A lot has changed over the last few decades.
People like to talk about hair trends like they don’t apply to men, but let me be the one to tell you – we care too.
In the 90s, men were rocking high top fades.
In the 2000s, I joined the thousands of men who were trying to make sure their waves were on point.
The 2010s had me spending hours with curl brushes trying to grow small locs.
Now, myself and tons of Black men are once again reverting back to the days of wearing our durags to protect waves.
Waves are an art form, especially when you execute them correctly.
And while we had to put in work in the 2000s to get them, things are much easier now.
I’m really just trying to help a brother out.
If you’ve never tried the style or are clueless on how to get started, here’s how to get waves as a beginner.
Start With A Fresh Cut
The best way to start off your waves is with a fresh cut.
It’s not impossible to get 360 waves on longer hair, but it definitely takes more time and effort.
Instead, if you want to go straight into waves, your best bet is to start with a haircut.
Creating waves works best on short, curly or kinky hair.
There are some things to think about when starting though.
You don’t need to be bald to start fresh.
Most commonly, you’ll see men start with a number one or level one haircut.
This means that your hair is about ⅛ of an inch long.
This length is easiest to start with because your hair is more flexible and is easier to manipulate into waves.
A rule of thumb is that you want your haircut to be short but not so short that you can see your scalp.
Now you’re ready to wash.
Wash Your Hair
No matter what hairstyle you’re trying to pull off, washing your hair is usually an important step.
This might be doubly true for trying to form waves.
The wash is where the magic really starts.
Now, I’m not going to lie.
I’ve washed my hair with body soap before.
I’m sure we all have.
That’s not the way to go.
Let me tell you why.
Body soap and most shampoos have sulfate in it.
How can you tell?
Sulfate is what normally makes things like soap and toothpaste foam when you combine them with water and add friction.
This can also lead to dryness.
What you want to do is use a sulfate-free shampoo on your hair.
This will be after your haircut.
And you’ll want to shampoo twice.
So you should shampoo, rinse, and shampoo again.
While you can use a regular sulfate-free shampoo, there are also wave shampoos you can look into.
And depending on how often you were washing your hair before, you’ll need to do it less.
Try to wash your hair once a week.
By not overdoing it, you’ll stop from drying out your hair.
Another thing you might consider is skipping the shampoo and only using the conditioner.
This method is called co-washing and is extremely popular among women with natural hair.
Because conditioners are naturally moisturizing, they one, stop your hair from drying out, and two, helps your hair keep its essential oils.
All of this is necessary to keep your hair in good shape for the waves to come through.
Train Your Hair
Now, it’s time to put in work.
You’ll find that most people stick to one of two methods when it comes to training their hair.
I’ll share the shampoo method first, but I’m a fan of the second.
One way to start training your waves is with shampoo in your hair.
The second is after you finish washing and conditioning your hair.
If you can’t tell, your hair should 100% be wet.
And while this is important, there’s something else you need to pay attention to.
The way you brush your hair is the most important part to training your hair.
You want to start at the crown of your head.
Your movements with the brush will be in down and outwards motions.
If you’re starting at the top of your head, you want to brush the hair forwards, towards your hairline.
Once you’re in the back, you’ll brush downwards, still moving towards the edges of your hair.
And because this is the most important part to establishing your waves, don’t be surprised when it takes a while.
You’ll probably want to spend around 15 minutes doing this.
You’ll need to go over the sections multiple times to get your waves going.
Plus, don’t forget that we mentioned your hair should be wet during this process.
If you notice your hair starting to dry, use a bottle with a nozzle spray to keep your hair damp.
Moisturize Your Waves
Another important step to getting and keeping waves is by moisturizing your hair.
Brushing your hair, especially for a long time, can cause dryness.
That’s why you want to make sure that you use hydrating products.
Not only will they help moisturize and protect the hair, but they’ll also keep the scalp hydrated to keep your growing hair healthy.
While you want to use a great shampoo and conditioner, a leave-in conditioner is going to keep you together.
You have to be mindful of what you use, though.
Pomades are popular in the Black community, but using too much on your hair can one, give your hair an almost slimy feel and two, too much can block your pores.
The best type of conditioner or moisturizing product to use is going to be one that has shea butter or essential oils.
The last thing to remember about moisturizing your hair is not to overdo it.
Our scalp secretes oil on its own.
If you’re not sure how much moisture your hair really needs, start by doing it once or twice a week.
If your hair is really dehydrated, you can space out time to moisturize your hair up to three times a week.
Wear A Durag To Protect Your Waves
One of the most crucial steps to gaining those 360 waves is wearing a durag.
You might think you can get those waves without one, but those chances are slim.
We’re used to seeing women wear head scarves or bonnets to protect their hair at nighttime, and durags are our alternative.
You’ll want to wear a durag for two reasons.
One, a durag will help keep your waves in place.
No one wants to wake up with their waves all in disarray.
Two, a durag is meant going to help lock in the moisture from the conditioner.
So the question is, when do you wear your durag?
Now, some men might tell you to wear it all the time.
I don’t do that.
This is what I’ll do.
I normally style it at nighttime, so I just put on my durag and keep it on until I wake up the next morning.
If I’m about to go out and I style it before then, I’m keeping my durag on for 30 minutes after.
And while wearing the durag matters, the type of fabric also matters.
Ask any Black woman what type of bonnet or headscarf they use.
Most likely, they’ll tell you that they use a satin one.
Satin is great for helping the hair retain its moisture.
When up against the alternative of cotton, cotton is likely to absorb the moisture from your hair causing dryness.
While satin will help keep your hair moisturized, the biggest benefit to it is that it will stop breakage.
