How to Get TikTok's Viral Mermaid Hair, According to 3 Expert Hairstylists


(Image credit: @isabellatonan)

One of my favorite things is when I'm on vacation, and I've spent all day at the beach. My skin is warm and sunkissed, my hair is salty and wavy, and I've just woken up from a nap to shower, change, and head to dinner. I'll definitely wash the sunscreen off my face, and I might throw on some low-effort makeup, but I'll never touch my hair. Why? Because there's nothing like the perfectly imperfect texture I get from spending a day by the water. My hair might look tousled and windswept, but that's the point.

Until recently, I haven't had a name to call this hairstyle, but it looks like TikTok has come up with one. It's called "Mermaid Hair," and it's about to be everywhere. To be fair, it's already everywhere. Beauty editors, social media influencers, and celebrities are already trying this effortless trend. Learn how to get this viral look, regardless of your hair type or texture, with the help of three expert hairstylists. 


(Image credit: @lauranadineherbert)

Let's back up and talk about the elements of mermaid hair. It's all about soft, undulating waves or curls. The less perfect they are, the better. The goal is to look like you just came out of the ocean. The best reference is the most obvious one: Ariel from The Little Mermaid.


(Image credit: @britcorreia)

According to celebrity hairstylist Larry Sims, co-founder of Flawless by Gabrielle Union, you don't have to spend a day at the beach to achieve this look. "The mermaid hair trend is hair that exemplifies water waves, usually created with thermal styling tools," he says. "It's perfect for summertime. I've been seeing a lot of people incorporating colors into the waves, like blues, purples, and teals, to give it a water-esque look and feel to it. I've also seen some people incorporate double-strand twists and full locs, which makes them look really beachy and organic." 


(Image credit: @badgalrara_)

If you don't have long or naturally wavy hair, you can still get mermaid hair. Take it from celebrity hairstylist and texture specialist Sophie Rose Gutterman, who says this look can work for anyone, regardless of hair type, length, or texture. "Mermaid Hair means exactly that—gorgeous dream hair. I feel like this isn't specific to any certain texture." As she puts it, "Every girl can be a mermaid!" Keep scrolling to learn how to achieve this look, but first, see some celebrity references as inspiration.

The Celebrity Inspiration


(Image credit: @zendaya)

Zendaya proves that mermaid hair is worthy of the red carpet. Period.


(Image credit: @khloekardashian)

Khloe Kardashian wears her hair in mermaid-esque waves with small twists at the front.


(Image credit: @kyliejenner)

Kylie Jenner is also in on the trend. She ups the ante by giving her waves a wet-look effect. 


(Image credit: @lizzobeeating)

Lizzo's mermaid hair is perfectly undone, which is exactly how you want it.


(Image credit: @sofiarichiegrainge)

Sofia Richie let her texture shine while on a recent trip to the Caribbean. 

How to Get Mermaid Hair If You Have Straight Hair

Method #1: Curling Iron 

A heat tool will be your best friend if you don't have naturally wavy hair. "The best way to create mermaid waves is to use a curling iron as a wand and wrap the hair in different directions, leaving the ends out," Gutterman says. 

Method #2: Waving Iron

Sims recommends using a waving wand for a beach look. "Most people re-create this look using a beach waver with three barrels," Sims says. "You can also re-create this look by braiding your hair when it's wet and letting it air dry or using a curling iron in a synchronized manner." 

How to Get Mermaid Hair If You Have Short Hair

Method #1: Finger Waves

If your hair is short, you can do finger waves, which may be a bit more molded to the shape of your hair but can still give soft waves around the face," Sims says. 

Method #2: Extensions

Gutterman says it's possible to take part in this trend with short hair by working with your natural texture and using a curling iron to "perfect pieces while keeping the ends straight." However, you can always "take it to the next level" by using clip-in extensions. "I love Hidden Crown Hair Extensions because they are long from top to bottom and will instantly give you the length," she says.

How to Get Mermaid Hair If You Have Curly Hair

Method #1: Blowout Your Curls

"Wash your hair and blow it out to where it's smooth," Sims says. "Then, you'll go in and create the waves with either a hair waver or by plaiting your hair with braids. You don't want to wet the hair, but afterward, you should always finish it off with some oil for shine and moisture."

Method #2: Adapt Your Existing Curl Pattern

Second, you can do away with the "classic" mermaid waves and adapt them to your existing curl pattern. This is the method Valles prefers. "Instead of doing a blowout and redoing it to have the classic waves, I think they should embrace their natural curls," Valles says. 

Next, My Hair Has Never Looked So Shiny, and It's Thanks to These Specific Products

Kaitlyn McLintock
Associate Beauty Editor

Kaitlyn McLintock is an Associate Beauty Editor at Who What Wear. Although she covers a wide range of topics across a variety of categories, she specializes in celebrity interviews and skincare and wellness content. Having lived in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, she recently relocated back to her home state of Michigan where she works remotely. Prior to Who What Wear, she freelanced for a variety of industry-leading digital publications, including InStyle, The Zoe Report, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and Coveteur. Before that, she held a long-term internship and subsequent contributor position at Byrdie. When she's not writing, researching, or testing the latest and greatest beauty products, she's working her way through an ever-growing book collection, swimming in the Great Lakes, or spending time with family.