This was my wet hair when I was about 14. My whole life, my hair has been wavy when wet but straight once dry. Somehow, it never occurred to me to think twice about it! My hair was straight when it dried, so it was straight..or so I thought for the first 26 years of my life. It turned out, I have naturally wavy hair and just never knew it.
Why does wavy hair dry straight?
Hair that is wavy when wet but dries straight is naturally wavy hair that is being weighed down or stretched out. This may be from water weighing hair down as it dries, or from hair being brushed or combed. Often wavy hair needs support from gel or mousse to maintain its texture as it dries.
Water weight can ruin your waves
Waves tend to be fragile or delicate, especially when compared to curly hair. It’s easy to disrupt natural waves before they dry. In some cases, just letting your waves air dry may be enough to disrupt your waves. The weight of the water in your hair can stretch your hair straight before they finish drying.
Using a diffuser to dry your hair faster can help combat going flat from the weight of water in your hair.See my post How To Diffuse Wavy Hair to learn how to diffuse your waves.
Plopping your hair after getting out of the shower can help preserve your pattern a bit better as well. I plop after getting out of the shower, before diffusing. Check out my Plopping guide with pictures to learn how to do this to your hair.
You may need gel
In many cases, wavy hair isn’t self-supporting. You may need to use gel or mousse (a product with hold) when your hair is wet to help it maintain its pattern as it dries.
More info on this:
What is a gel cast and why you want one
Brushing could be crushing your waves
If you’re in the habit of brushing or combing your hair, this may be causing it to dry straight. With waves being fragile, just combing them can crush the wave pattern and make it dry straight. I have a blog post on why you shouldn’t brush wavy hair that goes into more detail.
Your products may be too heavy
Many people with wavy hair have their hair pattern easily weighed down. If you’re using products that have heavy oils or butters, this may be weighing your pattern down. If this might be you, you ma ywnat to read my post how to tell if wavy hair is weighed down.
You may be using too much product
Sometimes people with wavy hair follow curly girl routines that include a lot of leave-in products. For many wavies, leaving product in their hair can easily weigh them down. Sometimes even just a dime-sized amount of a cream or leave-in conditioner can weigh wavy hair down.
You May Need Protein
Protein can strengthen hair or repair damaged hair. If your hair is really lacking protein, it can get overly-soft and very limp. Adding protein into your regular routine or doing a protein masque or treatment can help your hair regain its ability to hold its natural pattern.
You could be touching your hair too much as it dries.
If you touch or play with your hair as it dries, this can disrupt it from drying in its natural pattern. Sleeping on wet hair can do the same thing.
How To Keep Your Waves As Your Hair Dries
If you have a diffuser to use with your blow dryer:
- Use a hard hold gel when you get out of the shower. Enough to cover your hair. It may feel like a lot. It may feel sticky or bad. It will not feel the same once it dries.
- Use a diffuser to dry your hair, preferably on low heat and low speed. Try to touch your waves as little as possible while diffusing.
- Once your hair is 100% dry, it should have a hard or crunchy feeling to it. It doesn’t feel good, but this is a good thing!
- Gently scrunch your hair to get rid of the crunchy feeling.
If you don’t have a diffuser:
Follow the same routine as above, but ‘plop’ your hair for 20 minutes instead of diffusing. After 20 minutes, remove the plop and let your hair air dry the rest of the way. It’s possible that your hair may still dry a lot straighter than it would with a diffuser. For some, helping hair to dry before water has a chance to weigh it down is really important for preserving their waves.
This should help preserve your waves as they dry. If it doesn’t work, or your waves don’t last very long, you may need to use more gel or mousse. If you didn’t get a gel cast (that hard feeling over your hair) that’s a sign you should use more gel. Or you may need to use a gel or mousse with harder hold.
La Looks makes several hard hold gels that are about $2 and great for using when first learning to style your wavy hair. If you try the second route but your hair takes all day to dry, you may have to buy a diffuser to find out how this would work for you. My hair is very thick, but I can’t air dry because my hair takes literally an entire day or more.
If you give it a try, I’d love for you to come back and comment with how it went!
More blog posts of mine that may interest you if you’re new to learning how to care for your wavy hair:
How often should you wash wavy hair?
Thanks for this post! Been following posts on IG and haven’t found anyone who addresses this issue. Will give these tips a try!