Sitting pretty in between straight and curly, wavy hair is a versatile texture that can be worn in a multitude or ways. As stunning as the style is, though, it can also be pretty temperamental.
Finding the right combination of products that enhance your waves without weighing them down in bulky hair products can take a bit of trial and error, but why put yourself through that agony when you can get top-notch recommendations from highly acclaimed hairstylists?
Fortunately, Shop TODAY spoke to several hair experts so you can whip your wavy strands into shape ASAP. Here are some of their (and our) favorites!
Best shampoos, conditioners and masks for wavy hair, according to experts
The journey to great waves starts in the shower and celebrity hairstylist Michelle Cleveland tells Shop TODAY that she loves this wave-boosting shampoo from Olaplex. "It's highly moisturizing, leaves hair shinier and healthier and enhances the natural wave pattern," she said.
The Allure Best of Beauty award winner is safe to use on color-treated hair and is also known for reducing breakage while it lends your waves a little TLC. Plus, as a bonus, it tackles frizz and flyaways like a pro and even takes on split ends and damaged strands.
Editor's note: Olaplex is currently involved in a lawsuit where multiple women allege products from the brand caused hair loss. The lawsuit does not identify any specific products.
When shopping for wavy hair shampoos, Holly Dear of House of Dear Hair Salon believes it's important to look for formulas that go beyond just cleansing. "You want a product that cleanses while keeping the hair's pH balance in mind," she tells us.
Bianca Hillier, colorist at Andy Lecompte Salon in Los Angeles, agrees and lists this sulfate- and paraben-free shampoo as one of her go-tos. "It helps nourish the hair and give a proper level of pH while enhancing the health and shape of the hair strands," she explains.
Drugstore shampoos are pretty effective, but sometimes you need some ultra luxe support to turn lackluster waves around. That's when Hillier reaches for this Shu Uemura shampoo. "It’s super hydrating but doesn’t weigh down the hair," she says.
This hair product utilizes moringa and red algae extract to cleanse, moisturize and smooth strands. These star ingredients also help protect locks against pollutants and encourage hair cell regeneration, so it's more like you're using an intensive treatment than a wash-out shampoo.
Best leave-in products for wavy hair, according to experts
Sometimes the best wavy hair products can be found at your local drugstore, and celebrity hairstylist Sophia Porter can't stop raving about Aussie's affordable hair gel that boasts 20-hour hold. "I love using it heavily diluted with water to give wavy hair a light hold," she says.
The product has a delightful citrus scent and is also full of nourishing ingredients. "The gel is enriched with jojoba oil, which is most similar to the oil produced by our skin, so it’s great to lock in hydration while combating frizz and providing hold," Porter reveals.
Craving a lighter, softer hold? Porter digs this hair mousse that moisturizes as it enhances waves. "It's perfect for those who prefer a mousse or foam for definition and it's great for fine, wavy hair types. This product is versatile and you can also use it for sleek styles (like tight ponytails) to combat frizz and provide hold," she says.
The foam dries quickly without flaking and also lends strands a vibrant shine. Plus, it's formulated with almond and avocado oils and wheat protein, which helps promote strong, healthy hair.
When it comes to enhancing natural waves, Cleveland says, "It's all about finding the perfect balance between keeping it hydrated like a full curl, but also not weighing it down too much to avoid straightening the wave pattern."
The strand savant recommends this lightweight wave spray from Ouai and says it's perfect for all hair types. It's basically like a day at the beach in a bottle and is infused with rice protein, an ingredient that's safe to use with color-treated hair.
Beachy waves are the definition of #hairgoals and a sea salt spray can help you master the style. For an extra fab look, celebrity hairstylist Marilee Albin recommends spraying this one from Davines in after using a curl cream to achieve offers a polished, matte finish. "It'll help you get more texture out of natural waves," she says.
The stylist admits that this technique will create a bit of frizz at first, but said it can help you achieve more overall volume. "I think a little frizz and flyaways feed into that whole French girl vibe that I’m obsessed with," she says.
Celebrity hairstylist Matilde Campos likes to refer to Virtue's leave-in cream as a "miracle product" and says it's great for unruly waves. "This hidden gem battles frizz, conditions and smooths out your hair, and keeps it looking incredible all day long. Your hair will be obsessed with the brand's secret ingredient — Alpha Keratin 60 ku protein," she says.
The patented ingredient helps smooth wavy hair so it's polished and sleek, plus it joins forces with other powerhouse ingredients like nutrient-rich pink pomelo and frizz-fighting phospholipids.
Campos adores this frizz-fighting curl creme for enhancing natural waves. "It's perfect for those with thicker hair. Make sure to use it when your hair is damp to get it through all your strands. It defines, fights frizz and gives your waves a great sheen," she says.
Hillier has wavy hair and says this is the only styling product she'll use. "It’s great for damp or dry hair, doesn’t weigh the hair down, and gives an extreme boho texture," she tells us.
The sulfate-free mousse from Shu Uemura works equally well for all textured hair types and is a triple threat since it defines waves, fights off frizz and protects strands while styling with heat tools.
Shop Today team picks
"I should do more to my wavy hair to enhance it," says senior SEO editor Jess Bender. "But I'll say that incorporating this into my shower routine once a week (with the pairing shampoo/conditioner) gives it extra oomph."
This vegan product works to cleanse your hair, while simultaneously maintaining and amplifying curls. It's suitable for all hair types and can easily be incorporated into your hair routine by working a fair amount of it into your hair while in the shower.
Another one of Bender's favorites, she loves to utilize this product when her hair "feels absolutely wrecked" and she feels like she needs to "breathe some new life into it." It works to resolve split ends, smooth hair and leave it feeling more moisturized than before. The brand says you simply need to leave it in your hair for 10 minutes to see results.
Assistant partnerships editor Lauren Witonsky uses this shampoo, along with the matching conditioner, about once a week as a "clarifying treatment [to] give my hair a break from the heat." After use, she lets it air dry, finding that it helps her curls "look more defined after styling it straight for most of the week."
This is a favorite between SEO editorial assistant Sierra Hoeger and her younger sister due to its simplicity. The routine takes little to no effort, as you work it into your hair post-shower, to wake up to enhanced natural waves. It's goes on and leaves hair feeling lightweight.
Meet the experts
- Michelle Cleveland is a celebrity hairstylist who specializes in hair extensions.
- Holly Dear is a hairstylist and founder of House of Dear salon in Dallas, Texas.
- Bianca Hillier is a colorist at Andy Lecompte salon in Los Angeles, and is the exclusive colorist for Nomad Model Management.
- Sophia Porter is a celebrity hairstylist and makeup artist who is originally from Chicago.
- Marilee Albin is a Los Angeles-based hairstylist at Mare Salon.
- Matilde Campos is a Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist.