When did everyone get such great hair (and how you can get it, too)?
Cassandra Green – Body+Soul
More women are dusting off their blow-dryers and fashioning salon-style dos at home for a high-quality, party-ready finish. But there’s no need to go it completely alone – we asked top professional stylists to spill on their best tips for creating the ultimate polished DIY look.
Have you noticed that everyone seems to have beautiful hair these days? We’re not just talking shiny and healthy; we’re talking cool-girl waves and blowouts.
What’s more, people seem to be emerging from their own homes with these uber-glamorous styles. So, what’s that all about?
According to Matt Jones, the style director of hair agency EdwardsAndCo, the lust for hair tool-generated looks began as we exited lockdown.
“People were literally sitting at home with their hair tied up,” he tells Body+Soul. “Coming out of that phase, people are going places, being seen more, so they’re trying to replicate celebrity looks and things they see on social media.”
Monique McMahon, owner of Que Colour Sydney hair salon, has seen a steady influx of clients opting for cuts that lend themselves to be styled more often.
“The hottest trends right now are the ‘butterfly’ and ‘octopus’ haircuts. These are heavily layered styles that look best when blown out for full volume,” she explains. “Our clients need styling tools and products that are user friendly and effective.”
Here’s the gear – and the hacks– you need to achieve the look for yourself.
1. Start by reshaping your hair
Blow-drying hair from wet to dry and using a hot tool both aim to break and reshape the hydrogen bonds in hair, which respond to water and heat. Jones says that blow-drying simply offers the opportunity to get more volume into the hair, but both “seal the cuticle shut into the shape you want”.
2. Now prepare (or prepare to fail)
“Make sure there’s some kind of heat shield in the hair,” Jones advises, adding that moisturised hair – achieved with a hydrating cream or a mousse – will give you more shape. Consider a prep product such as a styling mousse for hold.
3. Know the heat your hair can handle
Did you know the “safe” temperature for hair tools is about 180 degrees Celsius?
“It seals the cuticle shut without burning it,” Jones explains. “In saying that, if you’ve got coarse hair, you can afford to go a little warmer. I would say never go over 220 degrees Celsius. That’s when you’re starting to roast it.”
4. Got curls? Choose your tools carefully
Try diffusing instead of rough blow-drying with curls. You can also use hot tools to add definition. McMahon recommends a thin curling wand, such as a 14mm barrel, to add extra bounce. “It’s perfect to support your curls after diffusing,” she says.
5. Layer your product, then layer your technique
McMahon suggests layering a mousse and volume-adding product into damp hair at the start to help retain your blow-dry. “Dry the hair in an old-school blowout with a hair dryer and round bristle brush, then double set it using a tong.”
6. Avoid gilding the lily when finishing
Don’t go overboard with products. McMahon recommends hairspray for hold, shine spray for gloss, or a matte pomade for texture and hold. “Invest in a product that will do a little bit of everything, like a lightweight hair cream. Hydrated hair looks healthier, and less frizzy.”
Salon style shortcuts
Matt Jones, style director of EdwardsAndCo, explains how you can create these classic looks at home.
The beachy wave
A large-barrelled curling wand or straightener will do the trick. “You can start by using a straightening iron and using a rocking motion back and forth,” Jones says. However, you can also use a curling wand and alternate the direction of each curl– one forward and one backwards. “If you pull down [lightly] on the curl when it’s hot, then you get a much looser result.”
Sleek and smooth
This requires a salon-quality blow-dryer, a good round brush and a straightener. “You want to force the air down the cuticle,” Jones explains. “Your [hair] cuticle is like a pine cone, so you need the air to go over the top of that, push it together and make it shiny. Then, glide through the hair with the iron to intensify the smoothness.”
You’ll need a medium-barrelled curling wand, around 32mm. “If you already have a thin straightening iron, similar to a classic GHD straightener, you can also try rotating this through the hair to create a curl.”
The future of hair technology
There’s no doubt that one of the companies at the forefront of hair-tool technology is Dyson. If it seems they always have a solution for something, Sandra Lup, the company’s engineering manager in research, design and development for haircare, says it’s because “we always start with the problem”.
The barrier that Dyson has addressed with its Airwrap – first introduced in 2018 and revamped this year – is heat damage. The multi-styler hair tool employs the aerodynamic phenomenon of what’s known as the Coanda Effect to whip hair around a barrel and blow-dry it into shape without reaching extreme temperatures.
What’s next? Lup says her team is obsessive about hair, and she is currently trying to harness powerful virtual-reality technologies to educate potential owners on the science behind the company’s tools.
“We can show people a virtual product operating in a virtual room, but using the actual product software,” she says. “It doesn’t get much more realistic than that.”
Do men really need a blow-dry?
In his years of working with male clients and models, Anthony Nader, founder of Sydney’s RAW hair salon and SSS hair retailer, says he’s learnt that “[men] want to feel special, as well, and why shouldn’t they?”
In the same breath, he says that men don’t want to look like they’ve just walked into a ’70s-era disco. Instead, he recommends “a quick blast of warm to hot air into the root area. The end result will be that you have more thickness to your strands – and who doesn’t want that?”
Say what? I have plastic in my hair?
You may have heard the bad rap about silicones, a plastic-like substance said to cause build-up in hair because the polymers are occlusive – meaning that with prolonged use, they stop oils and moisture from getting deep into hair follicles. So, should we be worried?
While many are still wary of silicones, Chelcey Salinger, a consultant trichologist at the Australian Trichology Centre, is in favour of them, and insists some silicones are “safe to use on hair”.
Silicone, she adds, is “more like rubber than plastic” and is a man-made synthetic polymer often included in hair products to create shine, reduce static and help retain moisture. She says build-up is unlikely if you shampoo frequently, and opting for water-soluble silicones such as dimethicone copolyolor PEG-8 dimethicone may help. “[They] give the benefits of conditioner without leading to dryer hair in the long-term.”