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The best way to get beach hair is to take a dip in the ocean. Of course. The next best way is to use the best sea salt spray you can get your hands on.
The sea gives your hair a really nice grit and definition, as if someone took an invisible styler and gave you an effortless, camera-ready, salon-caliber, matte-and-voluminous finish. Even when I have short hair, just an inch long, the ocean gives me a nice Bart Simpson choppiness up top.
But there’s one problem: I don’t live anywhere near the ocean. So I’ve got to bring the sea saltiness into my landlocked home to emulate the effect—and I can, easily, because that’s what sea salt sprays do: They absorb oils, bind to your hair, and create really beautiful separation, lift, and definition. (In short, they texturize.)
Most brands use magnesium sulfate in their sea salt spray to emulate the effect, though some even use some actual ocean-derived salts.
Who should use sea salt sprays?
Anyone who wants more texture in their hair. Sea salt is great for guys with thinning hair who simply want more volume. It’s terrific for anyone with oily scalps who want an alternative to dry shampoo (something with less buildup at the base of the hair). Sea salt sprays can create lightweight choppiness in short, straight styles. They can emphasize wavy and curly textures of all lengths without weighing the hairs down—and are especially adept when spritzed into long surfer-like locks (for that ultimate freshly-swam effect).
How to use sea salt spray
You can use sea salt sprays as a mid-day texturizing pick-me-up on droopy or greasy hair, or you can spritz sea salt sprays into your damp hair before you apply another styler, if you want just a pinch of added definition on the back end of the process. They also work well as a standalone product if you simply want lightweight texture as opposed to anything that will weigh it all down. Also, know that by blow drying the salt spray, you can get slightly better hold and definition, too. (This is the case with any product that is blown dry versus air dried.)
To get the most mileage out of each application, I recommend spraying the product into towel-dried or damp hair. It’s better to use salt spray on the days you haven’t freshly shampooed, since clean hair tends to fight the effect a little more than slightly greasy hair. That’s also why they work well as a midday pick-me-up, though a slight splash of water in your hair can help with their distribution and plumping powers.
How much product you use is dependent on how much hair you have. For shorter styles, you’ll spray a few times, uniformly over your entire dome. For longer styles, it best to target the middle and ends of the hair, where that separation and texture is best noticed. (If you want extra lift at the roots, then try a dry shampoo or defining paste.) Curlier styles will likely demand more product than straighter ones, but they’ll also see the best results from this process, too.
Here are the four sea salt sprays I recommend most often to friends.