Caring for fine wavy hair can be difficult if you are unsure of which products to use. In this article, we teach you how to manage fine wavy textures using the Curly Girl Method and give you a full rundown of the best products to buy.
You’ll be surprised at the results you can achieve, simply by changing your hair routine.
So if you have fine wavy hair and want to have stronger, healthier curls, read on for a full breakdown of how you should follow the Curly Girl Method.
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What Is Fine Wavy Hair?
It is always good to be sure of your hair type before starting the Curly Girl Method or before following any haircare routine for that matter.
Fine wavy hair can be defined as thin strands of hair that each form a loose S shape when dry. Fine way hair will normally not have a lot of volume and can be delicate to handle.
To get a better visual, I like to use the Andre Walker curl type system.
The system operates by numerical order of 1-2-3-4 and then by an A-B-B suffix. If you have straight hair, you’re a type 1.
If you have wavy hair you’re a type 2 (ABC). Type 3 is curly (AB) and type 4 is kinky (AB).
So if you have fine wavy hair, you’ll either a 2a, 2b, or 2c.
When I started my own Curly Girl journey, I was a 2A. Most of my hair is now a 2b/2C even without using any products in my hair.
This is why I know that the Curly Girl Method actually works because it has changed the curl pattern of my hair.
In fact, I wrote a CGM guide for straight hair because I truly believe it can help anyone who wants healthier hair.
What Is The Curly Girl Method?
The Curly Girl Method was developed by Lorraine Massey, the author of Curly Girl, The Handbook.
The method teaches you how to get the best out of your waves and curls without the use of strong chemicals and heat stylers.
The method uses conditioners for washing, also called co-washing, and occasionally cleansing products which do not contain sulfates or silicone.
These types of ‘safe’ products are normally referred to as Curly Girl approved products.
The rules of the method are:
- No sulphates
- No drying alcohols
- No silicones
- No heat styling
- No brushing
- No towels
This may seem daunting, but it’s really not. Once you get the hang of your routine, you’ll never go back to the old way of washing and styling your hair.
The Curly Girl Method framework allows you to achieve healthy hair the natural way and by doing so, your hair becomes soft, glossy and your waves and curls will form much more naturally than they ever did before.
Because the method encourages you to use botanical cleansers and avoid harsh chemicals, it’s actually also quite suited for kids.
Check out my CGM Guide for Kids if you’re interested. It’s a modified version to make bath time fun for toddlers.
How Can Fine Wavy Hair Benefit From The Curly Girl Method?
Fine wavy hair textures can benefit immensely from following the Curly Girl Method.
Not only will your hair get stronger and healthier, but your waves will become more defined and who knows, you might just turn into a straight-up Curly Girl.
My hair before the Curly Girl Method:
My hair after the Curly Girl Method
Here are a few of the benefits you can expect to see:
- Hair Becomes Healthier
- Waves Form More Easily
- Less Washing
- Less Frizz
- Hair Becomes Easier To Style
Understanding The Curly Girl Method Rules
In order to properly understand why the Curly Girl Method can be beneficial, let’s take a closer look at the rules:
Sulfates are found in regular shampoo and this is the chemical that cleanses your hair.
It is the ingredient that makes shampoo ‘lather’, meaning it creates bubbles. Sulfates can be very harmful to your scalp as they essentially strip your hair of its natural oils.
Sulfate is the chemical that makes your hair feel coarse and dry after shampooing.
This is why shampoo is usually followed up by a CG conditioner which makes your hair feel soft again. This is because most conditioners contain silicone.
Also Read: Why Coconut Oil Is Good For Wavy Hair
No Drying Alcohols
Most shampoos and conditioners contain alcohol.
Some are not harmful, like Cetearyl alcohol, but many are very drying and cause your hair to break and become brittle.
This is why it is important to read the ingredients list when you shop for conditioners, or simply use this list of approved Curly Girl products.
As mentioned above, a lot of regular conditioners contain silicone.
Silicone attaches itself to each hair strand, coating them while preventing moisture from entering the cuticle.
