Most wavy hair types can be easily straightened, blown-out, curled, or left natural—and their in-between texture also makes them the perfect foundation for virtually any haircut, including pixie cuts, blunt lobs, short bobs, and even mullets. Just take a look at virtually any celebrity to see how wavy haircuts and hairstyles are one of the most popular red-carpet looks of all time.
To help you get excited about your own waves—and maybe even test out a new look—we handpicked our favorite haircuts for wavy hair, below, and chatted with hairstylist Meri Kate O’Connor on what to look for in a good wavy haircut, what to ask your stylist during your appointment, and how to style your new hair once you get home.
Meet Our Expert
“I think that the biggest mistake people make when cutting their wavy hair is not putting enough shape into it, usually from a bad layer experience,” says O’Connor. But if the idea of chopping off even more length during a trim gives you anxiety, take a cue from Ciara and ask your stylist for super-long layers—i.e., to take off just enough length to prevent a bottom-heavy effect.
Wavy Bangs Haircut
There’s something about bangs on wavy hair that automatically gives your haircut a romantic, just-ran-through-the-18th-century-fields vibe. But remember: Even Riley Keough’s Austenian bangs need a little TLC to look good in the morning, says O’Connor. “Since curly and wavy hair isn’t washed as much as straighter hair, I find that re-wetting and re-styling your bangs and then letting them air-dry usually works perfectly to re-activate their pattern,” she says.
Wavy Bob Haircut
“Wavy and curly hair need layers to help give the hair shape and movement, so it doesn’t look like a big triangle,” says O’Connor. Soo Joo Park’s wavy bob is a perfect example of how subtle layers (see the shorter pieces around her crown and mid-lengths?) can give a blunt-cut bob a rounder and softer shape without detracting from the overall angles.
Wavy Ponytail Haircut
We all have that one friend (me, it’s me) who wears their hair in a ponytail or bun every day of their life. If that also sounds like you, and Selena Gomez’s wavy ponytail is a thing of your dreams, then be honest with your stylist about your hair habits. They can dry-cut your waves and trim your layers while in a ponytail, so you won’t be surprised by how your hair looks the first time you tie it back after leaving the salon.
Face-Framing Wavy Layers
Even the best waves may need some definition after being pulled, twisted, and pinned into a half-up style like Winnie Harlow’s. The only issue? Short, face-framing layers can be too short to wrap around a curling iron—which is where a hair-waver iron comes in. Make sure to grab one in a narrow size (like the Farery Mini Hair Crimper) to get as close to your roots as possible for natural-looking waves.
Beachy texture doesn’t just look cool—it’s also a genius way of disguising grown-out layers and split ends if you’re overdue for a trim. To recreate Jennifer Lawrence’s wind-whipped texture even without her team of professional stylists, liberally saturate your damp hair with sea-salt spray (my fav: OGX Argan Oil Salt Spray), wrap sections around your finger to create rope-like twists, then let air-dry or diffuse on low.
Wavy Lob Haircut
Laura Harrier’s long bob feels both retro (thanks to its side-part, finger-wave styling) and modern (see: its blunted ends), making it the ultimate lob haircut to screenshot and show to your stylist.
Two-Toned Wavy Hair
An easy way to add visual dimension and fullness to fine waves is with a super-subtle balayage—i.e., two-toned hair colors, like Olivia Munn’s cinnamon-tinted ends. Ask your stylist to pair your coloring session with your next haircut for a one-and-done process.
The haircut collab we didn’t know we needed: Emily Ratajkowski channeling Brigitte Bardot’s iconic parted bangs and soft waves. To recreate the same sleek finish without looking like you flat-ironed your fringe as an ode to middle school, O’Connor recommends laying down and styling your bangs in the direction you want them to dry (try finger-drying or using a nylon and boar brush), rather than blowing them in the opposite direction.
Wavy Shag Haircut
My official haircut motto for wavy hair? When in doubt, get a shag. Shag haircuts (like Kaia Gerber’s shown here) tend to look better the less polished they are, which means texturizing spray and dry shampoo will just enhance your haircut, rather than call out the fact that you haven’t showered in a few days.
Thanks to the natural bends in wavy hair, you can strategically use a haircut to fake a thicker or thinner effect based on how your stylist cuts your ends. “Cutting the length to a clean, solid line will help to make thin hair appear thicker and fuller,” says O’Connor. Peep Vanessa Hudgens’ blunt-cut wavy lob for inspo.
Mullet Waves Haircut
As always, Miley Cyrus makes (and wins) a case for mullet haircuts. Miley has had virtually every type of mullet cut you can get, yet her most recent iteration is the subtlest look yet, with some rope-y waves and shaggy bangs. And though the only rule of mullets is that there are no rules, you’ll still want to keep in mind that even mullet bangs “may still need to be styled on an almost-daily basis,” says O’Connor. “So if you aren’t someone who is up for styling your hair every day, then a bangs haircut may not be for you.” And if that’s the case, just stick with a classic mullet instead.
