Bandana Waves

This technique is a no heat, no product way to get wavy hair. It’s very easy to change the look by doing more or fewer sections.  One big section produces a very loose wave, and five sections makes an ultra-wavy/curly look.  You will need to wash your bandanas before using them to make them softer and roll/fold them like a sausage, not point-to-point.  I did these waves in the evening and let them dry over night.

1.  Part your hair the way you want to wear it and separate it into as many sections as you’d like.  I did 3.

bandana 2

2.  Mist your first section lightly with water.  Fold your bandana “snake” over your section and pull your hair out to one side.  I’ve found that the higher you center the section, the more volume you get.  I did mine lower than I normally do because it was easier to photograph with the tripod.

bandana 3

3.  Fold your hair around the bandana, through the middle, and out the other side.  Continue folding around the bandanas in a figure-eight pattern until you almost run out of hair.

bandana 4

4.  For an extra bit of curl at the end, wrap the last little bit around the same side an extra wrap or two.  Secure the two sides of the bandana together below the hair with a hair tie.  Repeat steps 2-4 for each of the remaining sections.

bandana 5

Here’s what you should have when you’re done.  You can see how I separated my sections.

bandana 6

5.  The next day, undo the tie and gently unwrap/unfold the sections.

Here are waves fresh out of the bandanas.

bandana 8

6.  Separate the waves into smaller waves, if you like.  I split each big wave into two and lightly finger-combed.


Here is the finished style.  I twisted the front sections and clipped them together with a barrette.  The waves themselves are nice, but I use this technique many times as the starting point for other hair styles.  If you have thinner hair, this is an easy way to get more volume for buns or other updos.  If you try it, let me know.  I’d love to see pictures.  Coming later this week, a faux short tutorial based on bandana waves!

Update: click here for the video version.


49 thoughts on “Bandana Waves

  1. Pingback: Faux Short 1940s Swing Style « Rapunzel's Resource

  2. Wow what a wonderful and easy way to give some body to your hair…i love this technique…keep the hair styles coming. they give me inspiration! (o:

  3. I’ve never heard of this but it’s very interesting. I will have to try this. I love curls and my hair is flat, flat and flat…. I will hopefully post about it on my blog. 🙂

  4. I absulutely love this techinque! It is so quick and easy to do just before bed. Sort of reminds me of braiding. I was so amazed that the waves actually stayed in almost all day. That was the first time I tryed it. Now, after two more times, the last set stayed in all day and even the next morning it was still curly. I just love curly hair, but didn’t like the idea of using curling irons or bumpy curlers. The bandanas don’t bother me at all! Thank you so much for starting this blog. I, also, have considered chopping my hair at times! 🙂 These cute styles will really help turn off the frustration and bordom of the same few styles, day after day! I’m enjoying my hair more than ever! Thanks again!

  5. Just discovered your site and love it! I have had long hair on and off for years. but have often given up and cut it out of sheer frustration that I do not know how to do anything pretty with it. Your tutorials are far clearer and encouraging that most I’ve seen.

    I have a kind of funny question…in addition to your pretty hair, I love the blouse that you are wearing in these pictures. And you have several other pretty ones in other pictures. Want to share where you shop? Or do you make them yourself? That’s something else I used to do and am on the verge of going back to since it has become so hard to find pretty, feminine clothes that are modest but not frumpy.

    Thanks again for all your hard work on the blog—I’ll be trying some of these immediately!

  6. I tried the Bandanna waves today. I got a lot of compliments at work – well that and they were shocked my hair wasn’t pulled back in a ponytail or braid. (I go thru boring hair phases – I wore headbands for years and now it is a braid.)
    Unfortunately, today was very windy so I started off on a bad foot, but I have to say I am glad my hair was curly and windblown then semi-straight (my natural texture) since I just had to finger comb it.
    I did the little “hair down” trick – and it seemed to work, but around 4 I had to get my hair out of my face.
    These are similar to “Perm for a day” curlers I used in HS/college (U-shaped) but the curl is much softer. I stopped using them when I saw a picture of myself holding my eldest niece and I looked like Weird Al Yankovic.
    This is much better – and much easier to sleep on.
    Oh funniest compliment – “You have Harlequin Hair” Apparently on trashy romance novels covers, the women have long curly hair. It’s kinda a backhanded compliment in my opinion, but she meant well.
    I don’t think I will wear my hair like this to often for work, but for Sunday it will be good.

