Over the past few years, the tousled beach-wave look has proven to be much more than a passing trend. It’s a hairstyle with staying power, possibly on its way to iconic status. Inspired by that perfectly mussed-up state our salt-infused hair gets in after a day at the beach, the look is seemingly unfussy, effortlessly chic.
But, the truth is — much like the no-makeup makeup look — if there isn’t a massive body of saltwater on hand, achieving this style actually takes some effort.
Luckily, there are experts who can guide us on our way — and great products to use. Here, Lizzy Weinberg, a hairstylist at
Pas de Deux Salon in Tribeca, tells you exactly how to get beachy waves whether your hair is stick-straight, super-curly, or anything in-between.
Fine Hair If your hair often falls flat, obtaining those perfectly imperfect beach waves may seem like a pipe dream (at least for longer than an hour). But, with Weinberg’s guidance, your surfer-girl style is sure to last. Start by scrunching a texturizing mousse through your damp strands, and then rough-dry with a blowdryer. “Avoid too much smoothing with a brush,” says Weinberg. “You want the ends to have a textured, unfinished look.”
Surfcomber Tousled Texture Mousse,
Perfect for fine or straight hair, this spray adds texture
volume — plus, it's super long-lasting, keeping your hair full of body all day.
Full Dry Volume Blast, $29, available at
Once your hair is dry, take angled sections rather than ones that go straight across (this makes the hair lay softer and more naturally) and add a wave with a wand or hot iron. For shorter hair, use a one-inch barrel and for longer locks, a wider barrel will give a looser wave. Wrap the hair around the wand, only from the middle to about an inch from the ends.
After you drop the curl, lightly tug on the end to loosen the wave. If you want an extra tousled look, twist the hair before you curl it. Once your head is done, finish it off with a volumizing texture spray.
Big Sexy Hair
If your roots feel a little flat or need a bit more edge, sprinkle some Kevin Murphy Powder Puff and massage through to add volume and dryness — just like you'd have during a day at the beach.
Tip: Go easy, a little goes a long way!
Powder Puff Volumising Powder,
If your hair refuses to hold a wave no matter how much product you put in, you need to start in the shower. This shampoo will set the base for those air-dried waves, but you'll still want to follow up with salt spray.
Beach Blonde Cool Dup Purifying Shampoo, $9.99, available at
Curly Hair The curly-haired may not consider beachy waves, but guess what? You can relax your tresses into a less defined, more beach-babe state. “I have a great trick for curly hair, especially if it is below the shoulders,” says Weinberg. “And, it requires no heat, just a good night's rest!” Wash and condition your hair before bed. Then, towel it dry, but be sure not to rough it up — just gently press and squeeze with the towel until you absorb all the moisture. When you're done, brush through it and apply a heavy oil. If you have extra curly hair, it's helpful to blow out the front, where your part is, and your bangs first.
Next, divide your hair into two sections and loosely braid each side keeping the top as smooth as possible. Pull on the braid after it's secured with an elastic, so it's wide and loose. Then, pin them on top of your head like a headband. This will prevent them from frizzing while you sleep, and will make your hair dry into waves rather than curling into its usual ringlets, explains Weinberg.
When you wake up, take them down, shake them out, and spray with a texturizing spray. “When you take it down in the morning, it will be like 90% dry," says Weinberg. "So, when it air-dries it just fills out and gives you perfect, '70s-rocker hair.”
Finish off the look with this light cream wax to smooth out the hairline and control any flyaways. You can also apply it to the ends if you want a little more piecey-ness.
Shu Uemura Art Of Hair
If creams feel too heavy, pick up this lightweight gel instead. It'll give your hair texture and hold without ever getting crunchy.
Haute Mess Texture Gel, $9, available at
Straight Hair Using braids to get beach waves works with straight hair, but you’ll need a flat iron. Apply a heat protector to your strands, and rough-dry until completely dry.
Heat-Protective Silk Straightening Cream,
Divide your hair in two, braid both sections, and secure with an elastic. “I like to really just braid the mid-sections, leaving the ends straighter and roots flatter," says Weinberg. "This gives that perfect, '70s beach-bum look.” Then, take a flat iron and clamp all the way down on the braids numerous times. Undo the braids, and apply a texturizing spray.
