My friend Leigh and I are standing in front of a full-length mirror in Soffe shorts and spaghetti strap tank tops, intently passing a bottle of hair gel back and forth. At this point, the bottle is half empty, and our fully saturated hair is almost scrunched to the perfect amount of crunchy scrunch to pair with our floral, ankle-length homecoming dresses.
In hindsight, the effect was less fancy-lady glamour and more, as Leigh put it years later in a Facebook comment on a photo of the final looks, “disgusting.” If only we had had TikTok back then to teach us that, for fine wavy hair, less product (and some plopping) is more effective — and that we really should have been sharing a bottle of a lightweight cream, like Living Proof’s Curl Enhancer for Waves.
I was a tester for the “Wave Enhancer” category for Allure‘s 2021 Best of Beauty Awards, and this stuff blew me and my waves away after the first use. I’ve long abandoned the “use a whole bottle of gel” technique, but I still sometimes have trouble finding a styling product that has the perfect amount of hold to coax my waves out of their shell without weighing my hair down. This, as you may have guessed, does just that.
To get the look I’m going for, I detangle my hair in the shower, then throw it up in a microfiber towel while I do my skin-care routine. Once it’s no longer sopping wet, I take my hair down and gently separate it with my fingers. Then, I rub a quarter-sized blob of the Living Proof Curl Enhancer, which is made with nourishing jojoba and sunflower seed oils, together in my hands and apply it to the lengths of my hair by sandwiching the strands between my palms and gliding them down.
Hairstylist David Lopez backs this up. “The number one tip I have for someone looking to define their waves is to not brush the product through your hair,” he says. Any type of raking motion “will break up your hair and create less definition.”
I plop my hair into a T-shirt and let it set for at least an hour, then use a diffuser attachment on my blow-dryer to dry it the rest of the way. “It’s very important to not touch your hair at all while it’s drying,” Lopez explains. “This will disrupt the natural wave shape.” The results of all this, for my hair, are super-bouncy waves with barely any frizz, but no crunch whatsoever. Middle school me would be over the moon.
Blown away yet? If so, you can pick up one for yourself for $34. And after you’re done here, check out all of our 2021 Allure Best of Beauty Award winners. (The entire list is well worth the read.)
Check out more of our Best of Beauty Award winners:
Now check out the products used in this 7-step wash day routine: