Image: @powerdomi

Wavies, our curl pattern isn’t consistent. I know all about it. It’s one of the hallmarks of being a wavy. But it drives you CRAZY. I’ve been there. Perfecting my hair on the daily, and whipping my waves into shape with every wash day! But if you’ve been following my wavy hair journey on Instagram , you know I’m entering into a new phase of my journey–one of real acceptance, and embracing my texture, despite its imperfections. It’s not easy. So while I may not be in pursuit of perfection as often as I used to be, I know there will always be those special occasions where I do need to make sure these waves look as consistent as possible, all around my head. So if and when you’re in the same boat, here are my very favorite techniques for achieving defined waves.

Squish to Condish

Enhancing waves and curls start in the shower–with your conditioner, and then leave-in and product applications. Squish to Condish was created by stylist Melissa Stites, and you can read about her exact method on her blog.

This method took the curly world by storm as an excellent and easy way to seriously hydrate the hair, as it involves squishing/scrunching water into the hair when it’s full of conditioner, forcing some water into the hair cuticle–hydrating the hair from the inside out. Applying subsequent styling products in this same way also helps to encourage curl formation even further. If you’re trying to actively enhance one particular section of your hair to match the rest, extra squishing on just that section will do the trick.

Pulsing Method

What I would consider a subset of squish to condish would be the Pulsing Method, which involves several quick pulses of water/conditioner/product into the hair, as opposed to just a big squish/scrunch here and there. @Powerdomi has an excellent
video tutorial that shows you how to do it.

The Smasters Method

Allegedly named after NaturallyCurly CurlTalk contributor Smasters467, the curly girl who created and shared the benefits of this method in the hair forum several years ago, Smasters very simply involves applying a second layer of product to your halfway-dry hair. You can either choose to air dry or diffuse or a combination of the two. In my experience, it works best to apply a hold product (as opposed to a moisture product”>, such as mousse, custard or gel–whatever you’ve used that day, or whatever you have handy, with wet hands to minimize frizz. I just smooth it over and scrunch it in, in large sections, then finish diffusing. If you just have a straight section or two you’re dealing with, you could apply it just to those sections to ‘even out’ your curl pattern. If you’d like to see a demonstration, here’s a video of mine on the subject.

Pixie Diffuse Dry by Section

The back of my head is much less textured than the front. Allowing my wavier front pieces to air dry while diffusing just the back is another way I can create a more consistent curl pattern all around my head. If you have a similar problem–a large, straighter area–diffusing just that section can help encourage and ‘set’ additional texture to help match your curl pattern around the rest of your head. Sounds kooky, but give it a shot!

Create Pin Curls

This trick is for those straight pieces–the small curl clumps here and there that just refuse to curl. Of course, you could do them all over, like Ava, below, or just on a piece to touch up here and there. Personally, I like to fix these pieces once the rest of my hair is already completely dry so I can easily see which curls need the most work. It’s simple: Take a dab of gel, enhancer, custard–whatever ‘hold’ product you like–and smooth it down that curl clump (a curl clump is just a group of hairs with the same curl pattern that usually stay together”>, twirl it around your wet/damp finger (to help prevent frizz”> until your finger touches your scalp. My personal favorite product to use for this purpose is Raw Curls Anti-Frizz Spray. From here you can hold it for 10-20 seconds and then gently unwind it from your finger and leave it to ‘set’, or use a bobby pin or other clip to secure it against your scalp for a few minutes. (I quickly show how I do this in my Holy Grails video.”> The longer you leave it the curlier it will be. If it’s too curly once you remove the pin, just smooth down it with a little water to elongate the curl.

What are your go-to techniques for getting defined waves? Let me know in the comments below.

Alyson Lupo


Alyson, otherwise known as real life+curly girl, struggled mightily at the beginning of her own wavy-curly journey. In her never ending battle against frizz, she found her groove after researching enough ingredients to finally understand how product formulations, plus the factor of humidity, consistently affected her hair. She currently fuels her passion for helping others embrace their waves and curls via her social channels, but dreams of a day when she can offer hands-on help to her wavy curl-friends. You can find her on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and on her personal blog.

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