The cuticle is the outer layer of the hair and is made up of overlapping blocks. Imagine a roof with tiles laid out.
The more of these blocks you have, the harder it is for water to penetrate.
If you use regular conditioner, your hair becomes coated in silicone.
If you also use hair straighteners, the silicone melts into your hair strands which are very difficult to remove.
It also makes it very hard for any product or water to be absorbed and this is why we need shampoo to remove the silicone.
As you can imagine, this puts a lot of stress on your hair and that is why the Curly Girl Method promotes the use of non-sulfate and non-silicone products.
No Heat Styling
When you use high heat on your hair, you’re essentially ironing it, breaking down those tiles of the cuticle, and exposing the cortex, the middle of the hair strand.
The cortex is mainly made of protein and as the cuticle wall becomes destroyed, the cortex loses its integrity and you can experience loss of protein and water.
It is, therefore, best to avoid any kind of heat styling to ensure the optimal health of your hair.
The Curly Girl Method strongly recommends that you do not brush your hair, particularly when dry.
This is because brushing causes breakage and interrupts the natural structural elements of your hair.
The best way to detangle knots is to use a wide-tooth comb when conditioning your hair.
This can even help you to achieve much better curls and of course, get rid of old hair. I use this super simple comb that I bought from Amazon.
Now, of course, you need to dry your hair after stepping out of the shower, but regular towels are actually damaging to your hair.
They cause friction, encourage frizz, and are not very absorbent. The best thing to do is to get a microfibre towel. They’re cheap, very absorbent, and kind of cute.
Of course, you can always just use a regular old t-shirt. They work just as well.
Fine Wavy Hair Routine: Step By Step Guide
First thing first. If you have fine wavy hair, you cannot expect to get 3C curls on the Curly Girl Method.
It’s just not going to happen. However, if you have been straightening your hair for years, you might not even know what your real hair type is. You could be a Curly Girl but think you are a wavy girl.
That is why it is important to follow the method so that the true structure of your hair can be determined.
An important note. When you start the Curly Girl method, you do not need to do a final wash with shampoo. There are many misconceptions about this floating around in online forums, but this is not, nor has it ever been, a part of the Curly Girl Method.
With that said, let’s look at the Curly Girl Method routine for fine wavy hair.
Step 1: Co-wash
The first step of the Curly Girl Method is to co-wash. Co-washing means to wash your hair with Curly Girl approved conditioners only.
This eliminates the use of sulfates (from shampoo) and the use of silicone (from regular conditioners). This is great for fine wavy hair as shampoo can be very harsh on your locks.
What you’ll need:
A Curly Girl friendly conditioner
For fine wavy textures, I would highly recommend that you start off with a lightweight conditioner such as the As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner or the Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yoghurt Hydrate + Repair Conditioner.
They both smell great and won’t leave your hair feeling heavy.
1. Drench your hair from scalp to tip. Hair has to be dripping wet.
2. Apply conditioner to all of your hair and wash thoroughly. Use a scalp massager for optimal effect.
I really can’t live without my scalp massager which I bought from amazon. Scalp massaging is so important when following the Curly Girl Method.
As you are no longer using shampoo to cleanse your hair, product build-up can stay on your scalp if you do not rinse it properly.
Allow yourself around two minutes when scalp massaging.
3. Rinse out the conditioner.
Step 2: Condition
The second step of this fine wavy hair routine is to condition your hair. Now because you have fine hair, you may not need to spend too long doing this. However, it’s important to really get the product into your waves to thoroughly moisturize them so they can become healthy and hydrated.
What you’ll need:
A Curly Girl friendly conditioner
For this step, you can simply use the same conditioner which you used for co-washing. I, however, like to use a thicker product like the Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner.
It just makes my hair feel softer and I can feel the product coating all the strands of my hair.
This is still not a heavy creamy product but it has amazing ingredients such as Argan oil and Shea butter and is great for fine hair.
