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Wavy Girl Method: the routine for wavy hair

Many people think that wavy and curly hair are the same thing, but they’re not. Don’t get us wrong; they’re both beautiful! But waves have different needs than curls, which is why a different hair routine is important. If you have wavy hair and have started the Curly Girl Method, you may not get the best results. That’s because your hair actually needs different products and techniques! Wondering which ones? In this article we’ll tell you all about the Wavy Girl Method.

Also read: How to start the Curly Girl Method: steps for beginners

In this article:

In this article:

What is the Wavy Girl Method?

The Curly Girl Method is a hair routine for people with curls, and the Wavy Girl Method is one for people with waves. You can see the differences in this image:

Wat is mijn krultype

The basic principles of the Wavy Girl Method are as follows:

  • Try co-washing, if it doesn’t work for your waves use a sulfate-free shampoo
  • Avoid sulfates unless you are using it as clarify
  • Avoid silicones
  • Use products that are lightweight and/or weightless
  • Minimal heat styling tools, such as a hair dryer or straightener
  • And no chemical relaxers

The differences with the Curly Girl Method

Wavy hair has different needs than curly hair, so it’s important to have a different routine. These differences are mainly related to the natural oils that the scalp produces, and how easily they’re able to travel down the lengths of our strands. This takes longer with curls than with straight hair. So for Wavies, who have less curls than Curlies, it’s easier for those oils to naturally moisturize the hair from root to tip. That’s why as a Wavy girl you can achieve better results with the Wavy Girl Method than with the Curly Girl Method.

There are many similarities between the CG Method and the Wavy Girl Method though. For example, both recommend the following: sulfate-free shampoos or co-washing, silicone-free conditioners, no heat styling tools (such as a flat iron or curling iron) and no chemical relaxers. But there are also many differences! We’ll list them below.

You can brush wavy hair

When starting the Curly Girl Method, it’s recommended to throw away your hairbrush. When following the Wavy Girl Method, this is different: wavy hair can be brushed without significant risk of breakage. Certainly people with wavy hair type 2a and 2b can brush their hair. You can use a Tangle Teezer or Denman Brush. Always do this before applying the conditioner or else you’ll probably comb out your waves.

Also read: Discover which Denman Brush you need

Co-washing may not work

The Curly Girl Method recommends to no longer wash your hair with shampoo, but start co-washing. It’s a great way to preserve moisture, but for wavy hair this isn’t always the best choice. You may experience build up over time, as your sebum plus the ingredients of your co-wash add up. In general, if you have thick or coarse hair you can try co-washing, but if you have fine or thin hair it probably isn’t a good idea. Especially in the summer months this can lead to limp, lifeless, weighed down hair. Then it’s better to opt for a sulfate-free shampoo or a low-poo. Want to try co-washing? Choose a conditioner that you can also use as a ‘normal’ conditioner, just in case. Or go for a consistent washday rotation, by doing a co-wash after two low-poos.

Also read: Everything you want to know about co-washing

Wavies can use sulfates (in moderation)

Sulfates are banned within the Curly Girl Method. These are ingredients that are often added to shampoo. They ensure that your shampoo will foam nicely after contact with water. That foaming effect not only gives you a nice clean feeling in the shower, but also helps remove dirt, oil and dead skin from your scalp and hair. But that cleansing effect is actually too intense for your scalp and hair. Sulfates cleanse your hair so good, that they strip your hair of not only dirt, oil and dead skin, but also of the natural oils on your scalp. And these oils provide hydration to the hair. Still, some people with wavy hair do need this from time to time to remove build-up from their hair. Try to do it as little as possible, for example once a month.

Use a mousse instead of gel

Many Curly Girls use gel to get hold and definition, but for Wavy Girls this often is way too heavy. It probably will result in weighed down hair and build-up, which will likely make you wash your hair too often. Therefore, preferably opt for mousse, which provides more definition, soft curls and no build-up. Don’t apply it too close to your roots, but about 4 cm from it, otherwise it will cause build-up anyway. And especially go for lightweight products, because these provide more resilience and therefore more waves!

