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How to Do Beach Waves
Credit: Jake Melara/Unsplash

Dreamy, wavy locks are not exclusive to women who spend most of their time by the sea, or on sun-kissed beaches.

Anyone can recreate the look, and it only takes a few steps to craft the style from the comfort of your own home.

To help get you prepped for creating this classic summer style, we spoke to a few expert hairstylists to find out the best ways to create perfect summer waves. Oh, and feel free to rock this look well beyond summertime.

How to Prep Your Hair

Creating effortless beach waves is really about understanding that less is more. Weighing down your hair with tons of products will only create limp, greasy curls — which is not the look we're going for. "

If your hair is straight or wavy, I suggest prepping with a sea-salt spray," says Justine Marjan, celebrity hairstylist, and ghd brand ambassador.

Sea-salt sprays have a lightweight formula that adds volume and absorbs natural oils in the hair. The salt particles enhance texture, instantly making fine hair appear thicker. A spritz of this solution provides the perfect foundation for sculpting defined, natural waves.

"After applying the spray, I like to use ghd Helios Professional Hairdryer to rough dry my hair with my hands. I remove the nozzle attachment, to create texture," she adds.

Once the hair is dry, the stylist recommends spraying the hair with hairspray before going in with an iron, to help the waves hold. 

For natural hair, or hair types that need lots of moisture, sea-salt spray can have a dehydrating effect so it's best to test it out before applying it all over. Marjan also recommends smoothing creams for the curly girls. "Apply a smoothing cream before blow-drying the hair with the concentrator nozzle attached, and a smoothing brush."

The Straightener Method

Straighteners are much more versatile than the name suggests. Create enviable waves with this all-in-one tool. Start by thoroughly drying your hair to prevent damage to your locks. Next, smooth over any kinks and frizz to get a sleeker finish.

"I like to use the ghd Platinum+ Professional Performance 1″ Styler," says Marjan. "I separate the hair into one-inch sections and start by attaching the iron at the root, then I glide it down as I twist the hair, making sure I keep the iron in motion to avoid creases." For each section, alternate the direction that you wrap the hair. Once all the hair has been curled, let it cool and spray with hairspray. Finish by breaking up the waves with a wide-tooth comb. 

"S" shaped beach waves are another simple style that can be achieved with a straightener. Start by placing your hair in the straightener to create the first bend. Next, form the section into a shape of an "S" and clamp with the straighter where the "S" curves. Repeat this technique throughout your hair, leaving out the ends, for a natural-looking finish.

To help your waves last more than a day, make sure to work on small sections and let the hair cool completely before breaking up the waves, suggests Marjan, who also recommends sleeping on a silk pillowcase to prevent the hair from getting frizzy overnight.  

The Curling Iron Method

The trick to achieving beach waves with a curling iron is the barrel size. There is a common misconception that the larger the barrel, the 'waveier' the waves — but that's wrong. If your hair is short and you use a large barrel, you're attempting a task that's destined to fail. A large curling barrel plus short hair, equals big curls that look more like rolls than waves. If you have short or medium-length hair, opt for a barrel that is one inch in diameter. If you have long hair or want looser curls, go for a one-and-a-quarter-inch barrel. And remember: you can always brush through tighter curls to make them looser.

"To create your waves, start by taking a one-inch section of hair," says Mandee Tauber, celebrity stylist, and Oribe ambassador. "Holding a one-inch curling iron vertically, gradually wrap the hair around the barrel, curling away from the face."

Repeat this technique throughout the hair, leaving out the ends for an undone look. For added texture, finish with Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray.

The Braiding Method

Another pretty effortless way to achieve beach waves is by braiding your hair.

"Split the hair down the center back and divide into two large sections," says Tauber. "Next, apply a prep product of your choice. I like to use Oribe Supershine Light Moisturizing Hair Cream to bring moisture to the hair and promote waves."

After prepping the hair, create one large rope braid on each side and diffuse the braids with a hairdryer. "Let the braids cool, undo them, and tousle the waves with your hands," says Tauber. "Finish by applying a little oil, like Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil, to smooth waves and add shine.

VIDEO: How to Curl Your Hair Without Using Heat

Shop These Beach Wave-Approved Products

OUAI Wave Spray


This lightweight, texture mist is infused with rice protein to add hold for effortlessly chic, undone hair. "When creating beach waves, It's important to use products that will enhance the texture of the hair," says Marjan. "This spray is amazing on damp hair and adds hold and grit as it dries."  

To shop: $26; sephora.com

Oribe Matte Waves Texture Lotion 


This product is great for natural hair. It helps to bring out your natural wave pattern without drying out your strands. "It has great hold and texture, and the lotion form makes it easy to apply," says Tauber. "Apply on damp hair and it will define waves and natural texture as it dries." 

To shop; $42; sephora.com 

Tresemmé Premium Styling Dry Texture Finishing Spray


This spray revives hair by creating a natural full-body look. It was made especially for flat hair that needs a boost of volume and texture. "It's great for supporting volume and provides a matte finish," says Marjan.

To shop: $30; walmart.com

Oribe Aprés Beach Wave and Shine Spray


A moisturizing spray works wonders for creating silky, beach waves and adding shine. "The slightly wet finish helps with separating your waves," says Marjan.

To shop: $44; sephora.com