  7. Pingback: The Cecily Half-up « Rapunzel's Resource

  8. I just found your website, and I love it! I tried this last night and my hair looked so pretty this morning! I have really, really thick but pin-straight hair, so I did five sections and voila! Super curls in the morning. If I had curled it with an iron it would have taken me about four hours to get my whole head done, but with the bandanas (or, in my case, a sash, two cotton headbands, a decorative scarf and a rectangular doily, because I didn’t think to bring my bandanas to college :P) it only took about half an hour to get all of my hair wrapped up. These curls stayed all day too, with just one little spray of hairspray for a tinge extra hold. With the curling iron, my hair stays curly for about 3-4 hours and a TON of hairspray. I will definitely be doing this more often, when I want to add a little extra oomph to my hair. I seem to get stuck in a rut, either having it all the way day, in a low bun or rope-braid pigtails, so this will be a good thing to add to my hair repertoire! Thank you so much for posting this tutorial 🙂

  9. I like that it looks natural. I try to get some wave with braids and French braids, but it ends up looking like I obviously braided my hair to get waves. There is no braid that can get waves like these. I also like they end nicely, still curling… unlike, once again, braided waves, which end with flat ends.

    Whoever invented this way of curling/waving hair is a genius. Thank you for sharing and teaching.

  10. I’ve tried this technique twice now, and I love the results! This way of setting my hair produces a deeper, prettier–and less static-prone–wave than two tight braids (my usual method), and it’s easier to sleep in than sponge-curlers because there are no plastic parts! Thank you for sharing this tutorial!

    God bless,
    ~Rebekah G.

  11. If I used smaller sheets of fabric instead of actual bandannas for my Almost armpit length hair, would it give me the same results?

    • The reason I chose bandanas was because they were pre-hemmed and $1. Other types of fabric should work just fine (but maybe the wave would be smaller?). My sister recently cut her hair to armpit length, and regular bandanas still work fine for her.

  12. I know you posted this almost a year ago, but I love this way of getting wavy hair! Thanks for sharing it! Sometimes I don’t always have time to do it the night before or early in the morning, but for a quick wave what I did was microwave the bandana’s for about 30 seconds or more and then wrap them in the hair. 20-30 minutes later there’s a nice wave that doesn’t take hours with the curling iron. It’s not super curly, but my hair has a very nice, loose wave 🙂

  13. I absolutely love your hair! It is so beautiful! I have medium length wavy hair that doesn’t always wave evenly. I was looking for new way to enhance the waves without using a bunch of products, and I can’t wait to try it!

  14. Do you have issues with the hair tie holding your hair to the bandanna damaging your ends? I’m trying to grow my hair out and in doing so I’m minimizing the amount of contact the ends of my hair have with ponytail holders. (buns, braids, etc) I love the idea of this but the thought of sleeping with my hair grinding against a bandanna in a hair tie scares me!!

    • The hair ties shouldn’t touch the ends. If you look at this picture,

      and especially this one,

      you can see there’s at least a finger width between the ends of my hair and the hair ties.

  15. Pingback: Bandana Curls or Rag Curls for Long Hair « Rapunzel's Resource

  16. I love your blog! I just need to find some bandanas now. I haven’t seen any at the dollar stores 😦

    In the last picture your hair at the crown of your head is so smooth! when i sleep on my hair for styles then the roots are all crazy and have tons of fly aways!What do you do?

    • I use a modified version of the Curly Girl technique for my wavy-ish hair (link in sidebar). And I baby my hair so I don’t have a ton of breakage.

