Riding the wave

How to work hair that is neither straight nor curly

March 31, 2017 04:03 pm | Updated 04:03 pm IST

A young woman talking on the phone and drinking coffee outdoors.

A young woman talking on the phone and drinking coffee outdoors.

I spent most of my youth being unsure about my hair. When I think of it, most of my beauty knowledge is borne out of adolescent struggles. I’m sure there are many who are born confident and clear-skinned, but I was not one of them. Anyway, coming back to hair, I hated it because it didn’t fit into any real category – it wasn’t straight and shiny like my mother’s, neither was it curly. I have waves. They hate being disciplined with blow dries and, at that time, didn’t naturally fall into a beautiful shape either.

I tried every sort of haircut during school and college. I had a bob that would pouf up, a wedge cut which my brother pretended was a telephone (he would lift the top part of the wedge and say ‘hello’). I also gave myself a pixie cut once, but that didn’t go too well because someone called me ‘bhaisaab’ at a bus stop. In my early 20s, I got it chemically straightened, which was fine until it started growing out. A mini wavelet around the roots with the rest of the hair being straight wasn’t flattering to say the least. I learned to grow it out and tie it up into a chignon –a favourite look till my mid-20s.

It was only when I moved to Kuala Lumpur and met a lovely hairdresser called Edward See that I realised the full potential of my hair. I met him at a salon called A Cut Above, and he was the first stylist to say that my hair had great texture and versatility. He gave me a cut that enhanced the waves and told me how to style them. “Do you comb your hair?” he asked. Of course. “Promise me that once you wash it, you will not touch it until it’s fully dry – no fiddling, and no trying to change the shape.” He wanted me to see how it looked naturally. But for someone who had spent her life (till then) trying to make it look smoother and tamer, I was a bit worried to see waves popping up around the hairline, roots and ends. When it dried completely, I was surprised… in a good way. My hair looked like the bed head I often wrote about in magazines, with zero effort.

I realised that with waves it’s best to never touch or comb them as they dry. Let them take the shape they want naturally. You can also flip your hair upside down and scoop the ends towards the roots to scrunch them. But never break the wave by running your fingers or a comb through, as it will break the texture and create frizz. Over the years, I have learnt that tucking your hair behind the ears when damp and then pulling them out when dry gives you the most beautiful face-framing wave.

Prep waves with a serum, a curling mousse or a soft cream to get them in shape. Don’t use the heavier oils and creams meant for curly hair because they just make waves heavy and flat. Sometimes even a good leave-in conditioner works beautifully as a styling product. Some of my favourite products include Rahua Voluminous Conditioner (I have been using this for almost a decade), Kerastase Boucles D’Art Mousse ( 3,902), and Bumble and Bumble Curl Conscious Defining Creme for Fine/Medium Hair (₹13,218).

In terms of haircuts, I’ve understood that sharp, geometrical shapes don’t work with waves. So blunt-cut bobs and layers just look bulky and unflattering. Ask your hairdresser to just enhance the way your hair naturally flows. I love Rossano Ferretti salons (prices start at ₹4,000 for a haircut) because stylists there are trained in the art of the ‘invisible haircut’, where the shape of your hair is enhanced, not changed. Waves also look great with subtle highlights or lowlights that work like ribbons of various shapes running through the hair. If you have wavy hair, instead of getting a keratin treatment, why don’t you just let them dry naturally? You will be amazed to see how beautiful they can be.

(This is a fortnightly column to remind you about all things skin deep)

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