When it comes to finishing hair well, many experts say that the most important step is focusing on how you start. After all, the planning and preparation for any finished look begins when the client sits in your chair, so envisioning each step of the process is essential.
Whether your end goal is a stellar blow-dry or beachy waves, finishing is not only akin to adding a signature to your work by including a personal touch, it also elevates your client’s look and brings it together as a “finished” style.
“It’s adding value to your work, which is everything,” says Emmanuelle Campolieti, a Montreal-based hairstylist and artistic team member for Moroccanoil. “If a stylist does a beautiful balayage, the colour will be nice, but if you finish it with a beautiful blow-dry, apply a nice shine product and add some volume and waves, it makes the whole look 100 per cent better.”
From prepping and planning to styling with various tools and products, a lot of thought goes into finishing hair, so we’re breaking it down for you by the finished look you (and your client) will want to achieve this season.
The “Finishing” Touches
Award-winning Australian hairstylist and educator Sharon Blain compares the need for finishing hair to decorating a room: “You can paint a room and put furniture in, but it’s those finishing touches that are important.”
When finishing hair, she takes many things into consideration, such as face shape, hair direction, washing, sectioning and creating a focal point. But the one factor that is non- negotiable is the use of high- quality tools. “You need to invest in the best equipment possible to get a premium result,” says Blain, adding that she follows a combination of several tips and tricks to always get the perfect finished look, no matter what her client’s goals are.
According to Toronto-based hairstylist and salon owner Donna Dolphy, finishing is your signature, which is a huge selling point for stylists. “It makes clients feel amazing and gives them a complete and finished look that makes them look like a million dollars,” she says. “It’s like the icing on a cake.”
“EVERY HAIRSTYLIST AT ONE POINT IN THEIR CAREER WANTS TO HAVE THAT SIGNATURE WHERE PEOPLE JUST LOOK AT A PICTURE AND KNOW IT’S THEIR WORK.”– EMMANUELLE CAMPOLIETI, MONTREAL-BASED HAIRSTYLIST AND ARTISTIC TEAM MEMBER FOR MOROCCANOIL
In fact, Dolphy is so passionate about finishing that she created her own technique. “I developed ‘Blow Dry Non-Kissing (aka. Non- Kissing Blow Dry) to give a much longer lasting effect than a curling iron,” she says. “I also don’t damage hair fibre with this technique as it respects the integrity of the hair. The hair passes through the brush and blow dryer, which creates an oxidation that preserves elasticity in the hair fibres. My technique makes the hair dance, shine and bounce without burning it.”
Sleek and Straight
If you want to create a very polished and sleek ponytail, Campolieti suggests making sure you have the right products to achieve the look, and to first understand the texture of your client’s hair. “I must make sure the cuticle of the hair is very polished and smooth while still finishing some shine in it.”
As for Blain, she advises against combing the hair once the ponytail is in the hair.“To get a perfect, sleek finish around the hairline, place the metal end of a tail comb at the hairline, lift it slightly and slip the tail back to the pony,” she says. “Repeat this technique all around the hairline. It will help smooth out any imperfections.”
While styling is a big part of finishing, so is the prep. When Dolphy’s client wants to achieve a smooth finish, she’ll adapt her signature blow dry technique by starting with a smoothing shampoo and conditioner. She may also add in a leave-in conditioner or deep treatment to create extra moisture and smoothness within the hair fibre.
“I’ll condition from root to end so everything is smooth and then comb through,” she says. She’ll also go in with a smoothing product before sectioning the hair, and says it’s important to keep the ends locked into the brush. With her non-kiss blow drying technique, she never touches the blow dryer to the hair in order to achieve a bouncier, shinier and longer- lasting effect and finish.
According to Campolieti,if you want to have a very polished, textured look with a lot of volume, you’re not going to achieve it by using hairspray. “If you want it to feel effortless but you’re working with tons of hairspray, you’re not going to have the feeling you want because hairspray is very sticky,” she says. “If you want that effortless flowy vibe, you can use a texture spray or something a bit more volatile.”
While Campolieti uses different products and styling techniques depending on the look she is finishing, Dolphy adjusts her blow-dry technique, which is great for clients with finer hair who want to achieve a voluminous look.
“I’ll begin with a volume shampoo and volume conditioner and I’ll only put the conditioner on the ends that are porous and need moisture, and not at the roots,” says Dolphy. “If I put it on the root, it’ll get too silky and will prevent it from getting volume.”
Waves and Curls
When it comes to finishing wavy or curly hair, Campolieti says she chooses products depending on what she needs to achieve and where she wants the hair to go. If the technique is for waves, she needs to determine the type of curling iron to use and create. “A great hairstylist should be able to determine what products, what tools and what techniques to use for any given style,” she says.
While there are many different ways to achieve wavy looks, Blain’s technique takes a more old-school approach. “Old-fashioned wave clips are the perfect way to help strengthen wave movements when a 1940s look is required since they can be used if a flat-scalped wave is desired,” she says. “For a softer, more modern wave, wave clips can also be used to enhance a hot roller or tong set. When using wave clips, place the top of the clip into the top ridge of the wave, then clip the bottom half under the ridge. Spray with a medium hair spray and allow to dry before carefully removing the clips.”
As for curls, Blain has mastered the perfect recipe. “Three ingredients are needed to produce the perfect curl result: Heat, tension and allowing the hair to cool down,” she says. “Whether you use thermal tongs, hot rollers, or even a round brush blow-dry, always consider the above for a perfect curl result.”
“IT MAKES CLIENTS FEEL AMAZING AND GIVES THEM A COMPLETE AND FINISHED LOOK… IT’S LIKE THE ICING ON A CAKE.” – DONNA DOLPHY, DONNA DOLPHY HAIR, TORONTO
Updos (and Don’ts)
Known for her bridal hair and finishing techniques, Blain has had a ton of experience in mastering the art. When it comes to updos, she says you should never prepare the hair with a straightening iron because it will make the hair slippery and silky, which can create static. She also recommends using diagonal sections “to avoid the hair from splitting and creating unnecessary parting.”For products, Blain suggests a combination of both medium hold hairspray and a lightweight shine spray when dressing the hair. “This helps hair to not look ‘plastic’ and unnatural.”
“YOU NEED TO INVEST IN THE BEST EQUIPMENT POSSIBLE TO GET A PREMIUM RESULT.”– SHARON BLAIN, SHARON BLAIN EDUCATION, AUSTRALIA
Just like everyone has their own style for cutting or colouring, every good stylist has their personal finishing technique as well. “Every hairstylist wants to have that signature where people just look at a picture and know it’s their work,” says Campolieti. “I’m a perfectionist, so I always try to push the perfection to the next level. My finished looks always look romantic and lived in, but also very polished.
She recommends taking a picture of the look just before you think it’s finished to get a different vision and some insight. “After I see it from all angles and perspectives, I can then say, ‘now it’s done—don’t touch.’ Part of finishing is knowing when and where to finish.”