      • Ah I understand! What I was trying to say (now that I look back) is between the 2nd to last and last photos, your crown seems to have gotten smoother? Or maybe it’s just because the camera isn’t so zoomed in? Thanks for the reply!

  17. Discovered your site a couple days ago – LOVE it!!!!

    Cool – I tried them on my hair last night; my hair is pretty short, layered (just above armpit at the longest, above my chin at the shortest), slightly wavy, and THICK. Curling irons take 2-3 hours min., and last time I tried normal rag curls… was memorable (also took about an hour). I did these in about 10 minutes last night – turned out pretty good! The waves are nice and defined, and my hair is soft and fluffy.

    Thanks so much for posting – I can’t wait to try out more of your stuff!


  18. I just wanted to say that I stumbled on your website and really love it. I have extremely thick hair that goes about 6 inches above my waist. The trouble….waves, frizz and almost curls…but not enough of anything to call it anything. Anywho, I first tried your rapunzel curls (the bandana curl variation) but it didn’t work….my hair was damp in the morning even though I had partially dried it before wrapping the curls. Maybe a few more hours…but I’m afraid its just too thick for that technique. But these worked perfectly….rarely has my hair been this shiny and curly with this little effort. Thanks for the tips!!

  19. Oooh, this looks similar to the old Perm for a Day Curlers that they had in the 80s when I was younger. Only much softer, and not as painful to sleep in! I will have to try this out, thanks!

  20. Pingback: Video: How to Set Your Hair with Bandanas « Rapunzel's Resource

  21. I cannot wait to try this out! I’m a senior in high schools, and when I was young, I had long dark hair with beautiful curls. I then went through my ‘straight’ faze in high school, where I would straighten my hair every other day. My hair became so damaged and brittle, I hated it. So I did the only thing I could think of doing. I went to the hair salon, made the stylist dye my hair back to my brown, which a tint of red (I had obnoxious blond high lights previous to the visit) and cut my long, damaged hair up to my chin. It was awful, and I swore to myself to stay away from heat, unless necessary. I have been heat free for about five months, and I can see and feel the difference! My hair is about right below my shoulder blades, and hardly any split ends! So soft, and shiny! I found I cannot get my curl back, but I suppose my hair as become more relaxed throughout the years. My first day of senior year is tomorrow, and though tempting to grab the curling iron, I told myself my healthy hair is worth more then impressing people. I’m a bit scared to try this, because braids have always ended horrible with me, but then again, this is a different way. I hope it works! I’ll have to use socks of some sort, extra long ones. Thank you!

  22. This looks really good, but I’m wondering how this can be done on layered hair? I’m worried that there will be ends sticking out everywhere…

  23. I love this!! Your site is great! I have waist length hair and I’m always looking for ways to style it! Keep up the good work!

    Soli Deo Gloria

  24. Pingback: Haare - Haare - Haare - Seite 40 -

  25. Pingback: Ondular el pelo con un pañuelo: Por fin me resultó! – Cabellos y Hierbas

  26. thats a really cool way to make your hair wavy. I’ll have to try it some time.I’ll tell you how it turns out
    God Bless

  27. I have been doing your bandana waves for about three weeks now…after the first time I tried it, I found myself actually liking my hair, for the first time in my 52 years! My hair is very curly/frizzy, and a bit damaged from coloring/weave blonde, but using this and going to the no poo, cones or fates has made a huge difference! It gives me bigger, loose, pretty curls. My hair is a little past my waist so the first time I tried it I thought there was NO way it would all go around that bandana, but it does. THANK YOU FOR THIS SITE!

  28. Pingback: Bandana In My Hand | Frugal Hacks

  29. Hello!
    I just stumbled upon your blog. Your hair is beautiful and healthy! I am trying to grow my hair out, it is very thick! I get it trimmed about every six months, but I am struggling with split ends. How do you keep your hair split-end free?
    Thanks you!
    Blessings- Layla

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