One of the many advantages of spending the day at the beach is that you leave with perfectly wavy hair. Want that look at home, sans the beach trip? We’re here to help.
What is exactly about a trip to the beach that imparts such hair magic? All of that salty air and sea spray transform your tresses into the kind of beach waves that you can only hope to achieve at home on your own. Unfortunately, that same salty air leaves your hair feeling stringy, sandy, and kind of dirty.
Mimicking these beach waves at home makes for the ideal summer hairstyle, but it can take some practice to get it right. Sure, it seems like it would be easy to create purposefully messy waves, but it’s much easier said than done. As someone who has spent the better part of her life trying to achieve the perfect beach wave look, I can tell you that using the correct products is the best way to teach yourself how to get beach waves without stepping foot in the sand. Here are a few of the best:
Beachwaver PRO 1
I’ve tried a lot of different curling irons, and the Beachwaver PRO is consistently a favorite. In this patented design by hairstylist Sarah Potempa, you can simply use the clamp at the ends of a section of hair, press a button, and watch as the wand rotates on its own, curling your hair for you so that even those who don’t know what they’re doing will be able to work it.
While this feature obviously stands out, I also love that this one is super easy to use as a wand as well—and, generally, I find that using a wand instead of a clamp is the better way to get a wave (a clamp curling iron is going to produce more of a tight, coiled curl). To use it as a wand, I simply ignore the clamp and wrap my hair around the wand.
The 1″ diameter of this one is a good size for almost anyone, and can easily create a wave (anything smaller may create a tighter curl). The versatility of this tool is great, the curls or waves last, and it’s super easy to use.
The Waver by Insert Name Here
These wavers are very popular right now, and for good reason. When using a curling iron or wand, it’s easy to accidentally create tight curls instead of a wave. With a waver, you can basically only create a wave, so it’s foolproof. I like this The Waver by Insert Name Here because it gets super hot (it goes up to 450 degrees) and it works really quickly.
This waver creates really simple beach waves almost instantly. I find that I only have to press my hair with this gently and quickly in order to create a wave—holding it in place for too long and too tightly makes my hair look more crimped. A light fast touch creates a wavy look that just needs a little tousling and product to be perfectly mussed up.
John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves Salt Spray
Obviously, one of the best ways to achieve beach waves is to use a beach waves spray, which is meant to add texture to your hair, much like what would happen if you were in the ocean all day. One of my favorites is John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves Salt Spray.
I love this spray for a few reasons: It smells amazing (like coconuts and sunscreen, in a good way), a little goes a long way, and, most importantly, it creates texture without making your hair feel sticky or look greasy. Instead of leaving your hair crunchy with fake-looking waves, it’s meant to enhance your natural waves and just offer a subtle boost of texture, which looks super natural (and you want that).
Pro tip: Use any beach waves salt spray on dry hair instead of wet hair—it works better to give a wave when strands are dry instead of leaving hair looking greasy. You should also avoid spritzing your roots and focus on the middle and ends.
John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves Salt Spray, Wave Texturizing Spray, with Natural Sea Salt to Enhance Wavy Hair for Tousled Volume, 5 Ounce
This spray leaves hair looking naturally wavy without feeling sticky.
Oribe Apres Beach Waves and Shine Spray
John Frieda’s salt spray is an excellent drugstore option, but if you’re willing to spend a little more, I absolutely love Oribe Apres Beach Waves and Shine Spray, which is something of a cult favorite. Some salt sprays tend to dull hair, but this one is made with moisturizing oils and extracts to leave your hair looking shinier.
This never makes your hair feel sticky at all and it doesn’t leave behind a greasy-looking sheen. It adds just the right amount of texture without looking or feeling crunchy. It also smells really great and doesn’t have that fake beachy smell that many aren’t a fan of.
A little goes a long way with this one—a few spritzes is enough to add the perfect amount of texture to your hair. I’ve had a large bottle for years, and I use it all the time.
Oribe Apres Beach Wave and Shine Spray, 8.5 oz
This spray makes hair look shinier and textured.
ghd Classic Original IV Hair Straightener
I know it sounds weird to use a hair straightener to create waves, but many people swear by it—check out the YouTube video tutorial above to see how to do it. Changing the way you use the flat iron can really create the perfect messy wave, and once you nail it, it can look even more authentic than doing it with a wand.
The ghd Classic Original IV Hair Straightener is one of the best out there. The ceramic heat technology minimizes damage and breakage, which is ideal, because flat irons can be hard on your hair. It glides easily through your hair and never snags, and it heats up super fast.
ghd Classic Styler - 1 inch Flat Iron, Classic Original IV Hair Straightener, Ceramic Flat Iron, Professional Hair Styler, Black
This flat iron heats up quickly and minimizes damage.
Oaui Leave-In Conditioner
When adding texture to your hair, you don’t want it to get too frizzy. I like to use a leave-in conditioner after washing my hair to add a little extra shine and moisture. Oaui Leave-In Conditioner is a favorite because it smells great, and it works so well.
Made with a blend of amino acids, vitamin E, and tamarind seed extract, this leave-in will make your hair softer and shinier, detangle, smooth, and protect it against heat styling and UV damage. The results are noticeable, and I love how it smells like a perfume instead of a hair product.
OUAI Leave-In Conditioner. Multitasking Mist that Protects Against Heat, Primes Hair for Style, Smooths Flyaways, Adds Shine and Detangles. Free from Parabens, Sulfates and Phthalates (4.7 oz)
Use this for great-smelling, shinier hair.
Bumble and bumble Surf Spray
Another great sea salt spray is Bumble and bumble Surf Spray. This one helps to create obviously textured waves and is a bit more intense than the John Frieda and Oribe options above, but in a good way—it’s saltwater-based, so it really does have a natural beach waves look to it.
I also love how this spray adds volume to your hair if you tousle it a bit, and it has a really great hold that keeps waves from coming undone. It doesn’t weigh your hair down or make it feel dirty, and it doesn’t give that greasy look. It does give waves a more matte look, though, so if you’re looking for shine, you’re better off with the Oribe option.
Bumble and bumble Surf Spray Hairspray 4.2 oz
For volume and texture, this spray works wonders.
R+Co x Ashley Streicher Dreamhouse Cold Pressed Watermelon Waves Spray
More of a wave spray than a salt spray, this R+Co x Ashley Streicher Dreamhouse Cold Pressed Watermelon Waves Spray is a multi-tasking product that accentuates natural waves while just making your hair look better. It moisturizes strands, protects from damage, and enhances color while adding the perfect amount of texture.
It’s also aesthetically pleasing: Before being shaken up, the bottle features shades of blues and pinks that look pretty on your bathroom counter. And the smell, a mix of palo santo, white cedarwood, smoky tobacco leaf, fresh pine needles, and waterlily, is interesting and deep instead of fruity and coconut-y.
IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel
If you prefer a gel to a spray, one of the best is IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel, which works just like, well, a gel, except it doesn’t leave your hair feeling or looking sticky and crunchy. It’s infused with coconut oil, making it incredibly hydrating for a textured look that is also shiny and smooth.
I love how lightweight this gel is—it doesn’t sit on your hair, making it feel heavy or look wet. To use it for beach waves, it’s best with naturally wavy or curly hair. And it’s another one that smells great, with a mix of bergamot, lemon zest, mimosa, heliotrope, and black amber for a smoky summer scent.
IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel
This gel isn't heavy or sticky and smells great.
Whether you buy a specialty tool or repurpose your flat iron, there are so many great ways (and great hair products!) to create beach waves at home, no sand and surf required.