The Ultimate Guide for Wavy Curly Hair: 2A, 2B, and 2C

July 21, 2023


Verna Meachum

Photo of wavy curly hair

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Wavy hair, Like any other uniquely patterned structure, can require a lot of patience and effort. The artistry of hair care often comes with its own set of difficulties, and that includes type 2 hair which is neither straight nor curly. But below is an ultimate guide for wavy curly hair to help you. 

Type 2A, B, and C hair is considered wavy and is typically straighter, smoother hair with slight bends and bumps from the middle of the head downwards. It is also categorized as curly and requires unique care to keep hydrated and style so that the waves can gain definition and retain their shape. 

There is a pool of information out there for other curly types. But since wavy hair is like the middle child, it rarely gets much attention. Wavy hair types are always looking for proper routines and the right products, so this ultimate guide will give you all the information you need to properly care for your waves. 

Discovering Your Wavy Hair 

When you shop for hair products, you probably notice all the labels marketed toward dry, fine, oily, colored hair, etc.

And while you can roughly conclude your hair texture, how do you genuinely know what category your hair falls into? Do these labels require a basic assumption of your hair type? 

Well, your hair type is determined by a number of genetic factors and typically fits into straight, wavy, curly, or coily.

None of these are right or wrong. They just require different cuts, styling techniques, and products to look their best. 

It’s essential to have an idea of your type, especially your hair curl type, to choose the right cut, style, products, and hair care regime for your hair.

If you don’t understand your hair type, you may use products that don’t serve your hair’s best health, resulting in damage. 

Image of hair type chart.

Andre Walker Hair Typing System. (2023).

People these days use a hair typing system as a guide. And while the hair typing system is not an end-all-be-all or one-size-fits-all guide, it’s a helpful place to start when understanding your hair.

It also isn’t perfect, but it helps to determine your curl pattern and hair requirements. 

Besides hair damage, bad hair days, difficulty in managing your hair, challenges with styling, and unhealthy appearance of your hair may be because you aren’t using the correct methods and products that your hair type needs.

That is why discovering your hair type becomes essential. 

What is Type 2 Wavy-Curly Hair? 

To discover your hair type, you must understand the hair typing system and the hair categories. Two such systems are Naturally Curly, which follows this Curly Hair Scale, and the Andre Walker Hair Typing System (created in the 1990s).

Each hair type (2,3, and 4) is classified into three subcategories that demonstrate the distinct patterns present in curly hair. The sub-classifications – from A to C – are based on the diameter of the wave, curl, or coil. 

Type 2 (A, B, and C) hair is defined as S-shaped waves or curls. It is looser in texture and is often mistaken for straight or curly frizzy hair.

That is because it loses shape without the correct care techniques and products and doesn’t appear to fall under any category. 

It can also look unruly or undone – almost as if it hasn’t been brushed out. Sometimes it seems like curls gone wrong or dents left from scrunchies or braids.

Wavy hair is also easier to style in any form because it’s neither too smooth nor too textured. 

Most of us curlies will fit into one or more categories/subcategories, which is normal. Sometimes you may fall into two categories, like 2C/3A or 3C/4A. That is also pretty common.

But knowing where your hair is placed on the scale can substantially change the game for your hair’s health. 

How Wavy-Curly Hair Differs from Other Hair Types 

Wavy hair is classified as type 2 on the Curly Hair Scale. The wavy hair pattern is present in all hair textures, from fine to coarse.1

But there are distinct differences, such as: 

  • Wavy hair has a definite S-shaped pattern, ranging from loose to tight, with the texture ranging from fine to coarse. 
  • Curly hair has a more defined spiraling pattern, from loose loops to springy corkscrews. 
  • Wavy curly hair tends to be a type of curly hair that is looser, with a less defined spiral pattern. 
  • Curly hair can often be “molded” – you can wrap it around your finger either wet or dry to shape or “set” a curl. Wavy hair rarely does this – the spirals are much softer. If you press a wavy spiral upwards, you might get a coil of an inch in diameter (or more or less) but when you let go, the diameter decreases. Wavy curls don’t have the determined springy bounce and preservation of diameter of curly curls. 

