Hairstyling And Texturizing Made Easy
Successful Styling Depends On Hair Texture
We’ve been talking about hair texture and styling a lot these past few weeks, and now we’re finally at the last installment of the series: how to prep your hair just right to take any hairstyle to the next level. It’s important to have the right hairstyling tools and products on hand, but once you’ve got all the building blocks in place it is important to learn all you can about technique and method, which is what we’re going to do here.
Hairstyling is a very personal experience and not a precise science, which is why a particular technique that works for me may not work for you- and that’s absolutely okay. There’s no right or way to style hair- and that’s what makes the craft so wonderful. However, there are little tricks and secrets we pick up along the way in our years as professional hairstylists and they can make the difference between a ton of struggle/ unsatisfactory results and easy, quick and successful hairstyling.
Know Your Natural Texture
It’s absolutely imperative to know what we can about our natural hair textures: that bit of information will and should inform every decision you make about your hair, from the kind of styles and cut that will suit it best to the sort of products, tools and techniques you can use and the results you can expect from the same. Hair is classified into different hair types based on form, behavior, thickness, density, strength, texture, porosity and growth capacity.
You can read up on the characteristics of the different types to see which bracket you fall under- or you can have your hair professionally typed. I recommend the latter if you’re serious about hairstyling because it opens your eyes up to a world of information, options and smart, healthy choices.
Limited Products = Limited Problems
You might be tempted to reach for every bottle, jar and can sitting on your bathroom shelf when you’re styling your hair, but the most important advice I can give here is to take it easy. You can’t keep adding products to your hair hoping each one will do its own bit and contribute to your vision and it’ll all just magically pull together. Nope. You’re only going to end up weighing your hair down and ‘straggly’ never made for a solid style statement.
Think of it as mixing a cocktail with far too many ingredients: you can never quite tell exactly how it’s going to turn out; the ingredients may not work well with each other or may end up cancelling each other out or, at the very least, leave your hair smelling funky. The right product can help create magic, but you’ll find you’ll hardly ever need more than two products: something to give you greater control as you style and something to hold the look together when you’re done. Consider adding a thermal protectant if you’re using a heat styling tool.
Know Your Products
Each hairstyling product has its own unique properties and uses. You might be able to sub one in for another if you’re running but for the most part, hairstyling is about paying attention to the details. It really does help to learn all about hairstyling products, especially if you’re a stickler for perfection. You’ll be surprised to learn that seemingly similar products can have very different results.
For instance, if you’re looking to recreate a faux undercut or a slicked-back look, avoid using hair gels. Hair gels can be very heavy and may weigh hair down, especially if you’re creating height at the crown while flattening down the sides. Instead, I advise women to use hair pomades or even waxes- you’ll enjoy greater control and longer wear time.
Spare The Conditioner, Save The Style
It can be tempting to load up on the conditioner when you’re done washing- after all, who doesn’t want silky, lustrous hair? However, conditioners are thick, heavy products that can end up adding a lot of weight to the hair if they’re not used sparingly. Ever step out of a shower with the feeling that your hair’s greasier than before you went in? That happens when you use too much conditioner. It can be tough to get all the product out on the best of days (hello, scalp buildup) but when you know you’re going to be styling your hair afterwards it’s even more important to go easy on the conditioner.
Lank, greasy hair doesn’t respond well to blow dryers, heat setting, tools and products, which makes it nigh impossible to achieve a hairstyle and keep it in place.
My personal preference is to use a conditioner only on the ends: that’s where most of the damage occurs and you can get the tips to look shiny without weighing the roots and lengths down. Also limiting use to every other time helps. Using a conditioner according to your hair type is also a smart haircare choice.
Go Slow With The Straightener
Love to wear your hair straight and sleek but worried about all the damage caused by heat styling? Never manage to get it all homogenously smooth and polished? Here’s the solution.
Begin on freshly washed hair and allow it to dry naturally for about 10-15 minutes. Add a heat protectant and then blow-dry your hair straight. Use a paddle brush instead of a round-brush for a paddle brush. Using a blow-dryer before you reach for the straightener is like prepping for prepping when it comes to hair texture: it helps get the base ready before you actually get styling, which means less effort and more results.
Once that’s done, use a flat iron on one-inch sections, moving down the hair length very, very slowly. The bulk of the damage caused by heat styling is because of repeated exposure to intense heat at short intervals. Your hair needs time to recuperate in between styling sessions. If you work slowly and precisely you can get better results without causing your hair to fray and split like it will if you run the straightener over it five times in a minute! Instead of ‘coming back for a touch-up,’ just hold the flat iron in place for a couple of seconds longer than usual: the pressure and time will do the trick without reintroducing extra heat.
I recommend investing in a pro-level straightening iron if you style your hair straight on a regular basis: the investment is well worth the results, time and effort saved and protection against hair damage caused by heat.
Curling, With A Twist
Want the secret to Hollywood’s perfect curly-haired styles? It’s not in buying the right curling iron or using a curl-boosting product. It’s in a little technique that celebrates the fact that naturally curly hair is never uniform! Next time you pick up a curling iron, work in small sections and curl your hair in opposite directions. Clockwise and counter-clockwise. This creates a riot of natural-looking curls that will fall in the most organic fashion.
You’ll be able to try out a number of parts and styles and the curls will hold much longer. Just gently run your fingers through the curls once you’re done or flip your hair up and down a couple of times to create some natural movement. You’ll only need a touch of hairspray to finish off.
Spruce Up Second-day Hair
Stylists usually prefer to work in freshly washed hair because it gives us a clean slate to begin with. However, it can be hard to wash your hair every time you want to style it, which is why it’s important to know how texture works in second-day hair.
