I can say with confidence that there’s nothing worse than getting out of the shower and turning on your blow-dryer in the dead of summer. And as much as I’ve always wanted to be one of those girls who can throw her hair in two braids and take them out when they dry an hour later to perfect, effortless beach waves, my hair just won’t let me.
Instead, it turns into this weird mix of flat-on-the-top-but-fluffy-everywhere-else that screams, “I literally just woke up and couldn’t be bothered to do my hair,” instead of, “Woke up like this.” I’d resolved that high-maintenance hair is just part of my DNA.
But after a solid decade of trial-and-error (and being perpetually 15 minutes late trying to figure out my sweaty hairline situation—TMI?), I’ve finally found a few wash-and-go hair products that save me a solid chunk of time in the morning. Click through to save yourself half an hour of heat tool hell.
Salt sprays are great and all, but when you want a tousled, piecey look and shine (talk about high-maintenance), this texturizing spray has safflower seed oil and marigold extract to keep both fine and thick hair from looking just-off-the-beach dull. I like to let my hair dry naturally (again, flat on top, frizzy everywhere else) before I twist this through. So, more like wash-wait-and-go, but still.
Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray, $39; at Oribe
Yes, a BB cream for your hair sounds gimmicky AF. But alas, it lends softness and shine to damaged, thirsty hair that you usually only see post-blowout.
Pantene Pro-V Ultimate 10 BB Hair Crème, $5.59; at Drugstore.com
I let someone in the StyleCaster office who shall not be named borrow this 3-in-1 styler after I talked it up—and then I never saw it again. I did, however, get an email that night titled “You Saved My Hair.” No joke. It tames frizz, adds shine, and won't weigh down super-fine hair like my own, even when applied to damp strands.
MarulaOil Rare Oil 3-in-1 Styling Cream, $30; at Loxa Beauty
This lightweight leave-in treatment tingles on your scalp thanks to a mix of African water mint, activated charcoal, and ginger and opuntia extracts—but in a good way, I swear.
Shea Moisture African Water Mint & Ginger Detox & Refresh Hair & Scalp Leave-In Detangler, $11.99; at Shea Moisture
It took some serious discipline to narrow down which Ouai product is best for wash-and-go hair, but the Wave Spray from Jen Atkin’s newish line took the lead. Less salt spray and more texture mist, it adds body and the right amount of grit to damp hair without drying to a crunchy, dull mess.
Ouai Wave Spray, $26; at Sephora
A favorite among multiple curly-haired staffers, this gel-oil defines even the most chaotic frizz. The texture is super thick thanks to a mix of Brazil nut, babassu, and pracaxi oils, but it soaks in pretty quickly so you don't show up at the office with still-wet, goopy hair.
Bumble and bumble. Bb.Curl Anti-Humidity Gel-Oil, $34; at Bumble and bumble
Sure, this is technically a blowout-prep cream, but it works wonders on thick, unmanageable hair sans heat, too. Just smooth it through midlengths to ends to eradicate frizz quickly, and then, you know, go.
Phyto Phytodéfrisant Botanical Straightening Balm, $30; at Sephora
We've waxed poetic about this sulfate- and paraben-free curl primer before. And even though it'll feel tacky in your hands, the mix of moisturizing aloe leaf extract, Brazilian Pequi fruit oil, quinoa proteins, and shea butter will seal the cuticle to soften frizz and add shine—all without the stick.
R+Co Twister Curl Primer, $25; at R+Co
I know, I know: Foams seem very 2008. But hear me out: This crazy-light formula will actually enhance waves—not just make them weirdly stringy and hard—sans diffuser. One to two pumps is enough for fine, straight hair, but up the amount if you're used to an entire palmful of mousse.
TRESemme Expert Selection Perfectly (un)Done Wave Creation Sea Foam, $5.49; at Target
We're already pretty keen on marula oil, but this rose-scented lotion leaves curls soft and defined so you don't have to spend 30 minutes twisting them once you're out of the shower. (Been there.)
Carol's Daughter Marula Curl Therapy Diffusing & Styling Lotion, $20; at Ulta