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A day at the beach does more than just work wonders for your soul. A dip in the ocean is a surefire way to score ah-mazing hair. There’s something about the combo of the saltwater plus a little sand plus a little beachy air that can transform even the most blah of hair into a mermaid-esque mane, those covetable beachy waves that would otherwise require hot tools and styling steps galore.
If only there was a way to capture that magic and recreate that look at home…oh wait, there is. A quick spritz of a salt spray is the easiest way to score seaside hair, no trip to the seaside is required. Plus, most of the formulas out there are extremely versatile and can be used on either damp or dry hair, as a refresher for second-day hair, or to impart grip and texture before creating an updo or braid.
So beach, please—pick up one of these best sea salt sprays.
Best Overall: Sachajuan Ocean Mist
This spritz works on every hair type, from fine and flat to kinky and coiled—and everything in between. It uses not only salt but also sugar (another choice texturizer) to create waves, plus add a bit of volume and hold, along with a matte finish. “I love how nicely this works into the hair, creating a beautifully textured look without feeling too rough,” says Cedric, stylist, and owner of Cedric Salon in New York City. Spray it onto damp hair and let it air dry; you can even brush it out post-spraying if you want a more subtle effect.
Best for Fine Hair: Odele Texturizing Sea Salt Spray
This affordable haircare brand truly can do no wrong in our book, and this wave-enhancing spritz is proof positive. Ideal for fine to medium hair, it contains sea salt to impart a tousled texture and lots of fullness. The formula is squeaky clean, free of over 1,300 questionable ingredients. Even the delicious scent, a fresh mix of cucumber and ylang-ylang, is totally naturally derived.
Best for Thick Hair: Kristin Ess Soft Shine Beach Wave Spray
While this pick works for all hair types, it’s an especially great option for those with thicker hair. Meant to be used on dry hair, you can layer on as much of this as you need (and those with thick hair do need a bit more product) without worrying about it ever starting to feel crunchy or stiff. It’s also great if your hair requires a little extra TLC since the formula touts a proprietary technology that helps to “seal” split ends.
Best for All Hair Types: Bumble and bumble Surf Spray
Arguably one of, if not the, most popular salt sprays out there, many would also say that this is the OG formula that spawned a thousand different copycats. It boasts Epsom salts, which make for a tousled texture and have astringent properties to absorb excess oil. Meanwhile, seaweed and kelp extracts impart smoothness and shine. The result is a spritz that almost instantly transforms even the finest, limpest of hair—but never weighs them down.
Best for Volume: R+Co Rockaway Salt Spray
Craving not only waves but added volume, too? Try this mist. A plant-based ingredient known as cranesbill plumps each shaft for added fullness, while salt leaves hair looking naturally tousled. Not to mention that there’s also antioxidant-rich and protective vitamin C and strengthening sage in the formula, too. Cedric is a big fan of this formula, as well, lauding both how easy it is to work with and the great scent.
What Our Editors Say
"Love the name. Love that the packaging looks like a Gray Malin photo. Love that it makes magic out of my kind-of wavy texture."—Leah Wyar, Byrdie SVP/GM
Best Splurge: Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray
True to its name, a quick hit of this really does leave you with ‘just got back from the beach’ hair. Another salt-free option, it instead uses a combination of wheat protein, pro-vitamin B5, and a co-polymer that work together to swell the hair shaft and create that coveted beachy texture. But what makes this worth the price is the addition of other good-for-your hair ingredients, namely an antioxidant complex to protect against damaging and color fading effects, plus a plant-based extract that offers UV protection to further safeguard your hue.
Best for Dry Hair: Amika Bushwick Beach No-Salt Wave Spray
We know, this technically isn’t a salt spray, but here’s the thing—salt can be drying on your hair, particularly if your hair is already on the drier side, to begin with. This formula uses a mineral known as zeolite in place of salt to create piece-y, surfer girl texture, coupled with hydrating sea buckthorn oil for added hydration and shine. Oh, and the other nice thing about zeolite? It also helps ward off frizz, making this choice for summertime styling.
