There are many keys to a perfect beach day: You'll want the perfect snack, water, SPF, perhaps an umbrella, and of course, a plan to keep your hair in check amidst the wind, sand, and surf. It can be stressful to have the wind aggressively whip your hair in every direction at some inevitable point during your blissful afternoon, so finding a fun hairstyle that minimizes this can be game-changing and allow you to fully enjoy your time.
If you're looking for something simple to wear on the shore, you can never go wrong with the basic topknot bun or high pony, but we tapped experts to help you get creative for the perfect beach day look. Keep reading for 15 of the best beach hairstyles to try on your next day in the sun.
Meet the Expert
- Kali Ferrara is a hairstylist and colorist at The Salon Project in New York City.
- Justine Marjan is a celebrity hairstylist who works with the likes of Ashley Graham, Khloe Kardashian, and Ella Balinska. She is also a Great Lengths US brand ambassador.
- Michelle Cleveland is a hairstylist specializing in extensions and the owner of Hair Addict Salon in New Jersey.
- Jennifer Korab is a New Jersey-based hairstylist, as well as the creator and founder of Renaissance Salon & Spa.
- Ashley Streicher is a Garnier celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of Beverly Hills salon Striiike.
- Hailee Kay is an Amika pro educator and hairstylist. She shares her colorful braiding creations with 123,000 followers and counting on TikTok.
Loose Messy Bun
I am fully confident that there is no hairstyle Ciara can't pull off, including the loose, beachy bun that's a chic and practical classic for a hot beach day. "This [updo] is great for textured hair that plays well with the humidity," Ferrara explains. "Let your hair’s natural texture fly from last night’s curly style."
On how to achieve this look: "Pull out two front pieces and blow dry or curl with a curling iron," Ferrara says. "Adding a mousse like the Oribe Curl Shaping Mousse ($39) to the lengths and slept-on curls will give the [desired] texture for the messy bun on top. Pile on top of head and secure with a ponytail elastic or a clip. Spray a salt spray, like the Oribe Après Beach Spray ($44), and go have fun." This look works best on wavy to curly hair.
Lupita Nyong'o's space buns are out of this world... literally. A fun twist on the classic bun, space buns are an easy way to get hair out of your face and tamed on the beach (and the red carpet).
To achieve this look, split your hair into two even sections with a middle part, and use a brush to slick the hair up into two mini buns. Use hair spray, mousse, or gel to hold the style in place. This look works well on all hair types.
If you prefer wearing your hair down and are looking for an option that looks great even if it gets a little messy, Marjan says to look no further than the style named after the beach itself. "Dorit Kemsley rocks these gorgeous soft waves [that are] perfect for summer, created using Great Lengths tape-in extensions for the beautiful bright blonde honey hues," Marjan shares. "Use a GHD flat iron to create a soft bend by rotating it as it glides down the length of the hair."
Best way to keep cool in the summer? Chop your hair and let it run free. "This style is great for the summer because if there is humidity, the hair will kind of find its own way," Ferrara says. "As opposed to a fully straight or natural look, this wavy blowout style will work in many ways with nature and the weather."
You can achieve this look using a leave in conditioner that fights frizz—Ferrara recommends the Alterna Caviar CC Cream ($30). Blow dry damp hair using a brush, adding volume by pulling the hair up and away from where it naturally falls. Once hair is dry, use the CC cream to accentuate the waves by scrunching a small amount into the style.
"This will work on a variety of textures, but best on straight to wavy hair," Ferrara also notes. "Avoid with oily textures."
"Gabrielle Union’s braids scream summer beachy, vacation vibes," Cleveland says. "Once you set these braids in, your style is as low-maintenance as they come. Besides adding some scalp oils during the day and wearing a sateen or silk protective scarf/bonnet at night, there’s virtually nothing more to do for this look except look fierce."
We couldn't agree more. Whether you achieve the style at home or get a set of cornrows at your next hair appointment, you're sure to look stunning all beach trip long.
If you're blessed with natural curls or waves, Ferrara encourages you to set them free. "This summer style has no limits," Ferrara says. "Take it to the beach or to dinner on the marina. This hair works with humidity, salt water, and sea spray. A beautiful wave/curl pattern will work best with this—to grow the most optimal and conditioned hair I always recommend a hair vitamin, such as the Vitafusion Gorgeous Hair, Skin, and Nails Gummies ($16)."
"On very wet hair, apply a curl gel— the Oribe Curl Gloss ($42) is my favorite—making sure to evenly spread the product from root to tip," Ferrara says of how to create the style. "Turn [your] head over and scrunch upward to accentuate curls. Diffuse with a dryer until the hair is about 75% [dry], and off you go. Take care not to rake your fingers through the hair, [and] pile on top of your head while swimming." This look works with any texture with a slight wave to it.