Pay attention to how you apply hair products

In terms of styling, curls and waves really need a different technique. For example: where a lot of Curly Girls rake their hair, most Wavy Girls can say goodbye to their waves if they rake. Raking is a technique that you can use when applying styling products. You detangle your curls with your fingers, while at the same time distributing the product over the hair, from the roots to the ends. Wavies will destroy the clumps (curls that curl together or form one larger curl) and their hair will stay limp.

Instead of raking, divide the product over your wet hair using the praying hands technique and start scrunching. Be careful not to smooth your hair with this technique too.

Also read: The main techniques of the Curly Girl Method

Your Wavy hair routine will change throughout the year 

Every season is different for wavy hair. Each season your hair has very different needs. In the dry winter months, co-washing may work best to keep your hair moisturized, defined and bouncy. But in the warm and humid months, this can lead to weak, lifeless, weighed down waves. So pay attention to the time of year! This can be very frustrating, but once you’re through one year, you know roughly what to expect. Be sure to make notes so you can read them back next year!

Do you have any questions about the Wavy Girl Method? Let us know on Instagram!

51 Comments

  1. Hi!! So I’m new to this wavy girl thing. I’m a 2a I think, but I have done a lot of research, and tried putting gel in my hair but also put conditioner in my hair but it makes it super oily!! Is this normal? Also any other tricks and tips would be appreciated!! Thanks so much!!!

    • Hi Andrea,

      Thank you for your message.

      For wavy hair I’ll recommend mousse instead of gel. Giovanni has a really nice mousse with protein (Giovanni Mousse Hair Styling Foam). Also Curls has a really nice mousse without protein ( Curls Avocado hair mousse).

      A mousse is lighter than a gel and wouldn’t make your hair super oily. I would also recommend to apply the mousse on wet hair for the best result.

      When you have more questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

      Kind regards,

      Team Kurlify

  2. I am thinking of trying the wavy girl method but I am a little confused about the use of sulfates and silicones, do I avoid them both?

    • Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for your message.
      If you want to start the Wavy Girl methode you have to avoid sulfates and silicons. We do recommend to use a final wash, this wash is a shampoo with sulfates (so that’s a bit contradictory). Sulfates are a tough ingredient that cleans your hair. It will wash out al the build up of silicones in your hair, so you can start the wavy girl methode.

      If you have more questions, feel free to ask.

      Kind regards,

      Team Kurlify

      • What is the best way to sleep on wavy hair

        • Silk or satin. You can either opt for a pillowcase made of it or a hair bonnet. I personally use a silk hair bonnet and I like it

      • I have 2b/2C hair (and I have A LOT of hair), but the top ALWAYS will dry pretty straight. What do I do with it, underneath is so nice but always hidden by my top layer.

        • I would try cutting the top layers a tad shorter and potentially taking some of the weight out. Get a cut by someone who is trained with curly hair so that they can trim your hair to optimize your wave.

    • Sulfates are a cleanser, while silicones are there to smooth your hair. Some people really love silicones, but some people get too much build-up with them and end up with weighed down, dry hair. Silicones can help if your hair is prone to tangles and you have damage because of it, but you’ll need to be more aware of how often your hair needs clarifying than if you didn’t use them.

      Sulfates are too harsh for most people to use daily, but some people can use them occasionally to clarify and remove buildup. Some people don’t need them at all.

  3. When I get up in the morning what should I do to my hair to look presentable? I’m a 2b-2c

    • Hi Margaret,

      Thank you for your message.

      I like to spray a bit water in my hair to make it damp. Then I’ll shake my curls awake with my hands and my head up side down. You can also try a mousse like the Giovanni Mousse Hair Styling Foam or the Curls Avocado Mousse. These products are really nice (and not heavy) to use in your hair and start the day with lovely curls or waves!