The Curly Girl Method for Type 2 Wavy Hair 

The Curly Girl Method (aka CG method), created by Lorraine Massey, is a set of guidelines for people with wavy, curly, and coily hair. It is a new way of thinking and caring for your hair, taking social media by storm. 

Not only is it trending everywhere, but the Curly Girl Method has also allowed wavies and curlies from all walks of life to embrace their natural hair textures and styles and wear it like a crown.

For those with natural waves, the method has been a game changer because it helps wavy hair gain shape and life. 

The Curly Girl Method aims to help you understand your hair and how to take care of it to achieve healthy, frizz-free, bouncy curls.

It is based on the premise that many hair products on the market containing ingredients like sulfates, drying alcohols, mineral oils, wax, and silicone are “bad” for your hair.2 

Image of curly hair accessories for the curly girl method.

Massey says these ingredients can cause build-up, leading to frizz, tangles, and dryness. She also suggests no shampooing with silicone-based shampoos or conditioners with the Curly Girl Method. 

However, this statement from Massey generalizes all silicone compounds as “bad” for curly hair. There are milder types such as amodimethicone that are relatively curly hair-friendly, depending on the amount, how it is mixed with other active ingredients, and the manner of use.3,4,5

Massey encourages curly girls to use a cleansing conditioner (or co-wash) to cleanse their hair.

She also suggests using water-soluble products that disclose their ingredients and avoiding synthetic fragrances in your products. Also, eliminate heat-styling tools as they can cause heat damage over time. 

If you can find the right sulfate-free shampoo and silicone-free products and use them consistently for about two months, you will see a difference in your hair. Your hair will be softer, more manageable, hydrated, and less frizzy. 

The curly girl method is essentially a three-step simple process: cleanse, condition, and style. To learn more about the curly girl method, you can get the book on Amazon and start your CG journey. 

Understanding Hair Porosity for Wavy Hair Care

Image of hair cuticle showing low porosity, medium porosity, and high porosity.

Identifying your hair’s porosity is a pivotal step in tailoring your hair care routine. Hair porosity describes how well your hair strands can absorb and retain moisture,6,7 and it comes in three types: high, medium, and low. Each porosity type requires a unique approach to care.

  • High Porosity: Also known as “highly-porous,” has a damaged structure with gaps and cracks in the hair shaft. Its lifted cuticle layer allows for quick moisture absorption but makes retention difficult, often leading to problems like dryness and frizz.
  • Medium Porosity: This type is the most balanced, allowing for easier moisture retention and requiring the least specialized care.
  • Low Porosity: Features a more compact cuticle layer, making it less receptive to moisture absorption, but retains it well once it does.

Knowing your hair’s porosity level is essential for choosing the most effective wavy hair products and care techniques, helping you maintain healthy, beautiful locks.

Wavy Haircare Routine for Type 2A, 2B, and 2C 

Now that we understand what wavy hair is and how to care for it let’s discuss wavy hair routines. Here are some ideas for wavy haircare regimes: 

  • The first step in caring for wavy hair is understanding your hair’s needs. Wavy hair is generally more dry than straight hair, so finding products that hydrate and nourish your hair is important. 
  • Getting a curly cut is one of the best things you can do for your wavy hair. A quality, fresh haircut will help your hair look its best and make it easier to style. It will also have layers that help to remove weight from the hair and help define and add shape to your natural curl pattern. 
  • Avoid heat styling tools that can damage your wavy hair, as these damage your strands. 
  • Using a diffuser is a great way to dry your wavy hair without damage. Diffusers help evenly distribute the heat so your hair dries equally and with less frizz. 
  • Use a leave-in conditioner (see below to find out what the experts have to say) to provide ongoing conditioning and moisture, that will help reduce frizz and make curls more manageable. It also protects against environmental damage like humidity, making it a key step for your wavy hair. They can also help to detangle your hair and add shine and softness. 
  • Deep conditioning your wavy curly hair is a great way to add extra moisture and conditioning. Do this once a week or as needed. 
  • Clarifying your wavy curly hair can help to remove build-up and residue that can cause your hair to look dull and feel heavy. This will also help your hair to better absorb moisture from products. 

