05/22/2013 02:40 EDT | Updated 07/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Sleek or curly summer locks: The grass always seems greener on the other side of the mirror

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Looking out the office window, wearing a tight, slick bun to go with that skirt suit and heels, do you long for the other side — the one where your hair could be tousled, wavy and full from the salt and humidity that comes from a day at the beach?

Seems so tempting — until you think about that time you caught yourself in the rearview mirror after your last beach day. Yes, the hair was tousled, wavy and full — and also full of knots and going in every direction. Wouldn't a slick bun or a good blowout solve everything?

When it comes to hair, the grass often seems greener on the other side, but, experts say, both looks require a little work. And both can look really good.

First, says Rachel Zoe, designer, celebrity stylist and co-founder of DreamDry blow-dry salons, manage expectations. "Your hair will never come out exactly the same twice. Embrace it."

Still, a good-hair day boosts confidence like few other things, she says. On the days her hair really matters, Zoe says she won't wash it. The natural oils in the hair will give it a better, more co-operative texture.

Ric Pipino, co-founder of Patrick Melville Pipino Salons, says bouncy beach hair in the city and slick city hair at the beach are both attainable using a flat iron.

To straighten hair: Make sure the ends of the hair are healthy or start with a trim. Blow dry hair using a flat brush instead of a round one, which will start the battle against frizz. Use a creamy smoothing product — another weapon against humidity.

Don't tackle too much hair at one time with the flat iron. You'll end up spending the same amount of time using smaller sections, and you'll only have to go over the same spot once.

Even with sleek locks, if you're wearing your hair down, consider curling the ends either up or down, which will seal the ends and keep them from frizzing.

Consider pulling hair into a loose braid or bun until you arrive at your day's destination. The longer the hair has limited exposure to humidity, the longer it will stay sleek.

Once those little curls start to frame the face, Zoe says, it's time to cave. Create a defined, sharp side part, slick the hair with product or water, and put it in that tight top knot. "I think it's eventually going to become the most popular style for summer."

To curl hair: Let your hair dry naturally, which will add texture, and then use a dry shampoo to create the "piece-y-ness that usually comes from the salt and humidity," Pipino says. Use the flat iron vertically to create loose ringlets.

Louise O'Connor, New York salon owner and brand ambassador for Black 15in1 hair products, prefers to mould curls of wet hair the old-fashioned way, spiraling them around the finger — also working vertically — and leaving them to air dry, which allows you to skip the heat that comes from the blow dryer or flat iron.

Work the top layer of hair only or you'll have too much volume — part of the problem of real beach hair, says Louise O'Connor, New York salon owner and brand ambassador for Black 15in1.

It's easier to keep this style on a warm, moist day, but you still don't want the weather to get the best of your 'do. You may also want to pull back the hair here, too, and just take it out at the last minute and run your fingers through it.

It's a lot easier to pull off tamed waves in Los Angeles, with its typically dry weather, than a humid climate like Miami or even New York, Zoe says, but don't let hair stress ruin your fun in the sun, no matter where you are or what you're doing. "I will wear a hat if I'm thinking it's not looking good. That with a sundress is summery, too, or that with a kaftan in the middle of July in New York City — I've been known to do that."