Let's face it: We all love looking effortlessly fabulous, and that goes for our hair, too. And while the key to luscious, flowing locks is to take thorough care of your hair by staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet, and investing in high-quality hair essentials like shampoos and conditioners, scalp treatments, and hair oils, there are also a number of styling products that go a long way in terms of getting you the look you desire. One of my favorite hair products is sea salt spray, which I especially love using when my hair needs a little extra something.
But what is sea salt spray, exactly? Hairstylist and founder of Hair Addict Salon Michelle Cleveland explains: "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." So, if your hair is feeling weighted down, a sea salt spray is the perfect solution for creating that effortless summer mane no matter what season we're in.
What to Look for in a Sea Salt Spray
Not all sea salt sprays are built alike and, as with all products, you should strive to find ingredients that won't harm or dry out your hair. "The active ingredient in most sea salt sprays is magnesium sulfate," admits 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.
How Do You Use Sea Salt Spray?
There are so many hair product options on the market that it's difficult to understand when and how to apply each one. Luckily, Cleveland has the answers. She advises that when it comes to sea salt spray, users "apply it to wet hair, and let it air dry or blow dry it in. You can also add it after the blow dry for a more matte texture. I would, however, avoid putting it in your hair more than one time between washes, as it can make the hair dry and brittle."
In that vein, Cleveland warns that there are, in fact, times when you shouldn't use a 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 totally 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."
The Best Sea Salt Sprays
- Best Frizz-Fighting Sea Salt Spray: OGX Moroccan Sea Salt Spray
- Best Sea Salt Spray for Natural Hair: Joico Body Shake Texturizing Finisher
- Best Sea Salt Spray for Dry Hair: R+Co Rockaway Salt Spray
- Best Organic Sea Salt Spray: John Masters Organics Sea Mist Spray with Sea Salt and Lavender
A Stylist-Approved Sea Salt Spray
Cleveland says she "definitely love[s]" this option, which is vegan, cruelty-free, and contains sage and balm mint. For that reason, she says it's "one of [her] favorites."
Pros: vegan; cruelty-free; free of parabens and gluten; contains Vitamin C
Cons: expensive; contains sulfates
Best Softening Sea Salt Spray
"So many salt sprays make hair look dry and damaged when people use them on themselves," says Los Angeles based hairstylist Clayton Hawkins, but he makes an exception for this lightweight product—yet another stylist favorite from R+Co.
Pros: lightweight; contains Vitamin C
Cons: expensive; contains suflates
Best Frizz-Smoothing Sea Salt Spray
This is my personal favorite, and not just because I love the smell of argan oil. As someone with curly hair, I'm constantly concerned about whether certain products are going to dry out my moisture-loving hair, and this option's incorporation of argan oil and sea kelp assuage all my worries. Plus, this product is a quick, easy way to turn my hair into a tousled masterpiece.
Pros: affordable; editor-approved; gentle scent
Cons: contains suflates and propylene glycol
Best Subtle Sea Salt Spray
Marie Claire E-Commerce Writer Julia Marzovilla loves this spray, writing, "Most sea salt sprays leave my hair feeling really sticky and make it look oily in a second. This one from Odele has a really fine mist and actually gives my hair tons of texture without giving it a wet look. I love to use it after I've styled my hair for some extra texture."
Pros: works well on all hair types; works well on oily or thin hair; editor-approved; affordable; free of sulfates, phthalates, and parabens
Cons: some reviewers say it leaves their hair tangled and sticky if they sleep in it
Best Mattifying Sea Salt SPray
Chicago-based hairstylist Ryan Babbitt relies on this salt spray to give his clients the windblown curls they crave. Reviewers do caution, however, that with this product, less is more.
Pros: effectively volumizes from root to tip; product lasts long
Cons: can make already-greasy scalp greasier and more acne-prone; expensive
Best Easy-to-Use Sea Salt Spray
It doesn't get much more user-friendly than a spray nozzle, and this one dispenses a matte-finish formula with Hawaiian black lava sea salt, and seaweed to provide definition. Several customers write that it does wonders for both curls and limp, flat hair.
