With the holiday season comes the pressure to look festive. For hair, that often means an updo. The styles feel special, a departure from the everyday. But for those with certain hair – short, fine or very curly – upswept styles can seem out of reach.
Annie Rush, senior stylist at Eva Scrivo Salons, is known for her creative hairstyles for the bridal and gala-going set. (“I’m a go-to ‘hair-putter-upper,’” she said.) She says that with the right products and styling techniques, updos are doable for most hair types.
There’s just one rule: keep it simple. “Styles get tacky when there’s too much emphasis on making the hair itself an accessory,” Rush said. “If you can do a style with just three sections, it’s going to look cool.”
Fine hair: A jeweled braid
Braided hairstyles have a pastoral quality, but chains woven throughout this Dutch braid make it sophisticated. “Braids add dimension to fine hair, so it looks fuller,” Rush said.
First, mist the hair with a texturizing spray like Umberto Beverly Hills Dry Texture Spray, $9.99. “Texture spray expands the hair, so it feels like you have about a third more,” she said. “It also adds grip so you can braid loosely, which gives the plait more width than if you were to braid tightly.”
A thin necklace (beads are optional) is easy to work with. Options included a beaded necklace by Brow New York International and a non-beaded chain made up of two necklaces clasped together, both by Suzanne Scott Pepperdine. Do a Dutch braid (weaving the hair under, instead of over, as in a French braid) using medium tension and clasp the end with a hair tie. “As you braid, keep the necklace in the same section the whole time,” Rush said. “And don’t look in the mirror. The result will be more natural if you aren’t focused on perfection.”
Repeat on the other side, then crisscross the braided pigtails and pin. Loosen and widen the braids by gently pulling on both sides. Use a tail comb to pull out the necklace, creating a drape.
Short hair: Use salt spray and accessories
The bob and its longer cousin, the lob, are meant to be chic without much fuss. But as the holidays roll around, wearers often wonder how to add interest to the cut beyond a Margot Tenenbaum side clip.
For this twist-up, spray damp hair from root to end with salt spray, like Evo Salty Dog Cocktail Beach Spray, $26.95. Then flip the hair over and rough blow-dry, using your fingers to shake at the roots. “Blow-drying with salt spray will make the hair tousled and add a slight grip, so bobby pins will stay in place,” Rush said.
If the hair is still very straight, curl it in intermittent spirals by wrapping one-inch sections around an iron. Rake your fingers through to separate the curls. Leaving sections along the hairline free, gather the hair to one side at the nape of the neck, then twist up. Fasten the twist in place with hairpins.
The doubled-up hair accessories from Lelet NY, $128 and $248, add edginess to a simple, sweet style. “I love repetition,” Rush said. “We see it in accessories all the time: people wearing multiple earrings and stacking their rings. This is the hair version of that idea.”
Curly hair: An updated French twist
The texture and volume of curly hair give a classic style a striking upgrade. “With curls, you have to keep some of that free spirit,” Rush said. “A French twist is a really nice way to compress big hair, but you can leave bangs loose.”
Apply a flexible styling cream, like Oribe Curl by Definition Crème, $49. “This helps protect the hair from heat damage and will hold the style,” she said. If you need more length, blast the roots with a blow dryer to stretch out the natural spiral pattern. Curl the front of the hair forward with a small iron to create faux bangs. The goal is more polished than everyday but not overly done, so curl only every other piece.
To create the twist, use your fingers to smooth the left side of the hair tight against the head, then pin. Roll the right section inward over the left and pin. Rush repurposed a Lelet NY headband, $218, turning it sideways and sliding it into one side of the twist.
“Dainty pins and combs can get lost in thick hair,” she said. “Big hair needs big accessories.”