How To: Seriously Beachin’ Waves

Loose, shine-free, textured waves are my favorite kind of hairstyle.  It’s fairly easy to replicate the look on myself because my hair has some natural wave to it, so the bias is obvious.  However, I do love the different which-ways you can make waves go, and I like their easy, laid-back feel.  My friends will tell you that one of the ways I express friendship is by “waving” your hair- I’m not kidding.  It’s the most relaxing process for me.  And just the word “wave” evokes peaceful memories of the ocean, and being a California girl, that’s never a bad thing.  Although, authentic “beach waves” with a bit too much salt going on can get a little crusty if we’re honest.  There’s a difference between looking like you spent a weekend at Laguna Beach or a year on an island with Tom Hanks in a loincloth.

When I create my own waves, I go by a couple tried-and-true tips so they don’t look too neat, but I do want to make sure they have plenty of body.  If you have curly hair, the general method is to blow your hair out straight first and then create the waves, but that’s a lot of heat and effort so I understand if you bypass this how-to with an annoyed eyeroll.  I’d encourage you to still give it a shot though, when you’ve got extra time just for fun!  If you have stick-straight hair, this may still work but you will probably want to crank the heat on your curling rod and a good dose of hairspray won’t hurt, either.  Regardless, see if this works for you too.  I love straightening my hair when I have time, though it’s a different kind of vibe with bangs.  Making my hair extra curly is the hardest for me, but it’s been really fun the few times I’ve executed it well.  Waves are just the easiest for my hair type, and here’s what I do to get them.


Step 1:  Freshly washed hair works best, because you can rough dry it and give it serious volume.  I’ll wash and condition my hair, comb it through with a wide-tooth comb and a few sprays of Unite’s 7-Second Conditioner, and give it some time to air dry.  This allows at least a little natural texture to come through, which is good.  If I’m doing my makeup, I try to take this time to apply moisturizer and get my face makeup on while my bangs are still pulled back.  Once my bangs are dry and styled, it’s hard to do my makeup without messing up my bangs.

Step 2:  After my hair has had a little time to dry (think like, 60% dry), I’ll use a blowdryer to rough dry it the rest of the way.  No brush required (except for the bangs, just a little bit)!  I’ll flip my head upside down and all that, and just kind of go at it until it’s dry.  You don’t want to lay a heat tool to it while it’s still damp at all, or you’ll basically boil your hair.  After it’s dry, I spray some more heat protectant on it and let that settle for a minute.

Step 3:  I wave my hair in three sections- bottom, middle, and top.  I’ll use a clip to keep the upper sections of my hair out of the way as I go.  Using the Hot Tools 1.25′ curling iron, I’ll take small chunks of hair (probably 1-inch sections) and wrap them around the iron.  The key is to not use the clamp; just wrap the hair around the iron and hold it there for a couple seconds.  When you wrap the hair, don’t wind it tightly around the iron; think more of a languid, ribbon-around-the-Maypole kind of wrap as opposed to tightly winding thread around a little spool.  You want these waves to be loose and lazy.  Also, I try to not wrap hair in the same direction every time.  I try alternate between wrapping forwards and backwards, although if you wrap in all one direction I actually don’t think it turns out that bad.  Another thing- I leave the ends out!  That’s a big part of the beachy feel; don’t wrap about the last inch of hair around the iron.

Now, I suppose you could just use a curling rod for this whole process, but the results with a rod are almost a bit too precious from my experience.  The best rod I know of is the Sarah Potempa BeachWaver, but Hot Tools costs a fraction of the price and they yield the same results in my opinion.

Step 4:  Time to apply texture product!  As you curl each section from bottom to top (and by curl, I really mean wave), liberally mist a dry texture spray all over the waves you’ve created.  I like Bumble and Bumble’s Thickening Dryspun Finish and Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray.  Spray it into the roots and, as you go through each section, flip your head upside down and shake out your waves with your hands.  Additionally, take another texturizing product that isn’t dry, like Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist, and apply it to the ends.  I spray some of this into my hands (because it can be sticky) and scrunch it into the midlengths and ends.  I love the effect of this particular product; it gives a piecey-ness to the look.  You can also try a wet sea spray like Bumble and Bumble’s Surf Infusion like I did this time; it has moisturizing oils in it so it not only gives that beach effect to my ends but it also moisturizes them, which is nice after all the heat styling.  And it has just enough sea salt in it to not be too drying.


