By Sara Spruch-Feiner
Beachy waves have become one of the most desirable hairstyles around. The whole idea, of course, is to replicate that sexy, effortless vibe of a nice, easy day at the beach -- when, after a day of relaxing, the ocean and the salt-infused breeze have misted your hair and added volume and natural waves.
So the question is, how can you do it yourself -- sans salty ocean and sand?
If you don’t consider yourself particularly hair-inclined but want to look like this (and who wouldn’t, really?), you can still totally own this look. Because it’s meant to emulate a look created by nature itself, getting the look is not about precision -- at all.
I consulted David Babaii, hairstylist to the likes of Kate Hudson, Angelina Jolie (his first and second clients ever, respectively), Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lawrence, for tips on how we can get Hudson-esque beachy waves too!
Let’s dive in. Consider this Beauty School: Beach Waves edition. If you’ve ever held a salt spray in your hands and thought “well, now what?” this one’s for you. Here's how to get the sexy beach bombshell look from the comfort of your own bathroom. No sandy feet necessary.
Celebrity stylist David Babaii insists that creating your own beach waves is easy. That's because imperfection is the name of the game. (Cue the sigh of relief.)
Start at the bottom. Clip up your hair and tilt your body to the side you’re curling first, so “the hair falls in front of your shoulders.” Use the curling iron on that section first. Then work your way around your entire head.
Photo: Hair Tamer Styling Clips
Babaii creates his take on beach waves with only one tool and no products at all. Though it’s a splurge, his tried-and-true must-have for giving the stars this look is the ghd creative curl wand. This wand debuted in 2014, so it’s got some fancy new technology, like it takes just 17 seconds to heat to 365°, the optimal temperature for styling your hair without damaging it. (According to the Cambridge scientists who worked to develop the tool.)
To use your curling iron the pro way, here are Babaii's instructions: “You take the curling iron and you wrap the hair around it -- I always do a three-count, so 1-2-3 seconds, that’s all you need, remove the iron, and with the tip of the hair you kind of pull it away from your scalp. So pulling it away from your head, it stretches the hair out -- that’s when it cools down and memorizes where you left it.”
This, Babaii says, is what makes the ghd wand so unique. “The key element is in the cool-down process, you kinda stretch the hair out from the tip, and let it cool for a second, determining yourself, depending on how you stretch the curl, its size and thickness.”
In summary: “You’re adding the heat. You’re taking the tip of the hair and stretching it out, like an accordion, and there you go, you get that beachy kind of look and wave.”
PRO TIP: “You don’t need to have 20 different sections. The key thing is to curl away from your face on some sections, and come forward on others — you just don’t want it to look perfect. After all, if you’re at the beach, your hair will define itself in a specific natural way,” says Babaii.
Photo: @Davidbabaii on Instagram
Though Babaii insists it’s not totally necessary, some of us like that feeling of a good salt spray, or ocean-esque product. You can apply one of these products before or after using your iron. They can add staying power to thick hair, texture to thin hair, and a fun summery scent. Our current faves include: R+Co Rockaway Salt Spray, OGX Surf Paste, Bumble & Bumble Surf Infusion, Oribe beachcomber mousse, and Davines This Is A Sea Salt Spray.
If you’re sure that you can’t manage a regular curling iron, then you might want to try Sarah Potempa’s rendition, The Beachwaver, which literally requires the effort of you putting a piece of hair in the clamp (leave about an inch out at the bottom) and pressing a button. From there, The Beachwaver creates the curls for you. For real. These curls might be a little more robust than true beachy waves, but you can always add some messiness with one of the aforementioned products, or simply by loosening the curls with your fingers.
If you only have a flat iron and don't want to buy anything new, we get it. Babaii suggests a simple two-step solution. One: make a few french braids in dry hair. Two: Run a flatiron down the braids a few times, very slowly. The heat essentially sustains the shape of the waves created in the braid. Let your hair cool, undo your braids and voila, another take on the beachy wave trend.