Testing: Beach Wave Hairsprays

Once upon a time, we discovered the most amazing texturizing wave spray around. John Frieda’s Ocean Waves spray was a saltwater-and-oil combo that cost about $7, was available in every drugstore in town, and turned our locks into a glorious, haphazard-yet-coiffed head of beach waves without the crunch. Then, much like most of our favorite television shows, it was discontinued. We didn’t realize this until visits to about 14 CVS and Walgreen’s stores proved futile — and a quick Google search confirmed our suspicions. A bottle of the stuff now goes for upwards of $80 on auctions sites, if you can find it at all. Lame city. Now it’s summertime, and I refuse to blow-dry my hair in my air-conditioning-free apartment (have you ever blow-dried your hair in a fanless bathroom on an 84-degree morning?), so I simply had to find something that allows me to whip my ‘do into soft, beachy waves in a flash. Read on to find out whose spray will reign supreme.

Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray

Price: $23 for 4 oz
Waviness: 4/10
Total Score: 3/10: Meh.

This tiny black bottle promised “light hold, matte texture, and a windblown sexy, sun-dried feel.” The sun-dried part is definitely accurate; a few mists onto my damp locks left my hair feeling pretty parched after a few hours. It smells like clean laundry, though, which is a bonus. And while the salty beach look is exactly what I’m after, this particular spray left my locks salty without the waves I’ve been pining for. Whatever magical ingredient was in John Frieda’s original concoction that made my hair soft and pliable was missing. And at $23 per bottle, my wallet was feeling like something was missing, too. Namely $23.

Frederic Fekkai Marine Summer Hair Beach Waves Spray

Price: $24 for 5 oz
Waviness: 7/10
Total Score: 8/10: Winning!

After dealing with a head of straw thanks to Bumble & Bumble, I was hoping for more from Fekkai. The press release promised “lightweight styling spray that, when applied to damp or dry hair, creates instant tousled, touchable, windswept texture.” I spritzed it all over my damp hair and set to scrunching as usual. The scent is great: light and somehow sunny. My waves were easy to achieve, looked great all day, and were soft without being crunchy or dry. Yahtzee! The price point is kind of a buzzkill, but the bottle would at least last through the summer, making the cost (just barely) justifiable.

Sedu Beach Beauty Sea Salt Spray

Price: $15.99 for 6 oz
Waviness: 5/10
Total Score: 5/10: Maybe in a pinch.

This stuff definitely wins the prize for being reasonably priced — but let’s be honest, it’s still pricey for a bottle of cheap chemicals like diazolidinyl urea and DMDM hydantoin, which are formaldehyde releasers that act as preservatives and are eye, skin, and lung irritants. It at least looks the most promising: It has the same oil-and-water look and slightly tropical scent as the John Frieda spray of old. After spritzing all over my damp hair as with the others, though, the results were mediocre at best. The waves I scrunched in just had no interest in sticking around, and I ended up deploying reinforcements (i.e., a touch of curl-boosting foam).

Have you tried any fabulous wave sprays we need to know about? Do tell.