When hairstylist Larisa Love isn’t busy running her own salon or globe-trotting as the industry educator for Joico, she finds time to decamp to Death Valley to style Lady Gaga’s dancers (“Stupid Love” teams blue and green, represent!). So imagine our surprise when this A-list stylist revealed her favorite tool for giving her highlight-kissed mane those sought-after beach waves: a $30 triple-barrel curling iron she bought on a lark from Amazon.

“I’ve literally been using nothing but this on my hair for the past three months,” the stylist tells us, whipping out her consumer-model styling tool and setting the heat to high. “Turn it up to the highest heat, because then you don’t have to hold each section in the tool for too long.” And that’s not her only trick for luscious locks. Here’s how to get beach waves in just five easy steps (and without setting foot in the ocean).

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1. First, Section Your Hair

Separate your hair into back and side sections, then divide those into two or three layers, depending on your hair’s texture (thicker strands will need more tiers). Starting with the bottom layer of one of the side sections, hold it loosely and place it into the curling iron. Pro tip: Hold the iron horizontally for the prettiest curl fall.

2. Open and Close the Iron

Love’s styling trick is to open and close the iron repeatedly on each section of hair. This goes against the advice of many stylists, who suggest keeping hair inside the iron as long as possible. “Keep opening and closing so that you don’t get a line in the curl, which doesn’t look natural,” Love suggests.

3. Work Down, Up and Around

Once you’ve waved one area, move the barrel down the shaft of the hair to make additional waves, again opening and closing the iron as you go. Then leave the hair to cool while you start waving the next layer. When working on the top layer of hair, start the wave at just the right spot—this is usually in line with your eyebrow.

4. Leave the Ends Straight

What’s the key to the ultimate mermaid-hair look? A crimped midsection of hair but ends that hang straight. So skip the tips when you’re waving. (As an added bonus, this means less hair damage.)

5. Finally, Add Dry Shampoo

As a finishing touch, Love dusts her hair with dry shampoo for body and movement instead of using hair spray, since she wants to keep her fine hair bouncy and natural-looking.

how to get beach waves Dana Dickey
Dana Dickey

What about the dreaded back section?

How does Love manage to perfectly wave the back of her head (aka the trickiest part of styling your own hair)? “Honestly, if the back is a bit messed up, I don’t really worry about it,” she laughs. “Because I don’t have to see it! Out of sight, out of mind!”

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