To my utmost chagrin, there is nothing spectacular about my hair. On a good day (cough, rarely), it's clean, bouncy, shiny, and depending on how I style it, swinging with either silk pillowcase–induced waves or smooth and sleek strands. As a child, I started out with platinum and fluffy hair, and then it morphed to dishwater and stringy, to brassy and curly, to still brassy but also fried, before finally settling into my favorite, least revolting phase right around my freshman year of college: bright, buttery blonde with soft and natural waves. Of course, as soon as my hair hit its best stride, I ruined my hair with bleach. That was back during my sophomore year of college, and countless cuts, color jobs, extensions, more cuts, and six years later, I'm finally back to a place of loving my hair and actually receiving compliments on it. (A true win when you have a hair history like mine).
For years I relied on a blow-dryer and flat iron daily to make my hair what I personally deemed as presentable. In mourning of the pre-bleach gorgeous bends and waves I once had, I decided to give my hair the ultimate detox—putting in place the aforementioned TLC moves in an effort to regain my soft, healthy, compliment-worthy, natural texture back. And roughly five months later, it's finally worked. Below, I thought I'd share each and every wavy hair product that's helped me along the way. Plus, we tapped director of education at custom hair brand Prose, Faith Huffnagle, for her insight on how to revive thin, wavy hair.
Keep reading to see the best products for wavy hair.
Olaplaex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo
I'm a longtime fan of Olaplex's signature No.4 take-home treatment, and the brand's shampoo does exactly what my high expectations hoped it would: effortlessly cleanses, keeps breakage at bay, enhances softness and shine, and leaves strands light and buoyant. Huffnagle is a fan, too. "A wash-out, sulfate-free treatment is always great as it won’t leave build up on hair strands and will leave hair feeling hydrated," she says. "While this ingredient is perfect for color-treated hair, it can be used on virgin hair as well. Additionally, cetearyl alcohol will leave hair conditioned and provide smooth strands."
Kenra Professional Platinum Detox and Deflect Daily Shampoo
To keep my natural texture at its full potential (aka sans built-up product residue and inevitable environmental pollutants), a once- or twice-weekly cleanse with a clarifying and detoxifying shampoo is key. This one from Kenra not only smells intoxicatingly good, but it also has high-quality ingredients like activated charcoal and precious diamond dust.
DpHue Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Masque
Huffnagle recommends periodically doing a treatment mask to help combat frizz and split ends. Enter this nourishing hair masque from DpHue, which follows in the footsteps of the brand's cult-classic ACV rinse. It boasts a short and sweet ingredient list, with ACV, rose-hip, avocado, aloe vera, and coconut oils as a few of its most notable MVPs. Plus, because this is a wash-out hair mask, Huffnagle says you don't need to worry about build-up.
Unite 7Seconds Detangler
This detangler, leave-in, heat-protecting hybrid spray from Unite is a treat for my breakage-prone hair. As its name implies, it promises to only take seven seconds to detangle your hair and douse it with moisture at the same time.
Verb Ghost Oil
This clear, ultra-light oil from Verb is perfect for fine-textured hair and is also made with hair-healthy ingredients like moringa seed oil (to detangle and smooth), bamboo extract (to strengthen and hydrate), vitamin F (to revive and fortify), and hydrolyzed soy protein (to keep moisture levels intact).
R+Co Sunset Blvd Blonde Shampoo and Conditioner
Dealing with brassy strands? Give locks a once-in-a-while dose of purple shampoo. I always revert back to this five-star pick from R+Co for its pearlescent, subtle lavender color that doesn't run the risk of turning your hair gray, silver, or purple.
IGK No More Blow High Speed Air Dry Spray
This has been one of the most crucial products in this year's journey toward healthier hair. With just a few thorough sprays and a quick comb-through, it shortens my air-drying time significantly, enhances my wave, and imparts a shimmering gleam once my strands have dried.
Voir Secrets in the Snow Soft Styling Foam
Looking for a do-it-all styling foam for finicky hair? This one checks all the boxes: It smells great, is stick-free, and improves fine texture with thickening yet health-promoting bamboo extract and marula oils.