Down & Out Dirty Spray, $29, available at
This spray is packed with algae extract, amino acids, vitamins, and antioxidants — all of which work in tandem to add texture to the hair without drying it out. Now, it won't give you fully-formed waves, but a generous misting of this stuff into towel-dried hair will make air-drying go so much better.
Honestly Effortless Sea Salt Spray, $18, available at
Beach waves don't have to translate into crunchy kinks. The key is to create soft, effortless bends without any of the sticky hold. This wave spray is the subtle version of your favorite texturizing mists, but with tousled results that won't take hours.
Sail Soft Wave Spray, $29, available at
If your hair is super-straight, braids might not be the way to go: You’ll need more product and heat-styling. Start with something really sticky, like the Kevin Murphy Hair Resort texturizer, and then rough-dry while twisting your hair. Once it's dry and a bit tacky, use a three-quarter-inch curling iron (this might be smaller than you would normally use) and wrap the hair, starting about two inches away from the root, hold, drop, and gently pull at the end.
Hair Resort Beach Texturiser,
Whichever way you get the wave, you should top off your look with a light finishing spray.
Shaper Plus Hair Spray,
Wavy Hair For hair that has less frizz and a slight wave already, first apply a texture spray to wet strands. Then, as you blowdry take small sections and twist them. Then, roll the twists into loose pin-curls and secure against your head, leaving out the ends. Once all hair is set, take it down, shake it out, and spritz again with a texture spray. “A middle part looks great with this look,” says Weinberg. “Set the hair behind the ear for awhile to get that great dent.”
Shu Uemura Art Of Hair
Finish the look by applying a serum to ends to add a little glow.
Silk Therapy Oil,
The volumizing spray that leaves your roots lifted and ends twisted like you just found out Blake Lively's hair secret and put it to work.
Un.Done Texture Spray, $24, available at
Thick Hair “With thicker hair, you want less volume at the roots and more drama in the mid-sections,” explains Weinberg. To achieve this, first blowdry your hair smooth by flat-wrapping it with a paddle brush. Don't worry about the middle or ends: Focus on smoothing out your part. Once your hair is about 80% dry, section it into quadrants and add a smoothing serum or leave-in conditioner. Coconut oil is a great natural alternative.
Coconut Premium Oil,
Twist each section, and let it coil into a little knot. Start the knots low at the nape of the neck in the back, and around the ears in the front. Pin them to your head, and let them air-dry. If you have limited time, diffuse the sections. Once your hair is dry, take them down, shake them out, and spritz with a texturizing spray.
This Is A Sea Salt Spray,
"With really thick hair, I finish with oils or creamy pomade," says Weinberg. "I like to cocktail pomade with a hint of oil or serum to keeps loads of moisture in the hair."
Playful Weightless Creme Pomade,
This smoothing cream adds perfectly tousled texture, while keeping your hair fly-away free.
Bed Head After-Party Smoothing Cream, $23, available at
All Hair Types
It would be a shame not to mention Oribe's classic, wave-creating formula. Think of it as a texture spray laced with oil, which creates a lived-in finish with smoothness and shine. It won't weigh down fine hair or dry out thick hair — which is why pros swear by it for just about every hair type.
Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray, $39, available at
This spray creates
waves, minus the stick. Regardless of your hair texture, spritz a few pumps through day-two hair for a pretty, bedhead effect.
Wave Spray, $26, available at
This shimmery formula delivers moisture and a
glossy, shiny finish
for any hair color.
Shimmer Shine, $27.95, available at
For strong hold and a shiny finish, scoop out a small amount of this whipped cream and gently run it through your ends. The formula is so light, even those with fine hair will find it doesn't weigh them down.
Light Elements Defining Whip, $25, available at
Spritz this texture spray from roots to ends, then scrunch for all-over separation. It can even be used just at the root for added volume.
Beach Club Texture Spray, $29, available at
This salt spray gives amazing grip and texture, plus it's infused with hibiscus, which the brands says is a secret for adding both strength and shine.
Enchanted Island Salt Spray, $32, available at
Gel is a great option when the weather is humid — and this one is a R29 favorite. Infused with coconut oil, it adds volume and hydration with hold. Celebrity hairstylist
that bouncy, frizz-free waves are easy, just leave your hair alone while it dries (after applying, of course). "The more you touch it, the less wave you’ll end up with," he says.
Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel, $29, available at
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