Trends come and go, but signature looks like the smoky eye or beach waves remain timeless because they work for many occasions and look good on everyone. Loose, tousled beachy waves are easily one of the most flattering and versatile hairstyles you can rock. Whether you’re in need of inspiration for first date hair, day-to-night hair or lowkey wedding hair, beach waves are as a suitable choice for all three.
Also known as mermaid waves, beach waves are loved by many because they’re relatively easy to achieve and can be worn by short strands and long hair alike. The best part is that there are so many (easy) 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. Keep reading to see our list of eight different ways to create the perfect beach waves for different hair types.
Are Beach Waves Still Popular?
Beach waves are still popular, mainly because they work with all hair types, lengths, textures for many different occasions. Beach waves also look great when you pair them with baby braids or a wispy fringe to give your style a trendy spin,
What Hair Product Gives You Beach Waves?
Here are three products you’ll want to have on hand for your beach wave hair routine.
1. Curl Spray
The right curl spray can enhance the waves you’ve created, helping define your beach waves and making them last.
Our recommendation: L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Shape and Refresh Spray
2. Sea Salt Spray
Sea salt spray helps to give your hair that gritty, lived-in texture that naturally occurs after you’ve spent some time in the ocean. If you don’t have a sea salt spray, a hair pomade with a matte finish can also help to mimic the texture in your after a swim in the ocean.
Our recommendation: L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Overworked Hair Putty
3. Leave-In Conditioner
A curl-enhancing product like a leave-in conditioner is a great, heat-free option for obtaining effortless beachy waves. Apply through your length and scrunch to bring out your natural waves.
How Do You Get Beachy Waves?
Beach waves resemble a large, loose curl or a soft wave. There are many different ways to go about achieving beach waves, which method you’ll use depends on your hair type and texture. Here are nine of our favorite (and easiest) ways to get beachy ways.
1. With a Curl Enhancer
For those with wavy or curly hair, apply a nickel-sized amount of curl-enhancer through the length of your hair and scrunch to shape the waves. Add more product as needed, depending on the length and thickness of your hair. Add more as needed to enhance your hair’s natural texture. Finish by applying a matte pomade throughout the length of your hair to add some beachy texture.
2. With a Curling Iron
For a more defined, beachy wave look where you can control the wave pattern, use a curling iron. Start by applying a heat protectant like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Weightless Blow Dry Primer, Heat Protectant. Use a large-barrel curling iron (ideally one-and-a-half inches in diameter) to curl one-inch sections of hair, creating loose waves. Remember to curl the face-framing pieces of hair away from your face.
Since you’re using a larger barrel to create the waves, finish off the look with a spritz of hairspray like the L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hair Spray - Unscented. This drugstore favorite provides a shiny finish and keeps your curls intact all day long without lingering stickiness or crunchy curls.
3. With a Flat Iron
If you have short strands that hit above your shoulders and you want to create beach waves, using a flat iron is a great way to do so. 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 make it possible to texture and bends.
Before applying heat, use heat protectant like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In to shield your hair from the high temps of your hot tools. Start by grabbing a one-inch section of hair while pointing your straightener towards the roots. After clamping the straightener down, twist it backwards so that it’s at a vertical angle and your hair is wrapped around it.
Continue to twist the straightener as you move down the section of hair and release it at the ends. Repeat this motion with the rest of your hair. When you’re finished, finger comb the waves to create a tousled look.
4. With Overnight Braids
Overnight beach waves are totally possible (and easy to achieve) with overnight braids. This method is beginner-friendly, quick, super low maintenance and great for styling damaged or bleached strands without heat. To achieve heatless beach waves, part your hair half down the center and create two braids. It’s best to do this when your hair is 75 percent dry; this ensures the waves will last all day long, but that you won’t wake up to wet or matted strands. Sleep on your braids and when you wake up, simply take out the hair ties to reveal stunning beach waves in less than five minutes
5. With Overnight Buns
Overnight buns resemble space buns and are great for achieving heatless beachy waves when you have long hair. Like overnight braids, you want to start with hair that is about 75 percent dry so it can fully dry by the time you wake up. Depending on the thickness of your hair and how tight you want your beach waves to be, split your hair into four or six equally-sized sections.
Twist each section away from your face and wrap it into a bun — securing it with hair ties to keep your buns in place all night long. In the morning, take out your buns and finger comb your hair to unveil quick and heatless spiral waves.
6. With Sea Salt Spray
A sea salt texturizing spray is one of the most popular ways to get impromptu beach waves sans the beach, as it mimics what salt water does to the hair. To enhance the natural wave in your hair, simply spritz your sea salt spray throughout your mane and scrunch to amp up the texture. Let your hair air dry, and say hello to gorgeous beach waves.
Editor’s tip: If you have straight hair or prefer a more obvious wave, you can create your beach waves with any of the other methods and finish with sea salt spray to give your strands that covetable, post-salt water texture.
7. With a Twist Out
If you have natural hair, you can totally achieve beach waves with a classic twist out. While most 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 carry out your twist out style of choice. Wrap your hair in a silk scarf, and undo the twists when you wake up to unveil bouncy beach waves.
Editor’s tip: Keep in mind, this method will only work for certain curl patterns. If you find that you’re having trouble retaining your wave, you may need to use a heat method to achieve beach waves.
8. With a Braid Out
Similar to a twist out, a braid out creates more defined waves that tend to last longer. It takes a little bit longer to achieve, but with some teasing, you can create a looser wave that resembles beachy, mermaid hair. Start with damp hair and apply your styling product of choice. Create even sections of hair and begin your 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 to unveil your beachy style.
9. With a Perm
If you love beachy waves so much that you’re ready for long-term commitment consider a beach wave perm. Instead of tight curls like a traditional perm, this hair treatment leaves you with perfect beach wave curls for upwards of three months. We won’t get into a step-by-step breakdown of how to do a beach wave perm since it’s something you’ll want to visit a professional for but know it’s an option to consider if beachy waves are your go-to.
Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Associate Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Digital Tech: Katy Andrascik, Photo Assistant: Sam Kang, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Wardrobe Stylist: Melina Kemph, Wardrobe Assistant: Kayla Martinez, Model: Adrianne Kiara
Discover more tips & tricks
Keep your skin happy
Shop Featured Hair Style products