Soft, loose curls: 4 steps to wavy hair

How to make wavy hair tutorial
Photography by Carlo Mendoza; Hair and makeup by Margot Keith; Model: Daphne/Plutino Group
How to make wavy hair tutorial
Photography by Carlo Mendoza; Hair and makeup by Margot Keith; Model: Daphne/Plutino Group

Structured curls—the kind that have been so popular with the Hollywood set on award show red carpets—will always be a go-to style, but soft, wavy hair is definitely the look to try this summer. From Veronica Lake to Lana Del Rey, soft waves have both retro appeal and a modern, cool girl aesthetic. It’s a trend that fits in with the move to make everything as minimal as possible, like the dropped out curls Tanya Taylor did for Fall 2013. But knowing how to make hair wavy can be a bit of a trick to master. Irons are designed with perfectly round corkscrew curls in mind and the longer your hair, the harder it becomes to get a curl to hold.

So how do you make hair wavy? We asked Toronto-based hair stylist Margot Keith to show us in this step-by-step tutorial. While everyone has a different technique for curling hair, there are two main tricks to note when creating loose waves. First, you want to make sure every curl is done in the same direction. So if you hold the curling iron in front of the section of hair you’re about to curl and then wrap the hair around in a forward motion, you’ll want to make sure you repeat this with every curl. (It’s especially important to make a note of your curling motion when you switch sides—because you also switch hands, it’s where most people mix up their curling technique.) Second, you make hair wavy by brushing out the curls as soon as they’re set. This loosens them up (the whole point of soft waves!) and combines individual curls together. If your hair is particularly good at holding style, you can even tug on each curl after it’s released from the curling iron to further loosen it up. Ready to make waves? Read on for our complete step-by-step tutorial.

How to make wavy hair tutorial
Photography by Carlo Mendoza; Hair and makeup by Margot Keith; Model: Daphne/Plutino Group

How to make hair wavy:
1. Part your hair at its natural part and section off your hair. By spending an extra five minutes before you start curling it will make the whole process much easier and ensure that your curls are clean. For added protection and hold, spray some heat protectant into your hair—Redken Spray Starch 15 is a favourite for its ability to help curls keep their hold without feeling too “crunchy” or over-processed. (An essential for soft, wavy hair!)

2. With a 1.5” curling iron, wrap a small section of hair around the barrel and hold it to set for 15-20 seconds. When you release the iron, keep the curl coiled up in your hand and let it cool slightly before dropping. Continue this process, making sure that all curls are wrapped around the iron in the same direction as you go.

3. Spray a medium hold hairspray all over your hair and then brush the curls out with a natural bristled brush. The brushing is key: it’s what makes tight curls turn into loose waves and helps combine individual curls into one cohesive wave of hair. Very Veronica Lake!

4. Add another shot of hairspray if you like—and then spend the rest of the day (or week, if you don’t wash your hair!) enjoying your loose, wavy hair.

Model wears dress, $79 by Joe Fresh