The 19 Best Sea Salt Sprays for Vacation Hair at Home

Get beachy waves with these fake-it-til-you-make-it products.

A model standing on the beach shading her eyes.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There is nothing better than post-ocean dip hair. The good news: styling products can help you achieve the easy, breezy look you desire. For easy air-dried waves a la a beach vacation, the best sea salt sprays give the ultimate assist.

But what is sea salt spray, exactly? "Sea salt spray is a product that, when added to the hair, will mimic the effects of spending the day at the beach with a tousled, textured look," says hairstylist and founder of Hair Addict Salon Michelle Cleveland. "The salt-and-water-based formulas manage this by adding a little grit, clumping your strands together so your natural texture is magnified. Wavy hair looks wavier, and even straight hair takes on a bit more definition."

Trying a bad sea salt spray can be enough to entirely turn you off the product. The feeling of straw-like hair is unforgettable. But the options we've laid out below? These are the good ones—we made sure of it. Ahead, editors and experts share their picks for the best sea salt sprays on the market (no straw-like strands here!), plus our honest reviews.

The Best Sea Salt Sprays

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What to Look for in a Sea Salt Spray

  • Ingredients

Not all sea salt sprays are formulated equally; while drying sea salt is often involved (go figure) you should strive to find ingredients that won't harm or horribly dry out your hair. "The active ingredient in most sea salt sprays is magnesium sulfate," notes Cleveland. "However, some better brands will also include more nourishing ingredients to protect the hair from damage."

In particular, she highlights sage, balm mint, and yarrow plant as healthy ingredients that combat damage and dryness.

  • Hydration

Alongside ultra-drying ingredient avoidance, you'll want to look for formulas that add hydration. There's about a zero percent chance that you'll ever find a sea salt spray as hydrating as, say, a leave-in conditioner, but you can often find products that throw a little oil or glycerin in the mix to nourish your strands.

Elizabeth Taylor wearing a yellow coat standing on the beach.

Elizabeth Taylor knew the power of tousled-by-the-ocean hair, no matter the season.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How Do You Use Sea Salt Spray?

There are so many product options on the market that it's difficult to understand when and how to apply each one. When it comes to sea salt spray, Cleveland advises that users "apply it to wet hair, and let it air dry or blow dry it in." You can add it after blow drying for a more matte texture. I would, however, avoid putting it in your hair more than once between washes, as it can make the hair dry and brittle.

Cleveland also warns that there are times when you shouldn't use sea salt spray. Consistent with the spray's goal of giving you that windswept beachy look, she says, "sea salt spray will add a gritty and matte texture to your hair, so if you are already experiencing over-processed, dry, and damaged hair, I would avoid using sea salt spray altogether." On the contrary, if your hair is stronger and can handle the texture, you can add it sparingly onto wet or dry hair to create loose, natural-looking beach waves.

Meet the Experts

Michelle Cleveland, hair stylist
Michelle Cleveland

Michelle Cleveland is a hair stylist and hair extension artist based in Toms River, New Jersey, where she styles for the Hair Addict Salon and Extension Bar. She has worked with a number of celebrities, including Christina Milian, and has also had her work featured on television networks such as TLC and the Style Network.

Clayton Hawkins
Clayton Hawkins

Los Angeles native Clayton Hawkins was born to do hair. He started applying hair extensions to his older sisters at age 10 and by ninth grade, he was booked solid doing prom looks on all the seniors. Clayton specializes in wigs, extensions and the art of transformation. But most importantly, Clayton lives to make his clients look and FEEL beautiful. When he’s not working with his clients, Clayton spends time with his husband and 2 dogs.

Clayton's clients include Olivia Rodrigo, Elizabeth Olsen, Jenna Ortega, Maddie Ziegler, Dove Cameron, Rachel Zegler and Elizabeth Banks.

Ryan Babbitt
Ryan Babbitt

Ryan Babbitt is a hairstylist with a passion for educating his clients about how to keep their hair healthy and well-maintained. Comfortable with both cutting and coloring, he is particularly enthusiastic about creating lasting, structured looks. He is currently based in Chicago.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, gabrielleulubay.medium.com. Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at @suburban.graffiti.art

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