No, it wasn’t just you — almost every 13-year-old girl’s dream was to have hair like actor Sara Paxton’s mermaid character in the 2006 hit family film Aquamarine — blue streak included. Though it’s been exactly 15 years (!) since the movie hit theaters, the hairstyle still remains a go-to today, especially once summer rolls around. If you’ve never actually learned how to achieve the look — you’re in luck, as the experts revealed how to create mermaid waves at home in just a few simple steps.
First off, note that mermaid waves are a bit different than the typical straight-out-of-the-ocean beachy waves that reign supreme summer after summer. “Mermaid waves are a more sculpted variation of beach waves,” Jeremy Tardo, a Los Angeles-based hairstylist, tells TZR. “They differ from a typical beach wave in that mermaid waves have a more uniform movement in an S-shape. Beach waves give a tousled, undone, and effortless appearance, while a mermaid wave looks more finished and intentional.”
Ultimately, mermaid waves work best on hair that is shoulder-length and longer. But, that’s not to say those with shorter hair can’t sport the summery style, too. “There are so many hair extension options out there, [such as] tape-ins, colored, wigs, clip-ins, which will help add length so that you can create gorgeous mermaid hair even with shorter hair,” Sarah Potempa, a celebrity hairstylist and founder of The Beachwaver, tells TZR.
Ready to create the summery look for yourself? Below, experts share the details on how to create mermaid waves.
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Prep The Hair For Mermaid Waves
“Prepping hair is crucial if you want your style to last all day or all night,” celebrity hairstylist Jason Backe tells TZR. “Fully cleanse hair with your favorite shampoo and apply a product that helps protect hair from heat, like Brite Hair’s Finishing Crème that can be applied to wet or dry hair.” Another product option to protect the hair is Olaplex’s No 7 Bonding Oil, which celebrity hairstylist Chad Kenyon says provides UV and heat protection up to 450 degrees.
Additionally, how you allow your hair to dry before using a hot tool really depends on your hair type. “If you have naturally curly hair, be sure to first give yourself a blowout [before creating mermaid waves] to ensure hair is smooth and without frizz,” Potempa says. And she notes that if you have straight hair, air drying is the best method.
Pull Out The Hot Tools
Once your hair is fully prepped, it’s time to pull out the hot tools. Of course, you have tons of options on the market these days, one being The Beachwaver. When you’re using this device, Potempa says, sectioning the hair is key: “Take clean, even sections of hair each time you style.” Additionally, the expert recommends holding the tool parallel to the ground to avoid any kinks in your hair.
You can also create the style by using a curling wand or iron, according to celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble. “A trick that I often use and tell others to use is to twist the section while you wrap it around the iron,” she tells TZR. “Then, when you take it out, pull the ends to drag it down so the curl isn't so defined, and [it] gives you that loose, wavy look.”
Pro tip: Tardo suggests following a three-second rule when you’re using hot tools. “Only hold the iron in each place for a maximum of three seconds at a time to prevent excess stress and heat damage on your hair,” he explains.
Make The Mermaid Look Last
After all the work you’ve put in to get your mermaid waves, you’ll want to make sure they last all day. “I usually just touch up the waves with a flexible hairspray to hold it,” Kimble says. And when Potempa is done using her hot tool, she’ll finish off with de-frizzing cream or oil. For this, try Living Proof’s No Frizz Vanishing Oil. The product works to block humidity and smooth out hair.
There you have it — Aquamarine-inspired mermaid waves. Now, go comb the internet to find where you can stream the movie.