      Kind regards,

      Team Kurlify

  4. I appreciate you writing this article! Wavy hair is definitely different than curly hair. I have 2a-2b wavy hair. My question for you is can you recommend any over the counter sulfate free shampoo and silicone free conditioners that work well with wavy hair?Sorry if that’s in a different article I haven’t come across yet. I have used Jessicurl, some Bounce Curl, and Vida bars that are only sold online but they aren’t the best for wavy hair. I just want to go to my local store and buy something that will work well with my wavy hair. Any advice will be appreciated! Thank you!

    • Hi Michelle,

      We’re a dutch company so I’m not sure what they sell in shops near you, but I can take a chance!

      Yari Green is a nice brand, I really like there protein free shampoo and conditioner called:
      Yari Green Curls Sulfate-Free Moisturizing Shampoo
      Yari Green Curls Hydrating Conditioner

      Also Shea Moisture has some nice products for wavy hair:
      Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo
      Shea Moisture Yucca & Baobab Volumizing Conditioner

      In the Netherlands we also have brands called Love, Beauty & Planted, Nature Box and Garnier Loving blends. Those brands have several CG approved products (but not everything).

      I hope some of there brands/products are near by your local shop!

      If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to ask

      Kind regards,

      Team Kurlify

    • I use Palmers Sulfate free coca butter shampoo in the uk 🙂

    • Apologies this is late, but NYM naturals has a shampoo/ conditioner line that are CG approved. There is also a website called curl scan where you can look up products to see if they are approved

  5. Hi! I have 2a-2b wavy hair. When I finish washing up my hair I usually apply leave-in cream (to hydrate) with gel (one of the techniques I’ve read about in multiple wavy hair blogs), and at first I am able to style some nice curls and clumps with the scrunching technique (although it can get messy and give me some frizz too), but after a couple of hours the most exterior layers of hair start to straighten up and they put a lot of weight on the deeper layers that form better curls, so I end up with a lot of volume, zero definition and a rough texture thanks to the gel (basically a birds nest on my head). I don’t get why this keeps happening because my hairs looks sooo curly when I’m styling it right after the wash up. Could it be that I have too much hair and it is too heavy for the waves (I use it really short and in a shredded haircut that I’ve been told favours waves)? I’m really frustrated because I think that I have some nice waves but I’m not coming up with a way to get the most out of them.
    Thanks!

    • I have the exact same issue! Interested in the response to your question. 🙂

      • Same. I have long hair midway down my back, but it is thin (hair loss due to thyroid issues). I wash at night add a curl cream and then mousse. I plop it in a microfiber turban and sleep on it. Come morning I have well formed curls. My hair is still quite damp and I usually add a bit more mousse to make up for what absorbed during the night. I use a black orchid diffuser. I get some frizz but pretty decent curl/wave pattern (2B), as well but they don’t last. I’m wondering if the length is what is pulling the wave pattern out or I need different products. I grew up with straight hair and didn’t develop waves until perimenopause so this is a new journey for me. Would love to maintain the pattern that shows up immediately after removing the turban.

        • I am not sure if we have exactly the same hair, but I’ll share what works for me. I have 2a/b hair that is fine and thin. When it’s really wet after the shower I used a lightweight gel and plop for about 10 minutes. Then I add a tiny bit more gel with wet hands and let it air dry, being careful not to touch it at all. I think the key for me is to let it dry undisturbed so the waves stay clumped together, otherwise it becomes a frizzy, fine, fly-away mess.

    • Hi Anne,

      Thanks for you message.

      It sounds like you are putting too much weight in your hair or the balance of protein and moisture isn’t correct.
      Hereby two articles that might help you:
      https://www.kurlify.com/en/curls/moisture-overload-curls/
      https://www.kurlify.com/en/hair-products/what-protein-means-for-curls/

      I’ll recommend using a foam in your hair instead of a gel. I really like the Giovanni mousse or the Curls Avocado mousse.
      If you prefer gel, I recommend a light gel like the Jessicurl Gelebration Spray Island Fantasy.

      With waves you can sometimes overdue your hair with too much products, especially if you just started with the CG method. Your hair needs time to get used to the natural care, at a later time you can probably use more products and even get more curls. But for now my advice to you is less is more!

