If you were blessed enough to be born with naturally wavy strands, we don't have to tell you twice that you've essentially won the hair type lottery. Besides having enviable built-in volume, wavy hair is super versatile and holds its shape whether you decide to wear it blown-out, natural, or curled with an iron.
Personally, my once-tight spirals have gradually become more of a defined ‘S’ wave as I've gotten older (chalk that one up to dye and heat damage). The haircuts I used to rely on to remove bulk from my curls now leave my wavy hair looking flat, and lately, I need some extra volumizing help from my once-basic shampoo. This shifting of my mane’s natural texture threw me for a loop, so I decided to dive in and search for an updated routine, complete with new wavy hair products and the best wavy hair cuts.
Whether you’re trying to figure out your own wave or curl pattern, or you want a few pointers on making your strands shine in the salon chair, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know about your wavy mane and the cuts that will flatter it most.
What is a wavy hair type?
While mermaid-style beach waves may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of wavy hair, it’s more complicated than that. Wavy hair sits right between straight and curly hair, with its pattern ranging between loose loops to a more defined ‘S’ shape. Wavy hair is classified as type 2 hair and is split into three subtypes:
The smoothest of all wavy hair, 2A hair has a slight bend to it, similar to beach waves. This subtype can lack volume and typically has straight roots.
This wavy hair type is thicker and frizzier than 2A and has a straighter root with tighter and more defined waves that are easy to activate with the right curl products.
Defined by loose spiral curls, 2C waves are coarser and thicker and can almost toe the line of appearing curly. This is the thickest and toughest to style but has the most volume out of the wavy hair types.
Which hair cut is best for wavy hair?
There is no right or wrong answer for the best wavy hair cuts, but there’s no question that a great cut will enhance and show off the undulations in your hair.
Working with fine hair? Lengthier styles might weigh your waves down, but a shorter look with long layers can naturally amp up any inherent texture. For the really bold, pixies work wonders to showcase your hair’s natural curves, and they couldn’t be easier to style.
The best cuts for thick wavy hair typically include layers, tapered ends, and inverted looks that help eliminate excess bulk, especially on warmer days. This goes for both long or short wavy locks, so choose a length you like and go all in!
If you’re looking for a way to manage split ends between hair cut appointments, pick up a hair treatment like Matrix Total Results Instacure Anti-Breakage Porosity Spray. Infused with B5 and liquid protein, it nourishes the hair as it fills in over-porous areas, effectively smoothing and rebalancing the cuticle while restoring elasticity and strengthening hair against future breakage. Consider it your insurance against split ends and brittleness, but don’t wait too long for your trims!
Are layers good for wavy hair?
Ultimately, it depends on your hair type and the types of layers you choose. Heavily layering fine, wavy hair (like that characteristic of a shag) can sometimes backfire by removing too much hair density and volume.
However, if your hair is long (meaning at least past your shoulders) and leans to the medium or thick side, snipping layers into wavy hair cuts can remove some of your mane’s weight and give it more dimension and airy movement.
No matter what, we always recommend going to a trained professional if you are seeking a layered ‘do. A pro stylist will be able to best tailor your gorgeous wavy hair cut to your hair type, length, and face shape. For a comprehensive recap on layers, stylist and colorist Melissa Parizot from breaks down everything you need to know in the link above.
Is it better to cut wavy hair wet or dry?
Wet and dry cuts each have their pros and cons, so the one you opt for ultimately depends on the style you want to achieve. If your hair is fine and you prefer a blunt cut or defined layers, a wet cut is best for providing the sharpest, most precise lines. On the other hand, a dry cut can allow your stylist to see exactly how each wave will fall, preferable for those who love rocking their natural, air-dried waves.
How can I enhance my wavy hair?
The right shampoo and conditioner are critical for any hair type, but they’re especially vital for textured strands like waves since they tend to be on the dry and frizzy size (guess we can’t have it all!). Consider adding a flyaway-fighting duo into your routine like Redken Frizz Dismiss Smoothing Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner, which will gently cleanse hair to remove buildup while smoothing and hydrating hair to minimize frizz.
Air drying produces some of the best natural-looking waves, and the right wavy hair products can help them spring to life. After washing your hair, work a curl-enhancing cream into damp hair and lightly scrunch strands up toward your scalp, then let hair dry on its own. To do this, we love enlisting the help of Kérastase Curl Manifesto Gelee Curl Contour Gel-Cream. This formula combines the hydrating properties of a cream and the hold of a gel (without the crunch) to provide 24-hour frizz control and nourish all curl patterns.
Remember that over-washing wavy hair can strip the already-dry hair type of even more moisture. Skip a wash day without sacrificing your ‘do by spritzing on a curl-refreshing spray like Kérastase Curl Manifesto Refresh Absolu. This lightweight mist instantly re-hydrates and reactivates curl deﬁnition between washes. It promotes natural pattern formation, enhances bounce, volume, and shine, while reducing frizz.
Now that you know what wavy hair is, how to care for it, and the best wavy hair products, here are 16 cuts to inspire your next chop!
The 6 Best Hair Cuts for Short Wavy Hair
Blunt Windswept Bob
If your tresses fall on the thinner side, this one’s for you! Topping our list of the best fine wavy hair cuts is a choppy blunt bob styled with a deep side part and messy texture. Creating a part opposite from where your hair normally lies gives the impression of fuller hair at the root, while tousled waves expand hair, so it looks thick and lush throughout.
