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Four inexpensive 2b wavy hair products (Curly Girl approved)

I recently shared a photo on social media of my wet hair followed by my dry, scrunched wavy hair, and lots of people were asking about the products that I used.

Kristen with wavy hair, smiling at the camera.

(By the way, Curly Girl is a method for taking care of hair that’s not straight. Here’s a good summary.)

Wait. Your hair is wavy?

Well. My hair is smack dab in between curly and straight, and if I leave my hair in its natural state, I have always felt that the best descriptor for my hair is “worn-out perm”.

Like, not straight. Not curly.

Just kinda frizzy and dry-looking.

Kristen with dry, frizzy hair.

This is not quite my ideal hair.

So, I’ve always just straightened it, curled it, or put it up and out of the way.

And I always blow-dry and straight my bangs because they are really unfortunate-looking otherwise.

Kristen with her hair in a side braid.

Braid it and voila! The frizz is a little hidden.

Also, if I put my hair up into a bun and then take it down later, my hair looks smoother.

Kristen with soft waves in her hair.

So, it’s not like my hair was a total disaster before this.

I’ve made a few half-hearted attempts to work with my waves, but I have never figured out how to do this successfully.

(It might also be said that I have not tried super hard because…I am kind of lazy on the beauty front.)

Also, I am cheap/frugal, and a lot of curly or wavy-hair approved products are on the expensive side.

But Sonia sent me an Instagram post that shared several inexpensive products and I ordered them immediately. 

Four hair products for 2b wavy hair.

And while I’m still pretty new at this, I do think these products work pretty well. 

Kristen with wavy hair, smiling at the camera, wearing a gray shirt.

Here’s what I’ve been using.

Shampoo: Maui Moisture

I’ve been using sulfate-free shampoo for a while now, so I don’t think this in particular is responsible for my improved waves. 

Green Maui Moisture shampoo.

But I do understand that sulfate-free shampoo is helpful for overall hair health.

I look at it the same way I look at eating vegetables. Do I see an immediate payoff? Nope.

However, I trust the science that says that vegetables are good for my body, and I trust the science that says it’s good for my hair if I avoid sulfates.

Conditioner: Garnier Plumping Conditioner

I’ve also been using silicone-free conditioner for quite some time (like Maui Moisture).

Garnier watermelon plumping conditioner, on the edge of a tub.

I like this one better though, since it’s a little richer. I felt like I had to use so much of the Maui Moisture conditioner, but I don’t need tons of this Garnier conditioner.

And it is made specifically for hair that is easily weighed down, which definitely describes my hair.

Cantu Curl Activator

This product goes a long way, so I think this $7 container is going to last me a nice long time.

Cantu curl activator bottle.

Aussie Gel

This is the least expensive of the four items, and it is Curly Girl approved, despite being just a regular brand. Yay!

Purple container of Aussie Instant Freeze hair gel.

How much do these wavy hair products cost?

I spent $21 altogether, which seems very reasonable to me.

I imagine that these products will last me more than a month (especially the Cantu product), but even if I used them all up in a month, $21/month on hair care doesn’t seem crazy.

The Wash Day Method

I am super new at this, but here’s what I’ve been doing.

Shampoo, Conditioner, Curl Activator, Gel

First I wash my hair and condition it (nothing rocket-science-y here).

I squeeze the extra water out of my hair and then work a small amount of the Cantu curl activator in, brush it through, and then squeeze my hair to form clumps and encourage curling.

Then I spread some gel on my hands and kind of pat it onto my hair and then do more squeezing.

“Plop” hair in a t-shirt, then let it dry

Next, I “plop” my hair, which is basically just putting my hair up into a cotton t-shirt.

(Here’s a good explanation about how to plop your hair.)

I leave my hair plopped for maybe a half hour to an hour, then take off the t-shirt and let my hair air-dry.

(Sonia sometimes dries hers with a hair dryer, using cold air with a diffusor. This takes about eleventy-twelve hours and I am not patient enough for that.)

After my hair is dry, it’s super crunchy and it looks downright terrible.

Kristen with wet, gelled hair, taking a mirror selfie.

But once I “scrunch the crunch” as Curly Girl people say, the gel cast is gone, and just the waves remain.

Kristen with wavy hair, smiling at the camera, wearing a gray shirt.

The refresh day

The next day, I keep my hair out of the water while showering, getting it briefly wet at the end of my shower.

Then I brush it, scrunch it, plop it with a cotton t-shirt, let it air-dry, and then scrunch it.

Kristen with wavy hair, smiling at the camera.

This is refreshed second-day hair.

It’s definitely a bit frizzier and less wavy the second day, but it’s still better-looking than my hair was before I started using this method. 

This isn’t actually super hard or time-consuming

And you can trust me when I say this because I am very prone to thinking beauty processes are hard.

It only takes a few minutes to put these two products into my hair, and since I go the air-drying route, I am spending almost no time at all on my hair after the product application.

