Beachy waves are hard to come by in the middle of British winter but can be even tougher to create with a styling tool. While there are endless tutorials for using hair straighteners or curlers to create that natural, tousled look, it often requires more effort and technique than you’d expect from such a casual style.
Thankfully there’s an alternative. Hair wavers come in all shapes and sizes, but the best share one common goal – to create quick and easy waves, no matter the length and thickness of your hair.
To find the perfect tool, it all comes down to the type of wave you prefer. Stylers with thicker barrels will create voluminous, loose waves, while thinner barrels are best for tighter styles more akin to old school crimping.
Like any hairstyling device, higher temperatures typically create quicker, longer-lasting styles, but there’s also the issue of heat damage to consider. The finer and thinner your hair, the less heat it requires to get the job done, so it’s worth seeking out a device with adjustable temperatures if you find yourself falling into that category.
Ready to ditch our limp lockdown locks, we tested the wavers on both thin and thick hair to find those capable of waves worthy of any mermaid. It wasn’t enough to give us good results – we wanted perfect, long-lasting results, worth the investment of a separate styler instead of making do with our existing tools.
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Amika high tide deep waver
Yes, the three barrels look intimidating, but we promise it’s way easier to use than it looks. Simply open the clamp and feed a section of hair into the space, close and hold it down close to the root for a few seconds, before moving further down the section of hair and repeating.
You don’t get any ugly kinks thanks to that triple barrel design and, as it uses ionic technology, it helps neutralise frizz. As you have so much control over the temperature, toggling it from anywhere between 50C and 180C, hair didn’t feel fried by the end of styling. With minimal fuss, we had perfect, textured beachy waves from morning to night.
Buy now £90.00, Beautybay.com
BaByliss deep waves hair styler
This styler is really straightforward to use, clamping hair down on an S-bend to create a deep wave. We then repeated the action all the way down each section of our hair, taking about 10 minutes to complete the whole head. It does get quite hot, but we didn’t experience any accidental burns thanks to the cool tip.
Especially useful is the fact that the back of the largest side is coated with a heat protected layer to let you put it down mid-styling without accidentally singing the carpet. This is definitely one for those with long hair, as the effects aren’t quite as pronounced on shorter styles. However, this wave held all through the day, and only needed a quick refresh at the back of our head the next morning.
Buy now £50.00, Boots.com
Mark Hill pick ’n’ mix loose waver barrel
The pick ’n’ mix styler is the most versatile styling tool out there. Once you’ve purchased the curl fix handle, you have the choice of 14 different barrels to create every style under the sun. When it comes to waves, our favourite is the loose waver barrel. This is a wide, rounded attachment, around which you simply wind each section of hair, hold for a few seconds and release for a deep, glamorous wave.
As these waves are quite loose — and they’re created at a maximum temperature of 185C — these aren’t the longest-lasting results on this list, but they did survive the majority of the day even without hairspray. For tighter waves, also see the textured and mermaid barrels, while the deep and glam waver attachments will give you more of a classic Hollywood finish.
Buy now £16.99, Boots.com
Mermade Hair pink waver
This triple barrel waver is pastel, cute and makes quick work of even the most stubbornly straight styles. The barrels are wide enough to avoid the awkward crimped look, but not so big that they turn waves to curls. Instead, the finish was a head of perfect, effortless waves to make any mermaid jealous. We did singe ourselves a couple of times, but that was our fault more than anything as the handle itself is heat-resistant and it does come with a heat-protective glove (which we recommend actually wearing, unlike our tester).
Buy now £54.00, Beautybay.com
Toni & Guy style fix waver
Compact and lightweight, this waver is perfect for styling on-the-go. Used just like any other waver, the plates are made with ceramic tourmaline to protect colour-treated hair. This is vital, as this waver gets very hot – of all the tools we tried, this posed the biggest risk of accidental burns. However, this did mean it styled hair quickly and gave long-lasting results. These results were, for the most part, a deep, loose wave, but there was a slight, noughties style crimp effect which some might want to avoid.
Buy now £23.11, Amazon
Beauty Works waver
A favourite of influencers everywhere, this creates beach waves on hair of any length or thickness, and can even safely style extensions. Used on small sections of our tester’s thick, long hair, we were really impressed by how neat and uniform the results were across our whole head.
Due to the waver’s size, it was slightly difficult to reach the roots or the back of our head, but it didn’t impact the finished look too much. The waves were tighter than we expected, considering the size of the barrels, but if you’re looking for something more tousled just brush through with a wide tooth comb after styling. You can also adjust the temperature between 80 and 220C, depending on your hair type.
Buy now £70.00, beautyworksonline.com
Remington PROluxe 4-in-1 waver
This waver prides itself on its ability to create four different types of waves. With an adjustable dial, you have complete control over the depth of your waves, whether you prefer them loose and beachy or more defined. All four settings deliver good results on hair of all lengths.
While we expected the more subtle waves to drop after a matter of hours, they lasted well into the next day. This is despite the lack of extreme heat — reaching a maximum of 185C, the device is less harsh on your hair than most of its competitors. You do pay the price of spending longer styling each section though.
Buy now £49.99, Boots.com
ghd curve classic wave wand
Working more like a classic curler than the other entries on this list, this wand is designed for loose, Victoria’s Secret model-style waves. Just wrap individual sections around the barrel, hold in place for a few seconds, and release. This barrel is slightly tapered, making it easy to use on most hair lengths, but we definitely found it worked best on longer hair.
While it only has one heat setting (ghd’s go-to optimum styling temperature of 185C), it set waves perfectly on thick and thin hair without feeling like it had wrought fresh damage onto our strands. We loved how natural and loose the waves looked, but as you have to shape them yourself around the wand, it can be tough to quickly pull together a uniform look. Those wanting a waver requiring minimal effort might want to try a multi-barrel tool instead.
Buy now £103.00, ghd.com
Bondi Boost wave wand
Bondi Boost is an Australian brand best known for its hair growth products, but its wave wand deserves just as much attention. This is another triple barrel design and although it’s meant for big and bouncy waves, we found it worked well on hair of all lengths. It gets hot enough to tackle each section of hair in about 10 seconds, with negative ions to help smooth out frizz. While we preferred the mermaid-esque waves after using the device on thick, wide sections of hair each time, it also does a great job of transforming smaller sections into a more crimped style.
Buy now £57.99, Bondiboost.co.uk
The verdict: Hair wavers
Easy to use and even easier to love, our favourite tool is Amika’s high tide deep waver. For more flexibility over the size and depth of your waves we recommend Mark Hill’s pick ‘n’ mix tool, which is also a great budget-friendly option.