How to Give Thin Straight Hair Waves

Waves keep thin, straight hair from looking flat.

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Gals with straight, thin hair can ride the fashion wave toward -- well, waves -- just like anybody else.The waves add volume and keep your hair from looking limp and lifeless. You can add waves to straight, thin hair using the same basic techniques you use to get great curls. The only real difference is that to create the wave effect, you need bigger tools and different hair care products.

The Products

When you've got hair that is ultra-thin and straight, it's easy to weigh down your hair with the wrong hair care products. The first step if you want waves is to ditch your heavier shampoos and conditioners and go for lighter ones that are designed to volumize. If your hair is really fine, skip the rinse-out conditioner altogether and use a leave-in conditioner. Then find a hair spray that offers maximum hold. These are lighter than other options such as mousse or gel but will keep your waves under control. For extra shine and flyaway protection, scope out a silicone-based shine spray.

Home Options

You basically have three at-home options to get your thin, straight hair into waves. The first is to pull out some big satin or magnetic rollers. The bigger your rollers, the looser waves you'll get. With damp or wet hair, spritz your hair with hair spray and wrap half inch to one inch sections of hair around the curlers. If you're in a hurry, slip on a hair cap and blow-dry your hair -- the cap will hold some heat and keep the brunt of the dryer's air off your rollers so your curls end up smoother. If your dryer has a cold blast option, use it right at the end to set the curl -- this option blows cool air on your hair instead of hot. If you don't plan on going anywhere, let the rollers air dry or sleep on them in the cap overnight. Braiding damp hair works, too, with braiding thicker sections producing looser waves. Twisting sections of your hair into buns all over your head is another trick. In the morning, take out the rollers, braids or buns, spritz with a little more spray, and scrunch your hair with your fingers.


Perming is a you-mean-business way to get your thin, straight hair into waves. Mark Garrison, writing in "Ladies' Home Journal," notes that perms are way better than they were in the past. Even so, they still can damage your hair, so only do this if your hair is healthy and the at-home tricks don't work. Perms come in three major varieties: alkaline, acid and exothermic. Of these, acid ones produce flexible, loose waves with less damage. Because acid perms produce such gentle results and straight hair can be resistant to perming, sometimes you'll get the waves you want by sticking with a a slightly smaller rod size. Use alkaline perms on your thin, straight hair only if your hair doesn't respond to the acid type.

What to Avoid

Just about every lady probably has pulled out a curling iron and other heat-based styling tools at some point, but because your hair is thin, you can't afford to subject it to these moisture-robbing items very much. Dryness can increase your risk of breakage and make your hair even thinner. If you absolutely must use these tools to create or revitalize your waves, concentrate only on the limpest parts of your hair, and use only the lowest setting.

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