Circa about the age of eighteen, I more or less gave up on my hair. I wasn’t blessed with my mom’s thick, glossy Korean locks like my two siblings. Instead, I inherited my dad’s hair, which is baby-fine and despondent, characterized by will-they-or-won’t-they waves. Flat ironing, curling and blow-drying all proved to be more or less fruitless, as my hair would eventually end up resorting to its primordial state within hours. And also, I’m lazy.
Thus, when I discovered the early iterations of salt spray that started emerging in the marketplace in a serious way in the early 2000s, I was all. about. it. Like, to a detriment. My hair was just straight-up salt-crispy for approximately five years. A product that will make my unmanageable hair look intentionally unmanageable?! Give me all of it.
I tried the fancy stuff, the cheap stuff, the homemade stuff. But as I got older and experienced how your hair can change multiple times throughout your life due to hormones, I started to take an even more of a IDGAF approach. A few years back, I weaned myself off of salt spray and hair products altogether. (Well OK, not dry shampoo. Neverdry shampoo).
Which made me all the more primed and ready to fall in love with OUAI’s Wave Spray when a sample showed up on my doorstep a few months ago. Hello, old friend. You look good. You smell even better.
Everything I’d grown tired of with the old-school wave sprays is miraculously absent from this version; rather than turning your hair into something that looks passably effortless but makes an audible crunching noise when you touch it, it makes your hair super soft, yet still deliciously tousled.
The key difference is that OUAI uses a “specialty rice protein” rather than, well, salt, which they claim adds “hold and memory for that ‘just got out of the ocean and my hair dried perfectly’ look.”
And then there’s the smell. You can’t blame the salt sprays of yore for being soon the nose with the beachy scents. But wear it every day and people might start to wonder if you’re really just using it as an escape mechanism for your decidedly not-living-on-the-beach reality. OUAI’s version hints at tropical vibes with a touch of coconut, but it doesn’t overwhelm.
Just one word of caution: Don’t let that intoxicating scent trick you into using more than you need. To the point that the wave spray actually makes your hair feel softer and more nourished, too many spritzes can actually weigh your locks down and make them appear a tad greasy.
A full-size five-ounce bottle is $26 and travel-size 1.7-ounce bottle is $12. Snag it here.