Let's face it: We all love looking effortlessly fabulous, and that goes for our hair, too. And while the key to luscious, flowing locks is to take thorough care of your hair by staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet, and investing in high-quality hair essentials like shampoos and conditioners, scalp treatments, and hair oils, there are also a number of styling products that go a long way in terms of getting you the look you desire. One of my favorite hair products is sea salt spray, which I especially love using when my hair needs a little extra something.
But what is sea salt spray, exactly? Hairstylist and founder of Hair Addict Salon Michelle Cleveland explains: "Sea salt spray is a product that when added to the hair will mimic the effects of spending the day at the beach with a tousled, textured look." So, if your hair is feeling weighted down, a sea salt spray is the perfect solution for creating that effortless summer mane no matter what season we're in.
What to Look for in a Sea Salt Spray
Not all sea salt sprays are built alike and, as with all products, you should strive to find ingredients that won't harm or dry out your hair. "The active ingredient in most sea salt sprays is magnesium sulfate," admits Cleveland, "however, some better brands will also include more nourishing ingredients to protect the hair from damage." In particular, she highlights sage, balm mint, and yarrow plant as healthy ingredients that combat damage and dryness.
How Do You Use Sea Salt Spray?
There are so many hair product options on the market that it's difficult to understand when and how to apply each one. Luckily, Cleveland has the answers. She advises that when it comes to sea salt spray, users "apply it to wet hair, and let it air dry or blow dry it in. You can also add it after the blow dry for a more matte texture. I would, however, avoid putting it in your hair more than one time between washes, as it can make the hair dry and brittle."
In that vein, Cleveland warns that there are, in fact, times when you shouldn't use a sea salt spray. Consistent with the spray's goal of giving you that windswept beachy look, she says, "sea salt spray will add a gritty and matte texture to your hair, so if you are already experiencing over-processed, dry, and damaged hair, I would totally avoid using sea salt spray altogether. On the contrary, if your hair is stronger and can handle the texture, you can add it sparingly onto wet or dry hair to create loose, natural-looking beach waves."
The Best Sea Salt Sprays
- Best Frizz-Fighting Sea Salt Spray: OGX Moroccan Sea Salt Spray
- Best Sea Salt Spray for Natural Hair: Drybar Seashore Spritzer Wave Spray
- Best Sea Salt Spray for Dry Hair: R+Co Rockaway Salt Spray
- Best Organic Sea Salt Spray: John Masters Organics Sea Mist Spray with Sea Salt and Lavender
Best Stylist-Approved Sea Salt Spray
Cleveland says she "definitely love[s]" this option, which is vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and contains natural ingredients that protect hair from environmental damage. In particular, it contains Canadian-sources Cranesbill, which helps make hair shafts look thicker and more voluminous; yarrow plant extract, which protects and thickens hair; balm mint, which supports color retention; and sage, which strengthens hair follicles. These result in an impressive formula that Cleveland calls "one of [her] favorites."
Pros: vegan; cruelty-free; free of parabens and gluten; contains Vitamin C; expert-approved
Cons: expensive; contains sulfates
Customer Review: "This product truly does what it says it’s going to do. I have very fine, thin hair, and when I use this product, it helps my hair, feel, and look fuller." -R+Co
Best Softening Sea Salt Spray
Using a sea salt spray may seem scary for those who have curly or natural hair (which craves moisture), or for those who have struggled with dryness, heat damage, and frizz. "So many salt sprays make hair look dry and damaged when people use them on themselves," admits Los Angeles based hairstylist Clayton Hawkins—but he makes an exception for this lightweight product from R+Co. It contains castor oil, aloe vera, Vitamin C, and witch hazel, all of which support hair health for all hair types, including curly, coarse, bleached, fine, and damaged hair.
