Hannah Rochell has exhausted the beauty industry's offerings in the hope of creating surfer girl locks, but do any of the sea salt sprays stand up to the real thing?

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I love beach hair. I’ve been on a mission to look like I might actually live on a beach since I was a teenager. Back then, I was pretty close to living the dream, as I grew up on the Isle of Wight and we used to get proper summer weather back in the Nineties. My friends and I would dash down to the beach after the school bell at 2.40pm (don’t ask me why we finished so early - just lucky I guess!) where I would squeeze Jif lemon juice on my bleached locks and swim in salt water until I had a crisp barnet that could be scrunched into a cool, tousled style. I guess it’s because my hair is naturally brown and glossy: you always want what you don’t have, and I wanted hair like a blonde surfer chick.

Luckily, these days, brands have cottoned on to the fact that some of us want to look as if we might have popped for a swim in the Solent before work, and have produced a wide array of salt sprays to emulate the effect (I say emulate, if you look at the ingredients many of them do actually contain salt water, but we’ll come back to that later). I now consider myself somewhat of an expert in this field, having used pretty much every product on offer.

I tried  Redken’s Nature’s Rescue Sea Spray , £13.75, last summer, mainly because it smelt fantastic and I got so many compliments when I used it. It’s not the most effective of the sprays but it’s pretty good and lasted a really long time for a small bottle. Similarly,  Toni & Guy’s Casual Sea Salt Texturising Spray , £7.19, was good; not amazing, but I still enjoyed using it.

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I wouldn’t recommend  Label. M’s Create Sea Salt Spray , £12.95, as it’s too watery and the pump action doesn’t distribute the product well on your hair, so you end up with drips all over your clothes. A shame, as Label. M has some lovely products that I’ve been using for years.  TIGI’s Catwalk Sessions Series Salt Spray , £12.70, however is brilliant, but the best product I tried was  Bumble and Bumble’s Speciality Surf Spray , £21.50. It smelt good, it worked brilliantly, it lasted well and I’d definitely buy it again.

My hair always looks its best though, when I’ve actually been swimming in the sea. You can’t quite recreate it with a product. Not to mention that although none of these products are really expensive, none of them are completely free like the sea is. So, I decided to bottle myself a supply of Actual Sea. It’s BRILLIANT! I had a few teething problems with bits of seaweed getting stuck in the pump action, and managing to soak my jeans while I was bottling it during a particularly high tide, but the effect blows all these other products out of the water. It changes the texture of my hair from glossy to matte, it creates a natural bend without too much scrunching, and it gets better the more you play with it.

If you’re not lucky enough to have your own supply of Actual Sea and are using one of the products mentioned above though, here are my top tips for getting the beach hair effect.

1. Ask your hairdresser to f*** your hair up (this is the actual technical term my hairdresser uses!). By using thinning scissors on the ends as well as cutting in a few layers, my hair looks much more playful and less “done”.

2. Add some highlights. Lifting glossy brown hair a few shades changes its texture. I just get hand-painted highlights about once a year, and let the roots grow through for a relaxed colour.

3. Add extra oomph with either a hairspray (tip your head upside-down and spray underneath) or a dry shampoo on the roots.

4. Play with your hair ALL DAY. Give yourself regular scalp massages to stop that well-behaved straight hair coming back.