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How to Create Perfect Mermaid Waves

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You've heard of (and seen) plenty of beachy waves, but mark our words, this is the summer of mermaid waves. Think of this style as the ever-so-slightly more polished take on the trend; whereas beachy texture is all about being messy and undone, mermaid waves are more uniform and intentional. "The waves are still loose, but the rise and fall of the curl is more consistent, and the shape of the waves is a littler rounder and higher," explains celebrity stylist Sally Hershberger. "The curl pattern usually starts around the level of the eyebrow and carries through the length of the hair, with just the very ends left straight," she adds.

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In true mermaid fashion, these waves do tend to look best on medium to long hair; you want to have enough space to show off the consistency of that curl pattern, which is what makes the end result so cool, points out Hershberger. (Ideally, we're talking at least shoulder-length or longer.) That being said, as long as your hair can hold a curl, pretty much anyone can rock mermaid waves.

Intrigued? Now's the time to take this style for a test run. Breezy and fun, mermaid waves are also super versatile with lots of different ways to play and make the look your own. They look great pulled up into a high pony with a few face-framing pieces, or worn half-up, half-down, and with either side or center parts, says Hershberger. Ready to channel your inner mermaid? Here's how to create this trendy style.

mermaid-waves: woman with long, wavy hair
mermaid-waves: woman with long, wavy hair

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  1. Work a volumizing mousse through damp, towel-dried hair; this will help add uniform body and fullness throughout your hair. Exactly how much you need depends on length, but, generally speaking, for medium to long hair about an apricot-sized dollop is good. One to try: Kristin Ess Volumizing Mousse ($14; target.com).

  2. Blow-dry hair thoroughly, combing through with your fingers (rather than a brush) while you do so to help impart some natural texture and prevent hair from becoming too straight and smooth.

  3. Since uniformity is the defining feature of mermaid waves, a three-barrel wave wand is hands-down the hot tool of choice here, says Hershberger. It not only makes the process super easy, but again, ensures that the wave pattern looks exactly the same throughout the hair. We like Amika High Tide Deep Waver ($120; sephora.com). Split hair into sections that are a few inches wide. “Starting at the level of your brows, gently clamp, hold for a few seconds, and lift, working all the way down and leaving just the very ends out,” she says. Repeat on every section.

  4. The final step: Apply a texturizing paste or shaping balm liberally throughout the hair. “This locks in the look, but also adds movement and texture, ensuring the end result still has a loose and sexy feel,” says Hershbger, who says the 24K Superiority Complex Texturizing Paste ($40; sallyhershberger.com) from her eponymous line works well here. Emulsify a small amount in between your fingertips, then work it throughout each section, from where the waves start all the way to the tips of the hair.