My Wavy Hair Routine

You may have noticed recently that my hair is a lot less smooth and a lot more wild, and that’s because I’ve picked up my wavy hair experimenting again! Last year at the end of June I discovered and got deep into the Curly Girl Method and it was such a fun little summer project. My hair honestly got SO healthy, and I feel like it also grew faster because it wasn’t getting damaged with all of the heat styling.

Well, by October (right after my Madewell collection launched), I honestly felt overwhelmed with life and with the time it took for me to do the method and gave up. It felt like there was too much to remember and too many steps and too many products and I never fully figured out my routine. Styling with a curling iron was just faster and easier and that’s what worked for me for that season.

Well, now that we’ve been quarantined for months and I have all this time at home, I decided it was time to experiment again because I really love the idea of embracing my naturally wavy hair. And I’ve never been someone that needs to have perfectly smooth or styled hair—I’m cool with a wild mane as long as it’s not complicated!

I’d been following Atoya Bass for a while on Instagram since she has similar hair to mine, and I decided to join her wavy hair community this month. It’s been so fun to learn directly from her and get my specific hair questions answered and also so refreshing because she is all about making it as simple and minimalist as possible. The community is closed for now (possibly opening again in June!), but she does have a free “Minimalist Guide to Curls & Waves” download you can get if you’re wanting more wavy hair tips. Everything I’m sharing in today’s post, I learned from her!

Here’s the basic routine I’ve been doing and perhaps this is all you need to know to find your best waves. I didn’t edit any of the photos so you could get a really accurate picture of what my hair looks like at each step. If you still feel like you want more advice, I highly recommend joining Atoya’s wavy hair community next time she opens it up. She’s amazing! Such a wonderful person and just really down to earth and knowledgeable.


I’ve learned it doesn’t really matter for wavy hair if you detangle dry or detangle wet. It’s just preference. I like to dry detangle with a BeHairful Brush because it’s faster and easier for me. But if combing your hair in the shower with conditioner in it feels good for you, go for it!


I double shampoo. I know, crazy. But my hair is fine and can get build-up quickly so I find my hair gets more volume when I double wash. The first wash sort of takes out the product, the second wash is where I get the suds and my scalp feels clean. I’ve been using Kristin Ess Moisture Rich Curl Shampoo. Next up, I condition. I do not wring out the water, but instead apply about a quarter size amount of Kristin Ess Moisture Rich Conditioner to super wet hair after I’ve rinsed out my shampoo, and I try to “marry” the water and conditioner together (see this video where Atoya explains this concept). I let the conditioner sit while I’m washing my face, shaving, etc. and then when I rinse it out, I scrunch as the water runs through it to help it really get into the hair strands.


This method is a game-changer, and the name of it is exactly what you do. I shut off the shower water, flip my hair over, coat it with gel, and scrunch the gel in. You can see Atoya show the method here. I do that method with Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Curl Enhancing Jelly—and yes, I use as much gel as Atoya does in her video! Once it’s all coated, I then use a soft t-shirt to scrunch out some of the water and further set the wave. Atoya recommends scrunching and holding for a few seconds up near the root, so I do that, too!


Sometimes I air dry, and sometimes I diffuse. Lately I’ve been dabbling more in diffusing because love the results I get and I love that then I don’t have to deal with wet hair for hours. My hair is fine so it dries with the diffuser in about 20-25 minutes. I dry it with a high speed on medium/low heat. Here I’m using the Kristin Ess hair diffuser, but I also really love the Xtava Black Orchid diffuser because it’s a lot deeper and really can hold my long hair. But you absolutely do not need to diffuse your hair and can let it air dry if you have the time!


Once it’s 100% dry, I shake out the roots and scrunch my hair to make sure there isn’t any crunchiness from the gel. Then I’m done!

DAY 2, 3, 4…

I’ve gotten a few questions about refreshing and what I do with my hair on day 2 or 3 (or even 4), so I’ll address that really quick. I usually wash my hair in the afternoon/evening so on day 2 I usually do absolutely nothing. On day 3, I like to use a fine mist water bottle with just water in it (no added conditioner or gel or anything) to re-wet my hair and reactivate the gel I used on my wash day. Then I sort of smooth it lightly with flat hands and then scrunch a bit. This usually makes my hair even wavier than day 1! Sometimes, I’ll also add some Kristin Ess Signature Hair Water, which is an ultra-fine mist with a tiny bit of castor oil in it to keep hair moisturized and also add some texture and volume.

I’m still figuring out my part (and if it’s even realistic to have a part with wavy hair). I love a middle part, but the way my hair curls it’s been tricky to make it happen—I’ll keep experimenting, though, and will share if I figure it out. Until then, I just kind of flip my hair back and forth all day and let it be wild.

Any other questions? Leave the, below!


