How to Achieve Expert Beach Waves, According to Hairstylist Adam Maclay

Anne de Paula.<p>Courtesy of Anne de Paula.</p>
Anne de Paula.

Courtesy of Anne de Paula.

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When it comes to hair, Adam Maclay is one of our go-to authorities for all things style and products. He has been a longtime partner of the SI Swimsuit brand, working with the team and the brand’s models to craft the perfect beach glam looks for photoshoots. Anyone who has tried to style their own beach waves can attest that a lot of skill goes into accomplishing the seemingly effortlessly chic hairstyle.

When Olivia Brower returned to the SI Swimsuit set for her 2020 photoshoot, Brower touched on their fun, playful friendship. “When I was invited back, I [said] ‘MJ, I just absolutely cannot do it without Adam [Maclay] there,” she explained playfully. “It’s been really beautiful to get to work with him.”

Maclay is more than just a hairdresser, he is a friend and an energetic addition to the team on set. Model Anne de Paula is another one of the many models who has had the opportunity to work with Maclay over the years. But her sessions with the stylist extend beyond just photoshoots. When the Brazil native married NBA player Joel Embiid in July of 2023, Maclay was the one to ensure her hair was more than fit for the occasion.

Needless to say, he is an expert at crafting the perfect effortless beach wave look, with all the volume you could ever want or need. That’s why, when the SI Swimsuit channel wanted to do an Amazon Live tutorial on crafting expert beach waves, the Maclay-De Paula duo was a great pick for the job. The stylist worked with the model to demonstrate both his process and his go-to hairstyle products, as well.

Below are the basic steps that he took in the video, as well as a few of the products key to creating the look.

Step 1: Prep the hair

There are three products that Maclay used to prep de Paula’s hair before taking heat to it. He highly recommended the following René Furterer products for their high quality and organic, natural ingredients. These are the ones that he used prior to curling her hair.

René Furterer PROTECT Thermal Protecting Spray, $35 (

A product perfect for reducing potential damage when applying heat. Leaves hair looking shining and healthy.

René Furterer STYLE Blow Out Balm, $36 (

Like the protectant spray, this balm serves to protect hair from heat while simultaneously reducing drying time.

René Furterer Style Sculpting Mousse, $35 (

This product volumizes hair and preps it for styling, and also leaves hair frizz-free and non-sticky.

Step 2: Soft curl using a flat iron

After using the above products, Maclay pinned de Paula’s hair up in sections in order to make the curling process easier.

He began the curling process using a flat iron. He took just a few of the under sections of de Paula’s hair and, using the iron, bent the ends of the hair back as he ran through the strand to achieve “a soft, subtle bend,” as he called it. Below is the flat iron that he used in the process.

ghd Original Styler ― 1" Flat Iron Hair Straightener, $179 (

A product meant for achieving sleek, shiny hair without all of the damage caused by most flat irons.

Step 3: Curl

Maclay tied the top strands of de Paula’s hair up in a ponytail before starting in with a curling wand. He took each strand and wrapped it around the curling iron in what he called a “rope effect.” After holding for 10 seconds, he released the strand and moved on to the next. Here is the curling iron he used.

ghd Classic Curl Hair Curling Iron ― 1" Hair Curler, $205 (

Like the flat iron, ghd’s curling iron promises sleek, lasting curls without the damage that normal curling irons usually bring.

Step 4: Comb it out

When he finished curling, Maclay went back in with a comb to brush out the curls and “really get that volume” back in the look.

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