If you want to keep your hair flowing and free, an accessory can make all of the difference. Here, Bethenny Frankel rocks the perfect brimmed beach hat to keep her hair out of her face. This doubles as additional skin protection (though of course, SPF comes first) and can be crucial for a hot sunny day. A beach hat is great to rock with any hair type.
When you think of Alicia Keys, you probably think of her always-put-together sleek updos. And since the beach makes us think of windblown, out-of-control strands, what better solution than a guaranteed out-of-face style? "A slicked-back chignon has been a summer go to of celebs for years," Ferrara says. "It’s easy and classic look goes from pool to beach to nightclub in a snap."
On wet hair, dab gel on a comb before pulling your hair into your desired bun location, whether that's on top of the head, at the nape of your neck, or somewhere in between. Once smoothed, twist the hair in a circular motion until it twists onto itself, then secure with hairpins, an elastic, or a scrunchie. "To add more to the style, play with your part, make it into two buns, or even a braid," Ferrara advises. The best part about this look? It works on all textures.
Money Piece Braids
If you're having trouble getting the front section of your hair to stay consistent throughout your beach day, Ferrara has a solution for the sometimes-messy baby hairs. "It helps to keep baby hairs around the face at bay, while letting your natural hair or blowout and style do the rest," Ferrara says. "Style your hair however you like: natural texture with curl gloss, or blow out with brush, flat ironed, or curled. Take the front 3/4 inch on either side of the part (middle works best), and braid the hair—you can fasten with elastics or let the ends fly to add more whimsy to the style."
This style works on any hair texture in a down style. If you want to avoid the elastics while ensuring your braids stay put, try lightly backcombing the ends and securing them with a bit of hairspray.
Eva Mendes' signature scarf bun is the perfect red carpet look, but it also doubles as the perfect beach hairstyle solution. "[Mendes] rocks this scarf bun that is perfect for a day at the beach," Korab says. "This is a practical way to keep your hair up while adding a little flair."
This is especially practical on a windy beach day, when flyaways and baby hairs are a common occurrence and many of us simply want an easy way to keep hair out of the face. The style works for all hair types.
On the same note of versatile looks, Dutch braids work for both a day at the beach and a glam night out. "Dutch braids are extremely popular and comfortable to wear," Korab says. "These braids give you the freedom to play activities without worrying about your hair. Kim K rocks this look effortlessly."
You can create Dutch braids without any product, but for a day at the beach, hairspray may be your friend to keep them in place.
Sometimes a wispy high pony is all you need to achieve the perfect beach look. Hannah Godwin rocks this beachy updo, which successfully keeps her hair pulled together and out of her face. To achieve this look, simply brush through your hair and pull it back with an elastic as loosely or tightly as desired, and you're ready to take on the sun.
If you're torn between tying your hair back into a ponytail and letting it flow free, we invite you to find a happy medium with this half-up, half-down look. Rihanna rocks it on the red carpet, but stylists say this is the perfect beach option, too.
To achieve this look, split the hair in half where the top of your ears meet your head and pull the top half of the hair into a high pony. Tease the base for some volume, add product where necessary based on your hair type, and voilà.
"To me, this is the epitome of beach hair," Streicher says. "It's relaxed waves that look natural but have that texture and volume of a mermaid. Her hair looks like it’s been 'worn in' in a good way—it still maintains its shine and luster, but has a few strays and manageable piece-y-ness."
"I love this style for the relaxed feel," she continues. "You can tell that this style makes her feel comfortable and cool. Just look at her, rocking that beach hair like she was born with it!"
To recreate this look, Streicher says a good texture spray is key. "For a good beachy look, I like to add the real 'lived-in' texture effect after we’ve done the waves with a couple different size and styles of barrel (keep it looking natural), adding Garnier Fructis Style Texture Tease Dry Touch Finishing Spray ($4) from roots to ends," she says. "Not only does this dry spray hold the style all day, it gives good, piece-y. voluminous texture that you can only get from the beach."
If box or dutch braids aren't your thing, maybe a single braid is. "This is a simple way to keep hair out of your face for the perfect day on the beach," Kay says.
To create the perfect single braid, Kay says to start by applying Amika's The Kure Multi-Task Repair Treatment ($29) to your hair before pulling it back and braiding it down the length. After that's finished, smooth your ends with a small amount of Amika's The Closer Instant Repair Cream ($26): "This will protect your hair from the elements and give it time to soak up all the benefits from the treatment while you enjoy the beach!"