Pros: lightweight; contains natural ingredients; free of parabens, gluten, and sulfates; expert-approved
Customer Review: "I have a long bob, or 'Italian bob.' I have some wave to my hair but it needs help to actually look good and intentional. This stuff on wet hair, plus a scrunch gets me there. Using it when it’s already humid helps, but isn’t required. It has just enough hold without being crunchy like a mousse, but doesn’t feel greasy either. I can easily brush through it if I wanted to." -Dermstore
Best Frizz-Smoothing Sea Salt Spray
This is my personal favorite, and not just because I love the smell of argan oil. As someone with curly hair, I'm constantly concerned about whether products are going to dry out my strands in the long run or make them frizzy and tangled. Because this option incorporates nourishing ingredients like argan oil and sea kelp, though, I feel comfortable spray it in my hair to my heart’s content, and it quickly turns a lank mane into a tousled masterpiece.
Pros: affordable; editor-approved; gentle scent; expert-approved
Cons: contains sulfates and propylene glycol
Customer Review: "This is one of my absolute favorite products! This gives my hair the perfect beachy waves! It literally makes your hair look like you were surfing all day, I love it!" -Ulta
Best Subtle Sea Salt Spray
Marie Claire’s E-Commerce Writer Julia Marzovilla loves this spray from Odele, which is infused with sea salt and boasts a gentle fragrance incorporating cucumber, ylang ylang, and oakmoss. Marzovilla raves, "Most sea salt sprays leave my hair feeling really sticky and make it look oily in a second. This one from Odele has a really fine mist and actually gives my hair tons of texture without giving it a wet look. I love to use it after I've styled my hair for some extra texture."
Pros: works well on all hair types; works well on oily or thin hair; editor-approved; affordable; free of sulfates, phthalates, and parabens
Cons: some reviewers say it leaves their hair tangled and sticky if they sleep with it in
Customer Review: "Very nice. Not heavy. Not drying. Just the right amount of texture. Strongly recommend this. My hair is fine and it does not weigh it down." -Odele
Best Mattifying Sea Salt SPray
Chicago-based hairstylist Ryan Babbitt is committed to educating his clients on how to find the best products both short-term styling and long-term hair health. And he relies on this salt spray to give his clients the windswept curls they crave. Unscented and made to give a subtle, matte finish, the formula is perfect for those looking for a low maintenance look that makes it appear as though you rolled out of bed looking fabulous. Reviewers say that the bottle lasts for ages, but they do caution that when it comes to application, less is more.
Pros: effectively volumizes from root to tip; product lasts long
Cons: can make already-greasy scalp greasier and more acne-prone; expensive
Customer Review: "It brings out the most texture and and wave in my thin and slightly wavy hair." -Walmart
Best Easy-to-Use Sea Salt Spray
It doesn't get much more user-friendly than a spray nozzle, and this one dispenses a mattifying formula that’s infused with natural ingredients like Hawaiian black lava sea salt, for an authentically beachy look, and seaweed, which provides definition to curls, coils, and waves. Several customers write that it does wonders for their curls, while those with straight and way hair say that it revived their ‘dos on days where their strands looked especially limp. And at a price point under 20 dollars, what’s there to lose?
Pros: fresh scent that customers love; lightweight
Cons: contains sulfates
Customer Review: "I have very baby fine hair. I live in Florida with very high humidity which makes my hair straight. This gives me body and texture. Best product I have ever used." -Ulta
Best Sea Salt Spray For Short Hair
Don't be fooled by the name—this iconic spray works well on any hair color, from brunettes to redheads to dark, raven hair. The title is a throwback to the brand’s '90s counterpart, the O.G. formula that became a decade-long sensation because of its ability to create shiny, smooth, piece-y waves in even the straightest hair. Reviewers say that this product does wonders for short haircuts in particular, breathing life into bobs and lobs so that you don’t end up looking like you have a 1980s-era, toddler-style bowl cut.
Pros: volumizing; aids with greasy hair or scalp
Cons: strong coconut smell can be polarizing
Customer Review: "This spray adds volume and texture WITHOUT making it hard or sticky. After washing my hair, I let it air dry until it's just damp. Then I shake it and hold it at arm's length so it's just misting my hair and not spraying directly on it...So easy for my early mornings. I don't wash my hair everyday but this product keeps my hair so I don't have to use too much heat on it." -Walmart
Extra Salty Sea Salt Spray
Customers say that, when applied sparingly and appropriately, this product from fan-favorite brand Bed Head provides subtle lift without over-drying. It’s designed to make you look like you just left the beach or rolled out of bed (in a good way). The formula contains dead sea salt for a beachy finish with lots of hold, along with a styling polymer that allows for flexibility and individual styling. It also contains glycerin, which hydrates hair from the inside out. For best results, simply hold the bottle 10 to 12 inches from your hair, spray two to three times, and you’re on your way.
