Not that long ago I opened up and admitted that I regularly sport a look called “second-day hair”, which essentially means that I only lather up and shampoo on alternate days. The days I don’t wash it, I rock an assortment of different updos. But since I’ve only been sporting the long locks recently (this is the longest my hair has ever been, you guys. EVER.) I’ve had to figure out a thing or two about “doing hair”. Or at least a thing or two more than “wash, blow-dry, brush”, which represented the extent of my self-styling skills for the first 43 years of my life.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that I’ve always been a fan of doing hair. Other people’s hair. You know: when it’s sitting conveniently in front of you where you can see it and reach it? Without losing all feeling in your fingers and arms while trying to precisely tuck and pin this specific strand precisely there (on the back of your head) blindly?
But in terms of self-styling, I never made it much past the simple ponytail. That is, until Patrick (my awesome stylist who I trust implicitly) said, “Why don’t we grow it out a bit? You know, then you can put it up sometimes.”
So with the help of YouTube and Pinterest, I set out to build a repertoire of second-day hairdos I would be proud to wear. As with all new skills, there was a learning curve. A steep one, at times. But having made it through my first year of not-short hair, I’ve combed through (ha ha, you see what I did there?) a lot of styles, gimmicks and gizmos, and I bring you…my list of the five Best Hair Hacks that Actually Work:
- Be a tease!
No matter how much product you use, if you have straight, fine hair like I do, you’ll need to master the skill of backcombing. And ironically, the best tool for backcombing is not, in fact, a comb. It’s a brush. It’ll cut your teasing time in half (at least!)I tried this “best backcombing comb EVER” and well, it wasn’t.
Straight-haired gals like me need a backcombing brush, if we want to get the job done inside of a week.
- Sock it to ’em (but not really).
Although I feel I should preface this by telling you never to use an actual sock when making a sock bun. It might work if you have a hugely long, thick mane of hair that will stay where you tuck it (i.e. into a rolled up sock with the toe cut off), but if you need to use hairpins (or more specifically, bun pins) then you won’t be able to rock a sock bun without a bun builder. I first found out about bun builders when my daughters were in ballet and preparing for their Royal College of Dance exams. Bun builders look like a cross between a donut and a dish scrubber, but they hold fine hair in place like nobody’s business and you can stick roughly 427 bun pins into them. They’re now widely available (and for less) at any drug store or girlie-girl accessory store in various sizes and colours to match the amount and colour of your hair.
This french knot at the nape of the neck is the ultimate in classy, sophisticated and sexy updos. But so painfully hard to figure out! I had so many failed attempts at chignons that I started to lose count (and hope). I’d start the day with a tightly knotted chignon, but soon enough I’d be raining hairpins and before lunch all I had left was a saggy, dispirited low ponytail. #chignonfail. But the day I saw this how-to on Pinterest it was like I could hear the hair angels singing from on high (strangely they sounded a bit like Frankie Avalon). This. Zees is how we do zee chignon, non?
- Pin-up, Girl!
20-something style diva bloggers are all like, “you can get these rad loose curls just by rolling your hair in little buns and pinning them down before you go to sleep!” Yeah. They’re called pin curls, girls, and they’ve been around for – oh, about a hundred years now. (But whatever. I don’t know why I get my kickers in a knot over people who think “vwala!” is a word.)
But I digress. Us straight-haired gals are always looking for ways to coerce our poker-like locks into sexy waves, and one of the best ways to do it is to sleep-set it. Enter the pin curl. Twist damp tresses into curls and pin them against your head before bed. Remove the pins and finger-comb the next morning and voilà! Super sexy waves that will last all day long.
- Straighten up young lady!
Or not. I mean yes: flat irons are da bomb for smoothing and straightening and achieving that impossibly-straight look. But they can be used to create incredible curls and waves as well. There are a number of different techniques out there: finger curls, hair-twisting and flat iron rolling. I’ve tried them all and, in my humble opinion, they each work to a degree, but rolling the flat iron as you pull it through your hair works best and lasts longest, outlasting even curling-iron curls. So pretty…
But no matter which technique you go for, make sure you invest in a high-temperature iron with ceramic or tourmaline plates. You might want to consider buying yours at your salon (I got mine on Groupon for about 1/3 the usual price). Cheaper department store irons don’t heat up enough (you want 360 degrees or higher) and that means your curls won’t hold.Well…there you have it. Five hair hacks that actually work. Enjoy!