A lot of people also like to add a mousse or some other volumizing product before they begin rough drying, but my personal experience has been that applying stylers after drying my hair is the most effective.  I get plenty of volume with a dry texture spray, but if you have success with a product applied to wet hair, by all means go for it.

The nice thing about this style is that it tends to hold up pretty well the next day.  You can always go back over sections with the curling iron again, too.  And dry texture spray also functions as a dry shampoo; that stuff is seriously the gift that keeps on giving and is by far my favorite hair innovation of the past five years.

Let me know if you try this or these products, and tag me in your pictures if you do!  xo, MR

Short and Back Again: A Hair Addict’s Tale

And if you don’t get the Tolkien reference in the title, I can’t help you with life.

If you have known me personally, you have known that I have been on nothing short of a hair quest, a hair saga, a hair journey to the Misty Mountains and back again, since about 2010.  It has been bizarre, to say the least.  I have reached the heights of beach waved, ombre’d glory, only to somehow look in the mirror on some depressed afternoon a month later and not like what I see.  For no good reason.

That’s what’s been bizarre about it.  I’ve been chasing down something with my hair for years, and yet when I look back at pictures from just two months prior I think Good God, Lemon!  Why did you ever complain?!  And yet, there’s still that hair moment that I haven’t landed on.  And it’s strange because I truly feel that I’ve had so many great hair moments!  I don’t know what I’m waiting for.  Maybe the cause is ungratefulness.  Maybe it’s comparison.  Maybe the dissatisfaction comes from an itch for change that doesn’t actually need to be scratched.  I think if I could sum up my hair chronicles in a song it would probably be U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.  It’s been DRAMA, guys.  I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls …

But anyhow, Bono and I digress.

So let me just recount my hair journey from the past six months.  That’s it.  And that’s probably all you can handle; you would hate me otherwise.  I can go on and on about my own hair chronicles.  Trust me- my friends know it.  It’s one of my more narcissistic habits that I’m ashamed of until I get started (and then I can’t stop).  But then again, I could go on and on about your hair too, probably.  Man, I reeeeally wanna braid someone’s hair right now.

In January of 2015, I had long, brown hair.  I would put it in ponytails.  I would curl it.  I would put it up in topknots.  I will never again complain about long hair simply for the fact that you can do so much with it.  I miss sleek, long ponytails that feel very fashion forward.  I miss pretending to be a Victoria’s Secret model (a nice little game to play with yourself).  But as is common, I had an itch for change.  Pinterest, friends’ haircuts, and trends will do that to you.  And sure enough, in either late January, Justin Kamm cut my hair into a lob and lightened it up as well.  I keep trying to make a permanent mental note that I ultimately don’t feel like myself with completely dark hair, but about every 16 months or so, I forget and then return to my senses a few months later.  It’s not that I hate it or think it’s a bad look; I just think the lighter bits are more flattering.



But then, on Friday, April 3rd, I decided to go for the most drastic haircut I’ve ever had.  By that point I’d known for about one month that we would be moving to Chicagoland, and something in me just needed to go for it.  I had always wished that I could see what my hair would look like short, but fear always kept me from making the chop.  I’d been comfortable and at ease with my long-ish hair that I’d had all my life, but I sort of came to the realization that it’s just hair (and not my identity), and it can grow back.  Moreover, I felt that if I can make the push out to the Midwest, I can also make the push to cut my hair.  It was time to face the unknown.

And so, once again, Justin worked his magic.



The cut was a bit of a shock for me.  I was in foreign territory.  I know it’s not the shortest cut you’ve ever seen (obvi), but it’s a funny thing when you suddenly become conscious of just how much you’ve been hiding behind your hair your whole life.  When you feel that breeze on your bare neck and reach back only to find nothing to sweep over your shoulder, you feel vulnerable and exposed.  It’s just your face sticking out there!  No long princess curls or beachy waves to toss around and taut as your pride and joy; no feeling of safety that Oh, I don’t feel confident about my face today, but at least I’ve got my long hair.  Nope.  And even while the cut may be a lovely expression in itself, when people look at you, they’re really not seeing all your hair like before (or at least that’s how we tend to perceive these things on ourselves).  There’s some hair, but what the eye now sees from the clavicle and up is pretty much just your face.