Most men don’t think that affects us, but men can have weak edges too.
The friction of using something cotton on your head can cause your hair follicles to break.
And trust me, you don’t want to develop a bald spot while your waves are spinning.
It’ll take away from the appeal.
Regardless, a satin durag will keep those waves moisturized and smooth.
Polyester durags are also common while you might see someone try to stunt in a velvet durag.
You don’t need all of that.
If you’re going to wear a durag, and you should, go with a satin one.
What Supplies Do You Need To Make Waves?
I’ve mentioned some of the supplies you’ll need throughout this post, but you can use this section as a shopping list.
First, you’ll need a good shampoo and conditioner.
Like I said, shampoos can dry out your hair.
Because of this, make sure you’re picking one that is sulfate-free.
Another product you’ll need is conditioner.
All conditioners aren’t made equal.
They might all promise to hydrate your scalp and hair, but that’s not always the case.
While the products are made for everyone, I tend to stick to Black-owned brands when shopping for conditioner.
You should be washing your hair once a week, so make sure you always have these two products on deck for usage.
Similarly, but not quite the same, you’ll need a leave-in conditioner.
Don’t go around thinking they’re the same.
Regular conditioners should be washed out of your hair after application.
If they’re not, you could potentially be messing up your waves.
Leaving the conditioner in your hair could lead you to some problems.
The conditioner can clog your pores, stop natural oil production, promote hair breakage, and collect a lot of dirt.
Leave-in conditioners are meant to be left in your hair so they won’t cause any of these issues.
And while this product works best after the shampoo and conditioner process, get your hands on a regular moisturizer.
These can be applied one to two times a week – or three times a week if your hair gets easily dry.
SheaMoisture and WaveBuilder are two brands you can look into for regular moisturizers.
You’ll find them and other options in our post for the best wave greases for 360 waves.
Another great resource to look into is our guide on top wave brushes
Getting waves is impossible if you don’t have a brush.
You can shampoo and condition your hair all you want, but unless you’re brushing them into place, they’ll never appear.
That’s why you need to check out our list of the best wave brushes so you can get those 360 waves spinning.
Last, but not least, you’ll need a durag.
What’s the point of working so hard on your waves if you’re going to allow them to mess up?
While some people make wearing a durag a fashion statement, I’m only wearing mine inside my home.
Then, when I step out, I’ll take it off, check my look, and be on my way.
Should You Brush Dry Or Wet?
Black people, men or women, will somehow always come to this question.
To be honest, this doesn’t only apply to Black men and women.
It applies to hair in general.
You’ll find some different answers if you head over to the internet.
A lot of people will tell you to never brush your hair while it’s dry.
Now, if you’d talk to all the Black women in my life, they’d tell you that’s crazy and that they only brush their hair if it’s wet.
There are multiple reasons for this disconnection.
One, most people will tell you that brushing wet hair can lead to more breakage.
Alternatively, my mom would tell you that wetting her hair makes it easier to detangle and causes less breakage for her.
Now, if you’re looking to have waves, your hair won’t be as long as hers, but you still need to follow that advice of brushing when wet.
The fact of the matter is that wet hair is easier to manipulate than dry hair.
The only way you’ll be able to form the waves is if you’re brushing your hair while it’s wet.
Your wet hair plus the repetitive action of the brush is what will help them take place on your head.
Don’t Shampoo Your Waves Too Much
We’ve mentioned this a few times before, but you should shampoo and condition your hair once a week.
You might be tempted to do it whenever you hop in the shower, but you’ll mess yourself up for a couple of reasons.
One, shampoo strips your hair of it’s natural oils.
When you wash your hair, you’re removing all the dirt and oil from the surface of your scalp and your hair.
While that’s fine to do every once in a while, these oils are essential to keeping your hair and scalp healthy.
This leads to the next point that shampooing too often will stop your hair from being shiny.
While products like wave grease can help with this, it’s better that your hair is naturally shiny because that is a sign that it’s healthy.
Plus, who wants to have some dull-looking waves?
Men also tend to think that split ends are something that only happens to women, but don’t be fooled.
We can get them too.
Split ends are made worse when your hair is dry, and if you’re wondering why your hair never seems to be growing, that could be why.
And the last reason you shouldn’t shampoo too much is because it can get expensive!
You don’t need to blow your money on shampoo, especially when some of them don’t come cheap.
In the end, save your money because shampooing your hair too much will only leave you with dry, dull, wave-less hair.
Keep Scheduling Haircuts
How often do you get a haircut?
Every two weeks?
You’ll want to make sure you keep up with your haircuts to keep your waves looking right.
After your first haircut to start your waves, you’ll want to wait somewhere between three to four weeks before you get another one.
Waves show up more on longer hair.
That’s why you’ll see some men try the wolfing technique.
This is when they allow their hair to grow for up to six weeks before getting a cut.
Doing this trains your hair to lay flat at the root.
Also, because the hair is longer, it allows for deeper waves.
Now, you don’t have to wait this long, but scheduling your haircuts every three weeks will help make your waves deeper and easier to create.
How To Get Waves Conclusion
So that’s how to get waves. Waves are back like they never left, and getting waves doesn’t have to be complicated.
I’ve seen the style reemerge everywhere on the internet, so you better hop on the train before you get left behind.
While this is a great place to start, you’re going to need tools to get the job done.
A wave brush is going to keep those waves spinning.
Wave grease will keep your hair moisturized and healthy.
And trust me, it all matters.
Don’t act like you don’t want to look good.
Hair care is important for men the same way it is for women.
And any interested parties will definitely appreciate the look of a clean, fresh style.