      Kind regards,

      Team Kurlify

  6. This advice is so useful, I have been trying CGM for 3 months, and found everything I used made my hair lank, tangled and greasy looking. I have switched to low poo x 2 washes and co wash on the third, and stopped the Shea products and switched to lighter ones. I also don’t plop any more as it was causing too many tangles. This has made a huge difference- I’ll keep checking back for more advice, thanks!

  7. What advice would you give for wavy girls when they go to bed? I don’t have a lot of hair, it’s 2b with some ?3a at the back of my neck. When dry it’s a bit longer than chin length so if I put it in a pineapple a lot of it drops out. I do put a satin bonnet on as well. Also, can I use a cowash conditioner as an ‘ordinary conditioner’ after shampoo? Thanks

  8. I am about to start the wavy girl method, I want to know if it’s ok to use a leave in conditioner but nothing else.,no gel, mouuse, cream or anything

    • Do I need to use a leave in and regular conditioner and mouuse or is regular conditioner and mouuse enough

    • Wavy hair tends to be straight, if you want your waves last longer you have to use mouse which isn’t so heavy, but I just use a cream and my waves don’t last which is fine for me.

  9. Do you have any advice on how to care for your curls when swimming in chlorine pool 4x a week. Thank you.

    • This is my question too! I’ve asked it elsewhere and didn’t get any reply. 😕

      • Hi Sarah & Dareen,

        Excuse for not responding!

        Chlorine is super bad for your hair. Make sure your hair comes into contact with it as little as possible. If your hair has been in contact with chlorine I recommend you to take good care of your hair by using a hair mask. Chlorine makes your hair very dry.

        Hopefully I have informed you sufficiently. If you have any questions, please let me know.

        Love,
        Kurlify

        • I swim regularly (head in freestyle) and although my wavy journey has only just started (something like a 2a) I find by properly drenching my hair in freshwater before I go into the pool and wearing a swimming hat helps to prevent much chlorine getting into my hair. I used to have to use strong ‘anti-chlorine’ shampoos and now I can just co-wash when I am done with my swim.

  10. Finally! An article that makes sense as to why my 2b waves have never handled the curly girl method! I have been doing it all wrong! I have the Curly girl handbook, and the Silver Hair handbook, but still was not getting a good result. Products easily weigh my coarse hair down. Thank you so much for all the information! New routine from today for my hair!

  11. What is the best way to sleep on wavy hair

  12. Hi!

    I got 2b maybe 2c hair with a dry scalp and ALOT of hair. I’m also super lazy. What is the best way to start this routine?

  13. Hi! What a great informative post. I’ve been trying the CGM and I’ve had limited results. I recently got my first curly hair cut and she styled it so beautifully. I’m having a hard time recreating it, but I haven’t given up! My question is this. I’ve been trying to use mousse but the next day my hair feels so gross and dried out, how do I start again the next day without rewashing and styling? I don’t know what to do the days after my wash day. Up until 9 months ago, I was washing/conditioning every single day (I’m 41!)!! So to avoid getting back to washing all the time, I’ve been able to limit it to 3 times weekly, how do I restart and refresh after wash day?

  14. Can u explain more on why raking is bad?
    A lot of people on YouTube think otherwise and say that raking is good and that combing it with fingertips will make it lose curls. I tried raking last time and made my curls even more curlier.

  15. I’m a 2a/2b I’m new to this wavy hair scene and wanted to know if you could recommend some products for me such as shampoo, conditioner, hair mask and heat protectors ? I think based off my reading I have low porosity hair, that needs some moisture

  16. Good day! I am a 2a hair type.

    Just want to know? After brusing, co-washing and foam mousse, do I just leave my hair to dry? or can I put curlers in to dry on it’s own?

    Kind Regards
    Melizani

    • Hi Melizani!
      Thanks for your question 🙂 I would recommend adding a light weight leave-in conditioner to your routine such as Kinky Curly Knot Today, Curl Flo or Novex Black. Air drying is definitely preferable for any curly or wavy hair type. If you use hair curlers without heat that is also totally fine!

