How to Brush Wavy Hair: Your Guide to Rocking Waves All Year Round

As someone with misbehaving hair, I always thought I had to fight it into submission. So I used all sorts of combs and brushes to attack my frizzy mane, to get it to look like something from a shampoo commercial.

Spoiler alert: it just made things worse.

how to brush wavy hair

I never considered how to brush wavy hair, or that I needed to treat my hair differently, more delicately.

But after learning more about the Curly Girl Method, I realized the fluff and frizz was just wavy, curly hair begging for hydration and moisture. I ditched harsh SLS shampoos and silicone-laden conditioners. And I learned techniques on how to style and care for my hair.

Learning how to comb wavy hair was a whole process since I had to unlearn a lot of things I had been doing for years. But there is a proper way to brush hair that’s curly or wavy and it can make all the difference to how your hair looks.

Here’s what I learned over the past few years.

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How You Should Brush Wavy Hair

brushing wavy hair

People with wavy and slightly curly hair usually have one objective. To brush and style their hair without going frizzy and poofy, and without losing their wave/curl pattern. This is what I’ll go into in this section.

But before we get into brushing wavy hair, let’s pinpoint what ‘wavy hair’ means in these contexts. After all, two people with different-looking hair can both have wavy hair.

Let’s start by looking at the different hair types out there:

As you can see, wavy hair can range from fine and thin to coarse, thick S-shaped waves. Wavy hair also tends to become frizzy when dry and lacking in moisture.

Moreover, people also have a mix of hair types. Most people will have a combination of 2A/2B hair, or 2B/2C hair. Some people even have a couple of strands of 3A and 3B hair among their wavy hair!

So, how to properly brush your hair when it is wavy?

First of all, don’t brush your hair when it is dry. This will cause your hair to become frizzy and lose any hint of the waves in it. Instead, styling wavy hair after a shower is the best way to go. Your hair should be very damp, but not soaking wet.

And how to brush hair after showers or washing? Well, try ditching the brush altogether. Paddle and bristle brushes will disrupt the natural wave pattern in your hair. The alternative? A good old-fashioned wide-toothed comb.

Use a wide-tooth comb for wavy hair to detangle any tangles in your hair. You can add a little product like a leave-in conditioner, mousse, or light curling cream to help get more defined waves. Work in small sections, starting from the ends of your hair and working your way up.

Want more definition and potentially get a few curls out of your hair? Then it’s time for busting out the special brushes. Vented brushes work well for wavy hair as they preserve the curl pattern.

However, your best bet would be the classic Denman brush. A personal favorite, you can remove every other row of bristles to separate the clumps in your hair and get tangle-free defined waves. This brush is also amazing because it evenly distributes products throughout your hair.

If your hair is prone to knots and tangles, the Tangle-Teezer is a good wavy hairbrush for detangling. This brush for wavy hair is best used in the shower, on soaking wet hair saturated with a thick, slippery conditioner. Your hair will tangle-free in minutes with minimal hair loss!

However, don’t overbrush your hair. The best way to brush hair that is curly/wavy is to stop as soon as the hair is tangle-free and well-defined. Otherwise, you will break up the clumps and create more frizz.

If you want to detangle hair between washes, spray your hair with water and apply a little leave-in conditioner. Then use the comb or brush and detangle gently.

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Wavy Hair Issues and How to Fix Them

best way to brush hair

Wavy is often overlooked because everyone is chasing those perfectly defined, spiral curls. This section will tackle wavy hair problems and how to fix them.

Wavy hair texture is coarse and unruly:

If your wavy hair is rough and dry to touch, there may be a need for extra moisture. Coarse hair has trouble holding onto hydration, so you need extra attention to your thirsty locks.

You can fix this by using a deep conditioner on your hair once a week. Many people also found hot oil treatments to be helpful, as well as mild, sulfate-free cleansers.

Wavy hair is limp and waxy:

Many wavies use products meant for curly hair. These products are very heavy and use things like raw shea butter, Jamaican castor oil, and olive oil. These can remain in your hair and create residue, weighing down your hair.

The same applies to products with silicones and waxes. To fix this, use clarifying shampoo twice a month to get rid of any buildup. And use hydrating, but lightweight products in your hair without wax, parabens, or silicones.

Wavy hair loses definition easily:

If your hair loses its wave when it dries, some kind of setting product may be needed. Sometimes all you need is a lightweight curl cream. But if you have 2C hair, a mousse or gel may be needed. 

Use a small amount, and let your hair dry (or use a dryer with a diffuser). Once dry, scrunch up your hair gently with your fingers to break the hard cast. Your waves will last for much longer-even overnight if you wear a satin bonnet or sleep on a silk pillowcase.

Another way to get long-lasting waves is to sleep in braids. Apply a little curl cream to wet hair and dry until just a little damp. Loosely braid your hair into two plaits and go to bed. In the morning, undo your braids. Your hair will be in loose, soft waves!

More Questions?

Below you’ll find answers to questions most asked about brushing and caring for wavy and curly hair.

01. Why Does Brushing My Hair Make It Frizzy?

Curly or wavy hair becomes frizzy when brushed dry because the friction from the brush lifts the cuticle, which creates frizz.

02. How Can I Brush Curly Hair Without Destroying the Curls?

To preserve your curls, brushing out curly hair when wet is the best option. Stick to wide tooth combs and vented brushes to brush wet hair. 

03. When is the Best Time to Brush My Hair?

It is usually best to brush your hair in the morning after getting out of bed and showering. If you have curly hair, that is usually enough.

04. Is It Better to Brush Your Hair Wet or Dry?

If you have straight hair, it is best to brush dry hair. But if your hair is wavy or curly, it is best to comb wet or damp hair.

05. What Can I Do If My Hair is Wavy When Wet But Dries Straight?

Friction and dryness can straighten wavy hair as it dries. You can prevent this from happening by using moisturizing leave-in conditioners, hair creams, and styling mousses.

The Last Strand

Phew, that’s a lot of rules on hair care! But once you know how to brush wavy hair, the rest of the routine becomes much simpler. And after all, wavy/curly routines are a lot less work than daily straightening with a flat iron. Plus, no more heat damage!

Wavy hair is beautiful, especially when cared for. So why not go wow the world with your luxuriant waves?

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