Tessa Thompson

Photo: Getty Images/John Parra

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If you want beach waves...

The tool for you: Curling iron, 1/2-to-1 1/4-inch barrel.

Why: The curling iron can give you the control to create the unstructured texture associated with beach waves, says celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson, who works with stars such as Tessa Thompson and Debra Messing. Although a curling wand might seem simpler, the result will be more like ringlets. Hairstylist Jeff Chastain, whose clients include Frances McDormand and Amber Stevens West, recommends irons that range from 1/2 inch to 1 1/4 inch for beachy waves, but go smaller if your hair doesn't keep a curl very well, because the tight curls will end up falling into the wave you want.

How to get the look: To keep the waves looking natural and modern, take the hair in 1-to-2-inch sections, hold the barrel vertically and stop curling before you get to your scalp so there isn't too much volume at the top of your head. Curl each section with alternating angles by curling forward in a section and then backward in the next section to make the curls look more natural, Gibson says. To complete the unfinished beachy look, Chastain adds, avoid curling the ends of the hair.