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Hair Tips: S Wave Hair Secrets


When hair experts talk about waves, they may mention the S Factor. This is tied to the fact that every type of hair has a different formation and shape.

As the famous Queen of Curl - Ouidad- once told me "naturally curly or wavy hair often forms an S shape" The lovely Ouidad who specializes in waves and curls also pointed out "the S shaped wave and curl patterns can be seen more clearly when the hair is stretched out". Besides the S shaped curls and waves is the Z pattern, which is actually a reverse S shaped curl or wave". Sometimes natural waves and curls "will have a combination of both S and Z shapes at the same time".

S Waves that aren't natural can be created a number of ways on hair that is straight. This can include utilizing wet sets with traditional pin curls, sponge rollers, rag rollers or curlers. It can also be created with styling products, the fingers and the tail of a comb.

With the proper cut, styling techniques and knowledge the S Wave shape can be created on most hair textures. Curly hair can be styled to form traditional S shaped waves.

History Of Creating Waves & Curls

Attempts to create sensuous waves and curls on stick straight hair date back to the earliest civilizations. History has recorded attempts by both Egyptian and Roman women to create long lasting hair waves and curls.

According to historical records, women from those ancient times slathered a mixture of mud and water onto their strands and then wrapped them on very crude wooden rollers.

To "set" the waves and curls the women would then try to harness "heat" by sitting in a broiling sun. While crude waves and curls resulted from all this work, the new textures created with the heat mud mixes were not permanent.

Weird Electrical Contraptions & Chemicals

As history progressed, straight tressed woman continue to pursue the elusive waves and curls through a variety of means.

In 1905 Charles Nessler invented a machine that harnessed the required heat through electrical current to metal rods that hair was wrapped around. A complex system of counterbalancing weights were added to the equation, hanging from an overhead chandelier. While the results were better than the previous mud sets, Nessler's machine was known to potentially cause electrical shocks and burns, not to mention the agony of sitting hooked up to a hanging chandelier with weights.

During 1932 Ralph Evans and Everett G. McDonough pioneered a new method of adding waves and curls through a purely chemical process that eliminated the need for Nessler's machines. Although successful, the Evans McDonough methods left much to be desired.

Scientists in 1941 developed a waving lotion made of a strong alkaline chemical solution that when applied to hair would soften and expand every strand by basically breaking the chemical bonds that result in natural texture patterns.

They also created a neutralizer lotion that ultimately hardened and shrunk the hair strands so that they conformed to the shape of a waving rods. The waving process did not require heat of any type and thus were known as cold wave sets.

The 1970s brought a wave solution that was acid rather than alkaline. The goal was basically to break existing hair bonds and then reform them. The difference was that the chemicals used were less harsh.

Sultry Strands Arrive In 2006

Over the years hair experts have worked with a variety of techniques to create a softer, gentler S Wave. Hair experts threw out the traditional hair perm techniques, perming rods and pins in favor or healthier wave creation techniques.

Many consumers believe that chemical perms are "so 80s" and are seeking a non chemical solution to achieve the S shaped waves and hair forms of their dreams.

Hairdressers are creating revolutionary wet sets that combine a variety of rolling techniques with traditional and hot rollers in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some hairdressers are wet setting hair using "rollers" made out of aluminum foil, forks, pipe cleaners and straws. They are also experimenting with a vast variety of rolling patterns ranging from precision patterns to random patterns. As a result, the hairdressers using wet sets to create the beautiful S shaped waves are experiencing stunning results.

The unique rolling and wrapping techniques used by hairdressers on both wet and dry sets have produced eye popping, mouth dropping S shaped waves, volume and soft perimeter curls.

No Chemical Processing

The new wet and dry sets designed to create soft, lush and all natural waves are created with either wet sets or curling irons and hot rollers on previously washed and dried hair.

Since consumers are extremely wary of any type of chemical waving or curling process, they are embracing this soft all natural curl and wave creation. Consumers are fed up with the known damage that chemical perms and similar hair treatments cause.

The beautiful S shaped waves can be just as easily created with the right styling products and curling tools. Consumers are also embracing scrunching in record numbers which can produce a fractured from of a S shaped wave pattern.

Secrets To Perfect S Shaped Waves

So what are some secrets for creating the new all natural, chemical free waves that form the traditional S shaped pattern? The key is to understanding your natural hair texture, working with your hairdresser to achieve the right cut to naturally encourage the formation of s shaped waves and utilization of the proper styling products and tools. Whether you opt for a traditional wet set with traditional pin curls to create a more formal finger wave, you use a diffuser to encourage free form waves or use hair rollers, the results will be different. There are also the option to utilize hot rollers and irons.

What is not a desired option is the use of any chemical texturizing. Consumers are lusting for waves and curls that are created naturally without the use of any damaging chemicals.

It is also helpful to have a wave creation plan that accounts for the correct size of rollers or the proper amount of hair to be rolled. When the sections rolled are thick, the resulting waves are looser. Thinner sections of hair create tighter waves.

According to celebrity hairdresser Robert Hallowell (Geena Davis, Mary Louise Parker, Jennifer Love Hewitt), beautiful s shaped waves can be created on any consumer that has hair long enough to be twirled into a pin curl pattern. Loose s shaped waves can be created when curlers can be rolled around the strands approximately 2 to 3 revolutions.

Robert pointed out that anyone can create all natural S shaped waves on just about any length or texture of hair with the right tools, techniques and practice. When Robert creates S shaped waves on his celebrity clients he custom designs the haircut and to compliment the way that he rolls the wave and curl patterns.


Naturally wavy hair forms an S shape. Waves that fall naturally into a shape of an S can be created through a variety of new rolling techniques combined with the right styling products. Wet and dry sets combined with new rolling patterns can result in lush waves with a traditional S shape.

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