In case you missed the memo, the entire millennial population wants to be a mermaid right now. Yes, mermaids. Not a movie stars, not Drake’s side piece, but actual, mythical mermaids. Somehow, seemingly overnight, the mermaid became everyone’s spirit animal, with mermaid tail blankets, mermaid fish scale leggings, and snarky mermaid tank tops filling Instagram newsfeeds and pretty much every single Buzzfeed article. Right now, you’ve probably stopped reading this article to both shop and a daydream about your life as a mermaid.
Hey, we don’t blame you. (Actually, we don’t understand you at all—can someone explain this phenomenon to us?) In fact, we want to make your mermaid goals come true by helping you master the ultimate sea goddess feature: mermaid hair. You know, the ridiculously long, ropey, textured waves that are both ethereal and perfect?
Yeah, those. And though we’ll be the first to admit that 99 percent of the long waves you see—including and especially Kim K’s—are the result of a dozen pounds of extensions, it doesn’t mean you can’t recreate the look at home with the good ol’ hair on your head. So we asked hairstylist (and secret mermaid) Kristin Ess for her very best tricks to getting mermaid waves at home, no sand, ocean, or Ursula required.
“Beachy waves have a messy, fuzzy texture, like you spent all day in the sun and your hair is dried to hell, but mermaid waves are long, thick, and somewhat smooth, almost like you’re underwater,” says Ess. And the first step to getting them is to stay away from the blow dryer. “Letting your hair air-dry is literally so key to getting mermaid waves,” says Ess. “Even if you have hardly any natural waves, your hair will still separate into piece-y sections as it dries, which is a look that you can’t recreate with a blow dryer or curling iron.” While your hair is still damp, spray the roots with a sea salt spray (Ess has three favorites: Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Sea Salt Spray, Wella Ocean Spritz Sea Salt Spray, and Ouai Wave Spray—all excellent at different price points) to add some texture encourage rope-y sections, before letting your hair dry completely.
If your hair dries into perfect, natural waves, then congrats! You’re lucky. Now go away (or just skip to the next paragraph). If not, it’s time to break out your flat iron and manufacture some waves. No, this isn’t your basic, boring, use-your-flat-iron-as-a-curling-iron thing, but a nifty trick of clamping the iron over zig-zagged pieces of hair to create flat S-waves. Sounds like gibberish, right? Here’s a video that shows exactly what we’re talking about:
Boom. Now you’ve been taught. After finishing the waves and letting them cool, smooth a dime-size drop of lightweight hair oil (Ess likes Oribe Gold Lust or Verb Ghost Oil) between your hands and scrunch it through your hair, from ear-level to ends, to add subtle shine while really enhancing the rope-y sections. Ess then finishes by spritzing a veil of Oribe Apres Beach Wave and Shine Spray over the hair to act as a hairspray, shine spray, and texturizer all in one. The final result: mermaid-level hair not even Ariel can rival.
Need more inspo? Check out the gallery below of next-level mermaid hair that will make you promptly try the waves out on yourself.