By Dion Padan
The majority of the comments left on my previous two articles have been from readers wanting to know the best way to deal with thick, long, wavy or unruly hair, so I thought I would tackle this dilemma with a specific article on what to do if you fall into this category. This type of hair can be difficult to manage but I hope that by following some of my simple guidelines you will be able to get the most from your cut. There will be a lot to consider, but all of these tips are guaranteed to make life so much easier for you in the long run.
1. Look After Your Hair Firstly, thick hair needs to be looked after properly. A large percentage of guys still don’t invest in a decent shampoo or conditioner, but it’s vital to use high quality products in order to keep your specific hair type in its very best condition.
Using (read: stealing) your girlfriend’s shampoo might seem like a good idea, but if you don’t have fine/coloured hair and that’s the shampoo she uses, it just isn’t going to be beneficial to you.
The majority of shampoos on the market aren’t specific to a single hair type, they simply cleanse and moisturise the scalp whilst promoting healthier hair growth. However, if you are still struggling to find one that meets your requirements, you will find a list of my recommended shampoos and conditioners at the end of this article.
With thick hair it’s important to use conditioner as well as shampoo, even if it’s not used every time. This will help moisturise the hair and scalp and smooth the hair cuticles, giving your hair a healthy appearance and making it all the more manageable.
2. The Right Cut Secondly, choosing the right haircut is extremely important. Be realistic with your choice of hairstyle and think about the amount of time you have to spend styling it every day. The biggest issue guys with thick, wavy hair have is that they expect it to simply fall into place without any work or effort.
When getting your hair cut ask your stylist for tips and advice on how to recreate your style at home. They may suggest using a hairdryer and/or straighteners and they should also go through what products to use. I know some clients just think they are getting a sales pitch off their stylist but you should actually listen to what they have to say – I am certain you will see the results and benefits of using salon quality products on your hair. Going to a supermarket and picking products randomly isn’t going to help you get that pristine salon look at home.
Time is a major factor to consider with thick or wavy hair. Opting for a shorter style will seriously reduce the amount of time you need to spend getting ready in the morning – if this is what you are looking for, or you just feel like a change, the current trend in wavy hair is to keep the back and sides aggressively short, leaving length through the top (see lookbook examples).
I would always suggest paying a bit more for a decent haircut, especially when dealing with thick or unruly hair. This is because you’re not looking for a basic style here – you need someone who really understands how to remove bulk and weight from the hair. You also need a stylist who will give you the confidence and information you need in order to style the cut at home.
Texture & Hair Colouring Texture is key with this type of hair, so a barber who uses clippers for the whole haircut is not going to provide you with what your hair needs to look good.
Other ways of creating texture within a haircut is through colouring. Now, many guys won’t even entertain the thought of having their hair coloured but I’m sure that is because when I mention colour to my male clients they instantly think of having bleach in their hair. I have colour in my hair to create texture – it’s not about being bold, it’s about adding different tones to avoid the hair looking like one solid block colour. This is especially true for dark brown or black hair, which is very difficult to create any form of texture or definition.
There are several ways of applying colour: it can be painted free-hand or placed in foils. I wouldn’t advise going for the old fashioned highlighting cap as this can make the colouring appear slightly chunky and, depending on the length, can sometimes look quite spotty around the hairline as well.
Recommended Products The products you use on thick hair can make or break the style. If your hair is frizzy, try applying a smoothing/straightening balm onto the hair before drying as this will make a huge difference when it comes to styling your hair. If your hair doesn’t need smoothing, I would still recommend applying a product through the hair before drying to stop the hair from becoming too soft and unruly.
Your styling product is your most important consideration. ALWAYS make sure you apply the product onto completely dry hair. If there is any moisture in the hair the product won’t work to its full potential – it will sit on top of the hair instead of in the hair, resulting in a greasier finish.
As your hair is thick, you will need to be prepared to use a decent amount of product. However, start by applying a small amount and work it through the hair, making sure you get right down to the root area – if you still feel you need more, you can re-apply.
Building up your styling product gradually is the best advice I can give you, because there’s nothing worse than spending time on blowdrying your hair and then overloading it with too much product – we have all been in that situation where the only option is to wash it and start again!
With all this in mind, below you will find my recommended products for thick, wavy or unruly hair in a variety of categories. These products are designed to help make your hair more manageable and should hopefully allow you recreate your hairstyle with consistency and ease each and every day.
Here's the link to product recommendations
So there you have my guide to dealing with thick, wavy or unruly hair. If there is anything you’re still unsure of, please leave a comment below and don’t be afraid to ask your stylist – they are professionals after all!