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Styling Hair: 13 of My Favorite Salon Secrets

Tips & Tricks Your Stylist Won't Tell You (But Told Us)

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Get my favorite salon tips and tricks

Brand X Pictures for Getty Images


I've compiled 13 secrets on how to style hair that I've culled from the pages of magazines and from years of talking to amazing stylists. Let me pass the stylists' secrets on to you...

Secret #1: Yes, you can shampoo daily

You don't want to wash dry hair daily, but if you have oily hair, you absolutely can. Shampoos these days are gentle enough to be used daily, it's the blowdryers, flatirons and curling irons that do the most damage. So if you have super oily hair, go ahead and shampoo daily. Just try to let hair air-dry or go easy on the heat products.

Get the scoop on shampooing oily, dry, curly and normal hair in How Often Should I Shampoo My Hair?

Secret #2: Dirty hair is easier to style

Stylists prefer if you don't wash hair the morning of an updo. And don't be surprised if they spray dry shampoo on your hair. These help create the perfect texture for an updo. Keep this tip in mind when creating your own updos. Soak up extra oils with baby powder, which creates the same texture as dry shampoo but at a fraction of the cost.

See dozens of gorgeous updos for inspiration

Secret #3: Get runway hair with Velcro rollers

If you want real body, get yourself some Velcro rollers. Of course you need long-ish hair for these babies to work. But getting rollers to work on fine, straight hair can be a problem. Runway stylists know the simplest, non-fussy way to get hair to roll properly is to spritz it with a holding spray or styling spray and then curl it with a curling iron. The Velcro will roll much easier. Use a medium curling iron to curl 2-inch sections of hair before rolling hair in Velcro rollers. The new curl simply takes best to the Velcro.

See How to Create Soft, Loose Waves

Secret #4: Want Sexy, Messy, "Just Off the Beach" Waves?

Years ago I dropped by one of Manhattan's hottest salons to check in on what was then a new perming trend. I wanted carefree, loose waves and was wondering if they did them there via a perming process.

No can do, said the girl at the front desk, who just happened to have the hair I wanted. "Do you happen to perm your hair?" I asked, oh-so-delicately. She smiled and leaned forward to tell me her little secret. "Nope, I use salt spray. And I make it myself."

Fast forward several years. I have found the secret recipe to sea spray, which is The Secret to Beachy Waves. Here it is: My Amazing Salt Spray Recipe. You can also buy a great sea spray. I recommend Fekkai's 'Marine Summer Hair' Beach Waves or an old-school favorite, Bumble and Bumble's Surf Spray.

Great beachy waves advice:

Secret #5: You can give yourself a professional blow dry

Blow dry salons are popping up all over the country. For about $30 you can get a perfect blow dry that will last you a couple days to a full week, depending on your hair texture. But if you want to save money, you can get salon-worthy results by doing your own amazing blow dry.

A proper blow dry is a bit labor intensive, but once you perfect it, you won't go back to the salon for those $30 blow dries. Plus, I find I do a better job on my own hair than my salon does, at least when it comes to the blow dry. I hate pin-straight hair on me. I prefer lots of body and when I do my own hair, I don't look like a helmet head.

See How to Blow Dry Your Hair

Secret #6: Bangs are hot, just make sure you get the right bangs

There's nothing quite like bangs to shave years off your face or update a boring hairstyle. And the good news is that bangs are hot, hot, hot right now. I love the look of thick, blunt bangs and side-swept bangs

A very hot look right now are blunt bangs paired with long, straight hair. Sexy. Especially with perfect highlights. Not ready for the thick bangs? Try side-swept bangs paired with long layers. Layering hair with bangs works best because it's less boxy while allowing your hair to grow out without looking too extreme if you decide to grow out the trend. Just make sure your side-swept bangs hit the middle of your brows -- any shorter and you'll look dated.

See What Bangs Work Best for Your Face Shape?  and Why You May Not Be Blow-Drying Your Bangs Correctly.

Secret #7: Yes, you can go blonde or red

Some skin types work best with colors than others. Most olive-skinned women (think Jennifer Lopez or Linda Evangelista) can get away with any hair color: Blonde, black, brunette and even red. Women with pink tones have a harder time and can't get too drastic. But believe it or not, pink skin tones tend to work well with red hair color. As for going blonde, if you were fairly blonde-ish as a child in the summer, then you are a good candidate for going blonde as an adult. But olive-skinned girls with black or brown hair can look great blonde, too. Have a stylist help pick the right tone for you.

More on hair color:

Secret #8: Don't go long and blah

You know the look: Hair that's gone just a little too long, has no style and is just plain, well, blah. We've all been there (I was there earlier today until I visited Eva Scrivo Salon in NYC). What this hairstyle says to the world is "I am low-maintenance and can't be bothered with regular salon visits." This is fine if you aren't interested in making an impression on anybody and feeling fabulous. But it isn't sexy. Cut in some layers, add some bangs, get some highlights, cut your hair to shoulder-length, which is the hottest hair length of the moment. Just get yourself to a salon, pronto.

Get inspired with these cool cuts:

Secret #9: The secret to "piece-y" hair

You know the look you're going for. That long, wavy hair where the waves seem to fall in pieces. Some stylists swear it's in the cut. It most definitely is, but you also need the right product.
To get the "piece-y" look, you want long layers: Hair that's just one length simply won't do. Your stylist will also want to lighten the thickness of hair by texturizing. Texturizing basically lightens the load and gives hair needed body. Texturizing also gives hair thickness at the roots, allowing it to fall in sexy, soft waves.
Once you have the perfect cut, however, don't forget the product. A good pomade run through hair helps separate pieces. We like Kenra Platinum Texturizing Taffy Pomade. But almost every haircare brand will have a nice pomade.

See How to Get "Piecey" Hair

Secret #10: Buns are cool, just keep them loose

Updos aren't just for prom, New Years and Lois Lane. A loose, casual updo is a quick way to look pulled together. Simply finger-comb hair into a low, disheveled bun or knot and attach with a ponytail holder and bobby pins. And please, leave the tight, ballerina 'do for the dancers. Check out these photos of loose buns.

Secret #11: A temporary end to frayed ends

Here's a stylist secret courtesy of Marie Claire: When suffering from the nasty frayed endsies, hairstylist Rodney Groves spreads Kerastase Serum Nutri-Sculpt (a leave-in treatment) through dry hair, then blasts ends with a blow dryer. We recommend you put this product on your list and keep it around for those moments before every hair cut when we need help (and fast!)
 

Secret #12: Don't wait too long before color touch-ups

If you get your color touched up on a regular basis (about every 28 days) you may actually keep your hair from unnecessary damage. Not waiting too long means your stylist won't have to dye your whole head due to color fading. In the meantime, cover up roots with a home hair-color kit. Although there are great root touch-up kits out there, a regular dye kit will do you. And don't worry about perfectly matching, it's likely not going to happen on a salon dye job and no one will notice. Swap out the brush that comes in the kit and instead use a clean mascara wand (you can get these at any drugstore).

See 11 hair color tips only your stylist knows Secret #13: Shiny hair doesn't have to be genetic Stylist know the secret to sheen is to spritz or add a couple drops of shine serum. I like Bumble & Bumble Shine.

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