Also, I can go at least two days between washes, which saves time. 

I do think this is an improvement

I go back and forth a little about how I feel about my waves (if only they were just a little wavier!), but the fact of the matter is that without any products, my hair does look a little dry and frizzy.

Kristen wearing a coral sweatshirt, with slightly frizzy hair.

So even if my waves are maybe not ideal, I do think they are better than my no-product hair.

And a nice thing is that even if I do put my hair up, the front part of my hair looks more interesting and less flat than it did before I tried this hair method. 

Kristen with her hair pulled back.

What are my future hair plans?

Will I stick with this routine most of the time? Will I get lazy and go back to my no-product life? I dunno.

I do want to try getting some inches cut off of my hair to see how less hair weight affects my waves.

And I’m sure I’ll get better at this wavy styling thing as I get more practice under my belt.

About the grays…

My gray hairs are mostly definitely easier to see with my hair this way.

But, I am going to do my best to resist dying them. This is less about taking a moral stand against ageism and more about me knowing that I am too beauty-lazy and cheap to keep up with dying my roots.

I would totally be the person walking around with inch-long roots, and let’s be honest, that is not a better look than natural grays! 

So. Embracing my grays would be lovely, but I’m more at the awkwardly-hugging-my-grays place for now. 

Any other questions? And if you have wavy/curly experience, feel free to share your methods and products.

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Rose

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

Thanks so much for this article, I've been thinking about putting just a little more effort into my wavy hair but I'm "frugal" and lazy as well. I don't even think I have time for the t-shirt method as I just let my hair air dry naturally all the time and well heading off to work with a tshirt on my head just isn't going to happen LOL.... The grays... I do an at home root touch up, takes 10 minutes to put on and 10 minutes of letting it sit, shower and do hair as normal. $8 a box and matches well with my hair. Lasts about 4 weeks before I'm noticing that they are overwhelming my roots again. Definitely doable on the frugal side :)

Kristen

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

I suppose you could leave the t-shirt on during your commute. Ha. Some people just use a cotton t-shirt to kind of scrunch their hair dry too, and that's super quick to do.

I hope these products help your hair behave!

yneedcouk

Wednesday 19th of May 2021

Thank you for this post. You hair is absolutely gorgeous!. I am currently trying to figure out how to stop coloring my hair and let my grey come in.

Jenni

Saturday 8th of May 2021

For my thick swayvy hair I am even lazier than you! I don't use shampoo or conditioner at all. This is my routine. Before I shower, I comb my hair with a pick comb. If I need to "wash" my hair, I mix about a tablespoon of baking soda with a cup of water (probably 10oz total) and dump it on my head in the shower then scrub and rinse. I always rinse my hair with about 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar mixed with water (probably 10oz total again). I pour it carefully over the ends of my hair and occasionally closer to my scalp. I rinse it out quickly so the smell doesn't linger and to make sure none is on my scalp (makes me itch like crazy!). After towel drying my hair I put about a teaspoon of coconut oil between my hands and rub all over the ends, mostly avoiding my scalp. That's it. Super frugal and my hair looks so much healthier than when I was using products!

Tiffany

Friday 7th of May 2021

I have been following the curly girl method for about two years and am loving the results! My hair has been getting wavier/curlier as I go. I’ve been cowashing (washing my hair with conditioner) instead of going with a gentle shampoo like you. I use Silkience Pro damage repair conditioner from the dollar tree, Shea Moisture Curl and Shine conditioner ($10 at target and lasts me a good six months), Cantu Curl activator (my bottle lasted me over a year!), and LA looks blue gel (also from the dollar tree. I spend about $ 30 a YEAR on hair products and only wash every three to five days. It does take me a few more minutes to style than my old method, but the results and price point are so worth it! Your hair is looking great, and I personally like the gray. I am also not dying my grays because of the work and price of upkeep. We shall see how long I hold out.

Jenny

Friday 7th of May 2021

Kristen, you look great! Couple of comments about the comments- if we don’t brush or comb, what about tangles? I have mostly straight hair and if I don’t brush, twice a day, I’ll have knots of tangles. I have a wide-tooth comb and a natural bristle brush. My fingers just don’t do the job. Cornstarch in hair, plus oil, equals roux, as in base for gravy or sauce! Right? I will admit, I never tried it. We’ve come a long way from Prell, Tame, and Dippity-do!

Tiffany

Friday 7th of May 2021

I notice that tangled hair is dry hair in my case. You might try a hair mask or deep conditioning treatment to keep tangles away. I only finger detangle and it works well for me.

Kristen

Friday 7th of May 2021

Most of the curly/wavy people I know do not follow the method exclusively; sometimes people comb their hair out in the shower, some use a wide-toothed comb.

I have never tried cornstarch but I imagine it just absorbs the oil; without the heat, it probably wouldn't make a roux. lol

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