How To Get The Beachy Waves Of Your Dreams — On Every Hair Type

Over the past few years, the tousled beach-wave look has proven to be much more than a passing trend: The windswept effect is a hairstyle with staying power, well on its way to iconic status. Inspired by that perfectly mussed-up state our salt-infused hair gets after a day at the beach, the look is seemingly unfussy, and effortlessly chic.

But the truth is, if there isn’t a massive body of saltwater on hand, achieving this style actually takes some work. Luckily, there are experts who can guide us on our way to beachy hair, even when an actual trip to the beach isn't in our near future. Here, the pros break down exactly how to nail the look, whether your hair is stick-straight, curly, or anywhere in between.


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For Fine Hair: Oribe Surfcomber Tousled Texture Mousse

Lizzy Weinberg, a stylist at Pas de Deux Salon in New York, tells us that perfectly imperfect beach waves begin with the prep. "Start by scrunching a texturizing mousse through your damp strands, then rough-dry with a blowdryer," says Weinberg. “Avoid too much smoothing with a brush, because you want the ends to have a textured, unfinished look.”
Oribe Surfcomber Tousled Texture Mousse, $39.00 Buy
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For Fine Hair: BaBylissPRO Curling Iron

"Once your hair is dry, to make the hair lay softer, take angled sections rather than ones that go straight across and add a wave with a wand or hot iron," says Weinberg. "For shorter hair, use a one-inch barrel, and if your hair is longer, use a wider barrel for a looser wave. Wrap the hair around the wand — only at the shaft — from the middle to about an inch from the ends."
BaByliss Pro BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron, $49.99 Buy
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For Fine Hair: Sexy Hair Big Sexy Hair Get Layered

"After you drop the curl, lightly tug on the end to loosen the wave," Weinberg instructs. "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."
Sexy Hair Big Sexy Hair Get Layered, $18.95 Buy
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For Fine Hair: Living Proof Full Dry Volume Blast

Perfect for fine or straight hair, hair pros recommend this spray because it adds texture and volume — plus, it's super long-lasting, keeping your hair full of body all day.
Living Proof Full Dry Volume Blast™, $29.00 Buy
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For Fine Hair: Kristin Ess Working Texture Loose Styling Powder

If your roots feel a little flat or need a bit more edge, sprinkle some Kristin Ess styling powder and massage through to add volume and salty dryness, just like you'd have after a beach day.
Kristin Ess Kristin Ess Working Texture Loose Styling Powder , $10.00 Buy
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For Fine Hair: John Frieda Beach Blonde Cool Dip Purifying Shampoo

If your hair refuses to hold a wave no matter how much product you put in, Weinberg says you need to start in the shower. "This shampoo will set the base for those air-dried waves," she says, "but you'll still want to follow up with mousse or dry texture spray."
John Frieda John Frieda Beach Blonde Cool Dip Purifying Shampoo, $10.99 $9.99 Buy
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For Curly Hair: Kérastase Oleo-Relax Serum

If you have curly hair, you can master beachy waves even without using a curling iron. “The no-heat trick is to wash and condition your hair before bed," says Weinberg. "Then, towel dry, but be sure not to rough up your ends — 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 hair oil."
Kerastase Hair Nutritive Sérum Oléo-Relax Hair Oil Serum, $40.00 $32.00 Buy
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For Curly Hair: Bumble and bumble Surf Infusion

Next, divide your hair into two sections and loosely braid each side, keeping the top layer as smooth as possible, "Secure the braids loosely with an elastic and 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," Weinberg explains. "When you wake up, take them down, shake them out, and spray with a salt spray."
Bumble and bumble Surf Infusion, $29.00 Buy
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For Curly Hair: Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Cotton Uzu

To finish off the look, Weinberg recommends a light cream wax to smooth out the hairline and control any flyaways. You can also rub a little between your hands and rake it though the ends if you want a little more piecey-ness.
Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Cotton Uzu Hair Cream, $39.00 Buy
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For Curly Hair: Amika Haute Mess Texture Gloss

If creams feel too heavy, pick up a lightweight gel instead. It'll give your hair texture and hold without ever getting crunchy.
Amika Haute Mess Texture Gloss, $25.00 Buy
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For Straight Hair: Kiehl's Heat-Protective Silk Straightening Cream

Using braids to get beach waves works with straight hair the same way it does if your hair has a natural curl, but Weinberg says heat tools will help lock the wave in place. "Apply a heat protector to your strands, and blow your hair dry," she says.
Kiehl's Heat-Protective Silk Straightening Cream, $17.00 Buy
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For Straight Hair: IGK Down & Out Dirty Spray

