5 Tricks For Getting Heatless Waves If You Have Short Hair

Because nobody wants to use heat tools when it's hot out.

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It's hot outside, and for those looking to stay cool in the blistering weather, a blowout or head full of curls created using hot tools just isn't going to work. That's why trying heatless waves are a must for summer. And while many tutorials are targeted toward those with longer locks, that doesn't mean those with shorter hair can't also move away from the heat.

Bustle reached out to experts, including Beyoncé's hairstylist Kim Kimble, for the best tricks for getting heatless waves for shorter styles. Not only will these easy, air-dry looks keep your electric bill down, the lack of heat will keep your hair healthier and give it a break from that high-powered blow dryer and curling wand you love so much.

If you've felt left out of the heatless waves conversation due to your lack of length, these five styling options will let you rock this summertime style just like your longer-locked counterparts.

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Kim Kimble says braids work to help those with short hair get waves just as they do for those with longer lengths. To get the style:

  • Wash and condition hair like you usually would.
  • Apply a dollop of setting mousse — she recommends her Curl Whip Mousse — to your damp hair, adding more depending on the length.
  • Once the mousse is worked through all of the strands, braid your hair into flat braids and let sit until your hair is completely dry.
  • Take out the braids and separate hair as needed.
  • Set the hair with a hair spray, like her Premium Styling Spray.


Brooklyn Cardenas, a national educator for Paul Mitchell and co-owner of five salons, says hair has a great memory when it comes to styling wet to dry. That's why she recommends sculpting your own waves on short hair using a few products and your fingers.

  • Shampoo and rinse the hair, then apply your favorite conditioner and detangle with a wide-tooth comb before rinsing.
  • Next, apply a leave-in conditioner and work it through all of your hair with your fingers.
  • Using Paul Mitchell's Sculpting Foam, scrunch the hair in small sections while also grabbing small pieces and bending and shaping them into wave patterns. For Type 3 and 4 curls, Cardenas recommends substituting the Sculpting Foam for Tea Tree Lavender Mint Defining Gel or Tea Tree Lavender Mint Taming Cream for moisture and better hold.
  • Cardenas recommends folding the hair down in an accordion pattern and holding for a moment to create an s-wave pattern, or twisting small sections around your finger for a moment before releasing to help shape a curl.
  • Finally, use a hair spray to set the hair, which will also help act as a shield to prevent outside moisture from entering the strands and creating frizz.
  • Once hair is 80% dry, you can use hair oil to break up the waves for a piece-y look and to add volume.


UNITE Hair Ambassador and celebrity hairstylist Graham Nation recommends a simple scrunch to get wavy texture in short hair. For the style:

  • On wet hair, apply a thickening cream — he recommends UNITE's Boosta — throughout the hair for volume and bounce.
  • Take UNITE's Beach Day Texturizing Spray and apply it throughout the hair.
  • Using your hands, scrunch up your hair to create a "piece-y texture" until you get the style you'd like.
  • Let your hair air dry.

Flexi Rods

Diana Pratasiewicz, director of education for OUAI, says you don't have to shy away from all tools. There are heatless options — like flexi rods — that allow you to get waves without heat. To try them:

  • Wash hair as normal and allow to air dry until just damp.
  • For Types 1 and 2 hair, spray OUAI's Wave Spray throughout the hair. For Types 3 and 4, detangle the hair and apply a leave-in conditioner, or Pratasiewicz suggests Pattern's Style Cream.
  • Separate pieces of hair into small, one-inch sections, and then, starting at the ends, roll the hair up over the rod. Bend the rod to secure it.
  • Repeat until your whole head is curled around the rods.
  • Sleep on the style and remove the rods in the morning.
  • To cut down on frizz, all hair types can use a leave-in conditioner or style cream to help keep hair hydrated.
  • Work through hair with fingers for the desired look and use a finishing cream for a light hold.

Pin Curls

For those with hair shorter than chin-length, Erica Conan, ColorProof Color Care Authority’s director of education, says you can still get waves using a classic technique: pin curls. Your hair will need to be three inches long or longer for this look.

For those with Type 1 or 2 hair:

  • Work ColorProof's Control Craze styling cream throughout damp hair.
  • Twirl 1-inch sections of your hair around your finger into a ringlet — the larger the ringlet, the looser the curl.
  • Carefully remove your finger and fold the curl down the scalp.
  • Pin in place with a bobby pin.
  • Repeat until all of your hair is pinned.
  • Let dry completely before releasing.
  • Separate and mold your curls to the desired effect using your fingers and ColorProof Crafting Pomade Texture + Hold.

Conan says pin curls can also be used on Types 3 or 4 hair. The tutorial below shows how to create the look on these hair types, and the process is similar:

  • Part hair and section roughly 1-inch portions at a time.
  • Spray sections with water to dampen, then work a moisturizing curl cream through the hair and detangle.
  • Twirl the section around your finger and carefully pull your finger free.
  • Fold the curl down to the scalp and pin with a pin curl clip as seen in the tutorial.
  • Conan notes that while Harris Janae uses a vertical curling method, you can also twirl your hair holding your finger horizontally. Then, instead of pinning the hair flat, pin it so it's pointing away from the scalp, giving it the appearance of having rollers in the hair.
  • Repeat whichever method you choose — vertical or horizontal — until your entire head is pinned.
  • Sleep on the pins overnight.
  • Upon waking, work a hair oil into your hands to prevent frizz and begin taking down and separating the curls.
  • Use a pick at the roots to increase volume to your desired level.

You can check out other similar tutorials here and here.