Messy Waves


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I know, I know. . .it’s not all that different than this tutorial or even this one, BUT THE SECTIONING IS SO DIFFERENT.

You’ll see when you watch it. And I need you to try it to see how different the end result is!

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My problem is always spending too much time making sure my hair is “perfect”. I love the look of really careless, messy waves but I had a hard time getting them until I switched up my sectioning and just left my hair alone!

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I love seeing your photos on Instagram! Use #smallthingshair when you share a photo so I can come and see it!

Want some flirty bouncy curls? Check out this tutorial using a curling wand!

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Comments (102)

  1. Rena says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I love the result! Now I’m only a bit critical if it will work for my hair, too 🙂
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  2. Kristen says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Your hair always looks great! Thanks for this tutorial. I can’t wait to try it!

  3. Whitney says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I love your necklace. Can you share where it is from?

    • Kate says
      Posted February 8, 2016!

  4. Lisa says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    PLEASE cut your hair!

    • Kate says
      Posted February 8, 2016

      no way! I’m really liking it long!

      • Charlotte says
        Posted February 8, 2016

        I love your hair long!! Even if I didn’t I would keep my opinion to myself! People can be so rude!

      • Caitlin says
        Posted February 9, 2016

        LOVING the long locks!!! (because I know my opinion means everything to you, lol!!!)

      • Annie says
        Posted March 15, 2016

        If I have thin hair, but I want a similar cut to yours, what should I tell my hairdresser?? Also can I have a list of products and tools used in this one? Thanks!!!

      • Lisa says
        Posted June 23, 2016

        Your hair is beautiful at any length!

      • Jaclyn EC says
        Posted June 24, 2016

        I’m obsessed with your long hair!

    • Kiera says
      Posted February 8, 2016

      Why would you say that? Why do people feel the need to share their rude, unsolicited opinions?

  5. Andrea says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Looks great and pretty easy too! What texturizing spray did you use? I have trying to get my shoulder length hair in messy waves forever but they always end up too bouncy. I use a 1 inch iron, would a 1.5 ince be too big for shorter hair?

    • Kate says
      Posted February 8, 2016

      Get a 1 3/4 inch! you’ll love that size!

      • Kate says
        Posted February 8, 2016

        I MEAN 1 1/4!!!

        • Andrea says
          Posted February 8, 2016

          Thank you Kate!!

        • Lisa E says
          Posted February 8, 2016

          Sorry, what was that curling iron brand?

        • Diane says
          Posted March 1, 2016

          I just bought the 1 3/4″. ? I’m struggling to use it I can’t get the hair into the wand! Keep burning myself, can’t get used to working from a mirror image.

          More practice required?

  6. Crystal says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Share with me how you color your hair!

  7. Alicia says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I love it! You are so fab!!! And I love your hair this length, don’t cut it! 🙂

  8. Stephanie says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Love this look and love your long hair! This is so helpful, I always section my hair off top to bottom. I have almost to my shoulder hair length. What size curling iron would be best?

    • Kate says
      Posted February 8, 2016

      I really think that you can’t go wrong with a 1 1/4 inch!

  9. Kristen says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I have heavy hair that falls flat by midday when I do messy waves. Any recs for prepping the hair before curling?

    • KC says
      Posted February 9, 2016

      I second this! I want to switch to using a larger barrel curler (in the 1’3/4 -2′ inch range for my length hair) but I cannot for the life of me get the curl to hold. I use a straighter instead and it takes forever!

  10. Michelle H. says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I can’t wait to try this sectioning technique! I struggle with top and bottom sectioning – once I start on the top section, I always end up pulling pieces from the already-curled bottom section and it just gets… messy. I think this kind of sectioning will be give me more successful curling results! Thanks Kate!

    • Dianne says
      Posted February 8, 2016

      I’m not sure if this will help, but I remember Kate saying in a tutorial that when you section off your hair, try to get a straight line to your scalp. Just like anything, it takes practice. But somedays you just have to say “It’s good enough!”
      Take care.

  11. Dianne says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    This is kinda the way I do my day 2 hair, but I’ve never sectioned it before.
    BTW, I like your hair longer. I’m never going short again!

  12. Melissa W. says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I have the same struggle as Michelle H. when I section the top and bottom. I get very frustrated and don’t curl my hair as much I would like. I will be trying this ASAP. Thanks for your tutorials, I love them. And I love your hair longer. Don’t cut it.