Then, 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. "Then, take a flat iron and clamp all the way down on the braids numerous times. Undo the braids, and apply a hit of texturizing spray."
IGK Down & Out Dirty Spray, $29.00 $20.00 Buy
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For Straight Hair: Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray

This spray is packed with algae extract and actual sea salt, which work in tandem to add texture and grit 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 deliver a curl or bend even on the straightest textures.
Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray, $5.99 Buy
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For Straight Hair: R+Co Sail Soft Wave Spray

If you're looking to create soft, effortless bends without any of the sticky hold, this wave spray is the subtle version of your favorite salty texturizing mists.
R+Co Sail Soft Wave Spray, $29.00 Buy
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For Straight Hair: Verb Sea Texture Cream

If the braids and flat iron aren't delivering your desired wave, Weinberg recommends prepping the hair with a cream texturizer after you air-dry or blow-dry. "Once it's dry and still a bit tacky, use a small-barrel curling iron and wrap the hair, starting about two inches away from the root," she instructs. "Hold, drop, and gently pull at the ends."
VERB Sea Texture Cream, $16.00 Buy
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For Straight Hair: Moroccanoil Luminous Hairspray

Whichever way you get the wave, you should top off your look with a light finishing spray.
Moroccanoil Luminous Hairspray Strong Finish, $10.00 Buy
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For Wavy Hair: Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Liquid Fabric

For hair that has a slight wave already, first apply a texture spray to wet strands. "As you blow dry, take small sections, twist them into loose pin-curls, and secure them against your head, leaving out the ends." says Weinberg. "Once all hair is dry, take it down, shake it out, and spritz again with a texture spray. Then, set the hair behind the ear for a while to get that beach-y dent.”
Shu Uemura Art Of Hair liquid fabric, $38.00 Buy
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For Wavy Hair: Biosilk Silk Therapy Oil

Finish the look by applying a serum to ends to add a little glow.
Biosilk Silk Therapy Original, $28.00 Buy
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For Wavy Hair: Amika Un.Done Volume And Matte Texture Spray

This volumizing spray is another pro pick. It leaves your roots lifted and ends twisted like you just found out Blake Lively's hair secret and put it to work.
Amika Un.Done Volume And Matte Texture Spray, $25.00 Buy
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For Thick Hair: SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk

“With thicker hair, you want less volume at the roots, and more bends in the mid-sections,” explains Weinberg. To achieve this, she says, you can blowdry your roots smooth with a paddle brush, focusing on smoothing out your part, "or you can lean into your natural texture by styling with a hydrating leave-in conditioner — coconut oil is a great natural alternative."
SheaMoisture SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk, $7.89 Buy
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For Thick Hair: Davines This Is A Sea Salt Spray

"You can then twist your hair into small sections and pin them all around your head," says Weinberg. "Let them air-dry or use a diffuser, then unpin the hair, shake it out, and spritz the curls with a light texturizing spray."
Davines This Is A Sea Salt Spray, $28.00 Buy
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For Thick Hair: Cantu Shea Butter Hair Dressing Pomade

"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 keep loads of moisture in the hair."
Cantu Cantu Shea Butter Hair Dressing Pomade, $4.79 Buy
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For Thick Hair: Marc Anthony Keratin Smoothing Blow Dry Cream

This smoothing cream adds perfectly tousled texture, while keeping your hair flyaway-free.
Marc Anthony Keratin Smoothing Blow Dry Cream, $8.99 Buy
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For All Hair Types: Oribe Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray

You'd be hard-pressed to find a "beach wave" article with no mention of Oribe's classic wave-creating spray. Think of it as a texture spray laced with oil, to create 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.
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, $46.00 Buy
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For All Hair Types: Ouai Wave Spray

This spray creates I-just-walked-off-the-beach waves, minus the stick. Regardless of your hair texture, spritz a few pumps through day-two hair for a pretty, bedhead effect.
Ouai Wave Spray, $26.00 Buy
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For All Hair Types: Aveda Light Elements Defining Whip

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.
Aveda light elements™ defining whip™, $26.00 Buy
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For All Hair Types: IGK Beach Club Texture Spray

Spritz this texture spray from roots to ends, then scrunch for all-over separation. It can also be used just at the root for added volume.
IGK Beach Club Texture Spray, $29.00 Buy
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For All Hair Types: Rahua Enchanted Island Salt Spray

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.
Rahua Enchanted Island Salt Spray, $32.00 Buy
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For All Hair Types: IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel

Gel is a great option when the weather is humid — and this one is an R29 favorite. Infused with coconut oil, it adds volume and hydration with hold. Celebrity hairstylist David Lopez tells us 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.
IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel, $15.00 Buy
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