How to do a wavy hairstyle

Thick Curly Hair

I was walking on my way to work one Sunday and it was the first noticeably autumnal day this year. I hadn’t quite realised this even after pulling on my chunky beige turtle neck jumper and crunching through orangy brown ochre leaves.

Then on my way, I stopped at Hackney city farm and outside the fence, demurely perched on the ground was a crate full of tiny green shoots planted each in its own tiny flimsy pot. The hand-drawn sign read ‘FREE SEEDLINGS: BOK CHOY, CHARD, CABBAGE’ I looked around and remembered the time of year it is. I remembered the chill in the air that is still pleasant because the sun warms us. My stroll down to work through Broadway Market always has a resonance with a seaside town. Its architecture is shanty-like and free flow of steadfastly appearing relaxed people moving between fishmongers and bakeries and restaurants. The psychogeography of the place makes me most prone to daydream. I think about the life I could have by the sea. I’m holding my boyfriend’s hand and already calculating a plan to convince him he wants this idealist escapism too. I imagine us eating fish and chips for breakfast every day, and going for long moody walks in winter by an abandoned beach. It’s on this stretch of road by the brassicas sprouting, that I remember that it is autumn in London. 

I turn a corner into a less picturesque street but still however find myself looking for ways to carry this feeling with me always. I want to always feel the expanse of the sea drawing to and fro before me. I want to be in the waves. 

Waves, wavy, waves. I need them. 

I find myself acting out my idealism in my hair routine. I don’t know why I do this but it happens. Before I know it, the way I cheer myself up with the onset of autumn in a city is to painstakingly create beachy waves to fall if not before me then at least upon my shoulders. It’s not so much faking the feeling of having been at the beach, but rather of carrying the memory with you. 

Often cross paths with like-minded souls among me in the salon. I hear requests of wavy bob, wavy bob, wavy bob. It’s been a big style this past year or two. My personal theory is that people are crying out for freedom hair. An ease in shortness and a release in a perfectly tousled undoing of self. 

However, the longed-for look as carefree as it appears in the veneer does take some consideration. A few wrong turns could fatally lead you down a track to Friar tuck. Have you ever sat back in front of the mirror, tongs in hand, a single tear streaming down your cheek because of the gap between expectation and reality? Life is hard enough at the moment without walking around with hair that bounces higher than your mood. 

A flat, loose, tousled, beachy wave is the dream. Once you’ve mastered your method, then even with eyes closed,  you can carry the memory of a great murky blue calmness with you always. 

It begins post-shower. Standing before the mirror that is annoyingly too small because you haven’t got round to get a full length one yet. It’s on the list. Hairdryer perched on the edge of the bed. It’s more ready than you at this point but don’t be intimidated. 

You will need; 

– 1 wide-tooth comb 

– Tongs 

– Sea salt spray of your choosing (I recommend Aveda’s texture tonic, it doesn’t have a crunchy feeling it somehow leaves hair still feeling soft)

– A hairspray withhold (but not one to land you in crunch town) Aveda Air control is life to me, formulated to be pliable and still give hold. It has a net-zero impact on the climate too which is probably the reason it’s the only hairspray I use anymore. It gives me what I need but doesn’t cost my hypothetical, seaside raised children their future. 

To summarise; comb, texture tonic, hairspray. Detangle, scrunch and hold. Not so scary once it’s broken down. 

Dry your hair off till it’s smooth and straight, adjust how you do this as to your hair’s natural texture. The look can be achieved with brushes alone, as we do in the salon, however, I will leave that method to your YouTube tutorial explorations. In my experience, the most consistent outcomes with the least strenuous effort are the work of tongs. Additionally, a cathartic exertion that can be done whilst sleepily grabbing a spoonful of cereal here and there before work. 

Next, use your wide tooth comb to rake through the smooth hair and section it into manageable pieces. An easy one, to begin with, is a hot cross bun. Do a middle parting, forehead to nape, then part it across horizontally from crown to ear. Then you have four chunky sections to work with. There’s solace in process, an order in the chaos of the universe. 

Work from the back, forward. It stops you from helplessly grappling at sections left right and centre. I’ve been there and it’s just exhausting, and you’re always left with one straight piece at the back someone will point out later in the day, causing your eyes to roll and loll back into your head. 

So starting from the back, take relatively small pieces and wrap around your now scorchingly hot tong. Leave for ten seconds or so to set the curl. When you’ve done your whole head and you look like you’re going to prom with shiny unerringly formed ringlets is when the sea salt spray comes into play. 

Add a few sprays here and there around your head, scrunch them up into the curl for added drama. See, so super easy. You’ll get a feel for how liberal or not to be with the product each time you try out the look. Play around with it and probably go easy the first time, or not if you feel wild and free. It’s really up to you on how much product you like in your hair. 

Now, take a paddle brush, or your wide-tooth comb. Last resort, fingers. 

The sea salt spray is still deep in there giving your waves grip, but the combing out is going to loosen the overall look and nudge you over from highly strung Victoriana to a contemporary carefree tousled wavy babe. It feels counterintuitive on the first go or two but you get used to it. 

Once you’ve raked out the curls to the desired wave it’s time for the big finale. With a few bursts of air control hairspray here and there (the amount you can judge for yourself) finish your look withhold. 

The beauty of beachy waves it’s such a personal thing. You can make minor adjustments here and there to the routine as to your liking. Leaving you with a curated wave of your own making: much like a tailored escapist daydream. 

Once you’ve mastered your own unique method, you’ll be able to transport yourself to the shore however far geographically you may be from the coast.