Remember, if you’ve already got some product in from the previous day, it’s still there in your hair. Adding more products will only increase the total weight of your hair, dragging it down and making it greasy.
You could use certain styling tricks to remove extra hair product, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
Know that you can’t exactly ‘brush out’ product out of your hair. At least, not entirely. Brushing is good for hair health but when you’re trying to keep your hair light, remember that brushing helps redistribute natural oils in hair and will do the same to the products you’ve got in. So, brush out any knots and tangles but don’t expect it to get rid of product and don’t follow it up with more product. Instead, redistribute the previous day’s products and see if your hair feels any greasier after brushing: if it does, it’s a sign you should completely avoid using anything new today.
Another trick is to flip your hair upside down and gently massage your roots. This helps redistribute any product that may have settled on the scalp. Flip your hair back up the right way and gently scrunch your fingertips through your hair and lightly pull them down the lengths. This will help re-coat the strands without needing new product.
Pulling off a completely new look on second-day hair can be difficult, which is why I advise going with beachy waves and slightly messy texture. Straightening out second-day, pre-styled and pre-textured hair is a no-no. Instead, use the previous trick to boost product usability and then use the cool shot button on your hairdryer and blast some cool air through your strands to amp up volume at the crown and set the hair. Curl the ends for additional body and movement and voila: sexy bedhead hair.
Keep Texture For Longer
Whether you’ve gotten your hair done at a salon or spent hours in front of the mirror, there’s nothing more frustrating than waking up to find all the fabulousness lost the next day. All that effort, time and feeling gone in a few hours? Maddening. To retain the hair texture you’ve worked so hard to get all you have to do is change a couple of things in your routine, that’s all.
Hair doesn’t fare well against friction, which is why most textures and styles fall apart quickly.
Whenever you rest your head against the pillow or pull on a hat, you’re creating or exposing your hair to friction, which creates hair static and frizziness and causes it to lose form. Friction causes the hair shaft to change physically- from simply getting roughed up a bit to actually tearing and breaking. This means you end up doing a lot of damage to your look while you sleep and if your hair is fragile anyway, you can expect a lot of hair breakage as well.
You can’t quite expect to sleep perfectly motionless and avoid friction all night, but what you can do is use silk pillowcases and bed linen. These are incredibly gentle to the hair and won’t cause the hair shaft to move and won’t damage the cuticles. Another good bet is to wrap a silk scarf around your head before you sleep.
Another way to minimize hair damage due to friction is to stop using terrycloth towels. It’s a serious haircare mistake, but one that is easily rectified. Opt for microfiber towels or paper towels if you can.
An old cotton garment can also be used to dry your hair without working up a lot of friction. Of course, it goes without saying that any texture you’ve created will be lost when you wash your hair, but these techniques do help to boost hair health and natural texture.
Adventures With Curling
Curly hair is beautiful when worn loose on its own but it’s also such a great base texture for all kinds of hairstyles, from updos to braids. If your natural texture tends to be straight or wavy, finding a curling technique that works for you can save tons of time and money when you’re passionate about hairstyling. Curling tongs are the fastest way to great results, but it’s good to have a few other tricks up your sleeve.
One of my favorite techniques involves is to braid hair and then run a flat iron over the braids to create lovely, natural looking kinky-curls in hair. The number and size of the braids depends entirely on how big or small you want the curls to be: skinny braids will give you tighter ringlets while bigger braids will give you loose waves. A texture-enhancing product like a sea-salt spray prior to braiding and a holding spray after you’re done will help really get the look and lock it into place.
Another great, seldom-used technique is to fold your hair into a loop and carefully press down on the same with a straightening iron. Hold for a long moment, then clip the closed curl onto your head and let it cool down. You can release it from the clip and let the curls fall as they may, or brush them out gently for Old Hollywood waves. It’s an effortless way of creating sexy texture and the best part is that you don’t need to buy a curling iron. Curling with a straightener lets you save on time, money and effort and the results are breathtaking.
Taming Tricky Texture
If your hair’s naturally very fine or your texturizing attempts have left your hair slicker than you’d have hoped, getting an intricate hairstyle to hold can be very difficult.
To tone down the slipperiness and/or add volume without weighing it down further, flip your hair upside down and spray just a smidgen of dry shampoo onto your scalp. Work it in with your fingertips and flip your hair back. You also get ‘volumizing/ texturizing powders’ in the market these days that work in much the same way.
Just remember not to go overboard with adding more product to hair that’s already proving to be a challenge.
Next, if you’re styling your hair into an updo or braids and the process involves using bobby pins, cover them in hairspray or dry shampoo first. Lay them on a piece of tissue, spray the hairspray or shake some dry shampoo onto them and then give the tissue a little shake to coat the pins evenly. This will increase the amount of grip, keeping the pins in place in the thinnest or slickest of hair.
Avoid Helmet Head
Learning to use hairspray properly should be one of the first items on your ‘styling goals’ list. Hairspray is an absolute must whenever you want a hairstyle to hold, especially if it’s an updo. But all too often, hairspray can end up giving your hair that stiff, artificial finish that takes away from your effort. How do you balance the desire for naturally fabulous texture with the urge to spray on ‘just a little more for extra hold’?
When styling, spray hairspray onto your hands. This helps tame flyaways and frizz and works the product’s holding ability into your hair as you go along. You’ll still need some hairspray at the end, but you’re also adding in a layer of protection each step of the way, which means you use less on the whole but get the same amount of support and satisfaction.