Color Wow Style on Steroids Texture and Finishing Spray
Amp up second- or third-day hair with this spray from Color Wow. While most finishing sprays leave behind a crunch, this one creates a voluminous result yet keeps the hair touchable at the same time.
Cuvée Champagne Texturizing Spray
New Years Eve came early à la this champagne-infused wave- and bend-promoting elixir. In addition to its bubbling signature MVP, it's anchored by other luxe ingredients like white truffle extract, hydrolyzed pea protein, ceramides, keratin, and resveratrol.
Verb Dry Shampoo for Light Hair
Here's a dry shampoo that'll make you want to dust it on even if your locks are clean. Used on the roots, it sops up any threatening oil, adds body, and diffuses the look of your natural color if you're in between color appointments.
Morrocanoil Protect & Prevent Spray
When I need an extra-strong dose of environmental protection, this Moroccanoil spray comes in handy. Celebrity colorist Lorri Goddard introduced me to it (so you know it's good) and it has the quintessential Moroccanoil smell (which I've always had a thing for). Not only does it help condition and detangle, but most importantly (especially if you're a blonde like me), it acts as a shield against environmental stressors that can lead to brassiness and unwanted tinges to color-treated hair.
Virtue Refresh Dry Shampoo
Meet the Holy Grail of dry shampoo in my collection. Not only is it lightweight, invisible, and divinely-scented (a coworker actually stopped me in the bathroom to ask what it was), but it boasts longterm scalp and strand benefits as well. It doesn't make roots feel itchy and cakey with residue, and since it's infused with the brand's trademark Alpha Keratin 60ku (which mirrors the actual keratin in human hair, skin, and nails), it strategically adheres to damage for ultimate repair.
Prose Custom Pre-Shampoo Scalp Mask
Huffnagle says that for thinner, wavy hair types, the type of products you use are just as important as how you apply them. "It's common to see this hair type with combination hair—aka an oily scalp with dry ends," she notes. "Even if oil isn’t a direct issue, using a scalp mask to help detox and purify can help rid build-up of dry skin, sebum, and haircare products to promote a healthier hair follicle." This custom scalp mask has 11 ingredients (bamboo charcoal powder, eucalyptus or grapefruit essential oils, and French pink clay among them), and can be customized based on your hair's needs.
NuMe Classic Pearl Bubble Curling Wand
On days that call for a little definition, this pearl-shaped wand from NuMe swoops on in to save the day. As far as the abyss-like world of curling wands go, this is one of the best for its 100 percent tourmaline ceramic barrel that instantly gives effortless mermaid-like waves.
OGX Body + Bamboo Fiber-Full Body Renewing Dry Shampoo
Beef up limp strands with this volume-enhancing dry shampoo. I'm actually guilty of using it on my roots and my ends—even after a blowout—because A) why not? and B) it just delivers that last little touch of je ne sais quoi. It's designed with plant fibers and plant collagen, and it's less than $10. So there's that.
Davines Nourishing Hair Building Pak
For truly tuckered tresses, this rebuilding mask from Davines is a godsend. It's made with strand-loving ingredients like jojoba, keratin, and wheat protein, and helps breathe new life into damaged hair. Because it's potent and filled with protein, I recommend using it once a month—just apply a dollop onto damp hair post-shampoo, let it sit for 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Body Builder
Raise your hand if you're anti-hairspray. This one from Living Proof is sure to change your mind—it's ultra-customizable, volume-boosting, and the perfect finisher post–curling wand.
These silk scrunchies from Slip are great for preserving my waves throughout a sweaty workout or overnight when I pull my strands into a low braid. No dent, no damage, and since my hair is on the finer side of the spectrum, I like these ones, which are a daintier version of the Slip's original fluffier ones.
Verb Hydrating Shampoo
This shampoo (and its coinciding conditioner) are my most-used duo. When my hair is feeling particularly parched, the Hydrating line from Verb is my go-to (it also makes a great mask!). It's the only moisture-specific formula I've ever loved because it does exactly what it says it will: hydrates without leaving my fine strands lank, heavy, and void of body.