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The Beach Girls

By Amalah

Dear Amy Amalalala,
How the chuffing hell do you use this Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray stuff?
Everyone says it’s really good and I totally want beachy hair. I even like my hair when it rains because it goes all wavy and bouncy (am I weird?).
Anyway, I bought some Surf Spray and it makes my hair go crunchy. I didn’t even spray that much on but it still dries all funny and makes me look like I have a tragic 80’s perm which is growing out my ends are all frizzy and my roots are all flat. My hair is dead fine and wavy, this stuff should be the dogs right?
What is going on?
What am I doing wrong??

surf.jpgWhile I completely adore the Surf Spray, I admit it’s not the easiest product to work with sometimes. The whole point of the product is to add a bit of “grit” to your hair, aping that salt-and-sand crazy flyaway look you get at the beach. Soft silky waves and curls are just not what it’s going for. So basically: Yep. Your hair is going to feel a wee bit stiff when you use it.
But! For hair like mine, (fine, barely wavy, oily roots that require daily shampooing but dry ends that look better when dirty, like arrrrrgh) I am willing to trade off some silkiness for the look I can achieve with the Surf Spray.
And! There is a trick to the application to keep you away from tragic 80’s perm levels of crunchiness, which is a clear sign of overapplication of the product.
First, I like to wait until my hair is only slightly damp, bordering on dry. Using the Spray on soaking wet hair seems to dull the effects, which might tempt you into trying a second application, which equals Too Much Product. So I leave my hair wrapped in a towel for as long as possible.
Second, and this is probably where you went wrong, I DO NOT spray it directly on my hair. I spritz it onto my palms, and then work it through my hair from the ends up in a scrunching-type motion. I found that spraying the product directly onto my hair was too easy to screw up — I always got some on my roots (bad!) or ended up with too much grit on my top layers (also bad!) and poker-straight bottom layers (badbad!). I use about two pumps’ worth per side of my head (right side, left side, back), and then scrunch two or three times, making sure to stay at least a couple inches away from my roots.
This is me, uh, scrunching. And stuff.
Third, I wash my hands and continue to give my hair an occasional scrunch as it dries completely. Surf Spray is not a firm-hold type of product, so a little extra styling helps coax your hair into staying in the wavy formation. If you notice any patches of stiff crunchiness (I always seem to get one right above my left ear, for some reason), you can work out the extra product without completely undoing the style by kind of….just…poking at it with a wide-tooth comb. (Like this one, for example, although I’m probably describing a technique more suited to a pick, but we’re trying to avoid all Tragic 80’s Hair references here.) I also use that comb to lift my roots, since yes, adding grit does add weight to your hair. (You can offset this by using a root lift or other volumizing product on your roots before applying the Surf Spray.)
Now, I road-tested this technique one more time this morning, just before writing my response, and I’ve been kind of obsessively grabbing at and touching my hair the whole time, trying to get an objective sense on the crunchy factor. And I have to say, my hair feels pretty damn soft, actually. Softer than it has in the past when I’ve used the Surf Spray, but this morning I was being extra careful and deliberate, right down to the proper number of spritzes. So I think this reinforces the idea that proper application is EVERYTHING when it comes to this stuff.
Beachy tousled waves or bad 80’s hair? You decide.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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I just have to add, in the summer, or when it’s not too cold out, I leave my sun roof open when driving and my hair get’s that perfect wind blown look.
In the winter I use a hair dryer, but it’s not the same.

Keri G
Keri G

I occasionally use Surf Hair by Garnier Fructis. I don’t think it adds the “grit” that Bumble & Bumble’s does, but it does add lots of volume. I can do ANYTHING with my hair with this stuff in it!


I’m so glad you answered this! I had a similar question about the application of Bed Head’s Small Talk because that makes my hair feel gunky. I wondered if I was using too much or something. Maybe I’ll email this as a question so you don’t have to answer it in comments where others may not see it.


Kate — for the Small Talk, it’s the same deal. Slightly damp hair, combed out. Rub a little bit onto your palm, tap/rub with your other hand and then style by just lightly touching your hair. Almost like your using hand lotion to style your hair, if that makes a lick of sense.


Damn, that is some yummy hair. I may need to go out and buy me some of that product.


I love the hair! I think I’m going to have to try this myself. I am in the process of letting my hair grow out and it seems to do much better when I let it go curly.
By the way, I love your tile in the shower.


Oh, I used to use the surf spray and loved it. My stylist showed me how to do the twisty finger curls with it. I *did* successfully spray it directly on my hair, as did she when doing it for me at the salon. Anyway, now I live in Norway and have yet to see it- I miss this product!


I remember like, three years ago, my cousin writing me with this question–“How do I get beach hair?!” Now, I have curly hair and she has straight, but I practised on my roommates and the following method works as well–with the added benefit of extra volume and shimmer. Wash hair and come in a leave in conditioner. Comb with a wide tooth comb straight back from your hairline. Squeeze a dime-sized amount of John Frieda’s Gold Rush Shimmer Gel in your hands, and rub together. Now flip your head over and, starting at the back of your head, rub the… Read more »


Amy, thanks for answering my question about Small Talk in here! I bought a bottle of it a while back when you recommended it for my hair type, but it’s been sitting there mostly unused because I can’t seem to use it right. I will try some tomorrow morning. Thanks so much! 🙂