Using a Leave-in Conditioner for Wavy Hair, According to Experts

Image of wavy haired girl with conditioner in her hair.

When asked about her thoughts about using a leave-in conditioner for wavy hair, Award Winning and Professional Curly Hairstylist, Krista Fredericton had this to say:

“I feel that a large percentage of people with wavy hair have a finer, smoother hair type that gets weighed down easily. Leave-in conditioners can often weigh down wavy hair (formulation of ingredients inside the product), make the hair too soft, relax the waves, and therefore decrease the length of time the person can get out of each wash day. For 85% of my wavy clientele, I do not recommend a leave-in conditioner because if people want longevity out of their wavy hair, I do not recommend cream products of any kind and that category includes leave-in conditioners.”

There are a few special circumstances in which she may recommend using a leave-in conditioner:

  • For those with higher-porosity hair, Krista sometimes recommends trying a small amount of leave-in conditioner in the summertime, as leave-in conditioners are often formulated with film-forming ingredients that help to create a barrier to humidity.
  • For those who just really want a softer feel to their hair. If they don’t mind washing it more often, they can try a leave-in conditioner instead of a heavier cream-styling product.

Fredericton goes on to say that the argument with Wavies is always that they need a leave-in conditioner to help get through the tangles. Her answer is always to try spending more time working water and conditioner into their hair using the squish-to-condish technique and to try and figure out why their hair is tangling in the first place.

For example:
– Is it tangling from hair color or highlights? Use K18 and ask your stylist not to overlap the bleach when highlighting. Also, use Olaplex when performing their color service.

– Are they clarifying and deep conditioning (with protein if their hair is colored) at least once a month (or as needed)? 

– Is it tangling from hard water? Using a clarifying shampoo not only removes product build-up that causes frizz but also removes hard water minerals that cause tangles.

Tips for Styling 2A, 2B, and 2C Curls 

Styling wavy hair doesn’t have to be challenging and becomes a bother. Wavy hair is one of the most fun hair types to style because of its versatility and texture.

You can style your wavy hair for maximum definition and curl-clumping waves in a few different ways. 

Check out these techniques: 

Applying Gel or Mousse to Wet Hair

After showering and thoroughly rinsing out the conditioner, it’s time for the gel or mousse8 —a product that many of us may have abandoned since the middle-school years of hair experiments gone wrong.

The trick here is to apply a generous amount of gel or mousse to your hair while it’s still wet. Doing so is crucial for curl definition and hold.

The Scrunch Method 

Wavy haired girl scrunching in product.

To scrunch, apply your styling product (leave-in conditioner and or curl cream) and gel to wet hair, then scrunch your hair with your hands to help define your waves.

The Art of Air Drying

Next, let your hair air dry naturally. If you’ve already given up the blow dryer, this step should be easy to incorporate into your routine. The challenge is to avoid touching your hair as it dries.

Doing so can disrupt curl formation and lead to unwanted frizz. Unfortunately, this also means resisting the temptation to take a nap while your hair dries, as movement can interfere with the drying process.

The Squish-to-Condish Method 

Video credit: Alyson Lupo: real life+curly girl

This method can be done directly after you shampoo and condition your hair on wash day, with your head upside down.

To achieve it: 

  • With your head upside down, detangle your hair with your fingers or your favorite detangling tool. 
  • Apply your hair products to wet hair, then squish your strands with your hands. 
  • Prepare your hair for styling products by applying a small amount of leave-in conditioner with a lot of water. Scrunch your hair until you see clumps forming together. 
  • Micro-plop your hair for a few minutes using an old cotton T-shirt or microfiber towel. This method will help your waves dry faster and keep their natural shape. 
  • Then apply your styling products. 
  • Diffuse your hair on medium to low heat. 

