Sexy Beach Hair—No Ocean Required

Somewhere between walk-of-shame hair and frozen-with-product, reality-show barrel curls, lies a happy, decidedly relaxed, incredibly flattering medium. On short hair, beachy waves take on an almost ‘20s vibe; on long, ‘70s (French ‘70s, ideally) is the look to aim for. “It’s definitely passed the trend phase,” says top hairstylist Adir Abergel. “It’s become an iconic style.”

It’s one that looks as good with jeans as it does a ballgown—it knows no age, really, and is doable for just about any hair type, Adir says: “It can take some work, though.” Salt sprays are the classic beach-hair product for a reason, he continues. “They’re great because they create texture and grip, and they help encourage that natural sexy movement synonymous with beach waves—but you need to be careful, because they can also dehydrate the hair. They are best for hair that is already textured; layer salt spray, depending how ‘beachy’ you want the result to be.”

Some sprays combine salt (real salt makes all the difference in terms of texture) with oils for a less-drying style: French Girl’s combination of French gray, Epsom, Dead Sea, and Himalayan salts are mixed with ultra-moisturizing coconut extracts and aloe vera along with gorgeous essential oils like neroli, jasmine, mint, and rose. Lavett & Chin’s Sea Salt Texturizing Mist mixes salts, coconut oil, organic rosewater, spirulina extract, and a super-hydrating combination of essential oils. Captain Blankenship makes a Mermaid salt spray and a Golden Waves sea salt spray, both infused with hydrating aloe vera, plus rose geranium and palmarosa oils (the Golden Waves has the glinty addition of mica particles for shine). Another route: work a hair oil like UMA or Rodin into ends while hair is still damp, then spritz salt spray on over it.

French Girl Organics French Sea Salt Hair Mist goop, $26 Made with Epsom, Dead-Sea, Himalayan, and of course French sea salts, along with moisturizing coconut oil extracts and essential oils of jasmine, rose geranium, and ylang ylang, this easy spritz infuses any hair type with sexy French-girl texture. Spray it in wet or dry for tousled, effortless beach hair that looks great with practically any outfit.
Lavett & Chin Sea Salt Texturizing Mist goop, $25 The ultimate product for tousled, French-girl/beachy waves, this light mix of sea salt, minerals, and moisturizers leaves hair full of body and texture. Precisely the effect of a full day by the ocean—in an adorable spray.
Uma Nourishing Hair Oil goop, $70 For shinier, bouncier, and all-around healthier hair, this all-in-one healing blend of hibiscus, yerba de tago, Indian gooseberry, jojoba, moringa, and grapeseed oil is infused with lemon and grapefruit extract to cleanse the scalp, stimulate hair follicles, and promote healthy hair growth. The best part: Though it penetrates deeply and saturates hair with essential moisture, it doesn’t weigh it down. Apply 5-7 drops of this restorative solution directly to the roots, either as an overnight treatment, or for about 15-20 minutes before you shampoo. Bonus: It’s totally safe for color-treated hair, too.
Rodin Luxury Hair Oil goop, $70 Like all Rodin products, the hair oil is naturally scented and incredibly hardworking. The apricot oil-based formula was designed by famed hairstylist Bob Recine to heal and maintain damaged hair.

Salt sprays works best mid-length to ends, says Adir: “Don’t spritz too close to your roots—unless you have very straight hair. In that case, you can spritz a small amount at the roots like you would a root lifting spray.” Adir says salt works best applied to damp hair, and he advises against towel-drying: “Gentle squeezing or patting ‘sets’ waves better than air-drying alone,” he explains. “Don’t rub—rubbing creates friction and thus frizz. A paper towel also absorbs more water than a cloth towel, really speeding up your drying time. Once you’ve dried it a bit with the paper towels, spritz the ends and mid-lengths of your hair with salt spray, then let your hair air-dry.”

If oils are too heavy for your hair, a quick spritz of leave-in conditioner is brilliant pre-salt, while hair is still damp. Alternately, you can spray a small amount at the ends after hair is dry, and then finish with leave-in conditioner or even a bit (a bit) of oil.

Lavett & Chin Leave On Conditioner goop, $30 For the healthiest shine, smoothed flyaways, and serious protection from heat-styling, wind, water, and sun, this color-safe leave-in conditioner is brilliant to use every day for all over better-looking, happier hair. Made with a rich infusion of active botanicals, from rosemary, lavender, and hibiscus to sweet-almond, ginger-root oil, and clove-bud oils, it’s lightweight, sprays in, and leaves hair instantly more manageable. The ultra-hydrating formulas smells subtly of ginger and clove; the results, once hair is dry, are serious bounce, major gleam, and smoothing, strengthening protection.
Reverie Milk Anti-Frizz Leave-In Conditioner goop, $42 Packed with essential oils from coconuts, olives, and almonds, this lightweight spray smooths dry hair without weighing it down, leaving it soft and touchable—plus, it smells amazing. Bonus: Reverie products are handcrafted in California.

How to Curl—and Deconstruct

Beyond the salty texture, the other trick to the beachy-hair look is a tousled, unstudied wave. The key, Adir says, is avoiding perfection at every turn: “Rather than curling your hair from roots to ends for a perfectly barreled curl, make just a slight wave, curling from mid-shaft, leaving the ends out. Tug on the hair while it’s still hot to loosen the curl and stretch out/deconstruct the wave. Now, use lightweight products like a pomade, or go in with sea salt spray again—as opposed to heavy hair spray that will make it look crunchy or stiff.”

Made with mango nut butter, meadowfoam- and pomegranate-seed oils, rose and frankincense essentials oils, plus Bourbon vanilla extracts, Reverie’s Rake Styling Balm can be used on damp or dry hair to hold the style and leave amazing, I-just-woke-up-like-this texture—perfect for curled hair that needs a little texture, or naturally wavy or curly hair that needs a bit of definition.

Reverie Rake Styling Balm goop, $36 Use this shine-enhancing, style-rejuvenating balm on wet or dry hair—it nourishes and conditions as it gives light support and major bounce. Rich with botanicals and essentials oils from rose and frankincense to vanilla, balsam, and ylang ylang, the antioxidant formula protects color and softens hair with mango nut butter and pomegranate seed oil. Whether your hair is long or short, this is the ultimate do-it-all balm to add soft hold in wet hair or to smooth frizz or revivify a whole look in dry hair.

Indeed, Adir says, depending on your specific hair type, there are easy steps to take to get the right look (see his instructions below). No matter what, one of the best things about beachy hair is it’s hard to go wrong—if something doesn’t work, it’s definitely not one of those start-all-over hairstyles. Just keep working with it until you get in a groove, resist perfection, and—like your hair—relax.

Related: Products For Sexy Wavy Hair