What does it mean if hair isn’t straight or wavy?
The straight hair spectrum includes hair that has a slight bend to it, so if your hair isn’t “perfectly straight” is still may qualify as straight. Or you may have naturally wavy hair that is being brushed out so it doesn’t look how you typically expect wavy hair to look, despite being naturally wavy.
Hair isn’t perfectly straight or pin-straight
You may think of “truly straight” hair as being perfectly straight. Yet, hair that has a slight bend to it is still considered straight. The difference between straight hair and wavy hair, is wavy hair goes back and forth in both directions, left and right. Straight hair can twist ta bit to one side, but won’t go back and forth.
Naturally Wavy Hair Looks Different Than Heat-Made Waves
Sometimes people think they don’t have straight or wavy hair because they don’t really recognize what naturally wavy hair really looks like! It sounds silly, but it really is true. Prior to a few years ago, if I saw someone with naturally wavy hair that was well defined, I would have said they had curly hair.
I thought wavy hair was very rare, and I thought it was when hair looked more like straight hair in that it would largely be one big group of hair, but that sort of “waved” in and out…like the results you get from a barrel hair crimper or “hair waver” tool.
Those tools don’t make results that look very similar to naturally wavy hair. Basically, my idea of ‘wavy hair’ was based on artificial wavy hair, and I didn’t realize it. I didn’t know that wavy hair could have individual waves, like the photo below.
Straight and Frizzy Hair Is Usually Naturally Wavy
If you always thought your hair was straight but it’s straight and really frizzy, it’s probably naturally wavy. Wavy hair is delicate and if brushed, can be made to look pretty straight. This is how many people with naturally wavy hair don’t realize their hair is wavy for a long time. I was 26 when I found out that my hair was wavy!
Wavy hair can’t often tolerate being brushed and still maintain its wavy pattern. Straight looking hair that looks really frizzy is usually naturally wavy hair that just isn’t being treated gently enough to maintain the waves.
Straight and Poofy Hair Is Actually Wavy
If you think your hair is mostly straight but poofy instead of pin-straight, it’s very likely to be naturally wavy. Poofy hair is the result of brushed out waves or curls. Truly straight hair isn’t poofy. By poofy, I do not mean voluminous or thick. Hair of any curl pattern can be voluminous, but poofy hair is brushed-out texture.
Curl Patterns Are Based On Defined waves/curls
If you’ve ever looked at a curl pattern chart (I have a wavy hair pattern chart blog post featuring my own images!) and thought your hair didn’t match any of the options, it’s possibly because your hair isn’t defined, and the curl charts are based on defined hair. The photo directly above this section shows my hair when it is not well defined.
It would be really hard to figure out my curl type when my hair was like that. However, when I use a product like gel or mousse to get well-defined hair, it’s much easier to figure out what type my waves are. This is explained in more detail in that ‘wavy hair pattern chart’ blog post linked above.
Wavy Hair May Need Support From Products
Wavy hair can be too weak to support its own pattern against gravity, or from being weighed down by water from your shower, among other things. Some people (myself included) will appear to have nearly straight hair if we use no products. However, if I just add mousse, my hair becomes very obviously wavy.
Mousse doesn’t make hair wavy, but it helps support my natural texture and help it to resist gravity as my hair dries. If you think you are confused about if your hair is straight or wavy, you can try using gel or mousse (check out this post about how to get a gel cast – it’s important!).
You may be really surprised to learn that your texture is a lot different if you use a product with hold, like gel or mousse.
Can Straight Hair Turn Wavy?
Hair pattern can change with age or hormone changes. Some women find that their hair becomes wavy during or after pregnancy, for example. It’s also common for people to find that as their hair grays, it gets coarser and curlier.
Hair Is Straight and Wavy
Another reason why some people may feel that their hair isn’t straight or wavy, could be because it’s both!
It’s very common for people to have multiple textures on their head. I span the whole ‘wavy’ spectrum from 2a to 2c every day, and some days I have straight pieces, and occasionally I get a ‘true curl’ as well. If you have some straight sections and some wavy sections, you certainly aren’t alone!
You can check out my post on how I try to balance my uneven curl pattern if you have both and want to get closer to evening them out.
You May Have Flexibility!
Some lucky ducks have hair that looks great straight if they brush it, or that can be wavy if they treat it as wavy. While my hair looks pretty straight if I brush it, it’s also frizzy and poofy. I admit I’m a bit jealous of those who can easily pull of either look! If this is you, then I’d say your hair is naturally wavy.
People with truly straight hair can’t use natural techniques and get their hair to look wavy. However, if you can just brush your hair and have it look straight, why not embrace both worlds depending on the mood!
Can you do the curly girl method on straight hair?
You certainly can try! The curly girl method won’t make truly straight hair have texture, so if you try it and it works, then your hair is at least wavy. I wouldn’t recommend doing the strict curly girl method. Most people with wavy hair modify the curly girl method for wavy hair. I have an article about how to modify the curly girl method for wavy hair.
A lot of the general concepts for the curly girl method can be done on any hair type, though. For example, you can avoid sulfates and silicones to be gentler on your hair even if it is truly straight. If you try the curly girl method and find that your hair isn’t wavy but you want it to be? Remember you can always use less-natural methods to get the look you want.
There’s nothing wrong with using heat tools or getting a perm if it’s what makes you happy. Same thing if you have “in between” hair and want pin-straight hair. Why not use a flat iron or get a chemical straightening treatment? Natural hair care is not the only way to go.
Is My Hair Straight Or Wavy?
To figure out if your hair is straight or wavy, I’d recommend that you check out my post Signs That Your “straight” Hair is Actually Wavy, and my post How To Test If Your Hair Is Wavy.
[…] If you think you have straight poofy hair, I’d encourage you to try treating your hair like it is wavy/curly and see what results you get. While wavy hair is between straight and curly, it tends to behave best when treated more like wavy hair than straight hair. A great starting point is my blog post How To Test If Your Hair Is Wavy. You ma yalso be interested in my post signs that straight hair is actually wavy or My hair isn’t straight or wavy – what is it? […]