Do some pre-beach styling to really get those perfect beach waves — and sun protection, too.

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Beach hair: It sounds achievable simply by going to the beach while having hair. Or, at most, a result of mixing said hair with salty sea air.

But the endeavor isn’t quite so simple, leading some to do some pre-beach styling. This isn’t overly contrived — there are practical benefits, such as battling the UV light damage that can come with extended exposure to the sun.

“Treat hair like you do your skin,” says Jeannette Graf, a dermatologist in New York. “The sun compromises the cuticle, the outer protective layer of the hair and, over time, can make it brittle and dull.”

René Furterer Solaire Leave-In Moisturizing Spray, $23; Phyto Plage Protective Sun Oil, $30
René Furterer Solaire Leave-In Moisturizing Spray, $23; Phyto Plage Protective Sun Oil, $30

So pre-sun styling time allows you to incorporate hair protection that you may have otherwise overlooked.

Hats and scarves help (even better if they’re sprayed with a sun-protective fabric coating), but most important is using leave-in conditioners, styling sprays or oils with UV block. Also, woven hairstyles, like braids, hide at least some sections of the hair from the sun.

Hairstylist Lacy Redway is known for her inventive approach to braids, twists and upswept styles. Here she describes three easy sunny-day styles that are as Instagrammable as they are defensive.

Side knot

Graf recommends looser styles for fragile hair — hair that is bleached, fine or very curly. A loose side knot can also be easily tucked away under a chic wide-brimmed hat.

Before styling, generously coat hair with a leave-in sunscreen, such as René Furterer Solaire Leave-In Moisturizing Spray ($23 at renefurtererusa.com), which contains a chemical sun filter and moisturizers such as camelina oil and jojoba wax.

Pull the hair into a side ponytail, then divide it into two sections. Loosely knot the sections the number of times that suits your hair length.

“Pull a few strands out so the style doesn’t look restricted,” Redway says. “Your hair determines the shape and size of the knot. You won’t see anyone else on the beach with your look.”

 

Tie the Namrata Joshipura Braid Scarf ($45 at shopblushny.com) into a braid. (Isak Tiner / The New York Times)
Tie the Namrata Joshipura Braid Scarf ($45 at shopblushny.com) into a braid. (Isak Tiner / The New York Times)

Blended braid

Tie a scarf with long tails around the head, then Dutch-braid the fabric in with the hair.

“I wanted the scarf to show, so I made the fabric its own section within the braid,” Redway says. “There’s just two sections of hair.” Tie the scarf at the end of the hair, covering what is typically the most vulnerable area of the strand.

“When the hair is all woven in together, it’s not exposing every strand to the sun,” Redway says. “Plus, it’s more manageable. You can tuck it under a hat easily because it’s gathered together.”

 

Christine Sofie wears her hair in a twisted ponytail. (Isak Tiner / The New York Times)
Christine Sofie wears her hair in a twisted ponytail. (Isak Tiner / The New York Times)

Twisted ponytail

This style looks coolest when the hair is sleek and shiny, so coat your hair in a sun-blocking oil such as Phyto Plage Protective Sun Oil ($30 at phyto.com).

“It also prevents hair color and shine from fading,” Redway says.

Make three small two-strand twists on both sides of the head. The first set starts above the ear, the second set is at the earlobe, and the third is at the nape. Bring all six together toward the center of the head. Gather the hair into a ponytail and wrap the twists around the ponytail once (more if your hair is very long), then pin the twist in place at the underside of the ponytail.