Salt Spray Recipe for Hair

person with damp wavy hair

We Are / Getty Images

To get beachy waves, nothing beats a salt spray—except maybe the actual ocean. But for those of us (sadly) not living the beach bum life, we need a little extra help in reaching mermaid status. Most hair has at least some kind of curl pattern to it (even those with observable straight hair), and salt works to bring out the natural waves and texture. While you can buy some great salt sprays for under $30, you can also DIY your own for mere pennies at home.

When you're in a pinch, whipping up a little homemade hair product is a quick and cheap option. But while it seems simple enough to mix salt and water to spritz on your strands, it's a slippery slope to Sahara Desert-dry, crunchy town. Salt is extremely drying, so there's a bit to know before you go diving headfirst into your spice cabinet. How much salt should you use? Is it even safe for all hair types? We asked the professionals to provide some insight on DIY salt sprays, so keep scrolling for their top tips and an easy recipe that will leave you with the perfect beachy waves.

What You'll Need

  • 1 tablespoon of Epsom or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of olive, extra virgin coconut, or jojoba oil
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • Spritzer bottle
  • Essential oil (optional for fragrance)

To DIY sea salt spray, you'll only need a few ingredients, but the exact recipe will depend on your hair type and desired outcome. Another bonus of creating your own spray? You get to pick the signature scent with your favorite essential oils if you so choose.

"If you want to mix your own at home, I use one cup warm water and one tablespoon of sea salt," says celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson, adding that oil may be necessary for thick, dry, or coarse hair types. "If you think [about] what salt is, it can be very, very drying on the hair and rough up the cuticle. So an essential oil or oil, in general, helps to add moisture to the hair."

When choosing an oil, session stylist and celebrity colorist, Tina Outen says to first see which mixes best with the water to avoid greasy spots. Then, pick your salt. "Epsom salts are by nature a detoxifying agent, so you're likely to draw impurities out of your hair as well as your natural oils which condition, so keep in mind what you’re doing in terms of stripping your hair if this is your salt of choice," she explains.

For a stronger hold, add a bit more salt to your mixture.

How to Make It

To make your salt spray, first, bring the water to a simmer in a glass measuring cup in the microwave or a pot on a stovetop—this will help the salt completely dissolve when you combine the two in the second step. Next, pour in the salt. Stir thoroughly until there are no more visible crystals floating around. Once combined, pour the salt water into your spray bottle, then add in your oil and/or a few drops of essential oil if you're using them. You may need to invoke the help of a funnel for this part, as things could get messy. Once all the ingredients have made it safely into their new spritzer bottle home, be sure to give it a good shake.

How to Apply to Hair

person with 3a curl pattern

Delmaine Donson / Getty Images

Gibson says to start by shaking the bottle thoroughly to combine the ingredients for the best result—if you used oil, note that it will separate from the water, so that re-mixing will be necessary before each use. Next, spray the mixture onto damp hair from mid-length to ends. "You can let it air dry if you like, but sometimes it's great to get a little volume out of it by using a blowdryer," explains Gibson. Use your fingers to twist or scrunch the hair into shape as you blow-dry for a fresh-from-the-ocean beachy look that will last until your next shampoo.

According to session stylist Anthony Turner, the possibilities are endless when it comes to styling, "You can do as little or as much as you need," he says. "Take into consideration that leaving salt spray to dry naturally might make your hair feel a little more rigid; using a hairdryer and your hands to create movement breaks the product down in your hair, meaning that you will have a great, sexy texture without the stiffness."

Keep in mind that less is more with salt sprays. "Salt spray works best when it’s built up slowly, so go little by little, starting at the ends and going up to the roots," Outen says. "See how it drys, and if you got the desired result, if not, then add more and repeat."

Be careful about what you wear if you made an extra salty mixture, Outen warns. "I would caution against this if you are planning on wearing a dark color outfit as the shedding is endless, and you may end up looking dusty."

Does This Spray Work for Every Hair Type?

person brushing hair

Holger Scheibe / Getty Images

Proceed with caution when using a salt spray on thick, coarse, or dry hair types. "If you have thicker hair, I would always mix some oil in your concoction," Gibson says. "When you have thicker or coarser hair, it tends to make that hair type very dry and chalk-like. So oil helps to cut down the salt and make it more manageable for thick hair." When using on curly or kinky hair, he again encourages the notion that oil is your best friend.

Gibson also gives the green light to use salt sprays on textured hair "as long as it's on the finer side," while Turner advises against using too much salt, "Textured hair tends to need more of a moisturizing product, and salt spray mattifies the hair."

Shop More Sea Salt Sprays

Of course, if you have the time and extra money to spend—or do not mingle with DIY projects—stylists recommend purchasing a good salt spray. Outen says she suggests spending the money on something that protects the hair from damage, "Pro products have oils and conditioning agents as well as a different type of salt to create the base, they are formulated to re-condition as they work which cannot be done with most at-home options."

Scroll on to shop some of our top picks; no DIYing required.

Playa Endless Summer Spray
Playa Endless Summer Spray $24.00

Not only does this sea salt spray smell bomb, but it also protects from UV damage when sprayed onto exposed areas of the scalp. With sea salt harvested right in Southern California, you can expect a perfectly tousled, effortless California-cool texture that's screaming with SoCal surfer vibes.

Kristin Ess Sea Salt Air Dry Spray
Kristin Ess Sea Salt Air Dry Spray $10.00

Made by the queen of tousled texture, Kristen Ess makes recreating her signature look easier than ever with her Sea Salt Air Dry Spray. As the name might imply, this stuff was made to be worked through the hair as it air dries, rather than styling with a diffuser. For curls requiring more moisture, Ess recommends reaching for her Soft Shine Beach Wave Spray ($14) instead.

Bumble and bumble Surf Infusion
Bumble and bumble Surf Infusion $25.00

For shiny, wind-swept strands, we recommend Bumble and bumble's salt and oil rendition. While the salt adds grit and texture, the oil reflects sunlight for a healthy-looking sheen.

Sachajuan Ocean Mist
Sachajuan Ocean Mist $34.00

To nourish your beachy waves as you create them, Sachajuan Ocean Mist is a no-brainer. The formula is chock-full of vitamins and acts as a leave-in conditioner to soften and encourage curls. What's more, this tiny spritzer can be misted into the strands to protect hair against heat damage from styling tools.

R+Co ROCKAWAY Salt $26.00

Seeking volume in your salt-drenched tresses? ROCKAWAY Salt is your new best friend. The key ingredient here is cranesbill, which swells the hair shaft to create amazing volume while the salt does its thing to add texture and waves.

Related Stories