8 Pro Surfers Spill Their Secret To Perfect Beach Hair

Photo: Courtesy of Ellie-Jean Coffey.
Beach spray's origin story doesn't start with a surfer — far from it. It begins with celeb hairstylist Chris McMillan, the man behind iconic cuts like Jennifer Aniston's The Rachel and Katy Perry's new pixie. In an effort to copy the piece-y texture and enviable grit that beach-goers naturally get, he filled a spray bottle with ocean water at the Santa Monica beach, added it to his kit, and used it to prep Aniston's hair for the 2000 Emmy Awards. And just like that, a category was born, with Bumble & Bumble's Surf Spray hitting shelves the next year.
Most surfers, on the other hand, wouldn't be caught dead with a beach spray in their bag — they let the waves take care of that. Instead, these athletes swear by nourishing cleaners, light oils, and leave-ins to counteract the elements and provide balance for their already salty styles.
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The moral of the story: Beach spray is great for the red carpet (or the rooftop party, more likely), but when packing for the beach this summer, leave your salt spray at home and take the advice of some of the top surfers. Get ready to experience actual beach hair, not crunchy texture on top of already-salty strands.
We tapped eight badass pro surfers from around the globe to spill exactly what they swear by to keep their hair healthy, protected, and perfectly tousled all season. Spoiler alert: One product is so foolproof, it pops up over and over again.
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Surfer: Ellie-Jean Coffey
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"I love Davroe hair products," the Australian surfer tells R29. "They're eco-friendly, natural plant-based, and 100% vegan friendly. The Luxe Leave In Masque is incredible for surfers as it can be used as a protecter from the sun and salt." Tip: Smooth a little through post-beach strands to soften hair pre-shower.

Davroe Luxe Leave In Masque, $29, available at Birchbox.
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Surfer: Alessa Quizon
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"Moisturizers are key for your skin and your hair," Quizon tells R29. "It's so important, especially since we're in the sun all the time." The Hawaiian surfer swears by It's A Ten's Leave-In, which she mists over strands before and after she surfs. She even gets compliments while waiting for her set in the water. 'People will say, 'Oh, what's that smell?' And I'm like, 'It's just me'."

It's A Ten Miracle Leave-In Product, $18.52, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Surfer: Imani Wilmot
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Wilmot is part of a lineage of Jamaican surfers — and even teaches at her family's renowned surf camp on the island. When it comes to her hair, she keeps it local. "I use 100% pure, organic shea oil by Tadah," she says. "I started using it in my daughter's hair and now we all use it on our hair and skin. The great thing about the shea oil is that you don't feel greasy, your hair doesn't feel heavy, and you see noticeable improvements in moisture retention after just one use. Plus, Tadah supports an amazing community initiative and I really love that."

Tadah Organics 100% Pure Organic Shea Oil, $19.99, available at Tadah Organics.
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Surfer: Courtney Conlogue
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"My hair is constantly exposed to sun and salt, plus curling irons and blow dryers when being prepped for photoshoots," the American surfer tells us. "My hair is put through a lot of abuse! Great hair products and care is a continual concern for me. I begin my hair-care routine with OGX Brazilian Keratin Therapy Conditioner. It’s amazing and my hair loves it!"

OGX Brazilian Keratin Therapy Conditioner, $5.79, available at Target.
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You may have noticed that Conlogue says she starts her routine with conditioner. That's because she doesn't shampoo daily to avoid stripping her hair of its oils. Instead, she lathers up sparingly and infrequently with this OGX favorite. "When I do shampoo my hair, I keep the soap to the base at my roots and scalp and avoid torturing the ends of my hair," she adds.

OGX Argan Oil of Morocco Shampoo, $5.79, available at Target.
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Conlogue has never colored her hair — in the traditional sense, that is. "Nature is pretty much coloring my hair for me," she jokes. "So, I figured, why not try color repair products?" It worked, and she finds the best results for her sun- and- salt-tortured strands with masks for color-treated and very damaged hair.