Kaley Cuoco’s wavy haircut has the perfect amount of satin-y shine and tousled texture to feel both natural and purposeful at the same time. And yes, the same finish is possible for you and your waves with a combo of texturizing powder massaged through your roots (my favorite: SexyHair Big Powder Play Lite) and a dollop of shine-enhancing styling cream smoothed through your ends (O’Connor’s favorite: Olaplex No. 6 Bond Smoother Cream).
Wavy Extensions Haircut
Listen, not all of us can be born with long, thick, and glossy waves—including celebrities. But that doesn’t mean you can’t copy America Ferrera’s look on your own hair; it just means you’re going to need help from some high-quality hair extensions. Our tested-and-approved favorites are from Luxy Hair and Bellami, but whichever brand you choose, make sure to bring your extensions with you to your appointment, so your stylist can cut, shape, and even dye them to blend with your natural hair.
If you’ve ever tried to recreate a wet-look hairstyle from the red carpet, you already know how gummy and heavy the finished result can feel. My favorite alternative? Damp-look hairstyles, like this wavy bob on Lili Reinhart. To get a similar effect on your own waves, O’Connor recommends raking and combing a palmful of Kevin Murphy’s Easy.Rider Crème through your damp hair, then working a dollop of R+Co Mannequin Styling Paste throughout your hair to help shape it and lay it in place.
“Another big hair-cutting mistake I see with fine waves is not cutting enough length,” says O’Connor. Why? Because “the ends start to get scraggly, which makes the hair look even finer.” Thanks to some graduated layers (for volume) and blunt ends (for a fuller shape), Hailey Bieber’s naturally fine waves look thick and healthy in this bob haircut, rather than flat or lank.
Yes, Rita Ora’s glossy waves are my entire vision board…why do you ask? The key to getting this shine and definition isn’t just a single product, though—it’s a whole wavy-hair product routine that starts and ends in hair-healing moisture (see: leave-in conditioners, moisturizing shampoos, styling creams, etc.). One of O’Connor’s favorites? The Briogeo Curl Charisma Defining Cream. Rake and twirl a few squeezes through damp hair before air-drying or heat-styling.
So sleek, so smooth, and so uncomfy to wear in real life (trust me, I’ve worn this style). Florence Pugh’s slick waves are the skilled result of stiff-hold hair products, like pomade, gel, and hairspray, that aren’t necessarily practical for everyday life. Instead, DIY a softer version of this glam with low-hold, high-shine formulas, like the Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray, which is one of O’Connor’s go-to styling sprays for getting a glossy finish.
‘90s Wavy Pixie Cut
Rowan Blanchard is very much channeling a ‘90s Meg Ryan with this choppy wavy pixie, and it almost makes me want to cut off all of my hair. Almost. Just know that waves this short will need some zhuzhing to lay the way you want. If you hate working with a curling iron, try experimenting with a skinny blow-dry brush or heated round brush to add volume and definition.
Contoured Wavy Hair
Yup, hair contouring is a thing, and Hailee Steinfeld’s multi-dimensional wavy haircut is the poster child for the trend. Though it may sound fancy, hair contouring is just a way to describe using highlights and lowlights to create strategic dimension in your hair, which can help beef up the look of thin waves or amp up your natural hair color.
Working with straight roots and wavy ends? Play up your natural texture by brushing the top layer of your hair back with a boar-bristle brush (it helps create a soft, natural-looking sheen) before clipping in place, à la Lily Collins. Leave the rest of your waves down, or re-define any pulled-out sections with a hair waver (for looser waves) or a skinny curling wand (for tighter waves).
This is one of those shiny-messy hairstyles that makes you say, “why doesn’t my hair look like that when I do it?” Welp, ignoring the fact that this is Priyanka Chopra with an entire hairstyling entourage, you’ll also need to have the right product lineup. To get this festival-hair look, you’ll want to spritz a shine-enhancing texturizing spray (try R+Co Trophy Shine + Texture Spray) throughout your waves after styling, then add some piece-y definition to your ends with styling cream (O’Connor recommends the Ouai Finishing Cream).
Mermaid Waves Haircut
Mermaid waves will never not be trending, and for good reason: The haircut is highly layered, the waves are perfectly piece-y, and the style looks like it took no effort at all (which, of course, is false, but that’s the beauty of it). Dua Lipa has credited her mermaid hair to the cult-favorite Ouai Wave Spray—plus, I’m guessing, some waist-length hair extensions to amp up the mermaid factor.
Old Hollywood Waves
Truly any length or cut of waves can pull off this iconic vintage hairstyle, so don’t feel like you need Margot Robbie’s back-length hair to DIY the look. Though most Old Hollywood-waves tutorials will tell you to use a curling iron to create your horizontal curls, you can also play around with wide-width hot rollers to get a similar cascading effect (my go-to pick is the Conair Xtreme Instant Heat Ceramic Hot Rollers).
Soft-Wave Bob Haircut
Behold: the soft-wave bob—i.e., the biggest bob haircut trend of the last year. Kerry Washington’s mid-length bob is full of soft, barely there waves and layers to give it major volume and shape. If your hair is on the finer side, O’Connor recommends blasting your roots with Davines This Is A Dry Texturizer before styling.
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