5 Easy Tricks to Getting the Perfect Beach Wave

Rachel Adler
5 Easy Tricks to Getting the Perfect Beach Wave
Photo: Getty Images

Okay, yes, summer is officially over. We know; we’re so sorry. But thanks to sunless tanners, bronzers, salt sprays, and global warming, we can pretty much exist in a warm summery state all year. And though you can’t really throw on a bikini in 20-degree weather, you can master the beach wave–you know, that perfect, messy texture that only comes after rolling around in enough salt, sand and gritty ocean wind.

But because trekking to the beach literally every single time you want nice hair is impossible for the majority of the world, we’ve gathered the best tips and tricks to perfectly nailing the look, no sand required.

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Get a legit sea-salt spray.
Yeah, this one goes without saying, but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t reach for the bottle first. Because some salt sprays can be especially drying and sticky on your hair, so pick one that has a touch of oil in it, like Bumble and Bumble Surf Infusion, and spritz it throughout your damp hair, gently tousling (not scrunching!) sections as you work.

Whip out your curling iron.
If you don’t have natural Blake Lively-esque waves, then familiarize yourself with a large curling iron (look for a two-inch barrel, which will make loose waves, rather than tight curls). The trick, here, is to take random three-inch sections—perfection is the enemy of beachy waves—and twirl one section away from your face, then twirl the next section toward your face, alternating directions as you move around your head. Hold the hair against the iron for no more than six seconds, then let it drop, pulling at the ends to loosen the curl into a wave.

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Go back to the basics.
Ever wonder how celebs (ahem, Jennifer Aniston) can look like they perpetually just stepped off of the beach? Well, it’s because their hair is somewhat authentic. Aniston’s hairstylist Chris McMillan is known to have used actual salt water, you know, from the big ol’ ocean, to spritz the actress’s her hair before red carpet events, and would then finish off the look by rubbing a dollop of sunscreen over the ends to smooth frizz and add the authentic beach scent. Obviously, beach sprays and a bit of styling cream are easier, but if you’re near a beach, then hey, go for the gold.

Bun it up.
Any child worth her salt has definitely slept in a pair of damp braids at least once in her lifetime. The results were supposed to be beachy and chic, but more often than not, you just looked like you slept in braids. The grown-up version of that, though, is buns. While your hair is still damp from showering, spritz it with sea salt spray, then split it into four sections and twist each section into a tight bun (two buns on top, like Shrek ears, and two at the nap of the neck), pinning them in place. In the morning. Let the buns dry overnight, then undo the buns in the morning, rake through them with your fingers, and revive any limp pieces with another blast of salt spray.

Try straightening them.
Or, okay, don’t really straighten them, but if your hair is curly, and you want to get the wavy look, try this trick: Split your curls in half down the middle and back, pulling each section over your shoulders, then take one section, twist it all the way to the ends, like a rope, and run a flat-iron over the length of the twist to simultaneously straighten and wave out your hair at the same time. Repeat on the other side, and boom! Beachy (ish) waves.