  13. Posted February 8, 2016

    Looks really great! Never cut your hair 🙂

    Kisses from ❤

  14. Lydia says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I love how you show so many ways to get a similar style of hair. It gives options since not one way works for everyone!

  15. Nicole says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Does this sectioning technique work with shoulder length hair that has longer layers? You don’t seem to have many layers now that it is longer (totally adorable btw!) I have a hard time getting the curls to look like waves, they always seem to look like curls if that makes sense, so I am wondering it is because my layers while long aren’t as long as yours are.

  16. Chrystal says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I love your hair tutorials! I am 33 and seriously just learned how to curl my hair a year ago with help of your hair tutorials! Your makeup looks amazing too!! Can you postage products you were using?

    • Gracen says
      Posted June 23, 2016

      So glad I’m not the only one in my 30’s just learning how to curl my hair. ?

  17. Chrystal says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I love your hair!! I am 33 and basically just figured out how to curl my hair two years ago from watching your tutorials! And your makeup looks exceptionally good today!!

    • jeannine says
      Posted June 23, 2016

      I’m 42 and still figuring it out. I always have a problem with my weak side of hair. As in I’m left handed, and curling my right side is always different.

  18. Alissa says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I love your pretty lavender sweater! Where is it from?

  19. Kaitlynn says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Hi Kate, I love your blog! I also follow you on instagram and snap chat. As much as I love your videos, they would be even better if they had subtitles/captions. I checked your videos and I don’t see the options to do so. I am hard it hearing and I don’t get much information from videos without subtitles/captions. I would love to be able to follow your tutorials, get full information on your product reviews and hear (read) about your adorable sons. Hopefully this is something that you can explore to make your videos even more accessible and reach an even larger audience.

  20. Elainea says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Ahh your hair looks so amazing! Mine is so fine and curls fall so quickly. I’ll have to try this technique though! && maybe I just need more practice haha

    toast the girl almighty

  21. Donna says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I think I’m missing the point of the dry conditioner from the video. Are you using it as a smoothing type product?

  22. Tessa says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Love it! Can’t wait to try it. I need to get a new curling iron, I think my 1″ is too small for all my hair!!

  23. Amanda says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    It looks beautiful! I don’t think you can do too many curling hair tutorials! I try it once and make it look great and then the next time I hold the iron on too long and end up looking like a beauty pageant contestant. Its great to have the reminder to hold it only a few seconds. i love the long hair!

  24. Jenny says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    What texture spray did you use? 🙂

  25. Kathy says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I Love messy waves!! I find them such a struggle to do though – is that weird ?! Anyways thanks for the tutorial, I’m just gonna have to keep practicing hahah 🙂

    Kathy xx

  26. Lori g says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    How do you decide which curling iron to use! I have the ghd but whenever I see you use the T3 or the BaByliss I want those as well!

  27. Morgan says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    This is exactly the kind of wave I have been going for lately, but my curls have been too tight! I am using a 1 inch curling iron. I wonder if I am wrapping too tight, or if a bigger iron is the key? My hair is similar to yours in length and thickness.

    PS: that purple shirt is super cute! Looks awesome with the lip color you have on!

    • Kate says
      Posted February 8, 2016

      Either turn the heat down or go up to a 1 1/4 iron!

      • Morgan says
        Posted February 10, 2016

        Thanks so much!!! Never thought about the heat. ? You must be a hairdresser or something! ?

  28. Mary Catherine says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Your closet looks amazing as the background of this video!

  29. Posted February 8, 2016

    I *love* how quick this hairstyle is. Never again will I attend a lab meeting with a drab pony simply because I stayed up too late the night before catching up on Gilmore Girl re-runs.

    Vis à Vis

  30. Hannah Braswell says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Please, please don’t cut your hair!! It’s the same length as mine so your tutorials are easily transferable 😉

  31. Nicole says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Love the closet as the background! Looks great!!!

  32. Jodi says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I love your hair long!

    What kind of texturizing spray do you use?!

  33. Kelsey says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Do you still recommend Hot Tools curling irons? Love your hair long!

  34. Jessica Spector says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Please share where you got that super cute sweater?!

  35. Emily says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I love the sectioning tip in this tutorial. I have been trying waves like this for a while, but they looked too much like ‘Nellie Olsen’. My waves looked much better today! Thanks for the ideas and videos! 😉

  36. Erica says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Love this style. Back in May I cut my hair into a long A line and now it is finally growing out! I can now curl my hair using your tutorials; however, it doesn’t look the same since it’s not the same length, but the method to curling I use is from your tutorials. I am very happy with the results. I use a 1 1/4 inch barrel curling iron by Hot Tools. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing all of your tutorials Kate.

