How To Get Non-Crunchy Beach Waves When You Have Straight Hair

Photo: Via @liesjerose
Ever since I ditched the dyed black, heavily-fringed hair of my 2006 emo phase, I've yearned for beachy waves. You know, the fresh-from-the-sea or just-rolled-out-of-bed nonchalance of wavy hair. From Patti Smith's shoulder-skimming shag to Haim's long, tousled locks, I'm tormented by women who effortlessly wear their waves with style. Why? Because the grass is always greener. I have friends with curly hair who straighten it within an inch of its frazzled life. We're just never satisfied with the card we've been dealt. Still, that hasn't stopped me from seeking The Perfect Waves.
Now, thanks to the looks presented on the Fall/Winter 2017 runways, the textured style is dominating this season's hair trends. From Fendi to Dries Van Noten to Chloé and Alexander Wang, models embraced their natural movement and soft curls. Just one glimpse of Stephanie Broek or Lindsey Holland on Instagram is enough to push me over the edge. And don't think I haven't tried to get them. I choose not to think about the amount of bar money I've spent on salt and texturizing sprays that leave my hair feeling more crunchy than covetable.
So how can I achieve the Birth of Venus-esque hair of my dreams? Sam Burnett, owner and creative director of London salon Hare & Bone, is here to clue me in.
Will I ever have the loose waves I'm looking for?
“Yes! A simple way to achieve soft (non-crunchy) waves is by applying KMS Moist Repair Revival Creme to towel-dried hair before you go to bed, pulling into a high or low ponytail. Next, split the pony in two, rope braid the hair, tidy around base, and secure with strong pins or a hair elastic. Then, pull out in the morning.”
Should I focus on post-wash styling, or do curling shampoos and conditioners work?
“They absolutely do. To maintain healthy, structured curls or waves, my go-to is KMS Moist Repair Cleansing Conditioner. It works as an in-between product that cleanses and absorbs the natural oil from the hair but doesn’t leave the hair dry. It’s perfect for holding the texture and shape in place, for a more lived-in feel.”
And which products should I be using after I've washed my hair?
“Begin with nourishing hair oil – my favorite is Kérastase Elixir Ultime. Run this through the hair from the mid-lengths to ends. For soft waves, I keep the curls in place with KMS Curl Up Bounce Back Spray.”
According to Sam, it's all about preserving moisture while holding the shape of your curls. Another thing I've learned along the way? The amount of product to use. Curls and waves will be weighed down by excessive use; you really only need a small dollop of each. Click through to see the products I'm toting for natural-looking waves.
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Work a dollop of this lightweight cream through towel-dried hair for piecey, air-dried texture hours later.
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Smooth a small amount through towel-dried hair and scrunch the ends. The jojoba, bran, and sunflower extract leave hair hydrated and curls defined.

Label.M Curl Cream, $26.96, available at Label.M.
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This smells like passionfruit, so you can pretend your waves are tropical beach-born. Guayaba and hibiscus add shine and softness to hair, counteracting the hold of the salt spray (read: no crunch here).

Rahua Enchanted Island Salt Spray, $32, available at Dermstore.
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Moroccanoil's mousse provides tousled waves without dehydrating hair. Use fingertips to rake through ends before leaving to air-dry.

Moroccanoil Beach Wave Mousse, $28, available at Moroccanoil.
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Sachajuan has a cult following, and this texturizing spray is just one reason why. Hold the bottle four inches away from your head and spritz mid-lengths to ends, before using your hands to scrunch.

Sachajuan Ocean Mist, $31, available at Dermstore.
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This is a mainstay of my bathroom shelf. After towel-drying, I dispense a quarter-sized amount and warm between palms before running my fingers through the lengths of my hair. Next, I use a diffuser nozzle on my hairdryer to enhance curls.

Kevin Murphy Motion Lotion, $42, available at Amazon.
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This moisturizing spray gives great curls without stripping hair of texture. Your hair actually looks natural, rather than straw-like, thanks to the shine element.

Oribe Apres Beach Wave and Shine Spray, $42, available at Ulta.
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This cream packs a moisture hit and is light enough for even the finest hair.

Living Proof Curl Defining Styling Cream, $28, available at Ulta.
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Kérastase uses micronized polymers in its signature spray, which adds volume and shape memory to hold the waves, while also keeping the movement soft and flexible. One spritz is all tousle without the tackiness of traditional curl sprays.

Kérastase Spray à Porter, $36, available at Kérastase.
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This foam formula is another wonder product for those with thicker strands. Diffuse through mid-lengths and ends and diffuse dry.

Shu Uemura Art of Hair Kaze Wave Texturizing Mousse Weightless Curl Definition, $39, available at Shu Uemura.
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We swear by this texturizing cream to add oomph to straight and lifeless strands. It adds piecey texture and hold while also making waves super-soft.

Verb Sea Texture Cream, $16, available at Sephora.
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Or try this pomade that gives hair a gritty feel. Pro tip: Use it when yours is slightly damp and let it air-dry to bring out your natural texture.

Fatboy Sea Salt Pomade, $21, available at Fatboy.
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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, available at Sephora.
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Lizzy Weinberg, a hairstylist at Pas de Deux Salon, suggests using a texturizing spray as a finishing product after air-drying. It gives you "perfect, '70s-rocker hair," she says.

Bumble and bumble Surf Infusion, $29, available at Ulta.
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This curl-friendly formula is enriched with seaweed and seawater, which balance the sea salt to prevent hair dry-out.

Ouidad Wave Create Sea Spray, $26, available at Sephora.
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appearance by Beatrice Copeland; appearance by Sean Bennett.
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