There is a case to be made for embracing mermaid hair year-round. We’re talking about those tousled waves that fall somewhere between crimped strands and relaxed curls. The new take on beachy hair was made popular on TikTok, where it has been tagged 15 million times, and its popularity aided by an effortless appeal. Because while there are a number of ways you can achieve the look, the easiest is using a hair tool designed specifically to style mermaid waves — a tool known as hair wavers or wave irons.
Hair waver tools are basically triple-barreled curling irons, featuring three equally sized, elongated barrels that mold your strands into that desired S-wave shape. Similar to an old-school hair crimper, your hair will bend with the plates as you clamp down while the heat locks in the shape. It really is that simple! “Hair wavers offer an easy way to create texture, with a result that is more natural and has a sea-swept, sun-dried vibe,” says celebrity hairstylist Jess Elbaum.
Keep scrolling to learn how to use a hair waver tool, then shop the best hair wavers for instant mermaid hair waves below.
How to Use a Hair Waver Tool
Celebrity hairstylist Ciara Constenoble suggests using hair wavers on air-dried hair to allow its natural texture to serve as the base, and she always recommends spritzing on a heat protectant spray before using any hot tool. Start by sectioning your hair, dividing it into three large sections: the top from hairline to crown, the middle, and the bottom around the nape of your neck.
After sectioning your strands, work your way around the head from the bottom to the top section. Holding the tool horizontally, clamp it onto hair for 20 to 30 seconds, starting at the roots and working through the ends, advises celebrity hairstylist Kat Thompson. “To create natural volume, clamp the hair waver tool a couple of inches lower than your part,” she says.
“If you want the waves to look more natural, clamp over big sections; if you want them to look more structured, work in smaller sections,” adds Elbaum. Different variations can also be achieved with different barrel sizes — the wider the circumference of the barrel, the looser and bouncier the waves will be.
The Best Hair Wavers Instant Waves
“This is my favorite tool to achieve beachy waves,” says Thompson. The fuss-free iron works on all hair types and is great for creating natural-looking waves via .7-inch barrels. Its crease-less design and tourmaline ceramic coating utilizes negative ions to seal the hair cuticle for smoothness and shine, and it comes with an adjustable temperature to further customize styling to your hair type.
If you scroll through the #mermaidhair tag on TikTok, you will no doubt see one of these wave irons. “Mermade Hair makes a few hair waver tools in different sizes for different wave patterns,” notes Elbaum. But she loves the 32mm PRO Waver for creating bigger, bouncier beach waves. The wider barrels heat up in just one minute, allowing you style your hair in a breeze, and the tool features multiple heat settings for better control.
For long-lasting waves that say defined and frizz-free, look no further than the CHI x Barbie collaboration. One Ulta reviewer writes, “I couldn’t love this much more than I do! The waves last for a few days for me, which is a huge time saver.” Titanium barrels provide even heat distribution for a continuous shape and prevent static while boosting shine.
“This is my personal favorite beach waver,” says Sarah Klein, a hairstylist at Nine Zero One. “The size of the barrels give you soft, beachy, boho waves that aren’t too ‘crimped,’ the temperature is adjustable for different textures, and it heats up instantly. It’s the perfect tool for the clients that want to save time styling or feel uncomfortable using a single barrel iron.”
If you’re all about options, consider this affordable pick that comes with an adjustable knob that lets you adjust the width of your curl, from tighter crimps to looser waves. It also features tourmaline ceramic technology on the heating plates to reduce frizz and promote shine, as well as instant heat recovery to ensure an even wave pattern throughout.
This three-in-one heated hair waver tool is all about versatility. Choose between a 1-inch wand, a 1.25-inch wand, and a waver, which are easily interchangeable. It features ionic technology for smoothness and shine, plus it heats all the way up to 450 degrees, making it ideal even for thicker, coarser hair types.
Not only do we love a good drugstore beauty pick, but we still haven’t forgotten the notoriety set in motion by Revlon’s cult-favorite hair dryer brush. This tool — a three-barrel, tourmaline ceramic-coated hair waver — is another impressive find. It features an extra-wide middle barrel to create a deep wave and natural-looking texture, plus thirty different heat settings, making it ideal for all hair types. Oh, and let’s not forget that it’s received a 4.2 rating out of over 11,000 ratings on Amazon.