For the last week, I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time watching YouTube tutorials, talking to my hair stylist, visiting my local beauty store, and practicing how to get beach waves for summer.
I tried this look around this time last year, but no matter how much time I spent curling and scrunching and spraying my hair, I just couldn’t get it right, so I completely gave up.
But I refused to admit defeat this summer, and I finally figured it out!
And guess what?!
I took detailed notes about what does and doesn’t work, and today I’m sharing 14 of the best tricks I’ve learned to help teach YOU how to get beach waves.
Because we all want to look sexy and beautiful this summer, right?
1. GET THE RIGHT HAIR CUT
I’ve already told you thick, blunt, and/or split ends won’t hold a curl, but did you know the kind of cut you have makes a difference, too? I didn’t. I always figured the more layers, the better. But after reading this helpful article on Daily Makeover, I have a better understanding of why my hair hasn’t held a curl without tons of products all these years, and now I make sure to ask my stylist to strategically cut long layers around my face, and only add subtle layers to the back of my hair for volume.
2. SKIP THE SHAMPOO
It’s no secret that dirty hair is easier to style, but making your hair look fresh after skipping a hair wash takes skill. That’s why I recently shared 7 awesome tricks to help you prolong a hair wash and still look amazing, which I urge you to read. Make sure not to skip tip # 4. It has been a lifesaver for me!
3. ADD SOME TEXTURE
One of the most helpful tricks I’ve learned about getting my hair to hold a style is to give it some volume, which is a lot easier to do than I originally thought.
If I’m working with unwashed hair, I simply spray some dry shampoo and – BAM! – I’ve given it a little ooompf, while also removing any excess grease from my roots. I’m currently crushing on Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, but I recently bought Dove Refresh+Care Invigorating Dry Shampoo from our local drug store, and I find it also works well.
And on those days when I simply CANNOT skip the shampoo, I like to use Moroccanoil Volumizing Mousse before I blow-dry my hair, but I’ve had a lot of luck with TRESemmé 24 Hour Body Foaming Mousse as well, which is much easier on my wallet!
4. DO NOT BLOW-DRY YOUR HAIR UPSIDE DOWN
I feel like every single tutorial I’ve ever watched or read has told me to blow-dry my hair upside down to give it added body, but I always find that no matter how much time I spend styling (and how many products I use), my hair always looks brittle and unhealthy for the rest of the day. But it wasn’t until I read the article, Big Hair: Six Tips from the Expert on Schwarzkopf that I realized drying your hair upside down is not a good strategy. Instead, it’s better to tilt your head to the side and roughly blow-dry it with a paddle brush. I love my Spornette Ion Fusion Paddle Brush – it works like a charm!
5. GET OUT THE LARGE, ROUND BRUSH
Once my hair is about 80% dry, I like to section it off into 3 layers and finish drying it with a large, round brush. I don’t spend a great deal of time on this part of the styling process as my goal isn’t to straighten my hair. All I want to do is give it a smooth look and make sure it is completely dry before I get out my curling iron. If you’re looking for a good round brush, I’ve heard great things about the Spornette Porcupine Rounding Brush, but for whatever reason, I find boar-bristle brushes do not work well on my hair, so I prefer the Spornette Ion Fusion Aerated Rounding Brush 3 in..
6. APPLY A HEAT PROTECTOR
Regardless of what kind of coating you have on your flat iron or curling iron, you MUST apply a heat protector to your hair to ensure you don’t damage it. Trust me on this one. I really like CHI 44 Iron Guard Thermal Protection (it smells great!), but TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray is a great alternative if you’re looking for something more affordable.
7. DON’T STRAIGHTEN YOUR HAIR WITH A FLAT IRON FIRST
To give my hair a natural, smooth look, I used to straighten it with a flat iron before I curled it, and then I’d spend the rest of the morning moaning and groaning about how fine and lifeless my hair was. Well, after all of the research I did last week, I read somewhere (I can’t remember where!) that straightening your hair before curling it not only takes away its volume, but it also makes it harder for your hair to hold a curl. And that’s why I finish the drying process with a large, round brush (see # 5) instead. It gives my hair that smooth look I love, while also giving it the volume required for beach waves.
