If the word “effortless” was to manifest itself as a hairstyle, it would be wavy hair. The texture—a happy medium between voluminous curls and straight hair—evokes ease and nonchalance from whoever wears it. Strands look shiny and sleek but have a bend to add some movement: You’ve done something but nobody can quite put their finger on what it is. The queen of achieving this look? Laura Polko, T3’s celebrity hair stylist who works with Gigi Hadid, Adriana Lima, Priyanka Chopra, and Chrissy Teigen. “I think every girl feels really sexy and put-together with wavy hair,” Polko says. Just look at her Instagram and you’ll see what she means.
So how, exactly, does one achieve the Cool Girl hair style? Ahead, Polko offers her best tips.
If you’re starting with wet hair, pick the right setting on your hair drier.
When she’s going for beachy waves, Polko will use the T3 Cura Luxe Drier with the negative ions off. “It creates more of a rough dry,” she says. “If I’m doing something sleeker and sexier, I will leave the negative ions on because it creates more shine and smoothness in the hair.”
Use a curling iron
Polko typically uses a curling iron with a clip over a wand or flatiron to achieve the loose waves. “With a single-pass iron, you can twist it and pull the ends down so they’re smooth and secure,” she advises.
Barrel size matters
“I think the most important thing is using the right-sized iron,” Polko says. Her go-to width is 1 ¼ inches, which she claims “looks good on pretty much every single length that exists out there.” One-inch barrels turn out curls that are too tight and formal-looking, while 1½ inch barrels can produce waves that are too big “and that is where people run into the problem where their hair falls so fast by the end of the day or night,” Polko notes.
Avoid keeping your hair on the iron’s heat for too long
The key for achieving loose waves is to keep the iron moving. “Don’t hold hair on the iron because it leaves a crimp in your hair—you’re able to see where the iron was,” Polko explains. “I’ll wrap the hair around once or twice and pull the iron through to the ends. You’ll get something more loose, super sexy, and effortless. The more you wrap the hair, the more you’re moving into curly.”
The final look depends on the right products.
“[For beachy waves] I would do a salt spray or a dry texture spray,” she says Our pick? Oribe’s cult-favorite Dry Texturizing Spray (we also love these nine others). If you’re going for something more natural, Polko says to use hairspray with a light hold so your waves don’t turn out too “crunchy-curly.” Another tip: Make sure to spray only once the hair has already cooled.
Setting clips are your best friends.
“If I’m doing a middle part, I’ll put a setting clip at the very base of the part, and then around where your eye is, I tuck the hair back slightly and put another setting clip,” describes the hairstylist. “When you take them out, it really frames the face.” These clips can be put in while hair is cooling and won’t leave creases.