  37. Evelina says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    I finally ordered a 1 1/4″ barrel curling iron after all of your tutorials! I have a smaller barrel one now that I use all the time but I’m loving the really loose waves in your videos!

  38. Chrissy says
    Posted February 8, 2016

    Love your tutorials!! You always suggest using texture spray. Why? I have very thick hair that I wash only 2x/week. It’s just way too much work to wash/dry and it looks so much better on the dirty days. I hate to spray anything in my hair because it forces me to wash is more often. Would you say all these products are a ‘must do?’

  39. penny says
    Posted February 9, 2016

    Please share pics of your new closet. It looks amazing from what little I can see.

  40. Anna says
    Posted February 9, 2016

    Hi Kate! I tried this tutorial this morning and am really happy with the results.
    Thanky you!
    Parting a bit diagonally and not straight downward really changed my game.
    Yay! 🙂

  41. Posted February 9, 2016

    Great tutorial, thanks for sharing Kate. Hope you don’t mind me pinning a picture to my pinterest? I’m going to try this way of curling as it looks so effortless on you and my length of hair is similar to yours. What do you do to your hair that it doesn’t look flat? Do you use volume hairspray? Thanks x

    • Posted February 10, 2016

      Tried the way you hold the curling wand and must say it transformed my locks. I’ve still got a lot of practice to do but am getting there. 😀 Please let me know what do you think as I’ve posted some pics on my blog 😉

  42. Posted February 9, 2016

    You are so beautiful and I wish that I could have waves like this in my hair. My hair is so thin and wispy. This look really suits you.

  43. Bethany says
    Posted February 9, 2016

    This was so good!! Thank you!! Do you mind sharing what type of texturing spray that was?

  44. Leslee says
    Posted February 9, 2016

    Redken Windblown was a game changer for me! LOVE it!

  45. Jess says
    Posted February 9, 2016

    Hi Kate! I tried this and my curling iron won’t easily slide through my hair like it appears yours does in the video. Any tips to help with this? Thanks!!

  46. Charity S says
    Posted February 9, 2016

    Not curling each section in the same direction on each side of the head… wow… Mind. Blown. Seriously, my previous hairdresser always told me to curl away from my face so I took that to mean that each curl should be curled away…but this method, this is amazing. Definitely going to buy more clips tonight and trying this tomorrow!

    Also, any product recommendations for fine hair to help hold the curl longer? Thanks in advance!!

  47. Mandy C says
    Posted February 9, 2016

    Hey Kate! I’ve been a reader of yours for a long time and love to try out your tutorials! I’m new to the Raleigh area and have yet to find a stylist I feel like I’ve connected with aka I still miss my Chicago stylist and his magic shears! Do you ever give out suggestions or names of local stylists or salons now they you’ve hung up your shears?

  48. Rach says
    Posted February 9, 2016

    Girl, you are my curling iron GURU. I’d been parting my collarbone-length hair in two, horizontal sections, starting from my eyebrows, but this morning I watched your tutorial over my coffee and breakfast and decided to try your new sectioning technique. It is MAGIC. I used a slightly smaller barrel curling iron, as my hair is shorter, and just didn’t bother curling the shortest layers at the back, but the results were really bouncy and tousled and amazing. You’ve changed my hair game again. Thank you!

  49. Kat says
    Posted February 9, 2016

    Hi Kate! Did you have any product in your hair before starting with the conditioning spray? Also, would you mind sharing the brand of texture spray you use? Thank you!!

  50. Courtney Johnston says
    Posted February 10, 2016

    What brand of duck bill clips do you recommend?

  51. Eve Wu says
    Posted February 10, 2016

    Hello Kate:

    Greeting from China! Do you apply heat protection products before using Curling or flat iron? If so can you share the brand?

    Many thanks and I LOVE your tutorial!!


  52. Posted February 10, 2016

    I tried this today and really liked how it turned out compared to how the waves fall in the lived in waves tutorial! Thanks for sharing – it really made a big difference!

  53. Jessica says
    Posted February 10, 2016

    Super tutorial! Can’t wait to try this. Thanks!

  54. Anchal says
    Posted February 11, 2016

    love your hair totally.. will try it for sure but I am facing hair fall problem, Is it safe to use hairspray on my hair?
    natural hair care

  55. Jessica says
    Posted February 12, 2016

    Not good Kate, not good at all. I now desperately want this curling iron! With a baby on the way maybe not the best purchase, but at least I’d have nice hair right? 🙂

  56. Posted February 12, 2016

    Absolutely LOVE this tutorial! So so stunning!

