A Conversation with

Sage Erickson

When pro surfer Sage Erickson is in the water, she keeps her hair wrapped in a bun for good luck. But once she抯 back on land, she lets her surfer hair free. As one of the top female surfers in the world, her blonde beach waves have been molded by the waters of California, Hawaii, Australia and more. We spoke to Sage about her career, how she keeps her hair healthy in the sun and salt, and why she only gets a trim when the moon is full.

How long have you been surfing? How did you get your start?
I started surfing 12 years ago when I was 10. I grew up in a small California town called Ojai. I was raised in a coffee shop for 10 years, and my mom wanted a change, so she moved us to the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii. I used to play soccer, but it was such a change in temperature and humidity, so I wanted to be in the ocean. All of the friends that I made there were in the water all the time, and my brother surfed. He抯 three years older and has better hair than me without even trying! I always thought he was pretty cool, so I wanted to be like him.

What are some key competitions you've entered/won?
It抯 hard to explain how the competition works. There抯 a qualifying series and a championship tour, which consists of the top 17 women in the world. I抳e been on that for two years. I抦 in 13th so far this year.

What's your favorite place to surf?
Australia. The beaches are all white sand, and there are so many options to choose from. It抯 not very crowded and the water is so pretty. Here in California, because there are so many people, it抯 always really crowded.

You've surfed in a lot of places. How does the surfing culture in your hometown compare to surfing cultures around the world?
I really love going on the road and coming home to my community because they抮e so supportive of my career. A lot of surfers have come out of Ventura, so it抯 nice to see so many familiar faces out in the water. It抯 my comfort zone. When I抦 traveling, there are so many cultural differences卆nd there抯 jetlag. So, there is a sense of stability for me at home, and it抯 a place to regroup and prepare for the next event. When you live on the coast of California, it抯 a different type of lifestyle. It抯 very laidback and supportive.

What is your personal style philosophy?
It ranges from so many different things. I抦 really lucky to be able to travel around the world and see so many different cultures, so I try to choose a few styles from each place. I really love bold patterns and prints, but I also love the simplicity of a white v-neck t-shirt and a good fitting jean.

What do you like to do when you're not at the beach?
I work out quite a bit at the gym, and I love journaling and listening to music. Photography is a new hobby that I have recently gotten more involved in. I have two really cool Polaroid cameras and this film camera called a Rolleiflex. In traveling so much, I see so many different cultures梖rom the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor梐nd I look at it like a photo allows you to capture a moment in time that you抣l never get again. I love capturing that and bringing it home to share with my friends and family.

How would you describe your hair type?
Because I抦 in the salt water and sun so much, it naturally wants to be really wavy but also tries to be straight卻o I get this awkward poufy lion抯 mane that I try to tame. It抯 kind of extreme beach waves with some unnecessary kinks in it.

How has your mom influenced your view on beauty?
She has always been really comfortable in her skin, and she抯 never tried to be something she抯 not. She has curly hair and she embraces it. It抯 all personal preference, but she抯 always been a real natural beauty, so I抳e tried to take after that.

What's your definition of surfer hair?
Surf hair is that effortless grungy-sexy hair. It抯 kind of like you抮e not trying but you look hot still卼hat look of 搚ou don抰 care but it works. I think all the girls on tour have kind of the same hair. Because we抳e been surfing from such a young age, our hair has adapted to the lifestyle. For the majority, we抮e all sandy blondish. I抦 lucky that my hair is naturally blonde; my hair is already damaged from the sun, so I have to avoid any sort of bleaching or dyeing.

Is there anything you like to do with your hair to stand out from other blonde surfers?
I like to wear my hair longer. A lot of the girls on tour who like less maintenance have shorter hair. Long hair requires extra effort with products, but it抯 worth it.

You spend a lot of time in the ocean and in the sun - how do you protect your hair?
One of the most important things is to put in a leave-conditioner in before I go in the water. It leaves less of a margin for the saltwater to completely absorb in my hair. After I surf, I use a hair oil to tame my hair because it gets frizzy with the saltwater if there抯 not a local shower around.

What is the best hair advice to offer girls who spend a lot of time in the sun?
The sooner you can rinse the salt water, the better. I think that most damage doesn抰 happen when you抮e actually in the saltwater, but when you抳e gotten out and your hair is being dried by the sun.

How do you wear your hair while you抮e competing?
When I抦 competing, I like my hair to be out of the way. It抯 this little superstition that I have that I do better in competitions when my hair is in a bun. I feel more balanced on my surfboard when it抯 up. I put it up in a Japanese-style bun, real tight towards the top of my head, with leave-in conditioner so when I come out of the water and let it down, it dries nicely. Right when I get back to the beach after I compete or to do an interview, I like to take it down from the bun so I don抰 look like such a boy.

How often do you cut your hair?
I trim my hair every three months. I have this philosophy to only trim my hair on the full moon. The earth's gravitational force is the strongest when there抯 a full moon, and in the ocean's high tides and the low tides are so extreme. Because of that, I figure if I trim my hair on the full moon, it will grow faster. Since I抳e done that, my hair has been the longest it抯 ever been. It sounds crazy卋ut it works.

Who is your hair inspiration?
It ranges. I love a lot of Kate Upton抯 shoots lately. Maybe it抯 the blonde similarity匢 think she has good hair.

What are your beach essentials?
A cute beach bag filled with my favorite Oakley sunglasses, a really cute beach towel, a good leave-in conditioner and a good book. Right now I抦 reading Mind Gym, a sports psychology book. When you get to a certain level of competition, you see that winning is more than just your physical attributes, so any time I can get another edge, that抯 important. I抦 also a sunscreen connoisseur. Because of how much I抦 in the sun, I don抰 want that leathery, sun-spotted old lady skin by the end of my career. I see so much on the news about how many chemicals are in regular sunscreens, so I try buy ones that are organic and eco-friendly.

What's one item (besides your surfboard) that you couldn't live without?
My bible. On the road and in life there are so many different lessons, so I can always open that and make sense of a good or bad situation.

What are your top fashion tips for transitioning from the beach to going out?
Trade your flip-flops for a cute heel or wedge. I have a boot line coming out with my shoe sponsor, Kustom Footwear, later this year. It was important for me that the line had an array of shoes so you could easily transition from a really cute slipper/sandal for daytime to a cute ankle bootie with a little wedge to wear to the movies or out to dinner.

Do you find that eating well keeps your hair healthier?
I抦 a real big believer in food; I feel like it抯 modern medicine, and I do notice a big difference. I love olive oil, avocado, walnuts and almonds on my salads. When I eat those things, not only is my skin more vibrant and healthy but my hair feels that way as well.

You抳e had tons of publicity regarding your natural beauty. Has this changed the way you put yourself together?
Growing up, I was always such a tomboy. I didn抰 care about my diet or my appearance; I was a late bloomer to all of that. I started to take interest in fashion and the feminity that brings. I think when you start being attracted to style, you pick up on makeup and hair and it naturally started to be something that I cared about. Every girl likes to feel good in her own skin and to feel beautiful厀hen you feel like that, the sky抯 the limit. You feel like you can do anything. I抳e learned that the way you eat and the way you look shows through from the inside.

- JILLIAN RUFFO

Love it? Share it!