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Sun-kissed skin coupled with carefree, tousled hair—like you've been laying out on the beach all day, basically—sounds dreamy. But if it's not your reality, you can fake it 'til you make it. Those perfectly tousled, piece-y, just-napped-on-a-beach waves? Yeah, those don't just happen. Blake Lively didn't just come out of the womb with gorgeously textured hair, and Chrissy Teigen doesn't emerge from bed each morning with gently mussed waves. (opens in new tab) No, the secret to getting the ultimate "what, this ol' thing?" beachy waves is to use the actual beach on your hair—via sea salt sprays.
What should I look for in a sea salt spray?
Salt sprays are exactly what they sound like: Sprays that are formulated with your classic sodium chloride (i.e. salt). Some contain a more traditional molecular structure, while others tap sea salt, which also contains minerals that can add grit and nourish your hair. With the best sea salt sprays—i.e. the ones that contain a mix of softening, volumizing, and shine-enhancing ingredients—you'll be blessed with red carpet–level beachy waves. When it's done poorly, however—i.e. it's mainly just salt and alcohol—you'll be left with a sticky, straw-like mess. Thankfully, we rounded up only the best of the best for you, ahead. Spritz them over damp or dry hair (or both!) for a perfectly wavy finish, even if your beach vacation isn't in the foreseeable future. But hey, it's summer. It's time to start planning.
The Cult-Favorite Formula
For less than $10, treat your hair to the vacation-ready texture it deserves. This lightweight spray defines waves, adds lots of body, and serves as the perfect heat styling protectant.
This Soft Formula
"So many salt sprays make hair look dry and damaged when people use them on themselves," says Los Angeles based hairstylist Clayton Hawkins. Not so with this lightweight formulation, which transforms lank strands into textured perfection.
This Frizz-Smoothing Formula
If you're still not totally sold on the idea of salt sprays ("I don't want tangles!" or "I have curly hair!"), try a formula that's less salt, more moisture, like this spray from OGX. It's filled with argan oil and kelp extracts, which leave hair shiny and soft—yet still definitively beachy—for a laid-back, trying-but-not-trying vibe.
This Hydrating Formula
This coconut-infused spray contains the same degree of salinity as the Pacific Ocean, so it's the closest you'll get to an actual beach day while sitting on your couch. Extra salt would usually mean extra stickiness, but this formula uses a dose of aloe water to keep your hair moisturized all day.
This Matte Finish
Chicago-based hairstylist Ryan Babbitt relies on this salt spray to give his clients the windblown curls they crave. Points awarded for the effortless matte finish that adds hold and body.
This Crunch-Free Spray
This affordable formula is beloved by hairstylists for its ability to create major bounce and definition without a hint of crunchiness.
This Mirror-Free Fixer
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 define each and every strand.
This Fade-Protecting Formula
The goal of any good salt spray is to help you get Baywatch-worthy, just-romped-in-the-surf beachy waves, and this cult favorite helps get you there 100 percent of the time. Its saltwater base is infused with shine-enhancing fruit oils and hydrating coconut water to keep hair from feeling stiff, along with a mix of UVA- and UVB-protecting agents that'll keep your hair color (whether it's natural or bottled) from fading in the sun.
This Travel Buddy
Throw this in your carry-on to spritz on post-pool or ocean, or blow dry your strands and scrunch a little in to pretend you made it to the beach.
This Wave-Enhancing Formula
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. Thankfully, the formula is back and, dare I say, better than before, so you'll be able to get dream-level waves without a time machine.
This Extra Salty Version
If you're looking for a little bit of hold, a little gritty grip, and a lot of tousled matte texture (but no heavy residue), this brand new offering from Bed Head might be the answer to your hair prayers. Extra credit since sodium chloride is the second ingredient listed...
This Volumizing Formula
This lightweight texturizing spray mimics the effect of salt-soaked waves, leaving your hair looking full, textured, and piece-y. But unlike most sea-salt sprays that give you a shiny, crunchy feel, this salt-free formula (gasp! Yup! It uses wheat proteins, instead) dries down to a semi-matte and flexible finish.
This Thickening Formula
You'll be able to fake full, voluminous extensions in a flash with this thickening sea salt spray. Transform life-less morning hair to I-woke-up-like-this waves with a few spritz of this rice protein-packed formula all over your hair from root to tip.