  57. Laura says
    Posted February 12, 2016

    Hi Kate!
    I’m growing out my hair and would love to try this! My hair is right above my shoulders. Would you do the same technique with my length hair?
    Thanks so Much! Love the long Hair by the way ?

  58. Nan, Odessa, DE says
    Posted February 13, 2016

    Waiting to see ALL your replies to the many questions!!!!

  59. Merin says
    Posted February 13, 2016

    wow:) Loved the post!! I am trying to grow out my hair!! Will totally give this a try!!


  60. Dawn Falconi says
    Posted February 14, 2016

    Hi Kate!

    I can’t wait to try this!!! I recently bought the ghd curling iron and loveeee it!! Thank you so much for suggesting it! Could I use it for this style or is it too hot??

    Thank you for all of your hairspiration! I credit any compliments I get on my hair to you and my hairdresser of course!

  61. Mel says
    Posted February 17, 2016

    I love love love this look!! I am going to try to recreate!

    Mel |

  62. Lauren says
    Posted February 24, 2016

    Holy smokes! Your hair curls so easily! I’m going to have to try sectioning like this, but I usually have to take much smaller chunks of hair and leave them on the heat for 30 seconds at 375 degrees. I’m so jelly!

  63. Posted March 14, 2016

    Kate, do you have any recommendations for those that can’t hold a curl? I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. Your help will be greatly appreciated!

    Belinda Solis

  64. Rose says
    Posted June 23, 2016

    What brand curling iron were you using? And what kind of spray did you use before the curling iron?

  65. Posted June 23, 2016

    Ooh the sectioning is so smart! Defintiely trying this!

  66. Tanner says
    Posted June 23, 2016

    Okay, I’m in Kentucky so my hair flattens pretty easily with the humidity.. And it’s getting longer! What’s the best way to keep my volume, and my curls from just getting nasty and stringy?
    I’ve tried a bunch of different hair sprays, and I love my Kendra volume 25 root lifter but it’s still getting flat to my head.

    Any other options?
    I’m from the south so I need epic- big hair!!!!

    • Tanner says
      Posted June 23, 2016


  67. Jaclyn EC says
    Posted June 24, 2016

    Love this and love you Kate

  68. Virginia says
    Posted July 22, 2016

    What texture spray do you use?

  69. Posted July 28, 2016

    I love your article. I have a video which I’ve collected recently about Wave Hair Tutorial, you can refer to them and give me some idea. Thanks your sharing.

  70. Mendi says
    Posted September 6, 2016

    Can you achieve this look w/ a flat iron? Also, what products do you recommend for fine hair that gets static-y and stringy? I live in Denver – very arid and I can never seem to get ‘natural’ curls w/o hair spraying the crap out of them so they’ll stay and not get static-y! UGH. I can’t seem to find the fine line between moisturizing and weighing my hair down too much. I need serious styling help. I want natural curls that stay put but I don’t have to make crispy! 🙂

  71. Lise says
    Posted October 10, 2016

    Hi Kate, love your blog! What did you put in your hair prior to curling it. My hair seems really flat on the top and my part always looks weird haha.


  72. Posted November 5, 2016

    The data is incredibly interesting

  73. Sherry says
    Posted November 23, 2016

    I want your hair!!!! Gorgeous!

  74. Kendall says
    Posted January 8, 2017

    What kind of curling iron do you use?? I’ve been looking to buy a new one and it looks like one that would benefit me!

  75. Hara says
    Posted January 16, 2017

    Pls let me know of the wand brand

  76. Danielle Clark says
    Posted March 10, 2017

    I can’t wait to try sectioning my hair like this! My hair isn’t super thick but I have a lot of it so I might have to add some extra sections. Love love love the look though and it doesn’t seem like it would take very long to do.

  77. Jen Everett says
    Posted May 10, 2017

    Messy waves posted on 2/8/16…what is the texturizing spray that you used? Didn’t see it in the Q&A area. Really need some texture in my fine thin hair….
    Love the look!!!

  78. Posted January 2, 2018

    Love your tutorials. Could you list name of products so I can purchase them like texture spray and the foam you use to volumize your hair after washing begins with a V I think.
    Thank you

  79. Taylor says
    Posted January 3, 2018

    Love this look and love your long hair!
    ( )