When it comes to our hair, we'd all like to be efficiency experts, banishing bad hair days in a flash. Now you can: The best way to keep your hair looking its best in any situation is to think like a pro and prepare. With a few simple styling techniques and some helpful tools and accessories, you'll be able to solve the most hair-raising dilemmas almost instantly. Here's how:
1. Need a polished look fast? Build up your accessories wardrobe. With just a small selection of headbands, decorative hairpins and combs, you can add polish to pixie cuts; bobs; long, loose waves; ponytails; and buns. Try this season's new looks in headbands: narrow and sparkly thin bands, or stretchy head wraps in festive colors. Find them at specialty stores, at drugstores or on accessory counters at J.Crew, Barneys New York and Banana Republic.
2. Locks gone limp? If you find that your fine hair goes flat fast, tweak your products and styling habits. Pantene scientists discovered that fine hair has up to 50 percent less internal protein than thick hair. As a result, fine hair resists holding many styles. To keep your fine tresses healthy and full, select products that are formulated to support your hair's delicate texture. Don't skip conditioner, but avoid the crown of your head when you apply. Add volume and lift by blow-drying roots with a medium or large round brush.
3. Want unfussy curls? You can set soft waves while you sleep, says veteran hairstylist Allen Edwards of Woodland Hills, Calif. He suggests pinning not-quite-dry hair into small buns or coils. Using 3- to 4-inch bobby pins, secure half a dozen sections of twisted hair into coils high on your head. For a firmer hold, pretreat strands with a thickening spray, styling cream, mousse or gel.
4. So your favorite look isn't working anymore? It may be time for a hair care audit, says Kristoff Ball, a Beverly Hills stylist who works with Gwen Stefani and Paris Hilton. Hair care products and tools are constantly evolving. Year after year, your hair also goes through subtle but steady changes in texture, curl and strength. The combination can mean your usual routines and products lose effectiveness. Have a detailed discussion with your stylist about whether it's time for a new look, a product switch or an update in your heat-styling tools.
5. Want to go from workout to work? Keeping your scalp and hair free of oils and perspiration is the key to reviving your 'do. That's why Ball keeps aerosol dry shampoo in his mobile kit. His technique: Turn your head upside down, spritz your roots from arm's length, and shake your head to toss out any excess powder. Then, use a vented brush to redirect hair where you want it. The same method also helps extend a blowout.
6. Need a fast, fun style? Do a topknot, says Tony Chavez, a Beverly Hills stylist. "Topknots are flattering to nearly everyone because they show off your face and make you look taller," he says. Here's the easiest way to get the look. Bend your head over, brush and gather up your hair into a ponytail at your crown and twist a large elastic band around the pony once. As you twist the band a second time, pull the ponytail halfway through so the ends are secured in the elastic band, forming a loop. For a looser topknot, just pull a few strands out of the elastic.
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