The Pineapple Method 

Video credit: Alyson Lupo: real life+curly girl

This is an excellent way to preserve your wavy hair overnight. It is also pretty popular in the curly hair world.

To do this: 

  • Gather your hair into a loose ponytail on top of your head. 
  • Then secure it with a satin/silk scarf or scrunchie. 
  • Remove the scarf or scrunchie in the morning and shake your hair from the roots. 

The Bowl Method 

Video credit: SophieMarieGraf

When you apply products to soaking wet hair, it will help your wavy hair to better absorb the product and will help to define the waves.

You can also apply the products while standing up or with your head upside down.  

How to Make Type 2 Hair Curlier 

If you have wavy hair, you may sometimes feel like your curls are more of a bother than anything else. This is probably because wavy hair can be challenging to style.

It often looks like untidy straight hair – almost as if you have not brushed it or don’t know what to do with it. 

Wavy hair can also appear frizzy or unruly. You can do a few things if you are looking for ways to make your wavy hair curlier

If your hair was affected by heat straightening tools or harsh chemicals, it produced loose wave curls.

Go for deep conditioning treatments and protein masques to revive your wavy locks back to their natural state.9 Eventually, your damaged hair will shift into more wavy or curlier hair. 

You can also train your hair with the finger coiling method: 

  • Start with damp, clean hair and section your hair into a small subsection. 
  • Create a small coil by wrapping your hair around your index finger (or use a Denman brush) in a clockwise direction. 
  • Repeat this process until all of your hair is in small coils. 

You can also use a diffuser to help wavy hair become curlier. 

  • To use a diffuser, start with clean, damp hair.  
  • Apply a curl-enhancing product to your hair, and then place the diffuser attachment on your blow dryer. 
  • Start at the roots and work in small sections, moving the diffuser up and down your hair. 

The Importance of Using Lightweight Products for Wavy Curly Hair

Choosing lightweight hair products is a game-changing decision for those with wavy and curly hair types.

Unlike heavier alternatives that contain multiple oils and butter, lightweight products, often formulated with natural oils and natural ingredients, won’t weigh your hair down.

However, not all “natural oils” and “natural ingredients” are necessarily light as this would depend on the chemical structure. For instance, coconut oil is a natural oil, but is quite heavy and tends to solidify. 

Opting for lightweight products allows you to maintain the health and natural beauty of your curls without sacrificing volume or texture.

For a clear breakdown of how to distinguish between lightweight and heavy products, along with the science behind it, check out my blog post titled “The Stupid Simple Guide to Identifying Heavy and Lightweight Curly Hair Products.”

Type 2 Wavy Hair Products 

It can be difficult to figure out which hair products are ideal for creating defined waves that keep their shape, especially with so many options on the market. 

If you’re looking for the best products for whatever combination of wavy textures you have, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite wavy hair products to help get you started.  

Wavy curly hair product - Aussie miracle waves conditioner

Aussie Miracle Waves Hemp Conditioner  

The proof is not only in the name but in the formula. It is made with Kakadu plum and Australian hemp seed extracts.

This Aussie Miracle Waves Hemp Conditioner offers wavy curly hair with ultimate softness and moisture while fighting frizz.  

As a dual hydrator and definer, this gives your waves everything it needs without weighing curls down.

Set yourself up for a great hair day with a texture-perfection product. 

Jessicurl Daily Conditioner

Keep your curly waves in check from moisture to length and everything in between with this Jessicurl Daily Conditioner.

It is made with aloe and infused with coconut, jojoba, and avocado oil. This conditioner is designed to strengthen the hair for optimal length and nourishment.  

Wavy curly hair is known for roller coaster seasons of growth, but this conditioner helps prevent breakage and retains the length you want to preserve. 

Wavy curly hair product - Jessicurl daily conditioner

Olaplex No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask  

When dealing with curly, wavy hair, there’s no such thing as adding too much volume.

The Olaplex No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask uses a bond-building technology that adds body and shine while improving manageability.  

