The actual shift of the summer solstice is neither here nor there, because life doesn’t wait until June 22 to start behaving like the season is well underway. Once you’ve got your SPF 50 on, your vacation booked, your three new under-$50 swimsuits in the mail (one must always take full advantage of a good deal), and a strong defense against the ill effects of day-drinking at the ready, the only thing left to do is your hair. As in, make it look like floating around in the surf all day is your reality rather than a thing you saw a model do in a magazine and have been trying to attain ever since.
If you could only get beachy waves by going to the beach, we’d all be sentenced to an existence of flat hair and frizz, and that would be very sad. That’s exactly why wave-enhancing beach hair products exist: to create the illusion that you spend most of your time on a shore in the south of France, even if you spend almost all your time trying to pick the subway car with the best ratio of number of people to quality of air conditioning.
Rest assured: The newest generation of the best beach hair products won’t leave hair sticky or crunchy—in fact, these nine top-notch formulas will leave you with surprisingly realistic, totally natural-looking texture, as if #beachlife were indeed your life, and lend you an air of legitimacy you just can’t find in a spray tan booth. Who needs the beach? (JK.)
Not quite a mousse, definitely not a spray, this one shirks the idea that tousled, wavy hair is best acquired by air-drying: The unique formula imparts big, beachy volume that only gets better when assisted by a round brush and a blowdryer. Fitting, considering it incorporates heat protection to defend hair against styling. The major, major texture it leaves behind makes it perfect for fine hair that has a hard time holding style.
Bumble and bumble Surf Foam Spray Blow Dry, $31; at Bumble and bumble
As the saying goes, this is not your mother's standard-issue salt spray. You'll get gritty, sexy texture without sacrificing moisture, thanks to a formula that includes proven softeners alongside its salt-heavy base. It's the consummate sea salt spray, and it'll basically replace everything else in your routine.
Davines This Is a Sea Salt Spray, $27; at Davines
Formulated to match the salinity of Pacific Ocean saltwater (and therefore somewhat legitimize your claim to beachy Big Sur hair), this Instagram-ready bottle contains a smart solution that combines the usual suspect—sea salt—with hydrating aloe vera and soothing lavender.
Herbivore Sea Mist Texturizing Salt Spray, $20; at Herbivore Botanicals
If you want serious style, this medium-hold formula is a good place to start. It gives hair a super texturized matte finish that lends itself perfectly to holding curling-wand waves all day long, and it creates a great base for a blow-dry to prevent hair from falling flat or looking just a little too polished.
L'Oréal Professionnel Tecni.Art Wild Stylers Beach Waves, $26; at Ulta
Don't be so quick to write off mousse as a sticky, shellac-y product from decades past: This version is a one-step way to get soft, tousled texture without the salt, so even the driest hair can achieve windswept waves without the dehydration. There's no stiffness, crunchiness, or any other kind of unfortunate downside—but there is UV protection, so you can wear your beach waves to the actual beach without consequence.
Moroccanoil Beach Wave Mousse, $28; at Moroccanoil
This new spin on the standard wave-enhancing lotion coaxes texture and grip out of the finest hair types, making the disheveled-on-purpose look more democratic than ever before. It leaves hair soft to the touch and infused with the perfect amount of bounce, the way "nature" intended.
Oribe Matte Waves Texture Lotion, $42; at Oribe
Once you look at the ingredients list, the magical properties of this instant cult classic start to make sense: Coconut water, rice protein, panthenol, and a heaping handful of plant and flower extracts give the spray its hydrating, hair-strengthening power and a scent so good you'll want to wear it as perfume.
Ouai Wave Spray, $26; at Sephora
For breezy, low-effort waves that last, douse dry hair in this lightweight mist and give it a scrunch. The natural sea salt and repairing ingredients like quinoa, green tea extract, kelp, and sweet almond will take care of the rest, so you don't even have to heat style unless you really want to.
Verb Sea Spray, $14; at Verb
This spray lends a ton of grit, which makes it ideal for coating thick hair, but the super fine mist works for finer hair types provided you don't go overboard. Spritz it on clean, damp hair, throw it up in a braid or two, and let it air-dry for a believable, slightly imperfect wave, or scrunch into dry hair for additional texture.
Sachajuan Ocean Mist, $31; at Birchbox