Summer is beach waves season and there’s no length requirement. Whether your hair is naturally curly or stick straight, this universally flattering style is as relaxed and fun-loving as a day spent lounging in the sand and surf. For all things beach waves, we went straight to the lady who is so well-versed in spreading the mermaid hair gospel that she literally created a product line around it. You guessed it, we’re talking to Sarah Potempa, celebrity hairstylist and founder of The Beachwaver Co. Just because long hair usually gets all the love when it comes to sea-styled tresses doesn’t mean girls with shorter cuts shouldn’t attempt the look. Hair of every length is gorge in beach waves; it all depends on how you create them. Read on for Sarah’s tips on how to get beach waves on short hair.
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How to Get Beachy Waves for Short Hair
The first step for getting beach waves with shorter hair is to pick the right hot tool. It’s a pretty simple equation—shorter hair gets a smaller size curling iron. Sarah recommends the Beachwaver S.75 to get more movement in the waves. “Alternating directions helps add more volume to the style,” she advises. Sarah also notes for the best beach waves, “create 2-strand twists with a flexible mousse, like Braid Balm, then remove the twists to create texture in the hair.”
Sarah has some tricks up her sleeve when it comes to beach waving (let’s face it, it’s a competitive sport when this girl has anything to do with it) and she’s sharing her techniques. “Grab your Beachwaver curling iron, and start by sectioning the hair in horizontal rows starting at the bottom layer,” she begins. “Curl a 1” section away from the face and then the next 1” section towards the face by gently tapping the rotation arrow. The great thing about the Beachwaver is that it rotates in both directions making it really easy to achieve this look. Spray a texture spray to separate the pieces and then use a cream to smooth the ends,” she adds.
For a twist to waves style, Sarah recommends starting by applying a flexible mousse throughout the hair. Then, starting at the root, separate the hair into 2 pieces. “Take section 1 and cross over section 2. Then add hair from the base to the right section and hair from the base to the left section and cross them. (Basically, a two-strand French braid, which is easier with short hair). Allow to dry and remove twists for a natural beach wave,” she continues. “The looser the twist, the looser the wave. For more texture, try creating four to five twists/braids in smaller sections.”
Best Products to Get Beach Waves
Sarah shares her must-have list of products to solve every beach wave issue:
- The Beachwaver S.75, the smallest barrel curling iron for alternating waves and perfect for short hair.
- A flexible mousse for a lightweight curl enhancement and volume, such as Beachwaver’s Braid Balm.
- Sectioning Clips for easier styling when DIYing.
- A texture spray for separation and to make waves look believably beachy, such as IGK’s Beach Club Volumizing Texture Spray.
- Cream to reduce frizz and smooth strands out, like the Ouai Finishing Creme.
- Second Chance Dry Shampoo for when your roots need a lift and you want to keep your style fresh overnight.
What Not to Do (Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You)
There are some textbook mistakes that will trip up your beach waves. “Try to avoid curling too much just at the bottom,” notes Sarah. “With shorter hair, you need to take smaller sections and curl up near the base and leave some of the ends out for a more balanced wave.”
The same logic applies to a heatless style. “When creating braids to waves, try to avoid making the twist or braid too tight at the bottom. This will create frizz and an uneven texture,” she shares.
Some Extra Advice on Beach Waves for Short Hair
Short hair looks amazing with waves—don’t overthink it. “Allow your hair to go where it wants and embrace your natural texture and part. This will help give a nice amount of volume and a balanced wave,” says Sarah. “Make sure you section, even though your hair is short. This helps when styling for a cooler-looking wave.”
There’s more than one way to get a curl. “If needed, you can combine techniques—diffuse the bottom super-short sections with mousse and curl the top layers with the Beachwaver,” she says. And finally, most importantly, enjoy the process and experiment until you get it 100% right.
“Have fun with your hair and test out different techniques on days where you don’t have big plans. Then you can confidently create a curly beach wave routine that you can rock to any event.”