And with that, I found that when you cut your hair short, you really have to own it.  Like, you have to own the crap out of short hair.  You have to own it like it’s your job and like it’s the best haircut people have ever seen, even on days when you’re feeling unsure and you actually have no idea what other people are thinking.  You have to be intentional about it and go with it when it’s messy and when it’s styled.  In the weeks following the cut, there were moments when I felt so cool and so French in a way I’d never felt with long hair.  And then there were days when I sensed people were trying to backhandedly tell me that my hair was the most unprofessional, unkempt mess they’d ever seen.  And you know what happens when you own it both days, either way?  You love it.  You really, really love it.


Once the cut started growing out a bit, it really hit the sweet spot. It gained a little more bounce and I started finding my own way around it.  With short hair you discover that just the smallest changes make a big impact- tucking it behind the ear on one side, a change in part, flipping it all the way over the opposite side a’ la Riawna Capri and all the bajillions of LA-based platinum blonde mid-lengthers that she inspired with Julianne Hough (and yes, if you’re from LA and you’ve gone white-platinum mid-length and flipped your hair to one side, you can thank Riawna Capri for that – not kidding).

But sure as the sun rises, I came to find that the longer my hair grew, the more excited I would get about styling it.  I think I just love the process of growing it out and playing with it.  Even in writing this, I’m coming to find that when it comes to hair I sort of live for the journey.  In most things, I actually do try to live for the destination as I believe that a journey doesn’t amount to much without a meaningful endpoint, but with hair, I’m different.  With hair, it’s all about the cliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimb.



However, with the impending move, I knew that I’d need to stop by Salon 9 one final time for updated color.  I wanted to add more blonde, and in preparation for growing it out long I also wanted to even out the a-line so the back wasn’t too much shorter than the front.  And with that …


Blonder, a little more even, and ready to grow through autumn.  I loved the texture of this cut and I can only hope that it isn’t lost in the growth or by some poor hair stylist who gives me a trim out here and hacks it into oblivion.  That being said, I do have a couple helpers that have been upping my texture and styling game lately.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I’ve been using Bumble and bumble’s Thickening DrySpun Finish for a long time now.  It does basically the same thing as Oribe’s Dry Texture but costs half the price.  The scent is amazing (and I know, Oribe’s is amazing too) and it works as a hybrid of dry shampoo, hair spray, and volumizer.  I love it.  Their Don’t Blow It creme is pretty good for me these days, too.  It apparently doesn’t work well on hair that’s already curly or frizzy, but it’s pretty good for my natural texture.  A little scrunching helps, and my natural wave is enhanced without the frizz (or ANY effort).  And the R&Co Jackpot styling creme is what I use for smooth looks right now.  I bought this half-used bottle from a hairstylist at Salon 9 for five bucks.  I use it on blowouts or when I’m sleeking back my hair, but it’s also good for men’s styles.  Just be careful- the scent is nice but powerful, and too much can be a bit overwhelming.  I also continue to use Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist, but you’ve heard me blab about that on here before.

I’m excited to continue my growth process and see where the road leads me, but for now, I’m trying to enjoy my just-above-shoulder length.  Cheers to enjoying what you have!  xo, MR

Can we please take a minute to discuss the lie known as “beach waves”?

“Wavy” hair is a funny, nebulous thing.  What’s even funnier to me is the all-too-inaccurate idea of “beach waves”.  When I peruse the dark, anxiety-inducing caverns of Pinterest these days, I often happen upon a pin that will say, with all the confidence in the world, “HOW TO GET BEACHY WAVES!”  It’ll probably suggest something like Bumble&bumble’s Surf Spray, and the oh-so-simple routine of just twirling your hair up in a neat little bun (so simple!) while it’s still damp and a couple hours later … voila!  Beach waves!  On anyone!  Right?  Right?!  And of course, by “beach waves”, we all mean something like this …


OR we mean something like this …



Oh come on.  COME.  ON.  Given the ridiculously generalized and deceptively simple instructions women almost always encounter for achieving the so-called beachy look, you’d think we would’ve figured out by now that getting the kind of results pictured above is nowhere near as simple as some overpriced texture spray and a twist of the hair.  Now, for a very small percentage of the population, this routine can work.  I will confess that it can be mildly successful on my own hair at times, but it’s often hit-or-complete-and-disastrous-miss.  More on that later.