1. Apply either the same conditioner again or a thicker conditioner for additional moisture.
2. Flip your hair forwards and use your hands to ‘cup’ your curls and just move them up towards your scalp as you ‘scrunch’.
This allows the maximum amount of product to stay on your curls for as long as possible whilst also being drenched in water.
3. You should start to see curls forming in clumps. The bigger the better. Add more conditioner if you feel it is needed.
Remember at this stage, you’re conditioning your hair.
This means you’re providing a lot of moisture as well as product to your curls. Keep squishing your curls until they form curls that you’re happy with.
You should rinse out the conditioner as you do this but feel free to leave a small amount of product in your hair.
This helps moisturize and keep the curls intact instead of going frizzy.
It’s trial and error really so it’s up to you to figure out how much conditioner product (if any) you want to leave on your curls.
Step 3: Gel
Once you are happy that your hair is clean and you have formed some big juicy clumps, it’s time to use some styling products.
What You’ll Need:
A Curly Girl friendly gel. Alternatively, you can use one of these mousses for a softer look.
Two of my favorites are the Aussie Instant Freeze and the Eco Olive Oil gel.
They are both great for waves as they aren’t greasy and so won’t weigh down your hair. They also both provide a strong hold and won’t break the bank.
1. Simply take a small handful of gel (you need more than you think) and rub it between your palms.
2. Scrunch your dripping wet curls, still upside down of course) so that the gel begins to coat the curls.
Do this until you’re satisfied and have eliminated most of the frizz.
By using gel while your hair is still soaking wet, you lock in the moisture of each curl. As your hair dries, the curl will stay intact, protected by the gel.
The purpose of gelling your hair is to get a hard cast. Once your hair dries, the gel will seal in each individual curl.
Once the cast has dried, you break it by scrunching your hair which we’ll get to.
Some Curly Girls prefer a really hard cast as it gives them super springy and defined curls.
I personally like a softer look, so I switch between gel and mousse. You just need to experiment to find out what you like the most.
This is the result I got when I used to use a lot of gel:
As you can see, my curls are super defined but they also shrunk a lot.
This is the result I get when I use mousse:
I much prefer this look. My waves are softer and yes also frizzier, but I don’t mind.
I get absolutely amazing results with gel but I didn’t like the springy curl look. My waves had shrunk so much and I didn’t think it suited me.
Also check out my post on the best Curly Girl approved gels.
Step 4: Drying
There are two ways to dry your hair on the Curly Girl Method. Air dry or diffusing.
Undoubtedly the method that takes the longest. It can take HOURS to air dry but the results can be amazing.
When you air dry, you avoid any disturbance to your curls and the cast will seal hair without any flyaways.
Use root clips to lift your roots so that you get more volume when your hair has finished drying. I use these cheap ones from Amazon.
Also, dry your hair with your parting flipped to the wrong side. This will also give you an added volume boost at the end.
A diffuser is an attachment for your hairdryer which allows air to flow through small holes.
This prevents your curls from being blasted with air, ruining the cast. It is recommended to dry on cold although you can dry on medium.
I got my diffuser from Amazon and it’s amazing. It’s called the Hairizone Universal Diffuser and it’s cheap, sturdy, and fits almost any hairdryer.
- Attach the diffuser to your hairdryer and set to medium heat
- Either flip your haird forwards or flip to the side and start diffusing your scalp. try not to touch your hair, simply let the air dry your hair.
- Move on to the length of your hair. Let the diffuser sit closely against your hair so that it can dry every hair straind.
- You can put sections of hair into the diffuser, but this can sometimes produce more frizz. The less you touch your waves, the better result you’ll get.
Diffuse your hair till about 90% dry and let it rest until completely dry. You will see that a cast begins to form around each wave.
This method is much much quicker, but it can produce frizz if not done properly.
Check out Curly Tay’s easy video tutorial on how to diffuse curly hair!
Step 5: Breaking The Cast
The final and most satisfying step is breaking the cast. This simply means to ‘scrunch’ out your curls to reveal soft, bouncy waves! This step is also sometimes referred to as ‘scrunching out the crunch’.
