Heated tools are your best bet for creating a wavy style that lasts all day.

How to Get Thick Waves

by Grace Riley

For most women, finding a way to create luxurious thick waves in their hair can be a laborious task fraught with failure. However, you can recreate the tousled tresses for which the Angels of Victoria’s Secret are known by finding the combination of basic techniques and tools that suit your hair. The trick is to experiment. Doing so may require you to wash your hair more than once. If you can, set aside a weekend when you can test methods and product application to find the styling strategy that works best for you.


Some women find that it is easier to make and maintain waves in their hair the day after they wash it rather than right after washing and drying. The buildup of natural oils from the scalp and hair can make the hair more apt to hold a shape. According to Glamour magazine, Gisele Bündchen’s hairstylist, Harry Josh, tells the Brazilian beauty to wash her hair the day before an event because it styles better the next day.


“Next-day” hair likely won’t require any pre-styling treatment, but freshly washed hair will be easier to sculpt if you apply product before you start to style. Most hairstylists, including Rebekah Forecast at Manhattan’s Sally Hershberger Downtown, use mousse -- a lot of mousse. If your hair is shoulder-length or longer, Forecast recommends using a tangerine-sized blob of the airy product. For above-the-shoulder hair, use a plum-sized dollop. Comb the mousse through your hair from root to tip. Then, use a hair dryer and a round brush to dry your hair. Lift the hair up and away from your scalp with the brush to add volume, but don’t worry about styling yet.

Curling Iron

There are two heated hairstyling tools that you can use to create waves. The first option is the standard-bearer: the 1-inch curling iron. If your hair is bobbed, the curling iron will likely be the better tool for you. But it can work well for long-haired women, too. Hold a 1-inch section of hair away from your face and slowly pull the barrel over that section and to the ends of your hair. Stop pulling the iron when the ends of the hair are under the clamp. Continue rolling until the section is completely wound around the barrel and it is 1 to 2 inches away from your scalp. Hold the iron vertically for approximately one minute then release the clamp.

Hot Rollers

The second heated option is a set of hot rollers. If you can, use a set of rollers that comes with heated clips. These will allow you to apply heat to the hair from multiple directions, creating a more lasting shape. Women with long, thick hair who have failed to create lasting waves in the past often find success with heated-clip rollers. Leave the rollers in your hair for at least 30 minutes, but try to wait an hour, if possible.

The Cool Down

The weight of your hair can cause a curl to “fall out” or become straight again as it cools -- but you can avoid this problem. After you release a section of hair from a hot roller or curling iron, wind the warm curl around a Velcro roller. Allow your hair to cool to room temperature, which will take about 15 minutes. Then remove the Velcro rollers. Ideally, your hair will be a little too curly at first, which will allow you to finish styling it without causing it to lose all the texture you just created.

The Finish

Slowly and gently begin running your fingers through your curls to loosen them up until they become waves. Apply a finishing cream or hair lotion to your curls as instructed on the product’s packaging. Then mist the waves lightly with hairspray to help them hold their shape.

About the Author

Grace Riley has been a writer and photographer since 2005, with work appearing in magazines and newspapers such as the "Arkansas Democrat-Gazette." She has also worked as a school teacher and in public relations and polling analysis for political campaigns. Riley holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in American studies, political science and history, all from the University of Arkansas.

Photo Credits

  • Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images