For generations, hairstyles for black men have run the gamut. From the conk to the afro to cornrows, one consistently popular hairstyle we've seen for shorter hair has been waves. But getting waves is not an easy task.
A lot of guys complain that it's impossible to achieve with their type of hair. First, let's address that issue. The texture of your hair depends on genetics as well as the products you use to treat your scalp and condition your hair. Hydration is key and will determine how easily your hair can adopt the wave style.
So whether you have coarse, tight curls or a more loose curl pattern, you can get 360 waves! You just need patience, a few simple steps and the right products and tools.
What Products You Need to Get 360 Waves
As we said, how you care for your scalp and hair is really important. So every wave journey starts with the right shampoo and conditioner. Most products on the shelf use drying alcohols that—while they do deliver a deep clean—strip your hair and scalp of the natural oils that encourage healthy growth. So you want to make sure that the products you use add as much moisture as possible.
After that, you'll need a few practical essentials on the road to 360 waves.
Hand mirror: You’ll need this to use in collaboration with your bathroom mirror to see the back of your head and hard to reach areas when brushing.
Brush: A soft brush or double-sided brush, preferably with natural boar bristles.
Comb: This will help in ways your brush can’t. Find a comb along the lines of a barber comb or rat-tail comb. As you continue to grow your hair, the comb will be necessary to even out your wave pattern and address problem areas like forks. Growing your hair during the wave process is commonly referred to as wolfing and has a lot of benefits in helping you set your wave patterns and form those signature 360 connections.
Moisturizer/leave-in conditioner: Again, hydration is key. You'll need a moisturizer to soften your hair as you brush and train your waves. Even with a soft brush, the friction on dry or brittle hair can cause damage and breakage. So you always want to make sure that you have a layer of moisture while brushing in your waves.
Pomade: You want to seal that moisture you created by using the leave-in, lay down your hair and add some shine to really make your waves pop. Avoid thick, greasy pomades as they can clog pores and lead to breakouts on the scalp and skin. Using a water-based pomade that rinses out easily without compromising on hold is best.
Durag/Wave Cap: You will need this to lay your hair down while you sleep. Depending on how long you grow your hair (some guys 'wolf' for weeks or even months at a time) you'll need extra compression. You can use two wave caps or, what's most popular, a wave cap over your durag overnight. Using a silk or satin durags also helps seal in moisture.
How Long Should My Hair Be to Get 360 Waves?
You want to start with a low, even haircut, at least 1 1/2 inches in length. Having some length is really important because your hair will be just starting to curl. As you brush, you're essentially brushing those curls into what will become your wave pattern.
Due of the type of curl pattern you have, some guys may have thin, tight waves while others have a more broad wave pattern.
As you continue to grow your hair and have a consistent hair care and brushing routine, you'll start to see more definition. As we said earlier, your comb will come in handy during this process to help guide the formation of your connections and address problem areas like forks.
The longer you grow your hair or wolf, the better your results will be because you'll have more time for your wave pattern to set.
How Often Should I Wash My Hair?
We recommend washing your hair three times a week and conditioning your hair daily, letting the conditioner sit for up to two minutes before rinsing out.
As you wash, you can opt to brush in the shower to further train your waves while your hair is at it's most hydrated. This will help your pattern set and you'll see quicker results as you continue to let your hair grow.
How Long Should I Brush My Hair to Get 360 Waves?
You should be brushing at least twice a day, from the crown and out in the direction that your hair grows. The length of time depends on what you have available in your daily schedule. A brush session can be anywhere from five to thirty minutes depending on the waver. The key is to be consistent in how you brush and get in as many brush strokes as possible.
For an even wave pattern, be sure to brush all the way around using the hand mirror to guide you. In as little as two weeks of consistent brushing, you should start to see some waves forming.
When Should I Get My First Haircut?
You have to find a barber you trust to cut your hair in the direction your waves are growing. Depending on how long your manage to wolf and compress your hair, you should be able to get a haircut in about 4 weeks after starting the process.
Remember, consistently caring for your hair and scalp and having a daily brushing routine is key to getting faster results. Use this step-by-step guide to get defined 360 waves.
Adapted with permission from Kado of Elite Spins.