You don’t really need anything but your hands, but some prefer to scrunch with a towel to avoid touching their hair too much.
- Flip your hair forwards or to the side and begin to scrunch out your curls. As you do, you’ll feel your hair turn soft and surprisingly, your waves will suddenly look much more bouncy.
- Tussle your roots and flip your head back.
You can then style your hair as you wish and that is the Curly Girl method for fine wavy hair!
Fine Wavy Hair – Which Products To Go For?
When choosing the best products for fine wavy hair, sometimes it’s best to just try a few and then decide. However, I would also recommend you work out if you have low or high porosity hair.
Low porosity means that your hair is not able to absorb moisture very well.
High porosity means your hair is capable of taking in a lot of water and product.
It might sound better to have highly porous hair, but the ability to take in more water and product is often caused by chemical damage.
Heat styling and bleaching open up your hair cuticles so that water penetrates the hair much easier.
This is great for using hydrating deep conditioners but too much water can cause hygral fatigue which can make your hair very limp and flat.
How To Figure Out Your Hair Porosity
The best way to figure out your hair porosity is to take a shower and wet your hair.
Do you feel that your hair easily becomes soaking wet? Does it absorb water easily? If you feel that your hair takes a long time to get wet, you probably have low porosity hair. And if your hair gets soaking wet straight away, you probably have high porosity hair.
Also, ask yourself whether your hair likes thick creamy consistencies. If it does, your hair is probably highly porous.
There’s really no specific test you can take.
If you have low porosity hair, you should aim for non-oily and light consistencies and if you have high porosity hair, you can try thicker conditioners for additional moisture.
Check out my post on Approved Curly Girl products for a full list of approved conditioners.
Protein Sensitive Or Moisture Overload
Another thing to watch out for is whether or not you are sensitive to protein or experiencing moisture overload.
This is often something which you’ll figure out as you progress on the Curly Girl Method, but if you know right off the bat then you’re already halfway there to healthier curls.
I wrote an article about protein treatments vs hydrating deep conditioners. This should help you determine exactly what treatment your hair needs.
I mentioned a few products which I like to use above, but let’s take a look at a larger selection of suitable Curly Girl friendly products.
Also check out my post on the best Curly Girl friendly protein products.
Best Products For Fine Wavy Hair
I would always recommend getting a light conditioner for a co-wash when you have fine wavy hair. The last thing you want is product weighing your hair down.
Here are some great options:
As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner
SheaMoisture Curl and Shine Conditioner
Aunt Jackie’s Girls Soft Sassy Super Duper Softening Conditioner
Shea Moisture Superfruit Complex 10-in-1 Renewal System
I like to go a bit creamier when it comes to conditioning. This is to ensure that my hair gets enough moisture as I have fairly low porous hair.
These are my favourites to use:
Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Conditioner
Innersense Hydrating Cream Conditioner
Jessicurl, Too Shea! Moisturizing Conditioner
Sheamoisture Daily Hydrating Conditioner
I don’t bother with super expensive gels. I prefer to layer gel and mousse now but if you’re looking for something simple, go for these gels:
Giovanni L.A. Hold Styling Gel
These are not overpowering but give a great hold.
If you fancy splashing out on a popular high street brand, I can thoroughly recommend Umberto Giannini Boho Beach Jelly.
It’s vegan formulated and a Curly Girl favourite.
And these products are really all you need to start the Curly Girl Method if you have fine wavy hair.
Don’t overdo it with products. Start simple. Get a co-washing conditioner and thicker product for conditioning.
A gel and perhaps a mousse but the latter is definitely not necessary to begin with.
Remember, the most important part is just to get your hair back to a healthy state.
Don’t worry too much about how your curls look. I know, easier said than done.
But whatever you do, don’t give up!
Optional Steps For Fine Wavy Hair Routine
The above guide has been adapted for fine wavy hair, but if you’re ready to go all-in on the Curly Girl Method, here are a few more optional steps you can do to really make your waves or curls pop!
