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How to get summer beach hair all year long

Bethany Ramos is an editor, blogger, and chick lit author. Bethany works as Editor in Chief for Naturally Healthy Publications.

Here’s how to make sexy beach waves work for fall and winter hair

Besides keeping a bottle of sand on your desk, it turns out that there is a way to preserve that sexy, sunny, summery feeling all year long. You can listen to music like Bob Marley on loop (which we highly recommend), and you can also learn how to nail the basics of summer hair to last you through the winter.

We know what you might be thinking. But stretching out a summer style to make it last through all the seasons doesn’t mean you’re lazy or totally blind to current hair trends. On the contrary, we think spring, fall and winter beach hair is kind of genius — not only is carefree, tousled hair easy to maintain, but it can look fabulous in the colder months too. “If you're one of the countless women who recently made the chop to a lob, hair can get tricky when you can't plop it in a bun on your head. There are options!” says New York City hairstylist Jenna Mast. "I love to wear head scarves and tie them sweetly to keep hair out of my face. Another major trend and practical solution is baby buns. Remember the half-up/half-down go-to of the early 2000s? You can do that now, and it's totally chic. Two buns are better than one!”

More: How to craft the perfect chunky bun hairstyle

As if you needed any more motivation to rock beachy waves and messy up-dos all year long, we’ve asked a few more pro stylists to explain how to get the look.

1. Fake it

This is the No. 1 recipe for year-round beach hair, and we have Mast to thank for sharing her secrets. She says, “If you have flat hair, try using a sea salt spray. I like to add a few loose curls around the face using a large curling iron or flat iron. Then I reach for my favorite beach spray, Oribe's Après Beach. Start by spraying the hair minimally — you can always add more product. Then I scrunch the hair and really shake it out for that supermodel beachy look. Some girls immediately shy away from salt sprays because they don't like that knotty feel. To avoid that, don't overspray and keep spray away from the scalp.”

2. Twist it

While Stephanie Johnson, licensed hairstylist and makeup and fashion photographer in Dallas, is also a big fan of the salt spray for year-round beach hair, she highly recommends kicking it up a notch by twisting and diffusing. “The trick is to scrunch the hair while you diffuse or dry. Diffusing is best. Salt sprays can feel drying, though, so you can mimic that with a good grooming spray (my new favorite is Suavecito Grooming Spray) on towel-dried (meaning still damp) hair and scrunch while drying. You can twist hair into little twists before diffusing too.”

Johnson adds, “These styles don't work well if your hair is too long or you haven't been keeping up the trims for the ends. It's also good to have some layering and movement if you're wanting to accomplish this look.”

More: An easy braided knot hairstyle perfect for casual sweater days

3. Curl it

But wait, there’s more. Mast was more than happy to walk us through a full beach-wave tutorial, using a curling iron, that’s easy enough to master at home. “For some, having ‘undone’ beachy texture won't fly at work or date night,” she explains.

To get a more refined and polished beach look, here are Mast’s expert tips.

  1. First, choose the appropriate curling iron size. “I typically use a 3/4-inch to 1-1/2-inch curling iron and determine size by the length and density of the hair. If you have really super-thick, shoulder-length hair and use a smaller iron, you will end up with a lion’s mane. Longer lengths do best with a larger iron, too, as a small iron will take much longer,” Mast says.
  2. Once you've chosen the best curling iron or wand, section out the bottom of your hair. She continues, “I imagine splitting the hair into thirds: The first parting will be right above one ear, all the way around to the other ear; the second will be at the points of recession on the hairline; and the last section will be the top dropped down.”
  3. Before curling, make sure you've applied heat protection! Mast explains, “I am very forgiving with my sections, as perfection is not a boho beachy look. Take your first section and start the curl at the mid-lengths. I always curl away from the face first. If the hair is long, I keep the ends out to give a more natural look. Continue around the head, alternating curls away from the face and towards the face. If you do it haphazardly, it looks haphazard, so have a plan.”
  4. Drop the second section and repeat. “For the last section, really pay close attention to making sure you're not starting the curl too high, which would result in a dated look. Speaking of dated look, right now you might look like you're getting ready for prom. That's ok! Leave the curls in their little coils until they are cooled — don't be tempted to pull them down or loosen them up yet,” Mast says.
  5. Put on the finishing touches. “Once the curls have cooled completely (about 5 minutes), skip your hairspray and reach for a texturizing spray. If you don't have a texture spray, you can use dry shampoo. And my favorite part: Shake it out! Mess it up! Get your hands in your hair and really make it look lived in. For added hold, scrunch a tiny bit of mousse in for added separation. It should take you 20 minutes max,” she says.

4. Braid it

Braids are one of the beautiful basics of beach hair, according to Mast, especially when you use a leave-in conditioner to prevent tangles, dryness and faded color in the sun. For the rest of the year, Mast suggests giving the braid another go, saying, “It can be as simple as a three-strand side braid or fun double French braids, whatever you can do.” Mast says that the best part of this look is that you can easily transition from day to night by taking the braid out — leaving you with gorgeous, soft beach waves with zero styling time and no heat damage.

More: 6 ways to style your braids like a pro

5. Wing it

Here’s a good one for those of us who may have hit the snooze alarm one too many times on a Monday morning. Erica Harriss, founder of Saving Grace Beauty, suggests letting Mother Nature do the work by allowing hair to air dry for a more natural look. “If you can't quite get here, dry your hair about halfway, and air-dry the rest,” she says.

Even better, Harriss suggests, “Don't wash every day. This allows your natural oils to condition, protect and repair the hair shaft.” And when you do shampoo, she says, “Only use shampoo on the scalp. Use any excess suds near the ends. They don't need the cleansing strength up near your scalp requires. Dry shampoo fans, be sure to add moisture. Most formulas are designed to absorb oils, just what your ends need to avoid split ends.”

6. Treat it

If you’re just coming off the dog days of summer and so desperately want to try one of the beachy looks above, it’s important to give your sun-damaged hair some TLC first, Johnson says. She suggests, “Weekly masks aren't just for winter hydration, but for combating the sun and the drying damage of chlorine. Use it once per week if you have severe damage or dryness. If you're feeling good about how your hair feels, then apply every two or three weeks to maintain.”

Originally published Aug. 2013. Updated Aug. 2016.

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