How to Get Beach-y Waves Even If You Have Short Hair (and, Like, No Beach)

Chloe Metzger
·5 min read

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Quick q: Why in the freakin’ world are beach waves so difficult to do on yourself? Like, they’re supposed to look “effortless” and “easy” and “just rolled around on the beach with my new summer fling because I am also Blake Lively,” but instead, my beachy waves end up looking like limp prom curls. And if you’re trying to do beach waves on short hair? Where there’s even less length to work with (and an even higher chance of burning your fingers)? Yeah, no—it’s anything but easy.

But! That’s why I’m here. Even though creating beach-y waves on short hair may seem like a feat only attainable for models like Jourdan Dunn and Chrissy Teigen, all you really need is the right curling iron/wand/flat iron (don’t worry; listed my favorite tried-and-true options later on), a little patience, and some genuinely excellent hair tutorials. And to make it easier for you, I watched truly a zillion (bajillion?) beachy wave hair tutorials to weed out the best of the best. Below, how to do beach waves on short hair, regardless of your hair type or hair tool. YW.

P.S. You love all the deets on hair products that actually work, right? So do we. Let's overanalyze them together. ✔️

How to get beach waves with a robe belt

Unless you've just stepped out of 2019 (in which case wow, welcome—sh*t has been NOT IDEAL), you've undoubtedly seen the TikTok-viral hair hack of creating beachy waves using the belt from a bathrobe. In this tutorial, vlogger Jocelyn McClellan shows you how to recreate the look at home on short, fine hair, without having to uncomfortably sleep on the twisted belt overnight (which, I can attest, sucks). All you need is a mousse, some slightly damp hair, and a belt or a long tube sock.

How to get beach waves with a hair waver

You've probably seen hair wavers (or deep wavers) floating around your social feeds recently—they're those giant, double-pronged, weapon-looking irons that clamp down on a section of hair and leave it wavy, like a modern-day crimper. Here, vlogger Jillian Lansky gets beachy waves on her short hair by first flat-ironing her hair (the waves will look more polished when you're working with straight hair), then clamping section by section, holding the iron horizontally on the lower sections and vertically on the top sections.

If it's your first time using a hair waver, just be warned: The wider the iron, the more tricky it'll be to navigate around your short hair (as you can see in the tutorial). But, you'll also only need to clamp down on each section once with a large iron, rather than multiple times with a small iron, making the whole process a bit faster. Pick your ~poison~ below:

How to do beach waves with a flat iron

Vlogger Sadora Paris not only has natural, tightly coiled hair but also a magical skill that allows her to create insanely gorgeous beach waves using only a straightener. After fully flat-ironing her short hair, she works section by section, rolling her flat iron forward and backward down her hair to create a crimped-like wave. It sounds confusing, but trust: It’s surprisingly easy. Mist your hair with a texturizing spray for added volume to finish.

How to do beach waves with a curling iron

Vlogger Chloe Brown has a choppy little bob haircut, so for anyone who says they can’t do beach waves on short hair, may I direct you to this curling-iron tutorial? The curls in this video may look a little sausage-y at first, but that’s actually the key: Tight, long curls (blasted with some sea-salt spray or texturizing spray, first, to give you a bunch of grip and hold) leave you with hella voluminous beach waves once you rake through them with your fingers at the end.

How to do beach waves on natural hair

Whaaa?! Soft, beachy waves on short, 4c hair without heat? Hell yeah, it’s possible, and vlogger Jessica Pettway is showin’ the world how. After smoothing a curl cream through your dry, brushed-out hair, twist small sections of hair around your finger and bobby-pin in place until your head is covered in pin curls. Sleep on them overnight, unravel them, and shake them out for beachy-looking waves.

How to do beach waves with a wand

Okay, so technically, these waves look more ~romantic~ than they do just-stepped-off-the-beach messy, but, hey, not everyone wants to look like an episode of Love Island. This tutorial is crazy easy—just curl your hair with a one-inch wand and rake through it with your fingers for soft waves. If your short hair can’t hold a curl to save its life, spritz your damp hair with a sea-salt spray before drying it, then blast your roots and ends with texturizing spray before and after curling it.

How to do heatless beach waves

This is pretty much the same hairstyle you accidentally created as a kid after a day on the beach, but now, it’s a short-hair lewk. This vlogger has naturally curly hair—which means a ton of built-in texture already—but if you don’t, try coating your damp hair with an even layer of sea-salt spray before making your French braids to help keep your waves from falling. Sleep on the braids, gently unravel them in the morning, give them another spritz of salt spray to curb frizz, and boom: overnight beach waves with absolutely no heat.

How to do beach waves with a flat iron + curling iron

The biggest issue short-hair struggle? Trying to wrap your short layers around a curling iron without them slipping off the barrel. But vlogger Brianna Fox has a trick: After blasting the section with texturizing spray, clamp each section at the middle, rather than at the ends, to get an even curl. Her second trick? Flat-iron just the ends of your waves to get a natural, bedhead-y finish.

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