The straightener technique that’ll give you expertly tousled waves

how to textured hair straightener

All it takes is a flick of the wrist

Editor / January 30 2020

Creating curls and waves with a hair straightener is tricky territory. It requires a bit of hand manoeuvring, and very specific twisting and sliding. And there are different techniques required depending on the finish you’re after. If your goal is to create tactically dishevelled waves that look effortless, but you keep getting spiral curls that are far too neat and ordered, you’re probably using the wrong wrist-flick action. 

If cool-girl waves are what you’re after, here’s how to get the look.

The toolkit

Regardless of how you’re styling your hair, when you’re dealing with a hot tool, you need to have a heat protector in your arsenal. We’ve got two options here: Redken Extreme Play Safe Leave In Treatment if you like applying your heat protector to wet hair, or TIGI Custom Create™ Heat Protection Spray if you’re starting your styling session with dry hair.

To create your textured waves, you’ll also need a straightener  (we’ll be using the Hot Tools Black Gold Evolve Digital Flat Iron) and a dry texturising spray, like Mr Smith Dry Texture Spray.


tool kit


Start with your heat protector

As we said, this is an essential first step – whether you’re using a hairdryer, curling wand, or a straightener. Why? The heat from the tools can gradually damage your hair, and when hair is damaged, it’s dry and prone to breakage. The Redken Extreme Play Safe Leave In Treatment and TIGI Custom Create™ Heat Protection Spray (and other heat protectors) help reduce the damage done, and keep your hair stronger. The Redken option is great if you like to blow-dry your hair before styling; as it’s a cream base, it’s best applied to wet hair. If you like to leave your hair to air-dry, then you can use a lightweight spray like the TIGI one (don’t worry, it won’t leave your hair feeling crunchy!). If you’re going in with a spray on dry hair, make sure to spritz section by section to ensure you’re covered.

textured hair how to


Flick your wrist forward

Separate a small section of your hair (the smaller you make it, the tighter the wave; the larger, the looser, so keep this in mind!). Take your straightener and clamp at the root of the section. Tilt your wrist slightly forward and slide the straightener down the section for about a quarter of the length, and hold it there.

TOP TIP: If you want your wave to be tighter, slide the straightener a shorter distance down your hair. If you want it to be looser, slide it further along the section.


Tilt your wrist backward

Now, tilt your wrist slightly backward, and slide the straightener further down for another quarter, and hold.


Continue the motion

Repeat this alternating forward-backward motion with your wrist until just before you reach the end of the section – you want to leave last centimetre straight. 

Repeat this same technique section by section, until you’ve done your entire head.


Add texture

To give your hair more volume and a piece-y texture, use a dry texture spray at the roots and ends of your hair. Then use your fingers to comb through and shake out.

TOP TIP: For more lift at your roots, lift the section up, and spray from underneath.

The final look

And, done! The whole forward-backward technique does take some practice, but once you’ve nailed it, you won’t regret the perseverance.

textured hair tutorial

If you’ve got shorter hair and are keen to create some texture, watch this quick video tutorial

And if you're keen to learn more about texture sprays, hit play on the below episode of Get Lippy:


Do you have a foolproof technique for textured waves? Please share with us in the comments section below.

Image credits: Sevak Babakhani
Hair & makeup credit: Lei Tai

Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.