These Pro-Approved Surf Sprays Deliver Smooth, Shiny Waves

Photographed by Winnie Au.
If you don’t remember the collective freakout that the beauty universe had when surf sprays came out, it went a little something like this: “Oh, my, gosh, you guys! We can look like Kate Bosworth in Blue Crush all the time, even if we’re in Omaha!?!”
That’s right, beach spray is right up there with dry shampoo when it comes to revolutionary hair breakthroughs, because it delivers one of the sexiest premises ever: Mist it into damp hair, scrunch, and replicate your last vacation hair look without hot tools or time off work.
But somewhere along the way, our hopes for surfer girl gold were dampened. Because as it turns out, some beach sprays are so salty, they make hair look dry and brittle. Meanwhile, others are so heavy, they leave us with a wet dog vibe — a look that doesn’t even look good on wet dogs. And in the midst of all this discovery, what seems like a bajillion different formulations have been launched over the past few years, making picking a winner a real bitch beach.
Now, we can finally take a breath and make rad beach hair finally happen, because super celeb hairstylist Kylee Heath is here to help. Heath not only works with loads of stars — including Rashida Jones, Kristen Stewart, and Emma Roberts — she knows a thing or two about picking the best product for the right hair type.
Ahead, she breaks down exactly what we should be looking for in a beach spray, no matter what our hair texture (Spoiler alert: for some hair types, you should avoid salt all together). Get ready for the best waves of your life this summer, landlocked lifestyle be damned.
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For fine hair, Heath suggests skipping salt-infused sprays entirely. “When you have fine hair you're going to need more volume and you don't want anything too drying, so salt can be a little harsh,” she explains. Instead, reach for a dry texture spray after hair is dry (this is Heath's top suggestion) or stick to formulas that replace salt with something lighter. “Try a sugar spray at the roots for a little more texture — sugar has moisture, so that helps,” she adds.
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Fine Hair: Save

This sugar-infused spray will had grit and volume, without weighing hair down. Or, if you prefer dry texture spray, try Matrix's Style Link Texture Builder. “I am obsessed with this product because it is close to impossible to over apply,” she says. “It boosts texture without drying the hair.”

Paul Mitchell Neon Hair Sugar Spray, $11, available at Paul Mitchell.
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Fine Hair: Splurge

Ouai's formula leaves salt off the ingredient list, subbing wheat protein in for texture in its place. The result is a wave without the crunch. Prefer dry texture spray? Oribe's Dry Texturizing Spray "gives the hair a beachy texture, without weighing it down or drying the hair out,” she says.

Ouai Wave Spray, $26, available at Sephora.
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Or Try...

If you're always on the go, then this spray holds texture for up to 48 hours — no touch-ups needed.

Living Proof Instant Texture Mist, $26, available at Sephora.
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Those with naturally-wavy hair already have a bit of texture built-in (thank you, Mom and Dad!). Heath suggests reaching for a product that, “Bumps up the texture you have and adds some grit.” That product? A basic salt spray, she says.
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Wavy Hair: Save

We envy those with a little wave in their hair. Come summer, no hot tools are needed to turn that natural bend into stylized curls. This straightforward salt spray does just that, giving hair a bit of grit and a matte finish in the process.

Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray, $6, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Wavy Hair: Splurge

With minimal ingredients (and certified organic and natural ones at that), this straightforward salt spray pumps up volume with the help of sea salt, sea kelp, aloe vera, and essential oils. (Bonus: It basically smells like heaven.)

Captain Blankenship Mermaid Sea Salt Hairspray, $24, available at Anthropologie.
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Or Try...

"The fundamental difference between this sea-salt spray and other sea-salt sprays that makes this sea-salt spray worth trying is that this one also doubles as a dry shampoo," R29 beauty writer Rachel Krause says. "It doesn't coat hair or leave it sticky; in fact, it does quite the opposite, absorbing oil at the roots with a strong dose of Dead Sea salt and refreshing my frazzled third-day lengths and ends with witch hazel, chamomile, and aloe vera, to soft, wavy, well-formed result."

Sailor by Captain Blankenship Sea Salt Refresh Spray, $14.99, available at Target.
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Thanks to super-conditioning treatments given in tandem with dye jobs, color treated hair (versus bleached) can have more slip than it might otherwise, which means grit is good. “Since color treated hair can make your hair feel softer, a classic salt spray is best,” Heath advises. However, there is one caveat: Avoid alcohol, as it can strip hair of color and its much-needed moisture.
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Color-Treated Hair: Save

As you likely know, the alcohol in styling products can strip color treated hair. This straightforward beach spray is alcohol free and costs less than a matcha on ice.

Garnier Beach Chic Texturizing Spray, $4.29, available at Garnier USA.
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Color-Treated Hair: Splurge

Leave it to an Australian brand to create a beach spray that retains plenty of movement in the hair after it’s been blasted. Made with tangerine, orange blossom, and honey essential oils, the formula is a favorite of Heath — and thanks to its pump spray, is also a godsend for those who can’t deal with aerosol fumes or super-drying formulations.