This Dry Shampoo-eque Formula
Joico's Beach Shake Texturizing Finisher works best on medium to thick textures. Pick this up when your hair needs a quick refresh, since it works best on completely dry hair. Trick: Flip your hair upside down and liberally apply the spray all over. Then, voilà! Voluminous beachy waves will appear.
This Leave-In Formula
Amp up your hair's texture while softening and strengthening your strands and hair follicles with vitamin B12 and castor oil. This ocean mist acts as a leave-in conditioner and works magic on freshly washed hair.
This Moisturizing Formula
For dehydrated curls, reach for this ultra-moisturizing formula. Carefree curls are coming right up, with this spritzer, which also works overtime on the hydration front with ingredients like avocado oil and aloe.
This Shine-Boosting Formula
Sultry, shiny waves are at your disposal with this moisturizing salt spray. While you're island-hopping this summer, this blend of botanical extracts and oils will keep your texture tousled and nourished without the stiffness most salt sprays come with.
This Humidity-Resistant Formula
This humidity-resistant formula will let your waves live their best freakin' life for hours on end, as it's made to give your hair a long-lasting hold. That means it's one less thing to carry around in your beach bag because you won't need to reapply it throughout the day.
This All-Natural Formula
Combining natural elements, like organic pink sea salt for texture and volume, this salt spray delivers sun-kissed waves with a brushable hold. Plus, its intoxicating scent of of guayaba, hibiscus, and passion fruit will transport you to the tropics.
This Curl-Enhancing Formula
The name says it all: endless summer spray. This alcohol-free formula uses chia seeds extracts to cloak your hair in a veil of shine that will enhance your curl patten and amp up your volume.
This Mineral-Rich Formula
Lived-in looking waves are tricky to get. I still can't wrap my mind around the illusion of "effortless" hairstyles, which still require work to pull off. This, on the other hand, makes life easy because it has a special mineral and amethyst crystal-rich formula for bombshell waves that will make you feel like a goddamn goddess.
This Texturizing Formula
Technically all sea salt sprays add some grit to your hair, because salt is a natural texturizer, but not all sea salt sprays give your hair an amped-up, wind-blown finish in the process. Luckily, this dry spray does. It's essentially a mix between a salt mist and a dry shampoo, so it manages to give your hair a touchable, non-matted texture (and won't weigh down fine hair).
This Gold-Flecked Formula
Yes, the idea of spritzing a shimmer-flecked spray over your hair probably conjures flashbacks to your middle-school days, but trust me: This gilded formula is anything but gaudy. Infused with subtle, finely milled flecks of shimmer, the light-hold formula gives hair a softly tousled finish that looks ethereal when the light hits it—as if you got really, really excellent highlights yesterday.
This Smells-Like-Roses Formula
Get a back-from-the-beach look with this spray that also happens to smell of roses. The organic sea salts will provide the texture, while the nourishing essential oils will give your hair a soft, smooth feel. The addition of aloe and vitamin B5 means you'll also be strengthening and conditioning your strands.
This Hair-Protecting Formula
Give your hair a major boost with this spray that uses Mediterranean sea salt to amp up your volume and texture. The mist's formula also includes rice protein extract and algae extract that thickens, strengthens, and helps protect your hair from environmental damage. Plus, its scent of vanilla, bergamot, lemon, and almond will make you feel like you're really on holiday lying by the ocean.
This Ultra-Light Formula
Spritz your way to summer hair with this light spray that'll lift your hair and give it effortless waves. Botanical moisturizers will keep the dryness away, so your tresses will have a beautiful luster.
This Firm-Hold Formula
Give your hair added oomph and achieve a piecey, beachy look with this product. The mist has a firm hold and will allow you to build volume with its formula that includes Dead Sea salts and magnesium-rich sea botanicals.
This Moisture-Retaining Formula
Amplify your natural curls or add beachy waves without drying out your hair with this USDA-certified organic sea mist. The spray will give your hair texture and depth that'll make it look as if you've been swimming in the ocean. However, it'll also hydrate your hair and keep your strands shining, thanks to lavender and aloe vera.
Maya Allen is the former Digital Beauty Editor at MarieClaire.com where she covered makeup, skincare, haircare, wellness, you name it! She has a 15-step skincare routine, owns over 200 red lipsticks, and enjoys testing the latest and greatest in beauty. On most weekends, you can find her at her happy place, which is her makeup vanity. There, she’s usually blasting her speakers while singing along to lyrics at the top of her lungs, and making sure her highlighter is on point.
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