Pros: highly texturizing
Cons: some customers report that it can weigh hair down; contains sulfates; strong floral scent may not be for everyone
Customer Review: "Love it when my curls need and extra boost. This doesn't feel dirty like other salt sprays. This gives me the perfect beach waves in my hair and it smells amazing. It's not heavy in my hair." -Ulta
Best Sea Salt Spray For Chemically-Treated Hair
Many reviewers mention how wonderful this product smells (a huge plus for me, personally), writing that its coconut-infused, tropical island inspired scent makes the feel like they’re on vacation no matter where they are. But that's not the only quality to love in this formula— it’s also ultra lightweight, so that your waves and curls never look weighed down, and it’s formulated with wheat proteins instead of salt. This strengthens hair over time, making this option particularly appealing for parched, textured, and chemically treated hair.
Pros: color-safe; keratin-safe; vegan; free of gluten and silicones
Cons: can have a crunchy/sticky effect, particularly on thin hair
Customer Review: "I use this product for the hair volume. Just spray it on wet hair before blow drying and blow dry your hair with you head pointed downwards. Creates very good volume and stays for the whole day." -Sephora
Best Dry Shampoo-esque Sea Salt Spray
Joico's Beach Shake Texturizing Finisher works best on fine to medium hair. It boasts a heat-protecting formula that protects hair from heat tools (up to 450 degrees), as well as from UVA and UVB rays, pollution, and humidity. The spray dries quickly, is perfect for styling and scrunching, and lasts all day long. For best results, reviewers advise this trick: Flip your hair upside down and liberally apply the spray all over. When you return right-side-up, you'll look like you just stepped off a beach.
Pros: volumizing; washes out easily; works with curls and natural hair
Cons: can be sticky or drying for those with damaged or thin hair
Customer Review: "I am hooked. Very good product, does what it says. No residue or stickiness!" -Ulta
Best Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray
Curly girls like myself love this formula from beloved brand Drybar, saying that it gives them lasting, defined curls without any of the crunchiness or stickiness associated with traditional hairsprays. Plus, this salt-free formula will keep you from feeling dried out. While it’s made with curly hair in mind, it works on all hair textures and curl patterns, from pin straight to coily, and contains pineapple extract and sea kelp to strengthen hair and promote long-term follicular health.
Pros: great for curls; defining formula
Cons: strong scent
Customer Review: "No frizz, no crunchiness!! Just beautiful wavy/curly smooth hair that still had volume. No product compares." -Sephora
Best Curl-Enhancing Sea Salt Spray
This alcohol-free formula (hooray for hydration!) adds a significant amount of lift, according to several reviewers, and it combats frizz. It’s designed to enhance your hair’s natural curl and wave patterns, resulting in an effortlessly tousled look that will undoubtedly turn heads when you’re out and about. One top reviewer swears by it, saying that it makes her curls feel soft and healthy rather than hard and crunchy. Plus, it offers UV protection—something you’ll definitely need while spending time out in the sun.
Pros: free of alcohol and parabens; has a softening effect on hair
Cons: smell is polarizing
Customer Review: "I have very thin, straight hair and this has been one of the best texture sprays I’ve tried. Gives it a nice texture and smells amazing." -Influenster
Best Mineral-Rich Sea Salt Spray
Check this product out if you have thin hair and typically avoid hair products for fear of grease. It’s lightweight, doesn’t weigh hair down, and easy to wash out—so you’ll never have to worry about thick, irritating scalp buildup. Customers write that this cruelty-free option provides hold like a hairspray would and allows for easy shaping and scrunching, but it doesn’t leave any greasy residue. It’s also infused with aloe vera and lavender, which smell fantastic and nourish hair.