Pros: fresh scent that customers love; lightweight
Cons: contains sulfates
Best Sea Salt Spray For Short Hair
Don't be fooled by the name—this iconic spray works just as well for any hair color, from brunettes to redheads to raven-haired beauties. The title is a throwback to its '90s counterpart, the O.G. formula that became a decade-long sensation as a result of its ability to create shiny, smooth, piece-y waves in even the straightest of hair. This produce also does wonders for short haircuts, and is beloved by men and women alike.
Pros: volumizing; aids with greasy hair or scalp
Cons: strong coconut smell can be polarizing; expensive
Extra Salty Sea Salt Spray
Customers say that, when applied sparingly and appropriately, this product from fan-favorite brand Bed Head provides subtle lift without over-drying.
Pros: highly texturizing
Cons: some customers report that it can weigh hair down; contains sulfates
Best Sea Salt Spray For Chemically-Treated Hair
Many customers mention how wonderful this product smells (a huge plus for me, personally), but that's not all: This lightweight formula is formulated with what proteins instead of salt, making it safe for parched, textured, and chemically treated hair.
Pros: color-safe; keratin-safe; vegan; free of gluten and silicones
Cons: can have a crunchy/sticky effect, particularly on thin hair
Best Dry Shampoo-eque Sea Salt Spray
Joico's Beach Shake Texturizing Finisher works best on medium to thick textured hair. For best results, reviewers advise this trick: Flip your hair upside down and liberally apply the spray all over. When you return right-side-up, you'll look like you just stepped off a beach.
Pros: volumizing; washes out easily; works with curls and natural hair
Cons: can be sticky or drying for those with damaged or thin hair
Best Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray
Curly girls like myself love this formula, saying that it gives them lasting, defined curls without any of the crunchiness or stickiness associated with traditional hairsprays. Plus, this salt-free formula will keep you from feeling dried out.
Pros: great for curls; defining formula
Cons: strong scent
Best Curl-Enhancing Sea Salt Spray
This alcohol-free formula (hooray for hydration!) adds a significant amount of lift, according to several reviewers, and it combats frizz. One top reviewer swears by it, saying that it makes her curls feel soft rather than hard and crunchy.
Pros: alcohol-free; has a softening effect on hair
Cons: smell is polarizing
Best Mineral-Rich Sea Salt Spray
Check this product out if you have thin hair and typically avoid hair products for fear of grease. Customers write that this lightweight option provides hold like a hairspray would, but without any of the shiny, greasy side effects.
Pros: cruelty-free; gentle fragrance; revitalizes curls
Cons: some customers report stickiness
Best Hair-Protecting Sea Salt Spray
As I mentioned, I love anything that smells good, so I've already added this product to my cart for its decadent scent of vanilla, bergamot, lemon, and almond. But that's not the only reason it's at the top of my shopping list: By multiple accounts, it gives unwashed hair a lightweight look so that you can look like you've gotten a fresh blowout anytime, whenever you wish.
Pros: pleasant smell; volumizing
Cons: intense hold, so some find it crunchy
Best Ultra-Light Sea Salt Spray
If you have long hair and struggle with weighed-down curls and waves, this is the formula for you. One helpful customer writes that it "does a fantastic job turning the waves into curls without weighing it down."
Pros: great for curls; lightweight
Cons: strong smell
Best Firm-Hold Sea Salt Spray
This no-budge formula has a litany of enthusiastic rave reviews, with one customer in particular raving that they "can't live without" it. Another helpfully adds that this product is especially helpful for those looking to mask their thinning hair.
Pros: affordable; effective hold; effects mimic a blowout; combats frizz
Cons: customers complain that the spray bottle itself is fragile and difficult to use
Best Moisture-Retaining Sea Salt Spray
This USDA-certified organic sea mist incorporates lavender and aloe vera to combat any dryness caused by its sea salt. It has a near perfect online rating, and is especially beloved for its "heavenly" smell and the flattering effect it has on curly hair.
Pros: organic; great for curly and voluminous hair; nice smell
Cons: too much can make hair sticky; medium lift, so not as suited for those looking for intense volume
Meet the Experts
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 is a hair stylist who takes a collaborative approach to creating inventive and relevant styles for his clients. Among those clients are Emma Roberts, Elizabeth Olson, Dakota Johnson, Elizabeth Banks, and more. Hawkins is currently based in Los Angeles.
Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things beauty, sexual wellness, and fashion. She's also written about sex, gender, and politics for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal since 2018. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.
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