All this sunshine got you in the mood for holiday-inspired hair? Say hello to laidback-looking beach waves for the heatwave, which prove time and time again to be one of the most sought-after hair styles come summer.
Whether sprinkled with salt from the sea (or your favourite salt spray) and styled minimally to add to the air of nonchalance, beach waves are the off-duty equivalent to no-makeup-makeup. Like no makeup-makeup though, often the most "effortless" looking styles take the most work to create.
The good news is that beach waves can be fairly easy to create, it just depends on how glossy vs undone you want it to look.
There’s two ways to create beach goddess vibes, one takes a bit more elbow grease (heat, styling, the whole shebang) the other is wonderfully low-maintenance. The former will give you a slightly sleeker finish, the latter is more relaxed.
Here’s what you need to know about nailing the look in no time:
Sleek-girl beach waves
It’s no secret that the glam beach waves we’re used to seeing on the red carpet are a far cry from the IRL results you’ll get after spending a day on the beach – but the premise is still there. If you you don’t mind spending a bit more time on your hair and like it to look sleek, glossy and a little bit more ‘done’, then sleek-girl beach waves are for you.
Then rough dry with your blow dryer. “If you want to enhance your wave and create more texture, you should twist the hair whilst drying,” says top hairstylist, Paul Percival, co-founder of Percy & Reed.
“Alternatively, if your hair is naturally quite curly, pull the hair down while drying to loosen the wave out,” adds Paul. Once almost dry, “smooth hair over with a large round brush, (like the Tourmaline Blowout Brush from WetBrush), says Hollie Rose.
“Next, section the hair into one inch sections (roughly 4-5 sections, depending on your hair thickness) and using a curling wand, begin to wrap the hair around the wand, at least two inches down from your roots,” says Holly Rose, in order to avoid poodle curls.
Wand-wise, she recommends a medium barrel like Babyliss’ Pro Wand 32-19mm, £35.95, or GHD’s Wave Wand, £120. For tighter waves use a small wand and for looser waves, go for a larger one. Whichever you choose, “don’t be too perfect or precious with it,” warns Paul Windle, top hair stylist and founder of Windle Salon. “You want that undone feel.”
“Wrap the hair away from the face (this opens up the face and looks more relaxed),” says Hollie Rose. As for the most important step? “Never curl the ends. They need to be left straight, since beach waves should have a slightly undone, effortless look,” she says. “So, don’t wrap the ends of the hair around the wand.” Instead, leave a good 5 centimetres at the bottom.
“Break up the waves with your fingers or a large wide-tooth comb and spritz in a sea salt spray of your choice,” says Hollie Rose.
“If your hair is naturally curly or wavy, a salt spray will just help to enhance that and really make the most of your natural texture, cutting down on drying time,” explains Paul. Finally, “finish with a mist of shine spray (my secret weapon is Kevin Murphy Shimmer Shine, £25) to add the perfect sun-kissed glow to those waves,” says Hollie Rose.
An alternative that involves heat but less elbow grease is to update dry hair with a quick styling hack. Amika UK Artistic Ambassador, James Earnshaw, suggests using brooklyn bombshell on dry hair, and twisting your hair into knots then heating with a hairdryer.
Next, he suggests spraying undone texture spray through your hair and using your fingertips to manipulate the hair for fluffy soft texture.
Lazy-girl heatless beach waves
Less perfected, and much less effort, lazy beach waves give a convincing ‘just-stepped-off-the-beach’ finish. If you consider yourself a bit of a lazy girl when it comes to your hair styling, and the very sight of a curling tong makes you want to run for the hills, you’ll be pleased to know that you can achieve beach waves without even a hint of heat.
Plus, less time blow drying your hair means more time outside in the sunshine. It’s an ideal solution if you’re time-poor or overheated since no sweating under a blowdryer is required.
If you're preparing your beach waves the night before, apply a holding gel like haute mess texture gloss to wet hair, plait it and then sleep on it, recommends James. "You’ll wake up with effortless waves," he promises.
If you're starting from scratch, first, “towel dry wet hair as much as you can,” says Hollie Rose. Try Aquis' aquitex-fibre hair towels, £30, which cut drying time by half. Then, spritz in your sea salt spray, if you're looking to add more texture. Or coat it in a deep conditioner if you're looking to smooth the texture.
Next, “part and comb the hair, then wrap your hair into two twists – one above each ear – and pin on the top of your head. Once dry, shake out and finish with a shine spray for health-looking beachy waves.”
That’s it. Easy waves in less than five steps.
If you have curly or coily hair, heatless beach waves are ideal come summer. As curly and coily textures tend to be drier, opting for a no-heat technique can be a great way to keep your curl pattern defined while causing minimal damage.
"For sun friendly styling, I would suggest protective styles like braiding, buns or twists," says curl expert and Bouclème founder, Michele Scott-Lynch. "The key is to not pull your hair too tight. Styles like these ensure you are protecting you hair but you also need to keep it moisturised. I'd recommend the Reviver 5 Hair Oil which protects the hair from UV rays, heat, humidity and environmental pollutants. I also use the Intensive Moisture Treatment as a leave in conditioner."
If you want to keep your curls and coils loose come summer, creative director and brand ambassador at Imbue, Michelle Sultan, says that hydration is key.
“Frizz can occur is the hair is dehydrated and is just a dehydrated curl waiting to happen. Although, it’s not always a bad thing; it can help the hair support volume and give it more texture,” she says.
To keep curls hydrated but still full of texture, Michelle recommends using leave-in hydrating products as much as possible, like Imbue Curl Energising Hydration Serum, using the praying hands technique.
“Simply put your hands together and run them firmly down your curls whilst they are wet. This helps your curls to absorb the product, making sure it is evenly distributed into hair for smooth, bouncy curls. It is important to make sure you are doing this by running your hands all the way to the ends in almost a flicking motion. This helps your ends to curl like ribbons,” she recommends.
Can you create beach waves using a straightener?
“Beachy waves work on all lengths and textures – with longer hair the waves tumble and it looks effortlessly outgrown and with shorter carved bob length hair, texture looks really flattering, sophisticated and timeless,” says Syd Hayes, hair stylist and ambassador for Babyliss.
How to create it using a straightener, though “Add kinks and waves to the hair using the BaByliss Super Styler,” he says. “It’s important to not create curls as this will create a very different look. Alternate the direction of the wave and keep the ends out for a fresher take on the classic beach wave.”
Top tips for achieving beach waves
Syd says that creating beach waves all starts with a good base. “Add volume to the hair so it still feels full, thick and not too flat. Blast dry some volume into your hair using the Sam McKnight Cool Girl Superlift, focusing on the root area so hair appears more 3-dimesional,” he says.
“Once bone dry, use the BaByliss Wave Secret Air to create waves and kinks throughout the hair. It features cooling technology that wraps the hair into the barrel automatically without you even worrying on placing the hair the correct way,” he adds. “Once waved, the next step is to brush out the waves so there more wave and less curly.”
His top tip for this look is to use a sea salt spray rather than a texturising spray. “Sea sprays are wetter and less drying in texture,” he adds. The Sam McKnight Sundaze Sea Spray helps to accentuate natural movement and adds just the amount of grit for the beach wave look.
Can you create beach waves overnight?
If you want to create beach waves without using heat styling, there are a few methods to try.
“When hair is damp, create two plaits and gently blow dry so that overnight the waves form,” says Syd. “In the morning, clamp your straightener on the plaits too for added definition.”