Paul Mitchell Ultimate Color Repair Conditioner, $20.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Lauren Hill
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"We all use it," Hills says about It's A Ten's Miracle Leave-In, a surfer favorite. "It keeps my hair nice and soft and stops it from getting tangled, too." She layers it on dry hair pre-surf, then adds more after toweling off, too. "It's the best," the surfer, blogger, and ocean activist raves.

It's A Ten Miracle Leave-In Product, $18.52, available at Ulta Beauty.
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"We don't have It's A Ten in Australia, so I use Pantene there," Hill says, noting that she alternates between the brand's leave-in, regular, and deep conditioners. Her trick: Before surfing, she coats her lengths with regular conditioner, uses masks in the shower, and leave-ins anytime she needs hydration. "I get the best results using Pantene, which is crazy, [because that's what I grew up using and now still do," she says.

Pantene Leave-In Detangling Milk, 7.99, available at Target.
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Detangling surf-whipped hair requires more than conditioner. She alternates between a WetBrush and a TangleTeezer. but admits she is still hunting for the holy grail comb. "I've been buying all the brushes on the market, because I'm trying to find the perfect one. I'm almost thinking I'll try to make one myself."

WetBrush Brush, $8.99, available at Target.
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When it comes to styling her air-dried hair, she relies on leave-ins (either It's A Ten or Pantene), then beefs up the volume with Batiste. "The number one thing I'll always have in my bag is dry shampoo," she says. "I use the Batiste regular and the XXL because it puts volume in my hair. I use it when traveling the most — I get off a plane and put it in."

Batiste Dry Shampoo, $7.99, available at Ulta.
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Holly-Daze Coffey
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No, you're not seeing double — for the Coffey sisters (featured in our opening image together), surfing is a family affair. Aussies Ellie-Jean and Holly-Daze get to travel and surf together, but they have their own favorite hair products.

"I personally prefer Paul Mitchell products," she tell R29. "The shampoos and conditioners are fantastic, but in particular, the Frizz-Fighting Conditioner is so incredible for moisturizing your hair and smoothing out the frizz that can be created from all that salt and sun."

Paul Mitchell Frizz-Fighting Conditioner, $18.50, available at Ulta Beauty.
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"I always put Paul Mitchell's detangler in my hair after my surfs and throughout the day," she tells us. "I don't want to have three or four showers per day, so I just put a little detangler in and brush it with TangleTeaser."

Paul Mitchell Lite Detangler, $10.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Felicity Palmateer
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No shock here, you'll find It's A Ten in Palmateer's beach bag."Before I surf, I usually throw in a leave-in conditioner — whatever I've got," she tells us. "I've been using this one called It's A Ten. It works really well for my hair; it acts as a protector."

It's A Ten Miracle Leave-In Product, $18.52, available at Ulta Beauty.
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When it comes to getting texture without taking a dip, she keeps John Frieda's mist on hand. "The texturizing one for the beach babes is really good," she says. "Especially if I haven't been in the ocean and I want to achieve this kind of beach-y look, you can use that product and it gives you that beach-y wave."

John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves Sea Salt Spray, $9.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Coco Ho
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"I love the new Revlon Coconut Hair Treatment," the Hawaiian surfer tells us. "It’s a leave-in that I use to protect from the sun prior to surfing — when I remember!" Luckily, she's found that the formula works well on dry, salt-soaked strands, too: It's great for repairing hair after a set, too, she says.

Revlon Uniq One All in One Hair Treatment Coconut, $10.83, available at Walmart.
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You'll find a few varieties of Sachajuan's shampoo and conditioner in Ho's shower. "I use the Scalp Shampoo because I'm pretty oily and always in the ocean, so my hair always needs a bit more cleaning," she explains. "Top off with the conditioner and it smells so, so good!"

Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo, $28, available at Sephora.
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