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Seven Basic Skills of Hairstyling

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There are seven basic tricks you need to know that will make your hair’s upstyles come together easier and last through the end of the day. If you follow these suggestions, the seemingly-complex-but-actually-simple hairstyles featured on my website will be absolutely self-sustaining once you leave the house, and neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall bring them down!  Seriously. ;-)

1. Wet vs. Dry The first thing you have to come to terms with is the necessity of wet hair. Many of the styles require that you put them together while the hair is moderately wet (read: pliable). Furthermore, once it dries in the styled position, it will stay all day. Whenever someone comes to me saying that A.) “I just can’t get my hair into an upstyle” or B.) “It just keeps falling out,” my first question is always, “Was your hair wet when you styled?” It’s really that important … number one on the list.

2. Brushes vs. Combs Always style with a brush and a comb. The brush will help you control large amounts of hair, while the comb will let you to determine whether you want a clean or (intentionally) messy style and will be your tool for straight parting and smooth braiding.

3. Product and Supplies It will take time and a little bit of a (worthwhile) investment to discover which products work best for your hair when it is down, whether curly or straight. But when your hair is up, you simply must use gel. Just a no-frills gel will do.  (I use Suave Medium Hold; probably the cheapest over-the-counter product.) If your hair will all be up, then run a quarter-size amount of gel through your entire wet head before you start. If you are only doing a partial upstyle, just apply the appropriate amount of gel to the wet hair that will be designed, then blow-dry and style the rest at usual. If your finished look has flippies or sprigs strategically pulled out, make sure to go back over them with a tiny bit of gel to maintain your piecy look throughout the day, otherwise they will turn frizzy. Also, you will need to keep clear elastics and bobby pins on hand. The clear elastics and bobby pins (hereafter referred to as bobbies) work in different ways to give you hidden anchoring, while not distracting from the actual style.

4. Crossed Bobbies People often tell me that they can’t get bobbies to hold the weight of their hair, so let me tell you the secret! Bobby pins have a straight side and a ridged side. Take the hair that you want to control and confine it with the bobbies positioned in an X, crossed at the ridge. Believe me, my three daughters have the thickest hair, and this trick makes just about anything possible.

5. Placement There are tiny tweaks in the placement of ponytails, pigtails and buns that completely change the overall look. Basically, you can anchor them high (at the crown), in the middle (at the occipital bone) or low (at the nape).

And while we’re on the subject, there are two ways to place a partial ponytail. One way makes you look eight years old, and the other allows you to look your adult age, whatever that is. And I see it done wrong all the time, so let’s set the record straight, okay?

6. Partings  First, always make your partings straight. Even though you can’t see them, everyone else can. It’s just a matter of doing things right, and as far as I’m concerned, there is nothing tackier than a crooked, sloppy part. Second, start with your handy comb on wet hair combed in the direction that you intend to part. Comb through the hair, using the tip of the comb to make your straight line firmly against your scalp. While still holding one side of your hair tightly with the comb, use your fingers to separate the loose hair away. Then comb your other side away, keeping the part clean. This is effective whether parting out bangs, parting for a partial upstyle, blind parting the back for pigtails or angle parting across the head for more complex styles.

Once you master making a clean part, you can begin to use creative partings to add interest to your styles.  Just part the hair the same way, using the tip to guide the hair and your fingers to separate the two sides.  This zig-zag parting can be styled as is where the visual scalp makes for a dynamic effect, or you can comb your anchor to the back (as shown above in placement) to create a reverse basketweave effect.

7. Hairspray  After putting in the time to craft a fabulous style, always polish it with hairspray to ensure that you will still look your fabulous best at the end of the day! Again, I use budget-friendly Suave and it gets the job done just as well as Sebastian, Aveda or Bumble&Bumble spray.  (Clearly, they are not sponsoring this article…)  There are certain products that I do believe the professionals do better (Bumble Curl Conscious, Moroccan Oil Deep Conditioner, Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Shine Serum), but gel and hairspray are not among them.
I encourage you to stock your bathroom with the simple essentials (brush, comb, gel, hairspray, clear elastics and bobbies) and begin familiarizing yourself with the core techniques (crossed bobbies, partings and placement) upon which all good styles are built. And if you or your friends would enjoy learning some more skills and styles for yourselves or your daughters, join my website so that you don’t miss the fun!


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