One treatment can help you rebuild your curls for defined and healthier-looking waves that you’ll be proud to show off anytime.

When incorporating this mask into your routine, you will have reduced split ends, frizz, and flyaways. 

Wavy curly hair product - Olaplex 8 moisture mask

Wavy curly hair product - Bouncecurl deep conditioner

Bounce Curl Ayurvedic Deep Conditioner

For a more natural approach to achieving greatness for curly wavy hair, the Bounce Curl Ayurvedic Deep Conditioner focuses on formula as a priority.

It is made with a clean list of natural and plant-based ingredients. This deep conditioner offers a clear path toward moisturized and smooth hair.  

While still lightweight, the benefits are undeniable with just one use. Even the peachy scent will make you feel like you’re doing something right for your waves.

You can use this as a regular or deep conditioner, depending on your needs. 

Wavy curly hair prodcut - Briogeo curl charisma creme

Briogeo Curl Charisma Crème

When you have curl waves, it’s only a matter of time before humidity strikes and sends your hair all over the place.

Keep your spirals free from frizz and frozen with definition with the Briogeo Curl Charisma Crème.  

It is infused with rice amino acids and avocado oil and works overtime to help your curly, wavy hair retain moisture and reduce frizz.

The bonus is that this product has an extra creamy, lightweight texture, so it never flakes or feels sticky.  

Wavy curly hair product - Living Proof volume and texture spray

Living Proof Full Dry Volume & Texture Spray

Your waves deserve instant volume and texture when they need it most. The Living Proof Full Dry Volume & Texture Spray offers a “light as air” approach to styling curls.  

If you hate whenever your hair falls flat, create some volume that lasts with this spray that doesn’t disappoint you.

This product will likely offer better results even if your hair rejects different crèmes or gels.  

It doesn’t leave a waxy residue like other texture sprays and is a true game-changer for how you style your hair.

This spray won’t disappoint you whether you like incorporating braids or extreme body.  

Wavy curly hair product - Pattern Beauty argan oil serum

Pattern Beauty Argan Oil Hair Serum

The Pattern Beauty Argan Oil Hair Serum is formulated with a remarkable blend of argan oil, sweet almond oil, apricot oil, sunflower oil, castor oil, and shea oil.  

This serum offers the ultimate nourishment for your curly, wavy crown.

With recorded results in just 14 days, it will exceed your overall health and strength expectations.  

It is a carefully crafted serum that narrows into the hair follicles, which is especially important for those who suffer from dryness and thinning stemming from various scalp concerns.

By helping to seal the hair shaft and prevent dryness, this product works in overload for curly, wavy strands. 

Wavy curly hair tool - cantu double lift pick

Cantu Sturdy Double Lift Pick

You may look for new ways to bring your hair to heights if you’re a curly girl with waves.

While still maintaining definition and shine, the Cantu Sturdy Double Lift Pick is a small win for every wavy-haired beauty.  

Instead of using your fingers to fluff and volumize, causing friction and frizz, this hair tool elevates your style to create more body and the desired look you want to achieve.  

Use it by gently lifting your hair away from the scalp to form a rainbow effect of fullness and texture.

You can even refresh throughout the day without drying your hair out with constant touching. 



Is wavy hair a type of curly hair? 

Yes, wavy hair is curly hair, albeit falling between the straight and curly hair types. 

Is wavy hair curly or straight? 

Wavy hair is curly hair that is not straight nor entirely curly but has some bends to give it more texture and shape. 

Is 2A hair considered wavy? 

Yes, 2A hair is considered wavy and can be mistaken for straight hair that is not brushed or has ponytail or braid dents. 

Does the Curly Girl Method work on wavy hair? 

The Curly Girl Method can work on wavy hair and is recommended to give a more defined pattern. 

Are gels good for wavy hair? 

Yes, gels are fantastic for wavy hair. They help to define your waves and hold them in place. Here is a list of our favorite 25 gels


If you have wavy hair, use this guide to figure out which subcategory your hair falls under so that you can properly care for your beautiful strands and give them what they need. 


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