  17. Does anyone have any recommendations for shampoos and conditioners? also, after I’ve washed my hair should I just rinse it out, put some mousse/gel in it and leave it to dry?

  18. Hello!
    So, my hair is naturally wavy however, I’m unsure of how to “bring out” my waves and have them look nice. My hair is always frizzy, puffy, half wavy, half straight, my baby hairs are like coils and I can never get my hair to look okay. Naturally, my front bits if my hair look like they’re bangs, and they go super wavy and whenever I blow-dry my hair, it is so frizzy and puffy, do you have any advice on how to sort my hair out? It would help me a lot.

    Thanks, Jorja.

  19. Hi, I’m a 2a/b and I’m just about to start the wavy girl method but I’m having trouble figuring out exactly how it works, for example: when do I brush my hair? How often should I wash it? As a teenager, I have never used gels or mousses, are they necessary? Sorry for all the questions, thank you! 🙂

  20. My hair is now less exposed to chemicals for healthy hair. And choose a gentle hairstyle that suits your face.

  21. How do you recommend drying hair on a wash day? I know air drying is preferred, but my hair is long (bra strap length) and thick. If I wash it in the morning, it doesn’t dry on its own until the afternoon and going to work with wet hair isn’t really an option for me. (I’ve tried showering at night, but my hair is still damp when I wake up, the waves are uneven, and I have weird pieces sticking out near the scalp depending on how I slept.)

  22. Hey,

    Thanks so much for this article, I’ve just started to work on getting my waves back and this is really useful!

    I know you said it’s okay to brush wavy hair but when I brush my dry hair I tend to brush most of the waves out, even if I spray a leave in conditioner on first. Is this something that will get better over time as the waves improve?

    Thanks, Keeva

  23. Hi,

    Thanks for your comment and how nice that you are working on getting your waves back.

    It’s best to brush your hair when it’s wet, because when it’s dry you’ll comb out all the curls and of course you don’t want that! That’s why I recommend you to only brush your hair when it’s wet and then apply your styling routine.

    Love,
    Kurlify

  24. Hiya, so glad I found this article. I think my hair is 2b but I’ve just started the CG method but finding my hair is looking straggly, the curls are separated and the underneath of my hair dries with a waxy/greasy residue. I’ve been using sulphate free shampoo, leave in conditioner and then a curl cream or a curl gel. Any tips? From reading this I think I need a mousse rather than a gel! Thanks

  25. Hi
    I’m new to the WGM, but after I already read a lot about it, I think, I’m not too far away from a good handling of my waves. It uses to work really well for me, but since I’m off the pill, everything’s different… A lot of frizz and the hair feels and looks dry, my scalp is oilier than before (and it already was pretty oily before, but I could handle it with dry shampoo (mere corn starch!)). I tried using more of my mousse to help with the definition of the strands, and it did help a lot, but the rest of the problems stays. Now, I don’t know where to start changing something. I use only natural cosmetics without silicones, but the mousse and the intensive hair treatment I use (the latter like a Conditioner) have alcohol in them, of which I read isn’t good, and the shampoo has a sulfate, of which I read in turn is one that’s ok for wavy hair. Where could the source of my problems lay? What should I try doing differntly?

    I’d be terribly happy about some hints!

  26. Hi,
    I’m new to the WGM. I have thick, wavy hair- probably a 2a or 2b but, my hair also gets oily really quickly.
    Any tips on the routine or products I should use/avoid?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Britt,

      Thanks for your comment!
      For waves in type 2a and 2b, it is important to especially avoid using heavy products for your hair. This can cause your waves to sag. Avoid ingredients like coconut oil, castor oil and other heavy oils. It is best to use water-based products.

      It is also helpful to keep this in mind if you suffer from oily hair. Try not to skip wash days too often and wash your hair with a nourishing shampoo that focuses on thoroughly cleaning the hair.

      Hope this helps,

      Love,
      Kurlify


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