Even in the midst of summer, when beachy waves can be attained by actually going to the beach, there are a lot of reasons to love a sea-salt spray. Can’t get the day off to hightail it to the nearest shore? Douse your hair from root to tip with a salt-infused mist. A/C broken and need to ditch your hot tools ASAP? Add a wet texture spray and air-dry before work.
But not all surf sprays are made alike. Some use the go-to ingredient (salt, duh), while others opt for less drying components like sugar. Some are waxy and heavy, while others are lightweight and flexible. So, which one will really work for you?
We consulted celebrity hairstylist Kylee Heath to find the right kind of styling product that will give you straight-off-the-beach hair (whatever that looks like for you). Heath not only works with loads of stars — including Rashida Jones, Jessica Biel, and Margot Robbie — but she also knows a thing or two about picking the best texturizing products to use for every hair type. Ahead, her top picks for nailing that tousled look all year long…
For fine hair, Heath suggests skipping salt-infused sprays entirely. “When you have fine hair you’re going to need more volume and you don’t want anything too drying, so salt can be a little harsh,” she explains. Instead, reach for a texture spray after hair is dry.
Try this formula from Matrix, one of Heath’s faves. “I am obsessed with this product because it is close to impossible to over apply,” she says. “It boosts texture without drying the hair.”
Matrix Style Link Texture Builder Messy Finish Spray, $18, available at Ulta Beauty
Or stick to formulas that replace salt with something lighter, like sugar, which adds some moisture back into your ends. This under-$20 option adds grit and volume without weighing hair down.
Paul Mitchell Neon Sugar Spray, $11, available at Ulta Beauty
Those with naturally wavy hair already have a bit of texture built in. Heath suggests reaching for a product that, she says, “bumps up the texture you have and adds some grit.” Nothing beats a straightforward salt spray for someone working with a natural wave already, and this drugstore option does just that, while giving hair a bit of grit and a matte finish in the process.
Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray, $5.99, available at Ulta Beauty
With minimal ingredients (and certified organic and natural ones, at that), this no-frills salt spray pumps up volume with the help of sea salt, sea kelp, aloe vera, and essential oils. Bonus: It basically smells like a beachside resort.
Captain Blankenship Mermaid Sea Salt Hair Spray, $24, available at Captain Blankenship
Heath advises a classic salt spray for color-treated hair because of the hydrating treatments often given in tandem with dye jobs. You might notice your hair feeling softer than usual, so adding in grit from a no-frills salt spray — formulated without alcohol so it creates texture without stripping your hair of its fresh color — will get the job done.
Garnier Garnier Fructis Style Beach Chic Texturizing Spray, $3.42, available at Amazon
Leave it to this chic Barcelona-born brand to formulate a beachy texturizing spray that works to plump each individual strand as it nourishes with a blend of non-greasy oils, strengthening panthenol, and its namesake caviar extract, for lush waves that are soft and healthy, not parched.
Miriam Quevedo Glacial White Caviar Resort Beach Waves, $55, available at Space NK
As anyone with curly hair will know: Frizz festers with summer heat and humidity. If you’re not in the mood to embrace the added texture, Heath suggests a double-pronged approach to master smooth, beachy waves. First, add a touch of your favorite styling cream to hair, then reach for your spray.
This spray — which mainly uses sugar rather than salt, plus a dose of aloe vera — helps separate curls without dryness or frizz. It’ll keep your curls shiny and conditioned, cut down on frizz, and add a beachy texture all in one go.
Kérastase Eau de Vagues Beach Wave Spray, $28, available at Kérastase
This salt-in-oil solution separates when it sits on the shelf, but after shaking it up and spritzing on hair, the coconut, mango seed, passion fruit, and palm oils help mellow frizz, while sea salt enhances waves.
Bumble and bumble Surf Infusion, $29, available at Blue Mercury
If you have thick hair, it isn’t the easiest to fake all-day beach waves — oftentimes, it goes limp by lunch. Heath suggests trying a beach spray with kick: “You want something strong that will not make the hair soft, but make it feel like you just swam in the salty ocean,” she says. Her recommendations include texture and salt sprays similar to what someone would go for with wavy hair.
This texturizing mist is so lightweight, you can douse your head in it without noticing any product build-up at the root. Better still, it uses chia-seed extract to hydrate while enhancing a natural wave.
Playa Haircare Endless Summer Spray, $28, available at Sephora
There are a million texture sprays that give hair volume in an instant, but few can keep the hold all day. This texture spray delivers piece-y texture with the hold of a hardcore hairspray — all without making hair feel brittle. Just mist it on damp (not wet!) hair and and let it air-dry.
R+Co Trophy Shine + Texture Spray, $30, available at Space NK
Bleached & Highlighted Hair
“Blondes actually get awesome texture,” Heath explains. “I really find that when the hair is chemically treated, it gives it more grit.” Since bleached and highlighted hair tends to be drier, Heath suggests using a spray with built-in moisture.
This under-$10 spray gets props from pros for not being too strong or sticky, but creating believably beachy texture.
John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves Sea Salt Spray, $9.99, available at Target
Aside from natural sea salt, the quinoa protein in this formula keeps your hair soft, while sunflower-seed extract helps block harmful UV rays. In other words, this is a necessity for your beach bag.
VERB Sea Spray, $8, available at Sephora
Moisture is key for naturalistas. While beach spray may not be the product you think of for styling curls, picking one that’s packed with moisture — and free of ingredients that dry hair out — will help to add bounce and definition. Heath suggests turning to a beach spray laced with oil, like this one, which uses argan oil to add in tons of moisture, combat frizz, and keep curls soft all day.
OGX OGX Moroccan Sea Salt Spray, $5.99, available at Target
This oil-infused beach spray delivers serious smoothness and shine — and can really amp up natural hair, Heath says. It makes sense: The formula has wheat protein for messy texture and oils for shine and hydration.
Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray, $42, available at Oribe
Fragile, Damaged Hair
Those that have fragile, sensitive hair (whether due to processing or not) can opt for this gentle formula. It’s plain water with the added bonus of a little oil and fragrance, distributed with a fine, aerosol mist, so you can activate your texture without soaking hair or adding the drying effects of salt.
Kristin Ess The One Signature Hair Water, $10, available at Target
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