The Goal: Touchable, Well-Formed Curls and Waves
Step 1: "The key to getting your curls to take shape is to give them some direction while wet, and not to touch them when they're dry," says Luke O'Connor, a hairstylist for the Lukaro Salon, in Los Angeles. Work a curl-enhancing product through your hair, and use a wide-tooth comb to distribute the product evenly from roots to ends. Begin twisting small sections of hair, starting at the scalp and finishing at the ends. This will create smooth, uniform curls.
Step 2: Attach a diffuser to the dryer, and dry hair by cupping and lifting sections at the ends with your hands. Don't scrunch or squeeze the hair, which will only break up the curls and create a frizzy appearance. "Use a medium- to high-heat setting with a low fan speed," suggests O'Connor, "A low speed will help dry the hair into its most natural, frizz-free curl or wave pattern."
Step 3: When it feels nearly dry to the touch, flip your hair upside down and massage the roots in a circular motion with your fingers as you continue to dry it. This will create lift at the crown while gently loosening twisted curls. Once it's dry, hit your hair with a blast of cool air to help set the curls, then tousle it back. Next, rub a dab of pomade between your palms, and sweep your hands through your hair, gently squeezing the pomade from roots to ends. This will give curls and waves a soft appearance and smooth down any flyaways.
RS picks: Ouidad Wide-Tooth Comb ($7, ouidad.com). Detangles and distributes styling products through curly hair. Helen of Troy Euro Style Diffuser ($14, amazon.com). An inexpensive attachment to spread air and preserve curls. ThermaSilk Curl Perfecting Mousse ($6 at drugstores). Defines curls and waves without leaving hair feeling sticky, tacky, or crunchy.