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.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission. 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
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.”
Surfcomber Tousled Texture Mousse, $39.00
Buy 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 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.
Big Sexy Hair Get Layered, $18.95
Buy 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 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 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
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 Beach Blonde Cool Dip Purifying Shampoo,
$10.99 $9.99 Buy 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
Nutritive Sérum Oléo-Relax Hair Oil Serum,
$40.00 $32.00 Buy For Curly Hair: Bumble and bumble Surf Infusion
Next, divide your hair into two sections and loosely
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
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 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 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 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
to your strands, and blow your hair dry," she says.
Heat-Protective Silk Straightening Cream, $17.00
Buy 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 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 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 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 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 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 For Wavy Hair: Biosilk Silk Therapy Oil
Finish the look by applying a
to ends to add a little glow.
Silk Therapy Original, $28.00
Buy 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.
Un.Done Volume And Matte Texture Spray, $25.00
Buy 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 Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk, $7.89
Buy 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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
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.
Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel, $15.00
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