We can all agree on one thing in the Birchbox offices: We love waves. Our curling irons and styling wands at our desks are proof. But there was much debate as to how we defined different types of waves—what does a beachy one look like versus boho? After all the back and forth (is there even a difference?!) we decided to take a not-so-scientific office poll to settle what each wave really looks like, finally agreeing on five emblematic styles. Check out these tutorials to master each of the waves once and for all.
Definition: The red carpet favorite of the bunch, these loose, glossy waves are usually worn with a deep side part, a behind-the-ear tuck, and five-figure designer gowns.
Method: Hold a 1-inch curling wand vertically and wrap your hair away from your face. To get that signature "S” wave, continue curling all of your hair in the same direction, then brush through to create softness.
Product: Complete the look with a lightweight hair oil like Number 4™ Fluoro5 Elixer Restore & Repair Oil to get that polished, high-shine finish.
Definition: These bombshell waves regularly seen on Angels like Kendall, Gigi, and Adriana have the perfect balance of volume, bounce, and just enough deconstruction for major sex appeal.
Method: Hold your curling wand vertically and wrap small sections of hair around the base leaving the ends free. Curl all face-framing pieces away from your face, then alternate the direction of your curls throughout for a more natural effect.
Product: Prep your hair with a protectant like Oribe's Soft Lacquer Heat Styling Spray to prevent damage and boost shine. Break up your waves with a mist of Oribe's Dry Texturizing Spray to add volume, and finish with the tried-and-true hair flip.
Definition: Usually spotted seaside and on the blonde celebrity set, these effortless, textured waves are beloved for their ability to make minor tangles look fashionable—and for reminding us that the beach is only a bottle of sea salt spray away.
Method: For voluminous beach waves that stay all day: Use a diffuser to enhance your hair's natural texture, then wrap pieces of dry hair around a 1-inch curling iron to give your waves more shape.
Product: Spritz damp hair with a nourishing sea-salt spray like Fekkai’s Soleil Beach Waves Tousling Spray. After diffusing your hair and creating more curls, finish with Fekkai’s Pre Soleil Hair Mist to add shine and take care of any flyaways for a polished-but-not-too-polished look.
Definition: Beachy waves’ softer, less textured cousin, this free-spirited, brushed-through style is relaxed and touchable, often worn with a center part, “no-makeup” makeup (and sometimes a DIY flower crown).
Method: To create the soft finish that sets boho waves apart, wrap small sections of hair around a wide curling wand, letting each curl cool in your hand for a few seconds before moving on to the next section.
Product: Break up your waves by spritzing a moisturizing texturizer like PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray throughout. For an even more deconstructed look, scrunch PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Reworkable Hold Paste through your ends.
Definition: These purposefully messy, “I woke up like this” waves are the unofficial hairstyle of cool girls everywhere—they’re often worn with second (or third, or fourth) day hair and plenty of dry shampoo.
Method: Birchbox staffer Lorelei has mastered the undone look—start by spraying dry hair with a heat protectant like R+co One Prep Spray. Then wrap different a mix of 1- to 2-inch sized pieces of your hair around a curling wand (she used the Sedu 25mm Clipless Iron), leaving out the ends.
Product: Mist your waves with a texturizer like Oribe Dry Texture Spray and scrunch throughout to create the bedhead finish.