The Blissfully Simple Way to Get Beach Waves


At this stage in my life, personally and professionally, beach waves are an institution. The term’s been floating around my brain for over a decade (hi, high school spring break!). Not only have I pursued the casual, beach-hair-don’t-care look with my own strands, but as a style editor, I’ve written about it for almost as long.

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It’s the exact opposite of a look that requires hours

Throughout all that searching and scribing, I’ve realized that the thing most often ignored in the pursuit of beachy waves is what’s inherent to its DNA: an effortless, easy, almost lazy approach to beauty. It’s the exact opposite of a look that requires hours or steps upon steps.

Determined to make getting the look as easy as it’s supposed to feel, I let NYC-based stylist Charles McNair show me the (easy) way with a duo of products from Sephora.

Taea Thale

Step 1: Salt Spray

The ideal base for beach waves is hair that’s “fresh and damp from the shower,” he says. “Spray in your salt spray and air dry or diffuse.” I used a new version of an old favorite, Bumble and bumble’s Surf Spray collaboration with swim label Solid & Striped, and happily spritzed all over from mid-strand down. The formulation, devised to add the perfect amount of tousled texture, is the same as the classic, but with a summery, coconut scent.

Knowing when you’ve got enough product on can be tricky, especially with damp hair, but McNair told me it’s always better to add on than stress over fixing a heavy-handed spray. “With any type of product, it’s always best to err on the lighter side,” he says. “As you dry, you can determine if you want a bit more texture and add accordingly.”

Bumble and bumble Solid & Striped Surf Spray, $27


Taea Thale

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Step 2: Braid

After salt-spraying, you can use a dryer with a diffuser to speed the process or loosely braid hair and hang while it does its thing naturally.

Taea Thale

Step 3: Texture Spray

Once my hair was dry, we moved on to the second (and last!) element. To fake the volume and separation that windy sea breezes give you naturally, I shot Verb’s Sea Texture Spray all over my hair.

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With long, thick hair that I wash as infrequently as possible, I’m always wary of product overload. The more I put on my strands, the quicker they become heavy, greasy, oily, or otherwise in need of a shower. I expected to only want a few spritzes of this, but its description of “weightless grit” is 100 percent accurate.

Verb Sea Texture Spray, $16


Step 4: Live Your Best Hair Life

That smile is legitimate. The texture of the Verb spray reminded me of aerosol dry shampoos I’ve used before: super light and the opposite of tacky/cloying/heavy. Paired together with the Bumble and bumble salt spray, both gave me the oomph needed needed to mimic true beachy waves.

“Products work best when there are layers applied,” McNair advised, supervising my mixing and matching and spritzing and spraying. “A bit of this and a bit of that to find a perfect storm for your ideal texture.”

Maje Dress, on sale for $256; (jewelry, editor’s own)


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