It's officially August, and that means the end of summer is looming on the horizon. But that
doesn't mean the sun is setting on one of L.A.'s favorite hairstyles: beach waves. We admit, it may be far easier (and more enjoyable) to accomplish the hot-weather favorite with an actual beach under your feet. However, rocking this look well into fall is easy sans surf — as long as you know what you're doing. For an expert how-to, we tapped red carpet Hollywood hairstylist Ryan Richman. The L.A. local knows a thing or two about the subject — he gives clients such as Lorde, Ashley Tisdale, Sarah Hyland, and the sisters of Haim enviable waves that range from subtle to messy to glamorous. Of course, picking which one of these variations to learn was nearly impossible, so we asked for all three. And the perfect model to rock these looks? None other than Becky Hearn (or Becky Bunz, if you follow her on Instagram). A true L.A. creative multi-hyphenate, she's one of the forces behind unisex clothing line NoonGoons, freelances for multiple brands across the fashion landscape in L.A., and loaned us her enviable head of hair for the shoot. Ahead, Richman walks us through three different versions of SoCal's raddest style. Pull up a beach towel seat and prepare to be schooled in the art of beach waves.
Look 1: The Flat-Iron Wave "The flat-iron wave is great for people who want to do a quick touch-up on their hair as they’re running out the door in the morning," Richman says. "It's an easy way to get a very cool, Kate Moss or Erin Wasson type of texture." That means you can wash and air-dry your locks the night before, work with a day-old blowout, or polish second- or third-day hair easily with this fast technique. Plus, it works on any hair type or length: "This style allows you to work with the natural texture you woke up with," Richman says. If you have curly, fine, or textured hair, simply set your iron to low or medium heat to shape your natural texture into slight waves; thick hair and hair that doesn't hold a curl easily will benefit from a higher temperature. Expert Tip: Practice this how-to with a cold flat iron once before turning on the heat to perfect your technique. Hearn wears an Acne jacket, Zara tank, and M.A.C. lipstick in Lady Danger.
You can master this style on any type of hair texture; no need to start with straight hair like Hearn's. The goal is to shape your existing texture into soft, imperfect bends while adding movement. To begin, divide your hair into 1- or 2-inch sections. Starting at the root of the first section, gently clamp a 1-inch flat iron on the hair and twist your wrist towards your face until you mimic Hearn in this photo. But remember, you want the iron to be slowly gliding down the hair shaft the entire time.
Think of this as a series of wrist pivots as you're slowly moving the tool down the length of the hair.
Pivot your wrist the opposite direction (away from your face) as you continue to glide the iron down the length of the hair. Remember to keep moving!
Keep gliding the iron down, through the hair, and twist your wrist the opposite direction as you go. At this point, you should be twisting it back towards your face, just like in slide two.
Keep alternating the direction you twist the iron (away from the face, then towards the face, then repeat) until you reach an inch or two above the tips of the hair. Do not iron over the ends of the hair unless you need to control frizz. Leaving the ends untouched makes this look appear more natural and far more modern than hair with curled ends.
Note that this style will look different on everyone; if you start with waves, curls, or exceptionally thick hair, you can expect a fuller, less-uniform finish than those who begin with straight or fine hair. But that's the point! This style is meant to mimic what your hair looks like when dried in the seaside sun.
Repeat all over your hair or, if you're in a hurry, just the hair around your face and on the crown on your head. Then allow the hair to
Once it's set, evenly blast hair with dry shampoo while scrunching your strands with your hands. "Dry shampoo is great to absorb oil at the root, but it can be used as a styling product, too!" Richman says. "Apply from root to tip for a soft, airy look with added volume."
R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo
to finish this look. Or try
Dove Invigorating Dry Shampoo
for a similar effect for less cash.
And you're done! Subtle waves without a beach in sight. Next up:
beach waves gone glam.
Look 2: The Classic Curling-Iron Wave You can make beach waves look utterly polished — and suitable for anything from work dinners to formal events — with Richman's second technique. This style can be achieved on any hair type or texture, but unlike in the first how-to, hair should be straight before you begin: You'll need to blow-dry hair somewhere between straight and slightly wavy to achieve the smooth results this style demands. Hearn wears a Motel Rocks dress and M.A.C. lipstick in Ruby Woo.
Divide hair into 1- to 2-inch sections and ready a 1.5-inch curling iron. The goal is to smooth the hair at the roots and ends while adding curls through the middle sections. To do this, clamp the iron on the roots, glide it down two inches to straighten the hair, then begin to pull the entire length of the section around the iron by lightly releasing the clamp and rotating the iron to guide the hair around the barrel.
Keep the iron two inches from the roots the entire time, and go very slowly. This technique allows the mid-sections of the hair to absorb most of the heat.
Continue to feed the hair around the iron by twisting towards the head until the section is completely wrapped. Hold for a second or two, then carefully release the hair.
Continue on the rest of the hair, curling, then spritzing with hairspray before you move on to the next section.
Tip : Keep the curls going in the same direction for extra polish.
Once hair is
and the hairspray is dry, comb through the hair with a brush. Richman used a scalp brush for this look: "It will smooth the hair without brushing out existing product," he says. Opt for one with plastic or nylon bristles, like the
S-Heart-S Scalp Brush Mini
Tangle Teezer Compact Styler
You're finished! Beach waves get
a rock-'n'-roll update in our last look, ahead.
Look 3: The Wand Wave"For our last look, we wanted a messy rock-'n'-roll beach wave," Richman says. This style can be done on any hair type or texture. But the best part? This is by far the easiest technique to master. The only caveat: The roots and ends should be somewhere between wavy and straight before you begin this how-to, so those with curly hair should blow-dry their hairline and tips smooth before beginning. Hearn wears a L'École des Femmes T-shirt and vintage scarf.
Divide hair into 1- to 2-inch sections and ready a 1.25-inch iron or wand. Hold the iron vertical and wrap the hair around the tool, leaving two inches at the root and one inch at the ends of the hair untouched by the heat. If your hair is curly or wavy, just focus on defining each section; no need to create perfect ringlets.
Hold each section for a few seconds, then release the curl and spritz with hairspray. Richman used
Big Sexy Hair Spray and Play
. Or if your hair is curly or prone to frizz, try
Philip Kingsley's Weatherproof Hair Spray
Continue on the rest of the hair, curling each section in the opposite direction from the last (towards the face, away from the face, repeat). You'll notice your hair is starting to look a little beauty-pageant-like, but don't be nervous.
"It's best to curl the hair a step higher and tighter than you want the final look to be," Richman says. "It's much easier to loosen the curl with your hands, or lightly brush them through, than trying to add more curl."
Once every section has cooled, flip your head over and break up the curls with your hands. "Go crazy," Richman says. "Don't be afraid to get in there and really mess it up." Then flip your head over and finger-comb back into place.
Congratulations! You've mastered beach waves three ways.