How to Get Perfect Beach Waves With a Flat Iron

No matter the season, summery hair reigns supreme.

model philosophy di lorenzo serafini
(Image credit: Tristan Fewings)

We've all been there. You're standing in front of your mirror with three hot tools blowing out your electricity, hands sticky with texture, the scent of burning hair in the air. You're trying to recreate those amazing waves you once walked out of the salon with, or saw on Sophie Turner's Instagram. You know the ones I mean—those effortless, beachy, enviable waves that scream "model off-duty." We'll let you in on a secret. Chances are, those waves were created with a flat iron, and you can create them yourself. That's why we asked celebrity hairstylist Laura Polko how to achieve the look—and she, my friends, delivered.

Why should I use a flat iron instead of curling iron?

"A flat iron will actually give you more of a textured bend than a curl," says Polko. "The bend a flat iron creates is in an up and down direction (horizontally) vs. a wand or curling iron, which creates bends side to side (vertically). This difference allows you to achieve a completely different texture."

How do I get beachy waves with a flat iron?

“This look is super easy to achieve! Section off the hair, and starting at the root, close the iron down on the section and begin by directing the hair up with your wrist, then down, then up, then down, until you get to the end of the section. Finish of the section by keeping the ends straight. The most important part of this, is to make sure you start by directing the section up!"

She adds: “It’s important to get the wrist motion down! It will take practice, but as long as you start the motion by directing the hair up (or over), you’re headed in the right direction!”

Which flat iron should I use?

“Even as a professional stylist, I’ve noticed that to achieve this look, you really have to be using the right tool. You’ll need a flat iron with beveled edges and floating plates to make the iron glide as easy as possible. You’ll also want to be sure the iron isn’t too hot, because it will immediately create creases.”

Flat irons we love:

“Personally, I love the look of these waves with a middle part. It looks amazing to get that volume at the root and also carefully mold the face framing pieces.”

Which hair products should I use?

“It’s key to spray products on your fingertips and apply to the hair rather than spraying directly onto the hair. This will help accomplish the piece-y texture you’re looking for.”

Texture sprays we love:

Taylore  Glynn

Taylore Glynn is the Beauty and Health Editor at Marie Claire, covering skincare, makeup, fragrance, wellness, and more. If you need her, she’s probably roasting a chicken, flying solo at the movies, or drinking a bad Negroni at JFK.