quick blow-dry only at the roots for a pick-me-up. Use a tiny bit of argan oil from the middle to the end of the hair shafts to add a little shine.
What frizz? Annoying as frizz can be, it can easily be tackled with some good leave-in hair conditioner and a super moisturizing shampoo & conditioner — preferable with argan oil, coconut oil, or palm oil. The key to keeping frizz at bay is to keep your hands away from your hair and to use more hydrating ingredients to keep the frizz down. Madison Reed Nourishing Color-Enhancing Shampoo and Conditioner is great for hydrating and treating all types of hair.
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