Maximize your volume by finishing this look off with Matrix Vavoom Extra Full Freezing Spray. This finishing hairspray also works as a dry shampoo and texturizing spray for buildable hold.
Bouncy and full, this cut has it all. Halfway between a pixie and a bob, this classic buoyant bixie cut features long layers, lots of volume on the top and sides, and ample texture that play up your natural waves. Treat your tresses to Mizani Moisture Fusion Intense Moisture Mask for that glossy sheen and a frizz-free finish.
It’s a borderline fact that pixies work on almost all hair types. However, wavy hair is even more stunning in this cropped style thanks to its ability to add mega texture and dimension, which this cut can sometimes lack. A choppy finish only adds to the effortlessly tousled effect.
Here’s another top contender for fine wavy hair cuts. The varying length of an asymmetrical bob (when hair is longer on one side of the face) subtly changes your wave pattern, which can trick the eye into seeing a fuller head of hair.
Perfect for thick hair, a shaggy crop is one of our favorite short wavy hair cuts since it helps release the heaviness of wavy hair without disrupting its pattern. We highly suggest this chop for summer when you need to beat the heat!
Play up the slight waves of type 2A hair by chopping hair into an inverted lob. The jaw-length cut will put even the most subtle bends front and center, and since it rests above your shoulders, it adds instant bounce to finer hair.
The 5 Best Hair Cuts for Medium-Length Wavy Hair
Like peanut butter and jelly, wavy hair and bangs just go together. Waves lend themselves well to curtain bangs in particular, as they frame the face with minimal styling effort. Since they’re longer than traditional bangs, they can easily be swept back into the rest of your hair until you’re in the mood to wear them loose again.
Shoulder-skimming locks paired with a center part create a gorgeous waterfall of waves that are perfectly balanced on each side of the face. Asking your colorist for money piece highlights adds a halo of brightness around the face and helps the ‘do pop.
If you choose to enhance these waves with hot tools, a thermal protectant like Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In Conditioner will shield hair against heat and prevent frizz, so your waves stay silky and fuzz-free. Then, watch this quick tutorial from the Hair.com team on how to score beautiful curling iron waves.
Point Cut Lob
For added texture, ask your stylist about a point cut lob. This cutting method, which involves carefully pointing scissors up at an angle when cutting, creates internal movement and a lived-in effect that still looks good, even when you’re overdue for a trim.
Long Feathered Layers
Medium-length hair can be a double-edged sword: You finally have enough length to play around with, but a blunt cut can weigh down waves, making them rest limply against your head and shoulders. The fix: Ask your stylist for long feathered layers of various lengths. Layers can instantly give waves the much-needed movement and texture it needs.
While the shag may be too intense for fine, shorter hair, it works beautifully on mid-length waves, especially if the hair is thicker or coarser. Plus, it’s minimal maintenance, easy to dry, and carries waves in a natural way.
The 5 Best Hair Cuts for Long Wavy Hair
Tapered ends with long layers are a classic option for cuts for thick wavy hair. The pointed ends create a more piece-y look that helps define and accentuate the individual waves found in long hair.
The ends of long hair are more prone to dryness, but all you need to keep that straw-like feel at arm’s length is a deep conditioning mask like Biolage Ultra Hydra Source Deep Treatment Pack. The vegan formula delivers high levels of natural emollients, glycerin, and sustainably sourced cupuaçu butter, which has a high water absorption property (124% more than shea butter!), making it a super moisturizer that has 72 hours of mega lasting power.
We love short wavy hair cuts, but one of the major advantages of long hair is that even when you get a little bit of shrinkage, you still won’t look like a freshly-groomed poodle. Case in point: This scrunchy, beachy texture.
No seaside escape is required for these waves, though; a sugar texturizing spray can help give you the beachy waves of your dreams without drying them out. Just spritz Pureology Style + Protect Beach Waves Sugar Spray onto damp or dry hair and then use your fingers to scrunch hair upward to create texture.
The drama of a V-shaped cut adds a hint of graphic shape to any long style and is ideal for those who already have natural texture and body to their hair. The shape also enables you to have fun flipping your shorter pieces while still enjoying your hard-won length.
Inverted Asymmetrical Cut
The opposite of a V-cut, an inverted cut gives you the most length around your face and gradually gets shorter in the back. It’s one of the best cuts for thick wavy hair since it frees you of hair’s heaviness against your back.
A silvery skunk stripe is the cherry on top of this striking ‘do. If you opt for this bold contrasted look, your colorist will use bleach to lift the hair around your face to your desired color. Since bleach can cause damage and dryness, it’s essential to add a leave-in repair like Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Intensive Treatment to your routine to help reinforce weak hair bonds and repair damaged hair.
Sometimes you just want princess-length hair to look full without taking off any of its density. So when it comes to long yet fine wavy hair cuts, a blunt cut reigns supreme. Blunt ends may seem harsh, but they’re a great way to make fine or thin strands appear much thicker than they are.
Pro tip: You can also fake thicker hair with styling products. Apply a few pumps of a volumizing formula like Biolage Professional Advanced Full Density Densifying Treatment For Thin Hair to the scalp, working in sections. Formulated with biotin, zinc PCA and Gluco-Omega Blend, it increases the diameter of existing strands by up to 9 percent.
Want to try one of these hot wavy hair cuts? Head to Hair.com to snatch up all the salon-grade products you need to enhance your mane.