8. USE THE RIGHT CURLING WAND
When I first set about trying to figure out what size curling wand I should use, and what make and model is most reputable, I was really overwhelmed. There are way too many options out there! But then a friend told me about the Hot Tools brand, which offers a ton of different curling wands at an affordable price. I eventually settled on a Hot Tools Flipperless Curling Wand as I felt it offered the biggest bang for my buck. Not only can I create beautiful, classic curls when I want something more structured and formal, but by curling larger sections of my hair and/or applying heat for a shorter amount of time, I get perfect, sexy beach waves every single time.
9. CURL IN SECTIONS
To get beach waves, I find it best to divide my hair into 3 sections, and curl from the bottom up. I always make sure to apply my heat protector to each layer, and I also spray a bit of hairspray to ensure the curl holds.
Of course, working with layers can be tricky as you don’t want to accidentally brush or ruin a fresh set of curls, so when I’m finished curling each layer, I spray it lightly with a little more hairspray, and then I loosely tie it back with an elastic before letting down the next layer of hair.
For suggestions on hairsprays, see # 13.
10. ALTERNATE DIRECTIONS
To make your style look more natural, ensure to curl the front sections of your hair AWAY from your face, and then alternate the direction of each subsequent section. For beachy waves, I like to curl in 1 inch sections, but you can increase or decrease this depending on how tight or loose you want your curls to be.
11. CURL ALL THE WAY TO YOUR SCALP
I used to only curl the ends of my hair, but when I was testing out curling irons, the guy that was helping me told me to curl it right to my scalp. Why? Because curls tend to loosen as the day progresses, so if you start with a tighter curl, your look will last longer.
And if you find your curls are too tight, and they aren’t loosening to your satisfaction, all you need to do is rub a REALLY SMALL amount of shine serum (see # 14 for my favorites) to your hands and lightly run your fingers through your curls and pull them down to open them up a little bit.
12. LEARN THE RIGHT TECHNIQUE FOR YOUR HAIR AND LOOK
My husband has a “no videos or pictures on your blog” rule, so I can’t show you the technique that works best for me, but I did manage to find a tutorial for each hair length to give you a good starting point. You’ll notice that 2 of the tutorials suggest wrapping your hair around the curling iron, but I can confirm the techniques work just as well if you use the clamp of the iron to hold your hair in place instead. Just make sure to keep the barrel vertical if that’s the method you’re using as it makes the curls look more natural.
TUTORIAL FOR LONG HAIR:
Loose, beachy, “Victoria’s Secret” curls tutorial by AlisonLovesJB
TUTORIAL FOR MEDIUM LENGTH HAIR:
Wavy & Poofy for Medium Length Hair by ThatsHeart
TUTORIAL FOR SHORT HAIR:
Loose Curl Tutorial for Short Hair by Gal Meets Glam
REMEMBER: For a messier look, don’t curl right to the end of your hair!
13. LOCK YOUR STYLE IN WITH SPRAY
I am not a big fan of cheap hairsprays, especially not the extra-hold ones, as I find they leave my hair looking and feeling brittle, and when I brush my hair out at the end of the day, I feel like it’s going to break into a million pieces. The good news is that I’ve tested a bunch of different hairsprays over the years, and I have 2 great recommendations for you. My favorite is Oil of Morocco Argan Oil Volume Shine Hairspray by Marc Anthony, but Garnier Fructis Style Sleek %26 Shine Volumizing Anti-Humidity Hairspray is a close second.
14. FINISH WITH A LITTLE SHINE
Another thing I like to do before I leave the house is apply a TINY amount of shine-boosting serum to the roots of my hair to give my ‘do a more natural look. I prefer (you guessed it!) Moroccanoil Treatment Light, but I’m also a big fan of Biosilk Silk Therapy by Farouk.