Leave a Comment


  1. 2.4.21

    This one is a real game-changer. Waves can easily be weighed down, so it’s best to use the right type of products: lightweight ones.

  2. 1.11.21
    Bridget said:

    Hi! Thank you so much for sharing this … it’s the answer I’ve been searching for! (Dramatic but true lol!) I tried it out yesterday and it worked so well for my hair. My question is how you sleep on it. This morning my hair seems frizzy and a little flatter … I slept with it down but not sure that was the right option. I’d be interested what your experience is. Thanks!!

    • 4.26.21
      Natalie said:

      I usually sleep with it in a loose “pineapple” bun on top of my head with a scrunchie!

  3. 9.12.20
    sofia said:

    Hi! Do you use any clarifying shampoos? If yes, do you condition after? Also I heard we should use scalp care shampoo other than deep nourishing shampoo. Is it true?

  4. 8.20.20
    Vanessa said:

    Thanks for sharing these tips! I also have the Kristin Ess blow dryer. Does the black orchid diffuser head fit on it?

    • 12.27.20
      SuzieQ said:

      Can I just say, I’ve just started to embrace my wavy hair and I love how simple this post was!! There are so many in depth blogs that left my head spinning. Thank you for the simple and effective tips on day to day styling!!

  5. 7.16.20
    Melanie said:

    Hi! I just tried this the other day and am soooo impressed with the results! I honestly did not know my hair could get this curly so naturally and without heat! I don’t wash my hair every day and have noticed some frizz. Wondering what you would recommend for that? Would the hair water help? Any tips would be appreciated!

  6. 5.26.20
    Bryony said:

    This is so helpful, I’ve been following your hair journey and you’ve encouraged me to embrace my natural curl. I’ve been styling my curls with straighteners for the last year after getting completely overwhelmed by the curly girl method last year so your method has given me some hope that curly doesn’t have to be complicated! Quick question, was your hair particularly damaged from the heat when you started this new method? Thanks Natalie 🙂

    • 5.27.20
      Natalie said:

      My hair has gotten pretty healthy over the past couple of years since I generally minimize heat and I haven’t added any bleach or hair color to it in probably 1.5 years at this point. Plus when I started doing CGM last summer my hair grew so much faster and got super healthy from no heat styling and more gentle hair care products. Even my hair stylist couldn’t believe it! Following a simple version of the Curly Girl Method for sure will get your hair healthy again if it’s damaged.

  7. 5.13.20
    Sarah said:

    I’m really sensitive to scents and I haven’t been able to use any of the Kristin Ess products I have tried (air dry creme, sea salt air dry spray) due to the strong smell. How would you say the curl line is for smell (currently not shopping Target in store otherwise I would smell them all)?

    • 5.17.20
      Natalie said:

      It’s less scented than some of the other products in my opinion, but definitely still fragranced. I’d try the fragrance-free shampoo and conditioner instead. I also have that and it’s lovely!

  8. 5.10.20
    Amanda said:

    Do you wrap up your hair at night? How do you sleep and still keep your waves intact?

    • 5.11.20
      Natalie said:

      I sleep with my hair in a “pineapple” bun—basically a really loose bun on top of my head with a silk scrunchie. I also sleep on a silk pillowcase.

  9. 5.9.20
    Kellie said:

    On Day 2 and 3 you don’t brush your hair, right? Do you sleep with it in a silk cap or low bun? Thanks for all the info!

    • 5.11.20
      Natalie said:

      That’s right! I only brush it right before my shower. I sleep with my hair in a “pineapple” bun—basically a really loose bun on top of my head with a silk scrunchie. I also sleep on a silk pillowcase.

  10. 5.9.20
    Heather Martin said:

    I found Snozzle Pro and now I can use the Orchid diffuser on ANY hairdryer, except Dyson!

    • 9.6.20
      Valerie said:

      Hi Heather, there’s actually a SnozzlePro hack for the Dyson hair dryer! Check it out here:

  11. 5.9.20
    Jill said:

    I have been following your wavy hair journey religiously the past few weeks! Thank you for the detailed updates, it’s so helpful! My hair is similar to yours, just less of it. I noticed in a couple stories you used the As I Am co wash on occasion. When is this incorporated into the routine? And also a SheaMoisture masque at one point. Just curious if you found these products didn’t work as well or why you stuck with Kristin Ess. Thanks, Natalie!

    • 5.11.20
      Natalie said:

      I used those products last year, but then gave up on the Curly Girl Method. I don’t have them anymore, so when I decided to go naturally wavy again I just got some of the new Kristin Ess products to try because they’re easy to get from Target and the price point is great.

  12. 5.9.20
    Mad said:

    Is her Guide for her clients only?

    • 5.9.20
      Anonymous said:

      Nope! You can download!