My ideal hairstyle is loose, tousled waves — think "effortless French girl on Instagram." The only problem? My hair is impossibly straight, and I'm even more hopeless at braiding or using a curling iron. Even though I'm a beauty editor, and I write about hair regularly, my own styling skills are basic at best.
I finally mastered the undone wavy look a few years ago after TRESemmé global stylist Justine Marjan styled my hair at an event the brand held for editors in New York. Marjan, who counts Ashley Graham, the Kardashians, Olivia Culpo, and Kristen Cavalleri among her clients, gave me the effortless waves of my dreams using a flat iron and a few styling products. Her technique was fast, and seemed easy enough that I'd be able to handle doing it myself.
Since meeting with Marjan, flat iron waves have become my signature hairstyle. I constantly get compliments on my hair from friends, colleagues, and the barista at my neighborhood cafe. Then, I'm asked how I do it. While I know how to style my own thick, dry, straight hair, I wanted to get some general insight on how everyone else can do it, too. So, I reached out to Marjan via email to get her tips on how to do flat iron waves on every hair type and texture.
First, Marjan explained why the type of flat iron you use is crucial to achieving this look. Her favorite is the ghd Platinum Plus Styler (she's also an ambassador for the brand) because it has round, beveled edges and a built-in temperature control that keeps the iron at a constant temperature and doesn't damage hair.
"The beveled edges of the iron make it easy to rotate as you work down each section in alternate directions creating an S pattern," she says. "I also use the heated plates of the iron to press down on the hair as I push it through the iron in a wave pattern. This creates a more natural looking wave pattern in the hair that looks less uniform than a curling iron."
Before getting into it, Marjan suggests prepping hair with a heat protectant product like TRESemmé's Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray. Next, separate hair into one-inch sections and create s-waves by alternating pushing the hair through the iron and pressing the iron down and beveling it as you slide it down the hair. Once you've finished your entire head, she uses a small amount of an anti-frizz cream like TRESemmé's Between Washes Smooth Renew Anti-Frizz Cream to break up the texture and give the waves a lived-look. She finishes the look off by spraying TRESemmé Compressed Micro Mist Hair Spray Hold Level 4: Extend all over to hold the waves in place.
When working with curly hair, Marjan recommends blowing-out the curl pattern a blow dryer and with a boar bristle round brush, then go in with the flat iron. She finishes off the style with TRESemmé Compressed Micro Mist Hair Spray Hold Level 2: Curl, which is specifically formulated to control frizz and keep curls defined.
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This method is easy enough that even I can do it, but I remember I ended up with creases and dents instead of waves the first time I tried it at home. Marjan tells me that crimps happen when you press down too hard on the flat iron or hold it too long on one section. "If you don’t keep the iron in motion while gliding through each section, you can create creases and crimps in the hair that are hard to remove," she explains.
Even the simplest hairstyles have a learning curve, but along with these tips, the key is not to overthink it with you're going in with the flat iron. After all, these waves are supposed to look effortless.