Plopping is a term used to wrap your soaking wet hair in a towel to sort of let your waves soak in the goodness of the products you have applied. Some do it for 5 minutes, others for 20. It’s really up to you.
What you’ll need:
Microfibre towel or T-shirt
1. With your hair still flipped upside down, take your microfibre towel or an old t-shirt and wrap around your hair. This is called plopping. I like this one which I got from Amazon.
2. Leave your hair like this for up to 20 minutes while you get dressed or apply makeup.
I don’t like to plop for too long as I feel that the towel absorbs the moisture and product from my hair, but 10-20 minutes works well.
Hair Mask Treatment
As mentioned above, your hair may be in a condition where it’s lacking protein or moisture.
It’s important to figure out which but generally if your curls are feeling soft and limp, you need a protein treatment and if your hair feels like straw and breaks easily, you need a moisture boost.
Check out my article on the best protein and moisture treatments you can use on the Curly Girl method.
It’s good to do weekly deep conditioning in any case. This helps keep your protein and moisture balance level.
I always recommend you use a deep conditioning heat cap as heat activates the product and your hair cuticles open up. This way they are far more susceptible to the product.
Clarifying (ACV rinse)
As you are no longer using shampoo on the Curly Girl method, sometimes you may experience product build-up. You can get an itchy or dry scalp and it’s not a comfortable feeling.
Firstly ensure that you have a good wash routine.
Many Curly Girls try to go as long as possible without washing but that’s not the purpose of the method. The purpose is clean, healthy hair.
If you feel that your scalp is becoming itchy or dry, try doing a clarifying rinse. This is also known as an apple cider vinegar rinse (ACV).
Simply add a couple of spoonful’s of apple cider vinegar to 200ml of water. Drench your hair with water and apply the mixture.
Thoroughly massage into your hair and leave for several minutes.
Afterwards, you can apply a deep conditioning product such as the Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioning Mask or the As I Am Hydration Elation Intensive Conditioner.
You can also rinse with a regular conditioner.
The ACV rinse helps restore the PH in your hair and really did wonders for my hair as you can read about in this post.
If you suffer from protein overload, an ACV rinse is a great place to start!
One of the benefits of the Curly Girl Method is that you won’t need to wash your hair so much.
This is because when you stop using sulphates, your scalp doesn’t lose its natural oils.
It, therefore, doesn’t overcompensate by producing more sebum and your hair will stay fresh and clean for longer.
Many Curly Girls therefore simply do a curl refresh on day two, three or even four.
This is a simple method of using a bit of light conditioner such as the SheaMoisture Curl and Shine Conditioner mixed with water and then spritz onto your hair using a hair water bottle.
Scrunch your hair and dry with a diffuser or let air dry.
Some hair types love a wet refresh and curls can stay fresh for days.
Other Curly Girls prefer to do a dry refresh and this can simply be done with a handful of mousse of a refresh product such as a mist or a cream.
The Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse is a real favourite amongst Curly Girls.
Just make sure that when you initially use gel to create a cast, that you avoid putting gel on your scalp. Sleeping with gel in hair overnight can cause blocked follicles if you’re not careful.
Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on LovedByCurls.com is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.
Dee has been following the Curly Girl Method for over four years and is our in-house Curly Girl expert. She has a keen interest in natural haircare and has tried and tested her share of CGM products. She has a photographic memory of most sulfate and silicone-free hair products available on the high street and she’s always happy to recommend you her favorites.
4 thoughts on “Curly Girl Method For Fine Wavy Hair (Easy Guide)”
Do you wash the conditioner out the second time or leave it in and only rinse during the co-wash?
Yes sorry, rinse out the conditioner after using 🙂
Great article. Just wanted to clarify one thing…you don’t mention it but I am assuming you rinse out conditioner before adding gel or is that not the case?
Yes, absolutely rinse out the conditioner before adding gel. Sorry about that, will change the wording on that 🙂
Thanks for reading!
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