We may earn commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we back. Why trust us?

8 Easy Ways to Make Perfect Beach Waves Every Time

You can get the style with a straightener, curling iron, wand — or without heat.

beach waves
Getty Images

Beachy waves are a go-to celebrity hairstyle for good reason: They look great on virtually everyone, since the effortless look flatters all face shapes, hair types and ages. But if you think the idea of mastering those perfectly loose curls sounds more than a little daunting, rest assured that the smart tutorials ahead make it simple to pull off the popular summer hairstyle all year long... no beach trip or salt water required. "Beach waves are relaxed curls that are great for an everyday textured hairstyle," says celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa, inventor of The Beachwaver curling iron. "To get the look, simply leave one to two inches of the ends of your hair out when curling."

Beach waves have only grown in popularity over the years because of their versatility. "They are the perfect balance between curls and straight hair and work for almost every hair length and type of situation, from a presentation at work to a night out," she explains. "Plus, beach waves add volume and movement to your hair, with the front pieces drawing attention up to your eyes and accentuating your cheekbones."

So what tool is ideal for making beach waves? A curling iron, experts say (Potempa recommends her Beachwaver, a Good Housekeeping Beauty Award-winning self-rotating curling iron). The key is in how it's used. First, know that the smaller the curling iron's barrel, the tighter the wave will be, she advises (think 3/4 inch for tight waves, 1 inch for classic beach waves, and 1 1/4 inch for loose, voluminous waves). Here's how to create beach waves with a curling iron, according to Potempa:

  • Prep hair by spritzing a heat protectant spray all over.
  • Section off hair into the top and bottom, then separate strands into the left and right side.
  • Hold the curling iron upright with the clamp facing forward, place a one to two inch section of hair into the clamp, leaving an inch or two of the ends out to create a beachy wave, then twist the iron away from your face.
  • Once the iron reaches the crown of your head, hold for three to four seconds, then open the clamp and pull the iron straight down to release.
  • Repeat on the left and right sides. Avoid touching your curls until they are completely cool (touching strands that are still warm can loosen the curl and will cause it to fall flat), she says.
  • Spray a flexible hold hairspray onto a brush, then gently brush out your waves. Apply a finishing cream to the ends of hair if needed to tame any flyaways, Potempa suggests.

    This is just one method of many for getting great beach waves, as you can see below: The secret is pairing the right hair products and tools with these genius styling tips from our favorite hair pros and the experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab. Bonus: Each one of these beach wave tutorials for long, medium and short hair takes less than 10 minutes — some as little as two. Double bonus: Some can be done overnight and naturally without heat, so they don't even require a curling iron, wand or hair straightener!

    Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
    How to Get Beach Waves Naturally Without Heat

    If you're all about that low-maintenance hair routine, you're probably no stranger to the good ol' air dry. And it works to make waves, too: With a few strategically placed buns (two at the nape of your neck!), you can air dry your way to a California girl look without heat. Just twist hair into two knots, secure them in place with pins, then wait it out until they're dry. That's it!

    To boost the bends, before you start forming the buns, apply a styling product made to enhance your air-dried strands while hair is damp.

    How to Get Beach Waves with a Straightener or Flat Iron

    This wave styling trick incorporates a flat iron into the mix rather than a curling iron — a choice that, as YouTube beauty vlogger HeyKali says, makes the waves look extra shiny. If you have thick, long hair, this tutorial might take longer than the others, but your flawless waves will be totally worth it.

    The secret: Make sure your flat iron is facing down to the floor rather than horizontally. For even more gloss, mist dry hair with a shine-enhancing finishing spray as a last step.

    How to Get Beach Waves on Long Hair

    You've probably been told that if you want small, tight curls, you should use a skinnier curling iron, and if you want large, looser waves, you should use a large barrel curler, right? Well, YouTube beauty guru Luxy Hair is about to blow your mind.

    As she demonstrates in this video, if you break your hair into large sections and use a small barrel curling iron, you can quickly and efficiently curl all of your long hair into voluminous waves.

    How to Get Beach Waves on Short Hair

    Getting beach waves on short hair can be trickier than with long hair. Still, this very easy beach waves tutorial is simple to follow and takes less than 10 minutes. Use a 1-inch curling iron on a low heat setting and work from the front in vertical sections, alternating directions as you get toward the undermost layers to keep the style from looking too coiffed.

    GH Beauty Lab pros recommend setting your style so it lasts and stays frizz-free by misting a medium- to strong-hold hairspray all over, holding the can about six inches away from your head for a light application.

    How to Get Beach Waves Overnight

    Ever dreamt of waking up with perfect hair without having to waste time styling (or use potentially damaging hot tools)? This is the hack for you. All you need is a fabric belt (one from a bathrobe works great) and four hair ties.

    To perfect waves, section hair in half and in each section, twist hair around the belt piece by piece, securing at the end with a hair tie. Then twist the entire section into a bun. Repeat on the other side. Wake up, unwind, and finish with hair spray. Done!

    How to Get Beach Waves on Medium-Length Hair

    If you have medium-length hair, YouTuber Allan Davison's pull-through technique is ideal. Section hair and use a 1-inch barrel curling iron to add a bend at the middle of the hair's length and smooth out the ends for a perfectly tousled, undone wave.

    Finish with dry shampoo at the roots and texturizing spray through the ends for volume, and a drop of hydrating oil on the ends to keep hair looking healthy.

    How to Get Messy Beach Waves

    A key feature of beachy waves is that they begin about halfway down your hair, around ear level (this helps give a messy, undone effect). A genius shortcut: Pulling hair into a ponytail and curling just the tied section with a curling wand. This makes it easier to keep track of which pieces you've curled (versus those you haven't) when your strands are gathered in one place.

    Finish with by spritzing texturizing spray all over hair to encourage a natural, blended style and a flexible hairspray to keep everything in place.

    How to Get Beach Waves with a Curling Wand

    A curling wand is perfect for creating imperfect, gorgeous waves. The GH Beauty Lab says that's because unlike a curling iron, a wand allows for ends keep their natural texture. The key to this look: Leaving a few inches of the ends of hair unstyled.

    Start by misting a heat protectant and then hairspray all over dry hair and brushing through. Then, using a 1-inch barrel curling wand, grab vertical sections of hair and wrap around, leaving two inches of ends out to prevent hair from looking over-styled. Alternate directions as you go and finish with a sea salt wave spray and a light finish hairspray.

    This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
    Advertisement - Continue Reading Below