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5 Ways to Score Natural Waves & Curls

Wavy or curly hair is perfect for warm weather. Humidity? No problem; a little frizz isn’t bad for these styles! But the best news of all? There are so many fabulously curly hairstyles that require zero hot tools whatsoever. So give your three-barrel curling iron a break, or even an extended vacation—you’ll be addicted to these beautiful, heat-free ‘dos before you know it. Give ‘em a shot, and behold your stunning strands.

1. Two reverse French braids for 5+ hours = big waves

For crazy awesome waves, try this style! After washing your hair, allow it to dry almost all the way (a little damp, or 85 percent dry, is perfect). If your hair is too wet, the waves won’t hold. Once your hair is at this point, rub shine cream throughout (try this one from Dove for $4.89).

The next step: create two reverse French braids. No worries if you don’t know how to reverse French braid (or even French braid)—that’s okay! It’s actually really simple. Use a comb to create your desired part, and make sure all the tangles are out. Then, starting on either half of your head, grab a small chunk of hair and divide it into three sections, like a normal braid. Begin a normal braid, crossing each side over to the middle. Then, begin grabbing extra hair as you go, and pull the hair under the middle strand instead of over (that’s the difference between a regular French braid and reverse). Keep grabbing hair all the way down your head, pulling each side under the middle strand. Finish off with a regular pigtail braid, and tie it off with an elastic band. If you need visual help, check out this how-to video.

Your reverse French braids will create a totally chic look. They’re perfect to wear around all day if you have a big event in the evening, or all night if you want to look great the next day! After you’re totally finished braiding, spray your braids with hair gel (try Pantene’s product for $3.58).

Make sure to wait five or more hours before taking out your braids (we promise you’ll look fabulous in the meantime). The result will be beautiful, shiny bohemian waves. Are you in love, or what?

2. Six regular braids for 5+ hours = small waves

If French braiding just isn’t your thing, never fear! Regular braids work well for creating heat-free waves, too. Again, wash your hair, and wait for it to dry almost completely. Rub shine cream throughout.

This time, part your hair differently than how you’d like it to look after you take out the braids. For example, if you wear your hair in a side part, part it down the middle, or vice versa. This will ensure that your waves look as though they start from the top of your head rather than having flat hair on top and then sudden waves a couple of inches down. Once you’ve done this, braid your hair into six regular braids throughout your head, tying off each with an elastic. If you have a lot of hair and would like to do more, go for it! The more braids you make, the smaller and tighter the waves. After you’ve finished creating the braids, spray them with hair gel.

Wait five or more hours to take out the braids. When you do take them out, finger comb your hair (but not too much, or it will get frizzy). Then, flip your hair the way you’d normally part it. So again, if you normally wear a side part, flip your hair back to that position and use hair spray (like Aussie Aussome Volume for $3.43) to hold it in place. The end result will be totally voluminous, natural-looking, small waves. This style also looks fabulous with a cute hippie headband. So adorable.

3. Straw curls for 5+ hours = defined spiral curls

If you’re looking for more of an unconventional curl, this look will be perfect for you. Keep in mind that this one will take a little more time; give yourself 30 to 45 minutes to accomplish this, depending on how much hair you have. You’re going to need straws and lots of bobby pins.

Start with slightly damp hair, and rub in shine cream. Then, grab about a one-inch section of hair. Wrap that section of hair all the way down a straw, starting from the top of the straw. Once you get to the end of the straw, hold the bottom with one hand. Pin the top of the straw to your head. For bend the rest of the straw that’s left in half and secure it with a bobby pin. For visual instructions, see this video. After you’ve done your entire head, spray with hair spray.

Take the straws out by unpinning the bobby pins and pulling each straw out from the top. You’ll achieve totally awesome spiral curls. Finger comb your hair very slightly (unless you’re aiming for a poofy, Carrie-Bradshaw-esque look!). Your friends will be amazed by your transformation!

4. Twisty buns for 5+ hours = romantic curls

For curls that look like you were born with ‘em, start with tangle-free, very slightly damp hair (i.e., 95 percent dry). Rub shine cream throughout.

Grab one three-inch section of hair at a time, twisting each section by simply rotating your hand. Once the section is completely twisted, twist the already coiled hair up into a bun, and hold with either an elastic band or criss-crossing bobby pins. There’s a lot of twisting going on here! Spray the bun with hair gel. Repeat throughout your entire head so that you have multiple little buns. The more buns, the smaller the curl.

After letting your hair sit for five or more hours, take out the buns. The result will be gorgeous, natural-looking curls. Spray them lightly with hairspray. Wear these curls with a beautiful lipstick shade and a sundress, and bam, you’re officially ready for date night.

5. French braid twists for 5+ hours = big, bohemian waves

These waves are big and totally beautiful. Plus, prepping with French braid twists is like French braiding, but easier! Start with slightly damp hair (about 85 percent dry should do). Brush through all of your hair’s tangles, and then part it as you normally would. Rub shine cream throughout.

Take a one-inch chunk of hair that’s close to the top of your head and towards your face, and divide it into two. Begin a regular twist, but grab hair from each side as you twist. Twist all the way down your strands, and tie it with an elastic. If it gets a little looser after tying in the elastic, don’t worry! Repeat for the other side so that you’ll end up with two French braid twists. Spray both sides with gel. If you still need some help, check out this tutorial.

After taking out your French braid twists, you’ll have gorgeous, romantic waves. Spray them lightly with hair spray.  

You don’t have to damage your hair to obtain the perfect wavy or curly look, collegiettes! These easy tricks will have you rocking gorgeous, voluminous hair all day or night this summer. And trust us, your strands will thank you for these healthy alternatives. 

Ashley McDonald is a senior at Central Michigan University, majoring in journalism and minoring in English. In addition to her role as career editor for HerCampus.com, she's a blogger for The Huffington Post and a contributing writer for HelloGiggles.com, EliteDaily.com and About.comIf she's not doing all of the basic things that life requires, she's probably on Microsoft Word or flipping through a glossy women's magazine. Or YouTubing (is that a recognized verb yet?) videos of French Bulldog puppies. Or possibly shoveling mint chocolate chip ice cream into her mouth while watching reruns of Sex and the City. She leads a glamorous life.If you'd like to know more (you totally do!), follow her on Twitter @ashley_pmcd.