Kevin Murphy Hair.Resort.Spray, $27.50, available at Kevin Murphy.
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Or Try...

Three types of sea salts enhance your waves, and plant essential oils moisturize them all day long.

French Girl Organics Sea Spray, $26, available at Revolve.
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For lots of curly-headed men and women, frizz festers with summer heat and humidity. If it's not your thing — we do love a bit of frizz! — Heath suggests a double-pronged approach to nail smooth, beachy waves. First, add a touch of your favorite styling cream to hair, then reach for an oil-infused spray, she says. “Using a surf spray that has some added oil is great for curly hair so you limit frizz,” Heath notes.
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Curly Hair: Save

Heath likes this spray — which is infused with salt, vitamins, and natural silks — to help bump up and separate curls without dryness or frizz. “It keeps the curls shiny and conditioned, and minimizes frizz, while adding a beachy texture,” she says.

Biosilk Silk Therapy Beach Texture, $14, available at Walgreens
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Curly Hair: Splurge

This salt-in-oil solution separates when it sits on the shelf, but after shaking it up and spritzing on hair, the included coconut, mango seed, passion fruit, and palm oils help mellow frizz, while sea salts make waves. "I am obsessed with his spray,” Heath says. “It is lightly infused with oil so it doesn't overdry the hair — it just aids in getting perfect beach curls.”

Bumble and Bumble Surf Infusion Spray, $29, available at Bluemercury
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Or Try...

To keep those pesky flyaways down, scrunch this sunflower seed oil spray from root to tip before air drying.

Alterna Haircare Bamboo Beach Ocean Waves Tousled Texture Spray, $22, available at Sephora.
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It can be tough for those with medium to thick hair to fake all-day beach waves — oftentimes, they go limp by lunch. Heath suggests trying a beach spray with kick: “You want something strong that will not make the hair soft, but make it feel like you just swam in the salty ocean,” she says. “Similar to wavy hair, I would recommend a straight salt spray. You can also dirty it up with a dry texture spray, too.”
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Medium & Thick Hair: Save

There are a million texture sprays that give hair volume in an instant, but few can keep the hold all day. This texture spray delivers pumped-up locks and piece-y texture with the hold of a hardcore hairspray — all without making hair feel brittle or weighing it down. Just mist it in damp (not wet!) locks and and let hair dry.

Umberto Beverly Hills Dry Texture Spray, $10, available at Target
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Medium & Thick Hair: Splurge

“This product is amazing,” raves Heath. “It's super buildable so you can apply and apply — it will keep adding texture without weighing already-heavy hair down.” Same strategy: Apply to lightly damp hair.

Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Texture & Volume Spray, $24, available at Birchbox
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Or Try...

Sugar and salt particles help achieve the waves you want without weighing down your hair or adding any stickiness.

Sachajuan Ocean Mist Spray, $31, available at Sephora.
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There’s an upshot to compromising hair health in the name of lighter locks: “Blonds actually get awesome texture,” Heath says. “ I really find the when the hair is chemically treated, it gives it more grit.” Since bleached and highlighted hair tends to be drier, this hair pro suggests using a spray with built-in moisture.
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Bleached & Highlighted Hair: Save

This spray from classic brand John Frieda gets props from Heath for not being too strong or sticky, but giving great texture.

John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves Sea Salt Spray, $9, available at Target
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Bleached & Highlighted Hair: Splurge

Not only does this salt spray pack algae extract, amino acids, vitamins, and antioxidants in its formula to help with hair health, it smells better than any hair styling product we’ve ever used. No noxious fumes, just a fresh, slightly flowery scent that makes us want to breathe it in instead of holding our breath mid-spray.

Honest Beauty Honestly Effortless Sea Salt Spray, $18, available at Honest Beauty
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Or Try...

Aside from natural sea salt, the quinoa protein in this formula keeps your strands moisturized, while sunflower seed extract helps block harmful UV rays.

Verb Sea Spray, $16, available at Sephora.
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We don't have to tell you that retaining moisture is key for textured hair, no matter how it's styled. While beach spray may not be the product you think of for styling natural or chemically straightened hair, picking one that's packed with moisture — and free of ingredients that dry hair out — will help to add bounce and smoothness, while defining curls. Naturally, Heath suggests turning to a beach spray laced with oil.
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Textured Hair: Save

“This product has lots of moisture so it isn't too drying, which helps combat against frizz,” Heath says about OGX's more-natural formulation. It's free of alcohol and packed with salt for waves, plus argan oil and kelp extract to keep 'em smooth and soft.

OGX Moroccan Sea Salt Spray, $8, available at Ulta Beauty.
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The Splurge:

This oil-infused beach spray delivers serious smoothness and shine — and can really amp up textured hair, Heath says. Makes sense: The formula has wheat protein for messy texture and oils for shine and hydration.

Oribe Apres Beach Wave and Shine Hairspray, $42, available at Neiman Marcus
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Or Try...

To balance out the sea salt crystals, this curl-friendly formula is enriched with seaweed and seawater in order to avoid instant dry-out.

Ouidad Wave Create Sea Spray, $26, available at Sephora.
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