Mermaid waves are having a moment for summer 2023—here's how to nail the Ariel-inspired look

You'll think you're under the sea with these dreamy and effortless mermaid waves...

Zendaya pictured wearing a yellow dress with 'mermaid hair' waves as she attends the 93rd Annual Academy Awards at Union Station on April 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. / in a blue and purple template
(Image credit: Getty Images: Chris Pizzello-Pool)

Summer 2023 has truly been the season of 'Mermaidcore' everything—in no small part thanks to Halle Bailey's The Little Mermaid—with mermaid waves becoming the latest aquatic-inspired trend to sweep our socials.

Whether it's salty 'Mermaidcore' perfumes or blue nail designs, we're all desperate to be part of that world—especially with The Little Mermaid streaming soon. And while bob hairstyles ala Hailey Bieber and brunette balayage have been dominating the hair trends, mermaid-Esque waves are right up there with them. 

The style is effortless and according to Tyler Moore, expert stylist at Live True London,  waaay easier to pull off than you might think. So, for anyone wanting to embody Ariel vibes, here's how to recreate the beachy waves, according to a hairstylist...

Tyler Moore

Tyler is an expert hairstylist at Live True London, whose broad hairdressing experience lies within luxury and premium brands, creating high-fashion hairstyles for the likes of Burberry, Comme De Garcon and Vogue Italia. This expert know-how helped to formulate the FUL London range, ensuring products could hold up to the demands of luxury styling.

What are mermaid waves?

Before we dive into the technique, let's first explore what differentiates mermaid waves from any other wavy style...


♬ Candy Crush (Holiday Mix) - David Das

♬ Part of Your World - From "The Little Mermaid" - Halle

As we can see, compared to normal waves, the mermaid hair trend features beachy, water-like ripples, with the optional addition of cute sporadic braids and plaits. The look is texturized, but can also be adapted to a more liquid hair type of vibe and right now, it's taking TikTok by storm. The hashtag of 'mermaidwaves' alone, has over 63 million views to its name.


♬ Sex and the City (Main Theme) - TV Sounds Unlimited

Overall, the goal is soft and smooth waves, minus any frizz, which mirror the tide and would not look out of place if you found yourself, let's say, singing a love ballad on a rock by the shore...too much?

How to do mermaid waves, according to the a hairstylist...

So, how does one recreate these luscious waves?

Moore says to, "Start by washing your hair as normal, using the FUL Moisture Mask to hydrate your hair and keep it feeling soft."

Then, for those with a naturally wavy or curly hair texture and depending on your preference, Moore says: "You can either let your hair air dry or blow dry smooth. If your hair is naturally wavy, allow it to air dry to give that natural beachy texture." If you have a curly hair type, you could also explore the curly hair method to find the best routine for defined waves.

"When the hair is 70% dry, spritz through some FUL Styling Spray to help keep the hair soft and easy to manage when styling. Once dry, you can spritz through some salt spray and more Styling Spray to further texturize your hair and help hold the style without it getting too sticky. Add some small braids along your hairline, and voila!"

If you have quite straight hair or want more of a ripple effect, Moore recommends first blow-drying your hair smooth (as this will mini frizz when styling) before spritzing some styling spray, again when it's 70% dry—this will also make the hair softer and easy to style.

Moore then notes, "Once the hair is completely dry, section the hair into 1-2 inch sections and use a waver to wave out the hair. It’s important to use a waver on completely dry hair to limit damage, and it can help reduce frizz to blow dry the hair straight and smooth first.

 "Once you’ve waved the hair, you can use your fingers or a wide toothcomb to separate the waves. Spritz with styling spray to minimize frizz, add hold and softness."

Here's your step-by-step guide:

  1. Wash: Shampoo your hair as normal and opt for a hydrating hair mask, to cut down on frizz and boost shine
  2. Blow dry/ Air dry: depending on your hair type and preference, allow your hair to 70% dry (either blow or air drying), before adding some styling spray
  3. Curly hair: If you already have naturally wavy hair, apply some salt spray and scrunch the hair
  4. For straight hair/ or those wanting ripple-like wave: Moore says to blow dry the hair straight, to minimize frizz
  5. Section hair: Moore then recommends sectioning your hair, "into 1-2 inch sections and use a waver to wave out the hair. It’s important to use a waver on completely dry hair to limit damage."
  6. Separate waves: Taking a wide-tooth comb or your fingers, Moore says to separate your waves
  7. Spritz with Styling Spray and salt spray: to minimize frizz, add hold, softness and finally, texture.
  8. Braids: To finish, you can also add some sporadic braids to your hair.
Naomi Jamieson
Lifestyle News Writer

Naomi is a Lifestyle News Writer with the Women's Lifestyle team, where she covers everything from entertainment to fashion and beauty, as well as TikTok trends for Woman&Home, after previously writing for My Imperfect Life and GoodTo. Interestingly though, Naomi actually has a background in design, having studied illustration at Plymouth University but lept into the media world in 2020, after always having a passion for writing and earned her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ.

Before working for Future Publishing’s Lifestyle News team, she worked in the Ad production team. Here she wrote and designed adverts on all sorts of things, which then went into print magazines across all genres. Now, when she isn’t writing articles on celebs, fashion trends, or the newest shows on Netflix, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping.