Until maybe two years ago, no matter what I used to curl or wave my hair, I could not get the style to stick around for longer than a couple of hours. It was such an issue, and no matter if my hair was relaxed, natural and pressed, or in a weave, the wave would always drop. Before heading to my party or event, I would spray on a ridiculous amount of lacquer until my strands were crisp tendrils, and then at least the style would hold, but my hair would look and feel so dry. I know it’s a problem a lot of my friends, no matter their hair texture, face too. How do you actually make waves last?
It wasn’t until maybe my third year covering hair at fashion weeks and working with salons and stylists every single day that it clicked. It was the thing that I saw all the time but didn’t really pay attention to: Whenever a stylist would curl or wave a model’s hair, they would pin it immediately, and for the most part, they wouldn’t take down the pins until they had finished the whole head. Why? “Just remember this: Hot to mould, cold to hold,” says BaByliss ambassador Ky Wilson. “The trick to long-lasting curls is to allow the hair to cool down after using your heated tool. The heat forms the curl, but the cool period is what makes them stay. If you can, let them cool for around 10 to 15 minutes. Doing this often and pin-curling your hair after styling will give your hair stability and hold so you don’t have to worry about them dropping out when brushing."
It's so simple, but it’s honestly changed the lifespan of my hairstyles. If I’m doing my hair for an event, I will curl it as early as possible and use hair clips to hold the curls up, and then do things like my makeup, outfit, etc., before unpinning the curls or waves. After doing this, for the rest of the night, I have the bounciest style with the best longevity. When it comes to products now, I rarely use a traditional, crispy hair spray anymore, as I really don’t need it. “When styling with heat, the most important step is using a heat-protecting serum, not only to maintain healthy hair but also to help the look last longer,” says Subrina Kidd, textured hair expert for L’Oréal Professionnel Steampod. “A good serum creates a coating around the hair to keep the look held and includes heat protection. I also love to use a flexible hair spray that will provide a long-lasting finish whilst still giving the hair movement.”
Tool-wise, for my mid-length hair, I’ve seen the best hold from using curling wands. But for subtle waves and for longer hair, I love using a straightener and creating my own bends for a less polished finish.
The Best Tools for Waving All Hair Types
BaByliss Pro Ceramic Dial a Heat Tong (24mm)
Sometimes a tong is the easiest way to wave if you have anything between shoulder-length and chest-length hair and want a more uniform curl. This one has an adjustable heat setting for up to 25 different temperatures.
Loréal Professionnel Steampod Steam Straightening Tool 3.0
If you remove the comb attachment, this is so great for creating loose waves on long hair. It has three heat settings from 180°C to 210°C, and the steam function locks in moisture too.
GHD Creative Curl Wand (28–23mm)
I love this wand for my shoulder-length hair. The 185ºC temperature is an all-round crowd-pleaser, and the curved shape creates a more carefree look.
Cloud Nine The Waving Wand
If you have super-long hair, you might find that the shape of some wands means you have to wrap your hair so tightly to fit it on that your style is more of a ringlet vibe. The thickness of this barrel gives a loose wave to even the longest, thickest head of hair.
Beauty Works Jumbo Waver Island Edition
For big, deep-set mermaid waves, this is the perfect waver. To set, make sure you clip the indented sections of each wave, allow to cool, and then unpin.