Image: No beach? No worries.
We can all agree that fresh-from-the-ocean-hair is wonderful, yeah? Seawater is a magical elixir that can somehow add shape and structure to unruly curls and make otherwise flat, fine strands textured.
The problem is it’s a little hard to achieve beach hair on a daily basis if you live hours away from the coastline, or if it’s freezing outside, or if the only thing you ever surf is the internet. That’s where salt sprays come to the fore.
These frankly ingenious products go a long way in recreating post-surf hair — minus the damage and knots — but can be notorious for leaving strands a little more “crunchy” than “tousled”. Here are eight salt sprays we’ve road-tested and recommend from the
roots of our hair bottom of our hearts.
Toni and Guy Casual Texturising Sea Salt Spray
A couple years ago I somehow ended up with a bottle of Toni and Guy’s messy salt spray for men, and loved it (despite not being a man). Happy to report this ‘casual’ version is just as effective — it doesn’t make my strands crispy or stiff when it dries, and it feels nice and light in the hair. If you’re a little cash-conscious, this will deliver good bang for your buck. ($15.99)
Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray
This is the king pin of the salt spray canon. Celebrities love to name-drop it, and it's got an almost mythical status among hairdressers and styling enthusiasts. It's probably the priciest option out there, but Surf Spray does live up to the hype — I loved the matte (but not dry) texture and body it created in my hair. Any deflation is easily fixed by a quick scrunch throughout the day. You can read a full review here. ($39)
I wasn't exaggerating about the legendary status — here are some of the A-listers who adore Bumble and Bumble. (Post continues after gallery.)
TIGI Catwalk Session Series Salt Spray
Light and texturising with good hold and a deliciously sweet scent — yep, my hair and I are officially fans of this Tigi spray. The end result was dishevelled without being messy. It's also a salon favourite, which is a good sign. ($30)
evo Salty Dog Salt Spray
The result promised on the Salty Dog bottle is "windblown; interesting; urban fisherman." I'm still trying to figure out what that looks like, but I will say this spray has awesome styling potential — scrunching it into my hair created noticeable beachy waves* that held longer than I expected. (*I do have natural waves, but they tend to be a bit lazy and require assistance.)
Plus, it smells delightful; it's got a really clean, fresh fragrance reminiscent of a lot of popular unisex perfumes. ($29.95)
Watch: Salt spray isn't the only way to create texture and oomph - site producer Lizzie swears by hairspray and chalk. (Post continues after video.)
Schwarzkopf Osis Session Label Salt Spray
I used this product over the Christmas break while I was holidaying on the Northern NSW coast, which can be a pretty humid part of the world in summer. The spray did a valiant job of rescuing my hair from frizz and general awfulness while maintaining the tousled, textured look — and making me look like more of a beach bum than I actually am. ($24.95 from The Ritualist)
KMS California Hairplay Sea Salt Spray
HairPlay and my curls were the best of friends from the get-go. It was love at first spray. At the risk of sounding like a wine reviewer, the waves it created were quite "full-bodied" — but still soft and natural-looking, and they held their shape for ages. Very impressed. The formula also felt really light and not at all stiff in my hair. ($33.95)
John Frieda Beach Blonde Ocean Waves
This cult favourite was discontinued for seven years before returning to our shelves in early 2015, thanks to a passionate online campaign. Despite the name, you don't need to be a goldilocks to benefit from Beach Blonde — it's our (brunette, curly-haired) writer Brittany's number one pick.
"With my curly hair, salt spray can often make my hair look greasy and rock solid, but this is surprisingly light and gives a really authentic beach wave look. I also love the ocean smell," Britt says. Sold. ($16.99)
Fudge Salt Spray
My hair also responded favourably to Fudge's salty spray — a bit of finger-twisting and scrunching left it with more waves than you'd find at Bondi. I did find I was slightly more prone to crunchiness with this one, but that was easily fixed by using less of it and brunshing it through with my fingers.
If you're a sweets over like me, be warned — this spray smells like mango and coconut, so you might be tempted to open your mouth a little while misting it. Don't do that. ($19.99)
If you find the matte feel of salt spray a little off-putting — or you're just used to super silky hair — try applying a little bit of hair oil first.
Your hair will get crunchy pretty fast if you're too trigger-happy, especially on wet hair. You can always add more in, so go easy at first and see how it turns out.
What's your favourite salt spray?