I was known for my hair in high school, and not in a cute way.
Blissfully clueless, I paraded around the hallowed walls of my all-girls private school with my coarse curls tightly wound in a high bun and a halo of frizz enveloping my face, kind of like a cone around a dog's head after surgery.
It wasn't until many years later that I learned to handle the beast that was my mane, and simultaneously tame it while setting it free.
Now that we got that romantic visual out of the way, let's talk sexy beach waves and volume, which is very likely why you're here.
For what felt like forever, every time I tried to curl my hair into those coveted waves that looked perfectly undone, I ended up with a tight, boingy Shirley Temple-esque situation. Like I said. Not cute.
Eventually I learned. I learned that this is THE curling iron all the bridal hairstylists know and love, and that this is the straightening iron I need to cherish until the end of my days. I immediately purchased both, and once I learned how to actually use them, threw out my old tools that never worked anyway and never looked back.
Okay. So for these beachy waves. What you want isn't even really a wave, it's almost like a bendy thing in your hair here and there, like that's how your hair air dries. Like you're Gisele. That's the vibe.
There are three main rules:
WAIT! Before you start I recommend practicing with your curling iron not plugged in at all. This is the life hack that will save your ears and fingers, trust me. Get comfortable and figure out how to hold the curling iron,and how to get your hair from each side of your head wrapped around it, before you throw heat into the mix. Ok now the rules.
1. The two chunks of hair on either side of your face have to get curled away from your face. This means when you hold your hair and begin to wrap it around the iron, the first wrap goes outward and towards the back of your head.
2. The rest of your head gets curled in random size chunks, and in random directions. This is great news because it's actually way easier. Sometimes you'll take a smaller amount of hair, sometimes you'll take more. Keep in mind the more hair you take, the less strong the wave will be. Random directions means sometimes you curl towards the face, and sometimes away. I try to do "every other" with each chunk I grab but usually I'm also watching Friends on my phone and lose track so whatever but that's the idea. It looks much more natural this way.
3. The longer you hold the hair around the iron, the curlier the hair will be. I used to be scared to hold it for only a few seconds - I thought it won't do anything if I don't hold it for longer - and I learned to chill the heck out and trust the process. You'll get into a rythm and learn your hair texture with the intensity of wave you like, but remember this rule. So if I want a barely-there bendy wave one day, I wrap the hair around the curling iron, hold for maybe 5-10 seconds, and release. That's it.
I want to walk you through the exact way I do it. Specifics matter:
First, I lightly mist through the layers of my hair with a heat protectant spray. Then I start off by taking a few hair clips and putting up all my hair except that chunk at the nape of my neck. I always heat up both the straightening iron and the curling iron because I use both. If you were blessed with non frizzy, non Brillo-like hair, I hate you.
I'm kidding. (Maybe not.) But you may not need the straightener. Don't decide until after you read my process because it is a godsend for me.
Then, I do the curling iron, alternating directions, I don't spend a lot of time on this layer because no one sees it so who cares. It's just there for volume. What I DO do is make sure to hit my very ends with the straightening iron. This ensures the wave looks relaxed and bendy, not like a loose curl. And if I ever feel at some point that it's starting too look too curly, I'll run the straightening iron through very large chunks of hair super quickly, on a low heat (I don't want to destroy all my hard work, and this iron is powerful) and it relaxes it just the right amount. The Gisele amount.
Another way I use the straightening iron is for my roots as I get to the top layers that will be seen, and the face framing (read: frizzy) layers. I specifically don't worry about the lower layers underneath, because the frizz there will help me with volume, but on top I don't want to see it thank you so very much. So I'll do my roots, then the curling iron, then my ends with the straightening iron if I feel like I need it.
So after I do that first layer, I keep taking out chunks of hair on both sides of my head - one chunk on each side, doing both sides, and letting out two more at a time until I'm done! I don't do the front with a specific part, that way no matter which direction I feel like flipping the front of my hair, it works.
Now. Remember I told you about running the straightening iron through the curls if they're too much at any point? I don't want you doing that when you first start this. In the beginning, do your entire head with the curling iron, and then go back in with the straightening iron to fix it up. Otherwise you may end up accidentally killing your hard work in middle.
When I'm done, I spray a dry shampoo throughout my roots and a bit through the different layers of my hair, flip it over dramatically, and start to zhuzh. Now. The zhuzh is a very vital part of the hairstyling process, it's kind of like a scalp massage but way more powerful and pompous, so treat it with the respect it deserves. I zhuzh the dry shampoo into my scalp and run my fingers through my head, loosening the waves throughout, fluffing, playing a bit. Can't see a damn thing, remember. My head is flipped over.
Oh and if you're doing this in the bathroom be sure to lock the door before this step because if someone opens the door while you're in this vulnerable position and head meets door it throbs like a mother let me tell you.
But anyway. I flip my head back over - one swift, dramatic, flippy motion, and my hair is ginormous. While its this huge I hit it with a LIGHT misting of some hairspray, lifting the waves so it hits in between the layers. Just a touch. I like to use something like this, that has a touchable hold, so it doesn't feel hairsprayed afterward. This step just helps the volume last longer. The reason I did dry shampoo before, by the way, was so that whenever I zhuzh my scalp, there's texture there, so it'll actually stay lifted when I want it to.
Then I take a tiny bit of this yummy cream that smells like I know what I'm doing and shmush it between the palms of my hands, then barely touching the waves - I'm afraid of them at this point, I don't want to ruin them - I gloss over the waves and ends, and then at the end when it feels like there's little to nothing left in my palms, I'll "wipe" my hands on the top of my head and around the pieces framing my face. This creates a glossy, shiny (but not oily) finish to the hair. Just that perfect, shampoo commercial kind of shine. A shine that hides all evidence of the true level of work that went into that head of mine.
But honestly, all of this takes me between 35-45 minutes. It used to take me two hours. So it definitely gets easier!
Also, if you're looking to just straighten your hair some days, that same straightening iron gives me the most sleek, shiny, pin straight Kim-K-in-Tokyo hair you've ever seen. Freaking fabulous.
Oh and one more thing! Sometimes I feel like making parts of my hairline look fuller. This spray is the easiest to use out of all the ones I've tried, I've gotten all my friends and clients hooked on it and it doesn't end up all over your face.
Sounds extra? It is. But it's touchable, non fussy, lasts for days and days, looks effortlessly hot, and as it falls it looks so natural and easy that it's worth every bit of effort for me. And on that very last day before I sadly wash it (cue the violins) it becomes an adorable fluffy beachy perky ponytail. Join me on this self loving, wildly high maintenance journey WON'T YOU?