Pros: cruelty-free; gentle fragrance; revitalizes curls
Cons: some customers report stickiness
Customer Review: "I absolutely love this hair product! It keeps my curls nice and defined all day. Even on my second day I can just wet it down, spray, crunch and I'm ready for the day!" -Ulta
Best Hair-Protecting Sea Salt Spray
As I mentioned above, I love anything that smells good—it’s an easy way of boosting my dopamine levels when I’m getting ready in the morning, or when I get a whiff of my hair as I’m going about my day. For that reason, I've already added this product to my cart for its decadent scent of vanilla, bergamot, lemon, and almond. But that's not the only reason it's at the top of my shopping list: By multiple accounts, it gives unwashed hair a lightweight look so that you can look like you've gotten a fresh blowout without ever having to step foot in a salon.
Pros: pleasant smell; volumizing
Cons: intense hold, so some find it crunchy
Customer Review: "Hands down the best sea spray. No stickiness (important for oily roots)...Does not weigh down at all. Spray all over onto damp hair, flip, and do a rough blow dry." -Reverie
Best Ultra-Light Sea Salt Spray
If you have long hair and find yourself frustrated when hair products weigh your curls and waves down at the roots and top half of your hair, this is the formula for you. It’s lightweight, thin, and sprays on easily, making it great for fine hair as well. One customer affirms that it "does a fantastic job turning the waves into curls without weighing it down." It also boasts a 100 percent clean formula, with natural ingredients like algae extract, aloe vera, and coconut oil.
Pros: great for curls; lightweight
Cons: strong smell
Customer Review: "With Maui Wowie, my curls are much more tame. My curls have body and texture to them and look like I have spent a day at the beach. I like that I can use the product on my hair when wet or dry. The "beach effect" is more pronounced on my hair when it is dry." -Dermstore
Best Firm-Hold Sea Salt Spray
This hair spray-like formula has a litany of enthusiastic rave reviews, with one customer in particular raving that they "can't live without" it. Another helpfully adds that, because this product has such an effective thickening effect, it’s great for those looking to mask their thinning hair. For those who are simply looking for a styling product, this option promises effective, all-day hold that still manages to look naturally tousled rather than hard and plastic-like. Customers also love the smell, writing that it reminds them of days at the beach.
Pros: affordable; effective hold; effects mimic a blowout; combats frizz; cruelty-free
Cons: customers complain that the spray bottle itself is fragile and difficult to use
Customer Review: "Just the right amount of texture for the the messy curls look and my hair still feels good. And it washes out so easily. I love it!" -Ulta
Best Moisture-Retaining Sea Salt Spray
This USDA certified organic sea mist incorporates lavender and aloe vera to combat any dryness caused by its organic sea salt. The salt itself, meanwhile, adds texture, grit, and volume, closely mimicking the effects of a day spent at the beach while also absorbing excess oil accumulated in between washes (a godsend for those with greasy hair). It has a near perfect online rating, and is especially beloved for its "heavenly" smell and the flattering effect it has on curly hair.
Pros: organic; great for curly and voluminous hair; nice smell
Cons: too much can make hair sticky; medium lift, so not as suited for those looking for intense volume
Customer Review: "This is such a great spray. It’s super light weight and doesn’t leave my hair feeling crunchy or dry at all. The smell is my favorite thing about it. It lasts all day." -Macy's
Meet the Experts
Michelle Cleveland is a hair stylist and hair extension artist based in Toms River, New Jersey, where she styles for the Hair Addict Salon and Extension Bar. She has worked with a number of celebrities, including Christina Milian, and has also had her work featured on television networks such as TLC and the Style Network.
Clayton Hawkins is a hair stylist who takes a collaborative approach to creating inventive and relevant styles for his clients. Among those clients are Emma Roberts, Elizabeth Olson, Dakota Johnson, Elizabeth Banks, and more. Hawkins is currently based in Los Angeles.
Ryan Babbitt is a hairstylist with a passion for educating his clients about how to keep their hair healthy and well-maintained. Comfortable with both cutting and coloring, he is particularly enthusiastic about creating lasting, structured looks. He is currently based in Chicago, where he has worked for 15 years, and can be booked via the Klicked Salon.
Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things beauty, sexual wellness, and fashion. She's also written about sex, gender, and politics for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal since 2018. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.
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