What Our Editors Say
“Okay, this sea salt spray doesn't contain any salt, but the ingredients mimic salt and won't dry out your hair. This is my go-to after a shower for texture and body without heat tools. I also have an oily scalp, and the Zeolite and Silica in the formula help prevent grease and extend my style." —Kathryn Vandervalk, Byrdie Editorial & Strategy Director
Best for Colored Hair: Sun Bum Sea Spray
Along with giving you beachy hair, this also goes above and beyond the call of duty. It offers UV protection—very important if you color your hair since the sun can cause serious fading and color changes—but also blocks out humidity. Hence why it’s an awesome pick if you actually are going to the beach and just want to enhance the effects of a swim in the sea (or aren’t planning on going in the water but want to make it look like you did).
Best Multi-Tasker: Playa Endless Summer Spray
What’s better than a great sea salt spray? One that can do more than just give you great beachy hair. This aptly-named pick (which, fun fact, relies on sea salt harvested from Southern California) not only helps enhance and coax out waves, it also boosts volume and contains antioxidant-rich beta-carotene to shield both scalp and hair from UV rays and pollution. The scent is the cherry on top, a more sophisticated take on the classic tropical notes, combining black coconut with sandalwood and musk.
Best Natural: Alaffia Everyday Coconut Texturizing Spray - Purely Coconut
Talk about a clean ingredient profile—there are only nine ingredients total in this spray. Neem extract and coconut water are the first two, both super hydrating, helping to balance out any potentially drying effects of the salt. Plus, all of the ingredients are certified fair-trade.
Best Scent: Herbivore Botanicals Coconut Sea Mist Texturizing Salt Spray
You’ll be hard-pressed to figure out what you like more about this spray—is it the amazing texture it creates or is it the delicious scent, a (completely natural) fragrance that balances coconut with a hint of lime? Happily, there’s no need to choose. That fragrance smells legitimately tropical in the best way possible, never artificial and cloying. (For those who don’t love those types of scents, there’s also a lavender variant available.) Worth noting: The amount of sea salt used in this formula is the same as the natural salinity of the ocean, meaning the texturizing effects are about as close to what you’d get from an actual dip in the sea as possible.
Sea salt sprays are the secret weapon to creating an effortlessly tousled texture. The Sachajuan Ocean Mist (view at Dermstore) is our top choice, a pro favorite that works on all hair types and combines both salt and sugar to enhance waves. If you’re looking for not only more texture but also volume, try the R+ Co Rockaway Salt Spray (view at Amazon), which contains a hair-plumping ingredient along with salt. And if your hair is super dry, try the salt-free Amika Bushwick Beach No-Salt Wave Spray (view at Sephora), which relies on a mineral to create surfer girl pieceiness and touts plenty of hydrating ingredients, too.
What to Look for in a Sea Salt Spray
Salt is undoubtedly a great texture-enhancing ingredient, but, as anyone who’s spent a day at the beach will tell you, it can dry out your hair. That’s the beauty of using a salt spray; you can seek out options that contain hydrating ingredients—aloe, glycerin, coconut water—to balance out those potentially drying effects.
How do sea salt sprays work?
“Sea salt sprays work by giving hair texture and body, imparting movement, and making hair look wavier,” explains Cedric. That being said, they work with your natural hair texture, coaxing out or enhancing any waves that are actually there. The point being, if your hair is pin-straight, you may also need the assistance of a hot tool to get that super beachy vibe.
How do you apply sea salt spray?
You’ll get the most dramatic effects if you mist it onto damp hair (spray all over) before blow-drying or air-drying, says Cedric. That being said, you can also use it as a finishing spray and work it on dry hair.
Do sea salt sprays dry out your hair?
“Your hair will likely feel a bit dryer when you use one—similarly to when you are at the beach—but that’s not permanent,” says Cedric. Simply wash it out, and your hair will be clean. You can also use a mask after the fact if you feel like your hair needs extra moisture, he adds.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She loves herself some beachy waves, be they a result of a day spent at the Jersey Shore or of a good sea salt spray.
Meet the Expert
Cedric is a master stylist and the owner of Cedric Salon in New York City. He has over 25 years of experience working with celebrities in both Europe and across the United States.