You probably have a specific character pop into your head when you hear the phrase “surfer hair” — someone with a fresh tan, long and flowing hairstyles, and no worries. While this laid-back idealized lifestyle might be out of reach for most of us (especially those of us currently bundled up and battling the winter chill), that doesn’t mean your hairstyles can’t reflect the idea!
From the tousled locks of Jason Momoa to the “California Girl” vibe of Gigi Hadid, the surfer hairstyle is popular for many different reasons. It’s laid-back and effortless while still looking like a tailored style, and usually only requires minimal styling and upkeep to have it looking its best. You get a casual, everyday look that’s actually relatively low maintenance and easy to maintain. So while you might not be able to book it to Maui for a week on the waves, you can still steal some of that surfer style for yourself with the following tips for relaxed hairstyles.
First, let’s talk about the properties that define surfer hair, and the products and styling tips you’ll need to keep your style looking its best.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman: the key element of surfer hair is length. Essentially the longer your hair, the more “natural” looking your surfer hair will be, and it only gets easier to achieve the longer it is. So if you’re determined to get that Malibu look, try to grow your hair out as much as you can.
To really take your surfer hair to the next level, ask your stylist to give you some sun-kissed highlights or balayage. This will create the illusion of a summer spent in the sun, even if you’re currently bundled up head to toe fighting the winter frost. While you obviously don’t need blonde hair to get that surfer style (see Jason Momoa’s dark tresses referenced above), it does add a nice extra touch to make the illusion of beach life work for you. Even those with lighter hair might want to add some highlights to bring dimension to their hair, which will look vibrant and flowing when surfer-styled.
photo by @kennakunijo
A shaggy, layered cut is going to provide movement and flow to your hair. The shag has seen renewed popularity in recent years, and provides a solid base to the wavy, loose surfer hair look. Ask your stylist to cut in long layers to achieve your surfer style — using a razor instead of scissors is a simple way to get movement without the blunt edges that scissors can sometimes provide.
The right surfer hair products will add volume, and a light, natural-looking hold and finish. You don’t want your style to look stiff or too polished, or your beachy look won’t be too convincing. After towel-drying your hair, apply a few spritzes of a beach hair spray or mousse, then either let it air dry or blow dry with a diffuser attachment to boost curls and waves. If your hair is on the thinner side or lacking volume, applying a texturizing spray for fine hair to your dried locks will give you piecey, full-bodied hairstyles without weighing it down. For the full rundown on how to add volume to your hair, be sure to check out our blog.
Even though salt water and sun exposure have been known to dry hair out, you need to keep your hair healthy and moisturized to get the flowing, silky surfer haircut look of your dreams. Restorative moisturizing products for dry hair will hydrate your strands from the inside out, making it easier to style them how you want from the start. Check out our recent blog post “How to Moisturize Your Hair” to make sure you’re taking the right steps toward nourished hair health.
While we stressed the importance of letting your hair grow out to achieve the trendy surfer look, it can still look good on a variety of styles. Shorter hair usually requires a little more product and care to get the surfer hair look, but it’s still easily achieved for almost every length of hair.
Once you’ve achieved your ideal surfer hair look, you’re going to want to take the right steps to keep it looking its best. Keep your flowing locks happy and healthy by choosing a shampoo and conditioner for dry hair — these will help restore strength and moisture while fighting against breakage and damage. After gently detangling your hair with a comb, towel-dry with a microfiber cloth and let your hair air-dry whenever possible. And to keep your look preserved overnight (even if it's casual, tousled waves), sleep with a silk or satin pillowcase that reduces friction, frizz and unwanted breakage.
We may have many months ahead of us before we can finally get into summer mode, but a surfer hairstyle will let you at least enjoy some of the casual, happy energy of a beach vacation. The surfer lifestyle evokes laid-back and low maintenance living, and the surfer hairstyle is no exception. Just invest in the right styling products to give you tousled, voluminous waves, and see if your hairstylist can give you a cut or trim to help make the most of this look. And if you have other hair care or styling tricks that have given you flowy surfer hair, be sure to let us know in the comments below!
By Lauren Hannel, staff contributor
cover photo by @kennakunijo