Get The Look: Nicki Minaj at the BET Awards 2014

Here’s how to curl your hair to get sexy, beachy waves like Nicki Minaj. The secret to this look lies in the technique, but also the haircut. Beachy waves work best on medium-length to long hair that has long layers cut into it.

What You Need:

  • Volumizing spray
  • Straightening balm (if you have thick, course hair)
  • Hair dryer
  • A 1-inch barrel curling iron
  • Ponytail holder and bobby pins
  • Shine serum
  • Hairspray
  • Saltwater spray

Getting started:

  • Wash hair, towel-dry and comb hair out.
  • Prepping hair to hold the curl is very important. If your hair doesn’t hold a curl well, don’t skip this step. If you have straight-ish hair, turn head upside down and spray freshly washed roots with volumizing or texturizing spray. Massage it in (stylist Garren insists the rubbing motion creates body and texture). If your hair is naturally coarse or curly, work a straightening balm through hair to tone down curls. Here’s a great list of straightening balms. You may opt to use a heat protection spray to keep hair from burning.
  • Blow dry hair straight, starting at the roots to get extra volume. Hair must be completely dry for this look to work. Blow cold air at the roots to add volume (cold air locks in a style).
  • Separate hair into three sections, securing with a ponytail holder. (It’s easier this way to curl your way through each section).
  • To curl hair, You can also use a wide-barrel curling iron, at least 1.5 inches, but I strongly recommend investing in a clampless curling iron such as the T3 Singlepass Whirl (about $135). These clampless curling irons will change your life and the Whirl has a tapered barrel which makes the curl near the roots fatter while the curl near the ends is tighter. The curling iron comes with gloves to protect your hands from the heat of the barrel.
  • Spritz a section of hair with texturizing spray, then take a 1-inch portion of hair and wrap hair around the barrel of the curling iron. Note: If using a regular curling iron, wrapping hair is different from the traditional curling method. You don’t want to “clip” hair into the barrel. Wrapping allows you to curl all the way to the root. When you’re curling, make sure to leave ends loose to avoid a crimp mark.
    Release the curl after about 10-15 seconds (hold longer if you want a tighter curl). You should end up with a corkscrew curl.
  • Spritz curl with holding spray, then roll it up and bobby pin it close to the scalp. (I’m lazy, so I skip this step to save time. I also don’t like how holding spray makes my hair crunchy, so I usually leave the wave alone until it cools).
  • Alternate the direction of the curl as you work your way through each section. (It’s all in the direction you wind hair around the barrel of the curling iron. Start by placing hair on top of the barrel and wrapping around, then switch by putting the barrel on top of the hair before winding it around). Alternating directions makes curls look more natural. Some curls can remain tight, some loose.
  • Once pinned curls have cooled, release them.
  • Remove nozzle from dryer and gently loosen waves with cool air. You can also separate curls with your fingers, just make sure not to brush them out.
  • To add shine, spritz a hair serum. Stylist David Babaii finger-combs Biosilk Silk Therapy serum into actress Kate Hudson’s hair. You can forego hair serum and spritz with salt water spray. I like John Frieda Beach Blonde Ocean Waves Sea spray or Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray.
  • Set with hairspray — or don’t, whatever you prefer. Just don’t overdo the spray, you don’t want new waves to feel “crunchy.”