So You Wanted Beachy Waves — and Not a Head Full of Frizz?

Ouai Air Dry Foam Review (buy it here

I love beach hair but I hate sea sprays. A conundrum!

This is my hair:

Honestly, it’s the worst. If I can stop it from breaking, I’m usually winning. (Here are the 14 products I tried to prevent breakage.) I try not to ask much of it. But! If there’s one time that I love it, it’s when it’s 30 minutes out of the ocean: just about dry, when all the salt has turned it into perfect mermaid waves. The problem, obviously, is that it’s impossible to recreate without going into the actual ocean, which would be rather delightful (“BRB, just dipping my hair in the turquoise sea”) if it were not so impractical. I don’t live at the ocean, and in any case, all that salt would eventually dry it out more than it already is.

ouai air dry foam review

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That drying-out factor, in fact, is why I can’t use most salt sprays, including Bumble & bumble’s Sea Spray, which — when I was but a young tot, sweeping hair at a B&B salon in San Francisco — I would carry around in my bag like it was the coolest thing ever invented (“Oh don’t mind this, just dipping my hair in these portable waves”). Salt, unsurprisingly, dries your hair out, and this (see: Anne Hathaway, above) is precisely what I did not need.

I had high hopes for Ouai’s Wave Spray, which contains rice protein instead of salt. Rice protein is supposed to act as a super volumizer for hair: “plumping up the hair cuticle the way that water plumps up a grain of rice” is how it was explained to me, though I have conducted no scientific experiments myself to see if this is true. In fact, whatever the expected results, I did not achieve them: Following multiple applications, in three of the four seasons, my hair got puffy (see: Anne, again) but not wavy. I guess this is a kind of volume??? On the last application, I did what for me is the hardest step of all: I let it be. Thirty minutes later, my hair still looked like garbage. For fine, limp, damaged hair (hello, that’s my hair), I cannot recommend this product. Next!

This brings us to Ouai Air Dry Foam, which promises “the perfect air-dried waves.” Now this…is actually true! I’m not sure what the difference is between beachy waves and air-dried waves — for me, they are the same thing — except these products delivered two very different results: As much as I wanted it to work, the Wave Spray and its rice proteins just made my lank hair even lanker. Air Dry Foam, however, separated all those lovely waves — and what’s more, kept them silky and separated for 24 hours: For my beat-up hair, that is a record. The application, of course, could not be easier: scoonch. I do it with dry hair — and what’s even more miraculous, there’s no crunch afterward, and none of that faux-wet effect. Just lovely, and possibly beachy, waves.

A final note: My suspicion with the Wave Spray is that my hair might in fact too dry for it, so I’m now experimenting with combining Wave Spray with Ouai’s Finishing Crème. Update coming on that one.