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7 Ways to Get Effortless Beachy Waves

You have options when it comes to achieving this tousled style.
  • Beauty Magazine
May 10, 2024

Beach waves are the epitome of effortless style. The loose, tousled look exemplifies the carefree spirit of a day spent by the sea but is adaptable enough to be worn anywhere. And, as if we needed more reasons to love this style, it’s also easy to achieve and looks great with short strands and long hair alike. The best part—if we had to pick just one—is that there are many ways to achieve beach waves. So, whether you’re loyal to your curling iron or prefer heatless hairstyles, there’s a method (or a few) for everyone.

Ahead, we’ll fill you in on seven tried-and-true ways to DIY beach waves (plus our favorite products for nailing the look). Keep reading to learn how to get wavy hair that’s worthy of not just the beach, but any locale.

Are Beach Waves Still Popular?

Beach waves are as popular as ever. This style of wavy, sea-side hair became particularly popular among influencers and celebrities in the 2010s, but it isn’t actually a trend—it’s a timeless classic.

What Are the Best Hair Products for Beach Waves?

If you want beach waves, hair products like sea salt spray, curl cream, curl mousse, and pomade can help you achieve this mermaid-esque look. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of formulas you can use to get the beach waves of your dreams, complete with our product recommendations.

Curl-enhancing cream

Curl-enhancing cream is exactly what it sounds like—a styling cream that enhances your curls. While this type of product won’t magically create beach waves if you have naturally straight hair, it’s perfect for helping to shape less defined waves and curls. A curl cream can also be great for helping to reduce frizz.

To see for yourself, try L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Leave-in Conditioner. The leave-in formula helps keep curls hydrated, defined, and bouncy while fighting humidity. Simply rub a bit between your fingers, and use it to sculpt your curls as desired.

Curl mousse

Curl mousse can help prolong the life of your curls. It’s also versatile—depending on the formula, you can use it to help amplify natural curls and ones created with heat tools.

Mousse is also great for giving your hair more body, which tends to play nicely with beach waves. We’re fans of L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle Boost It Volume Inject Mousse, which is designed to boost volume for up to 24 hours.

If you’re wondering how to create wavy hair with curl mousse, here’s a quick tutorial: Start by applying the mousse to damp hair, distributing it evenly from roots to ends. (A golf ball-sized amount is good for shoulder-length hair; add more or less depending on your hair length). Then, grab your blow dryer and put on the diffuser attachment. Blow dry your strands on low or medium heat as you scrunch your hair—this will help enhance your natural wave pattern.

Sea salt spray

Beach waves are named after the distinct wavy texture that hair often has after a dip in the ocean. This happens because the salt in the water can help reveal your curl pattern. So, it might not surprise you that the best way to fake natural-looking beach hair is with a sea salt spray. A spray can add texture and grit to your lengths, making it look like you’ve spent a long day in the water.

Sea salt spray can be a particularly useful option for those who want to create beachy waves fast without the added effort of using styling tools. It’s one of your most low-maintenance styling options: Simply spray onto damp hair and tousle through with your fingertips.

Hair pomade

While hair pomade is typically a go-to product for slick, defined styles, it’s also ideal for creating beachy waves on short hair. Those with cropped styles can use it for a more piecey beach wave look. Rub a small amount of pomade between your fingers and twist through sections of hair, scrunching them lightly to amp up texture and create loose waves.

Try defining your natural texture with L’Oréal Paris Studio Overworked Hair Putty. It adds texture, thickness, and hold so that your style will last.

How Do You Get Beachy Waves?

There are a variety of methods for creating beach waves, with options that can be tailored to suit different hair types and textures. Here are seven ways to get carefree, beachy hair that are all beauty editor-approved.

1. Curling iron

A curling iron is one of the most popular options for getting a beach wave look since you can have a lot of control over the shape and size of your waves. If you go to a salon and ask for beach wave hair, this is likely the method they’ll use.

