Summer is coming, and curlies are craving waves—beach waves, beach hair, and that loose, flowing look.

While for most curlies it’s not about straightening, it is about redefining: reshaping their natural curl from tight to loose, from a zig zag to an s-curve.

Different methods for loosening curls abound.


The least invasive, and possibly easiest, is simple braiding. CurlTalker Bekkapoo is a pro at this method.

She recommends that curlies “start with damp or wet hair and braid it into a single braid. Let it dry completely and then undo the braid. Smooth over flyaways with an oil, butter, or moisturizing creme.”

Though uncomplicated, the braid-out method does require a slight amount of advance planning.

“It will definitely take longer to dry in the braid, so it’s good to do this the night or day before you want to wear it,” says Bekkapoo. “With really short hair (under 6 inches”>, pin curls or bantu knots might work better than braids. If it’s ‘in between length’ (i.e., not quite to the shoulders”>, several chunky braids in large sections could work well, too. You could also try adding large rollers (1.5 in. and up”> to the ends, which often gives a more voluminous wave.”

For those determined to work a looser curl, keratin treatments present a more lasting option.

Shannon Scipione, a stylist with type 4 curls, works at Mario’s Hair Studio in Willoughby, Ohio. She not only offers keratin treatments for her clients, but also served as the salon’s demonstration model for the process.

Learn more about keratin treatments

“It’s not a straightening system,” Scipione says. “It’s a smoothing process. Hair is straighter at first because the extra keratin makes the cuticle lie absolutely flat.

“Because keratin is what hair itself is made of, no damage occurs when it’s applied. Though users initially experience straight hair after a treatment, it’s very easy to achieve a loose curl right away; just add gel or your usual styling product, then scrunch or diffuse. That way, you’ll retain something of your usual look, but without any accompanying frizz.”

Depending on frequency of cleansing, and whether the keratin aftercare system products are used, treatments generally last about three months.

“After six weeks or so, your natural curl will definitely begin to reassert itself,” Scipione says. “But you’ll still have a looser, wavier look than you would without the treatment.”

The keratin process is neither brief nor cheap. Prices start at $250, and three and a half hours is the average time spent “in the chair.”

Pravana also offers its new Beach Waves process, an innovative salon service designed to provide long-lasting, soft, natural, undulating waves. This unique application and gentle formula contains no Thio, and utilizes natural Cysteamine, a natural amino acid, to realign the hair’s internal bonds to create a soft sensuous wave. This gentle formula is safe for color-treated hair and infuses hair with silk and human hair keratin amino acids, which strengthen, protect and add shine.

So, while going from curly to loosely wavy or “beachy,” does take some planning, it’s a look easily achieved by most curl types. Whether by braiding, pincurls, knots, or keratin, don’t be afraid to take a chance to play with your beautiful curls. Beach waves may be your choice for a day, a week, or a month—whatever your method, you and your hair are sure to have a great new look for summer.

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