Whether you live by the sea or simply want a hairstyle that looks like you do, beach waves are beloved by many. When it comes to how to achieve the look, you’ve got options, from hot tools that do the work for you to no-heat-needed hacks like a headband (seriously, keep reading).
Meet Our Expert: Bryce Scarlett, Moroccanoil celebrity hairstylist
“I'm really passionate about all natural hair textures and different ways of creating natural looking hair textures,” says Bryce Scarlett, Moroccanoil celebrity hairstylist. As the mane man behind Kaia Gerber, Gigi Hadid and Lily Rose Depp, to name a few, he’s aced getting practically every type of beachy wave out there.
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One of the best things about beachy waves is there are so many styles that fall in the category, so you can make the look your own. “When people request beach waves, they're usually referring to soft waves with straighter ends created by wrapping hair around a wand iron or bending into the hair with a flat iron,” Scarlett says. His go-to technique and preferred tool is using a flatiron. “I love the Moroccanoil Perfectly Polished Titanium Flat Iron—its beveled edges and pressure set plates make it so easy to gently bend into the hair,” he notes.
Scarlett's top tips for achieving beach waves:
Prep with product.
“I use a hydrating serum or leave-in conditioner on the ends of the hair and then a dry texturizing spray throughout,” Scarlett says.
Experiment with what works for your hair type.
“If you have very fine hair, a salt spray may be a great approach to try,” Scarlett says. “Don’t be afraid to try layering products either. I often use dry shampoo, dry texture spray, hairspray, and a pomade.”
Aim for imperfection.
“When trying to achieve beach waves or any natural looking hair texture, the biggest mistake you can make is being afraid of making mistakes—nothing should be too perfect or symmetrical.”
To help you get beachy waves at home, check out these tutorials that take out all the guesswork.
1. Curling Wand Beach Waves
The most traditional way to get beachy waves is with a curling iron or wand. Opt for a barrel that’s approximately one-inch in diameter, , and be sure to apply a heat protectant to your hair before styling. Simply shake out your hair and you’re ready to go.
2. The Easiest Loose Beach Waves
A curling iron might be a little more user-friendly, compared to the above wand method, for those of us who struggle to do anything more than a ponytail. This video breaks down getting loose waves into an easy-to-follow, foolproof method.
3. S-Shaped Beach Waves
You can create beautiful, s-shaped beachy bends with a few simple steps—and all you need is a flat iron and a heat protectant. If you have curly hair, start by straightening your strands. Then, you can use the very same device to create effortless-looking bends simply by rotating the iron back and forth as you glide it down each section of hair.
4. Overnight Beach Waves
Talk about beauty sleep—you can get even get beach waves while you snooze. Skip the hot tools and wait until your hair is 90 percent dry before you prep it at bedtime. Start by leaving the front pieces of your hair out, then flip your head over like you’re going to make a high pony on top of your head, separate into three equal sections, then make a regular braid. Don’t make it too tight, which will prevent volume; leave an inch and a half out at the bottom, and finally, secure it with an elastic. In the morning, gently unravel the braid and shake out hair from the roots.
5. The Basic Flatiron Wave
It can be tough to wrap your head around using a flatiron for curling your hair when it’s designed to straighten it. However, there’s a reason flatiron waves are a thing, and while it might sound counterintuitive, they’re easy to do. This video from Moroccanoil shows you the basic moves.
6. Headband Beach Waves
Leave it to Luxy Hair to come up with yet another genius beauty hack for beach waves that doesn’t require heat styling. Using a cotton headband, like one from Kenz Laurenz, twist and wrap your hair around the base of the band to achieve that undone, straight-off-the-sand look.
7. Beach Waves For Short Hair
Although it might take some practice, creating textured waves on even the shortest of hairstyles can be done. All it requires is a one-inch curling iron and a flick of the wrist. Pro tip: After you finish curling your entire head, be sure to generously spritz it with a flexible-hold hair spray before you begin to brush out the curls to ensure they stay.
8. Five-Minute Beach Waves
Beachy waves don’t typically start at the root, so it makes total sense to start curling from your ponytail (opt for an elastic that won’t create creases). This hair hack can also help if you have problems sectioning off your hair or reaching the back pieces. Plus, it’s an amazing time-saver.
9. Beach Waves With Braids
If you’re ready to level up your beach wave game, consider adding a braid—or two. This video demo, from celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa’s Beachwaver brand, shows you how to get a crown braid look, then emphasize it with beach waves.
Celia Shatzman (she/her) is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor who has penned stories on topics ranging from beauty to fashion, travel, celebrities, health, entertainment, finance and more. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she is a beauty and style contributor at Forbes and her work has appeared in New York, Cosmopolitan, WWD, ELLE, Conde Nast Traveler, Afar, Travel + Leisure, Women’s Health, Marie Claire, Byrdie, Refinery29 and NYLON, among others.