To DIY the look, start by working a heat protectant like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Weightless Blow Dry Primer, Heat Protectant throughout damp strands. Then, blow dry before reaching for a large-barrel curling iron (ideally one-and-a-half inches in diameter). A larger barrel is key to get looser waves. Wrap one-inch sections of hair around the curling iron until you have curled your entire head. Remember to curl the face-framing pieces of hair away from your face for a more natural look.

Finish with a few spritzes of hairspray, like the L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hair Spray. This drugstore favorite provides a shiny finish and lasting hold without making hair feel sticky or crunchy.

2. Flat iron

Using a flat iron can be a great way to create beach waves, especially if you have short strands that hit above your shoulders. While you might not have enough length to wrap your hair around a curling wand, a flat iron can grab the hair at the roots and create small bends or waves.

Before applying heat, use a heat protectant like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In to shield your hair. Then, grab a one-inch section of hair while pointing your straightener toward the roots. After clamping the straightener down, twist it backward so that it’s at a vertical angle and your hair is wrapped around it. Pull it through the hair and release to form the first wave, then repeat throughout.

Flat iron waves can take a bit of practice, so make sure to give yourself enough time to really nail the look. For more help, you can follow along with our in-depth tutorial here.

3. Overnight braids

Overnight braids are your ticket to waking up with beach waves. This method is beginner-friendly, quick, super low maintenance, and great for styling damaged or bleached strands, since it doesn’t require any heat.

To achieve heatless beach waves, part your hair down the center and create a braid on each side. It’s best to do this when your hair is 75% dry to help ensure the waves will last all day long, and you won’t wake up to wet or matted strands. Once your hair is braided, all you have to do is go to sleep. When you wake up, let down your hair to reveal stunning waves.

Editor’s tip: Leave-in conditioner can help moisturize and hydrate the hair, minimizing frizz that can occur from the friction of moving around while you sleep. Before you begin braiding, we suggest coating your damp strands in L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths No Haircut Cream Leave In.

4. Sock bun

An overnight sock bun is another heatless option for creating beach waves. Compared to overnight braids, a sock bun will leave you with bigger, bouncier waves in the AM.

To create one, find a sock, cut off the toe, and roll it into a doughnushape. Next, gather your damp hair (again, about 75% dry) into a loose, high ponytail and slide the sock over it. With the sock at the base of your pony, begin to spread your hair evenly around it. Then, twist and wrap your strands around the sock, tucking your ends underneath. Secure with bobby pins and adjust the bun as needed.

5. Twist out

If you have textured hair, you can achieve beach waves with a classic twist-out. While many natural hair curling techniques leave you with tight and defined curls, this method is all about giving you stretched-out waves. Start with damp hair, apply your favorite styling product, and get to twisting.

Check out our step-by-step tutorial on how to nail twist out here. Once you're done, wrap your hair in a silk scarf. When you wake up, undo the twists to unveil bouncy beach waves.

Editor’s tip: Keep in mind that this method will work better with certain curl patterns than others. If you’re having trouble, you may need to use a heated method.

6. Braid out

A braid out is similar to a twist out, but it creates more defined waves that tend to last longer. It also takes a little bit longer to achieve, but the results can really be worth it.

First, you’ll want to work your styling product of choice through damp hair. Then, separate even sections of hair and begin making mini braids, repeating this step until you’ve braided all your hair. Protect your braids with a silk bonnet while you sleep, and gently unravel the braids in the morning. If the resulting waves are too defined, you can tease them to get a beachier look.

7. Heatless rollers

Last but not least: heatless rollers. This option requires just about zero hairstyling knowledge—you don’t need to know how to create a braid, or make a bun, or use a heat tool. We’d reason that’s why it’s become so popular on TikTok: Anyone can do it. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a heat-free method that works overnight, so you can wake up with beautiful waves without heat damage.

You can choose from foam or fabric rollers. Exactly how to use them wildepend on the type of rollers you get, but generally, you’ll wrap sections of damp hair around the rollers, secure them in place, and remove them in the morning.

Next Up: 5 Ways to Use Hair Rollers for the Perfect Curls

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