However, let me address something else about this issue that bothers me first:  the misnomer of “beach waves”.  When I hear about girls desiring beach waves for their hair, it turns out that they don’t really want the authentic, salty texture that takes over your strands after an actual day on the shore.  You know- that crusty, gritty feeling it gets from all the sand and grime that it’s picked up from the ocean that you pretty much want to wash out as soon as you get home (even though, as a SoCal resident, I personally love the feeling and the smell but I realize it’s just far too impractical and nasty to sleep on)?  Yeah, I didn’t think that’s what you wanted.  While the images I’ve featured above tend to be slightly more accurate when it comes to authentic beach hair, this tends to be what most girls have in mind when they claim they want beachy waves:

2008 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals

This.  This is what most girls have on their mind when they say they want beach waves.  Now, you may not be able to distinguish the difference between this picture of Bar Rafaeli and the pictures above, but Bar’s waves are much more polished than the others (or at least more than Kate’s).  Bar’s waves aren’t gritty; they’re shiny.  And while they certainly look pretty, I don’t think you could say they look natural (as in you could achieve the look without any styling or work).  While many picture this as the type of “beachy” look that they desire, I don’t think you could accurately call this “beachy” at all.  Honestly, there is barely a soul that comes off the shore with hair like this.  I prefer to call these kinds of waves “Hollywood waves”, or “Victoria’s Secret waves”.  This kind of style nearly always needs some kind of help from a curling iron (unless you’re Gisele, who is a hair alien, meaning her hair is not human and so it is alien hair).  Bar’s hair pictured here has most definitely been styled with a curling iron, and by no means was simply twisted up into a bun and left to dry for a couple hours.  So take a deep breath- most beach waves are, in fact, man-made.  And you know what that means?!  You can man-make them yourself!


Here’s my routine:  I start with freshly-washed hair, and I gently comb it through with a wide-tooth comb (and this is basically what I always do after a wash).  After applying whatever treatment I’m using at the time, I’ll either spray on some sea salt mist (which could be either actual salt water that I’ve bottled or John Master’s Organics Sea Mist) or I’ll run through a little texture paste with my hands.  If you so desire, you can run through a smoothing cream instead (but that ain’t beachy, folks).  I then let it air-dry, completely.  Sometimes this does, in fact, mean twisting it up into a bun with a scrunchy and letting it down in the morning (though it typically still isn’t dry by that point because the inner layers have been all twisted up and haven’t gotten enough air).  After it’s entirely dry, I’ll pick out whatever sections I feel could use a little help from my curling iron.  Sometimes it’s just the outer layers that need curling, and other times I seriously curl all of it.  I then just twirl one-inch sections around the rod (without using the clamp) and then sort of shake it all out for separation after I’m finished.  I sometimes like to finish it off with more sea salt spray to give it extra texture.  The results tend to be something along the lines of Bar’s look, or what I would classify as Victoria’s Secret waves.

Now, this works for me because my hair dries somewhat wavy on it’s own.  My natural texture tends to lend itself well to the overall affect.  This routine should also work for anyone else who’s hair dries straight (and it’ll just need more curling, and probably some spray with stronger hold).  However, for those of you who have hair that dries very, very curly- Not a chance.  If you were to start the whole process by twisting your hair up in a bun and letting it air dry, I’m not even sure what that would look like to begin with.  You tell me.  The only routine I could suggest to you for beachy waves would be blowing it out smooth after washing it, and then carrying on with curling from there.  But how cumbersome and time-consuming is all that?  My arms hurt just thinking about it. But hey, if you’re into it, knock yourself out.  But this is one of the things that irritates me about simple “how to” tips for styles like beach waves: If you don’t have decently wavy texture to begin with, it basically just means a lot of curling and heat styling.  And that takes work.

Welp, there it is.  If you’ve got any questions, let me know.  Most people tend to figure out their own way of achieving the glamorous wavy look, but as for the authentic beach look, and that oh-so-simple routine of wash, twist, and go (with perhaps a little sea mist), here’s what I get:

beach waves

Yep.  You can practically see the electric current pulsing through my veins.  But hey, this is beachy, no?  It’s grittier, it’s frizzier, it’s shine-less, and it’s got a little more of that zapped-by-lightning effect.  But hey!  It’s real!  This is strictly water, sea salt spray, and a couple hours of air drying.  And if I’m going for anything remotely close to beach waves without actually baptizing myself in the Pacific first, this is about as close as it gets.  Cheersies!  xo, MR

P.S. Oh, and might I add that most “beach waves” or “Victoria’s Secret waves” that we see on celebrities involve extensions?  Seriously, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show involves enough hair extensions to make a rope for Rapunzel down the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, should Mother Gothel generously choose to keep her there.  So next time you’re feeling sad because you don’t have mermaid hair like Alessandra, relax- Neither does she.