For holiday and event season, there’s no better skill to have in your arsenal than superior styling—and finishing—techniques. From finger waves to updos to beach waves, sometimes classic styles are, well, classic. But remember, it’s always important to put your own spin on a style and listen to your clients’ wants and needs to make sure you’re giving them a look that’s suitable for them.
“The perfect creation is a combination of the style the client wants and one that the stylist thinks will look best on her,” says Chris Wood, senior principal stylist at Radford Studio in Toronto. “It’s the perfect compromise, especially for bridal and event hair. When it’s the client’s special day, she should look and feel like the best version of herself—and since these moments are captured from all angles, styling, polishing and finishing the hair is even more crucial.”
When it comes to styling hair and working on bridal, event and holiday hair in particular, the pressure is on since it’s a big and important day for many. Having a plan, staying calm and prepping the hair are a few ways to help relieve some of the stress.
“When hair is going up, stylists tend to panic. Stop panicking and just enjoy it! The clients can smell fear and your energy will rub off on them,” says Martin Hillier, co-owner of The Lounge Hair Studio, Vancouver. “If you put hair up wrong, take it down, especially if you haven’t overloaded it with product—which you shouldn’t have because you should always be gradually building product up—it should be easy to take it down or tweak it around. Know where you’re going from the beginning, look at the photos your client brought in, analyze the style they’re trying to achieve and then step forward with the look, gradually build it up and have a plan. Take the fear out of it for you and the client and it’ll be a much more enjoyable experience.”
According to Marlo Steenman, artistic director for Oriac and Artego Canada, there are a few key things she likes to keep in mind when styling to make the process a little easier.
“It’s all about prepping the hair,” she says. “It’s [legendary hairstylist and educator] Martin Parsons’s technique—making sure the edges around the hairline are clean and really blowing that out first and not leaving it to the end when the hair is settled. Ensuring the hairline is really taken care of—that’s what sets apart a polished look and something that looks messier. Even with effortless styles, you still have to have a structure to it. Regardless of if the client wants a smooth look or more of a tousled look, I like to add a little bit of a bend in the hair. This allows the hair to move a bit for you—it dances when you put it up. The sleeker the look is, the more you need that bend to allow the hair to move.”
“The foundation is the most important thing in creating styles that last all day and it all starts at the shampoo basin. Using the right products for the right hair texture and type is a must—and the start to a perfect look.” — Cathey Salerno, bridal educator and owner of Picaso Studios, Woodbridge, Ont.
When creating finger waves, the elegant style that was popular in the 1920s, Wood says it’s crucial to have clean sectioning—whether you’re doing the classic old-school wet look using gel or creating a dry finger wave using a curling iron.
“Traditional finger waves—a wet set—can take hours, so I like to create that same look but on dry hair with hot tools instead,” says Wood. “If my client has a bob, for example, and wants that finger wave look, I would take a one-inch iron and do spiral waves all in the same direction and then brush it out and mold the hair. You want to understand the pattern of finger waves as this classic 1920s wave pattern is very specific. Stylists should keep their sections neat, and the waves should all be going in one direction—meaning on one side of the face, the waves should go away from the face and on the other side, they’ll be going towards the face so when the stylist brushes it out and molds it, it’s going to have a nice, uniform shape.”
“Using silver setting clips as you’re creating the wave is my go-to,” he adds. “As you brush out, you want to keep the shape and not completely brush it all the way out. I take the setting clips in between my waves, between my C formations, just to keep everything in place. Then, I spray and remove the clips.”
Although we’ve seen fewer red-carpet events during the pandemic, Hillier says that at most red carpets, you’ll likely spot the retro waves in some form or another.
“Waves are always going to be around,” he says. “Whether it’s finger waves—done accurately—or spiral round waves done with a curling iron and brushed out to give the same effect, there’s nothing like a classic wave.”
When the [finger wave] look is done on wet hair, rather than with hot tools, Hillier says that it would be considered a classic and accurate finger wave technique.
“When doing the original technique, you would use either a mousse or a gel, depending on how firm you want them to be to hold it into place,” he says. “Unless a client is looking for a super retro look, you’d most likely brush them through, so they appear a bit softer, but still have body.”
According to Cathey Salerno, bridal educator and owner of Picaso Studios in Woodbridge, Ont., finger waves are all about the set.
“I usually do a classic wet set when a client is looking for finger waves,” she says. “But sometimes I’ll do a dry set and when I do, I make sure I’m going in the opposite direction on each row and pinning down the curl.”
When creating her signature updos, Salerno says she always “deconstructs to reconstruct” the hairstyle.
“It’s so important to me to have a great foundation,” she says. “An internal braid and elastics are my go-to for creating long-lasting, soft updos.”
While Wood admits it took some time to learn, he also appreciates the importance of having a solid base for his updos.
“When I first started doing updos, I was so focused on making every piece look perfect, but it was a waste of time sine half of it you’re pinning over top of,” he says. “So, I learned that 70 per cent of the hair you just want to get back and away into the anchor and it’s that other 30 per cent of hair that’s left that creates the vibe of the updo. Not every piece needs to be pinned perfectly underneath—you just need a strong base. Backcombing (teasing at the root) and scalp powder are my absolute go-tos for updos.”
Pro Tip: When trying to create more texture in a smoother look, Wood suggests spraying your bobby pins with a strong hold hairspray as it will create a sticky coating on them, and you can put the bobby pins into your updo’s anchor. With the gritty nest created with the scalp powder and teasing at the root, you’re going to get long wear without having to have a super structured updo.
“I think updos right now are more of a modern take on a French twist, which is a little bit lower and looser,” says Steenman. “When the hair is up high and tight, it can be a bit aging on a younger person. When you bring it back a bit and doing that movement with the French twist, it becomes modern and stunning, and the blow dry is important in ensuring the hairline is sleek. Pinning is also important; making sure it’s pinned properly so it’s not sagging in the back and making sure your pins don’t show. In short: Go lower, ensure your pinning is clean and use a shine product so it looks finished and polished!”
“You must have a full range of hairstyling techniques in your head that you can bring out at any time if you ever want to get further than the chair. Learn finger waves properly and educate yourself on pin curls. Learn all these things and if you can, change them around to give them a modern edge.” — Martin Hillier, co-owner of The Lounge Hair Studio, Vancouver
When creating effortless “fresh out of the ocean” waves, Wood recommends using a smaller curling iron because the goal is to try and replicate how the hair would dry naturally from the ocean.
“Since the hair doesn’t dry in a perfect pattern, I make sure to alternate directions when doing beachy waves—so whichever section I’m doing above or below is a different direction than the one before that,” he says. “On the top, I always wave away from the face since waving towards the face is more of a Hollywood glam look. I also keep the ends straight when doing a beachy look because over-curling the ends can give off a more polished look. Texture is also so important! Alternating directions is great but it’s nothing without the proper products and finishing sprays—sea salt sprays are a beachy wave must!”
When creating her effortless waves, Steenman says she always starts with a primer to give hair that “beachy” feel.
“If you go with a flat iron, you’re going to get a different type of curl than if you go in with a curling iron,” she says. “Regardless of the hot tool you’re using, ensuring that the style is loose is key—pulling the hair down a little to ensure it has that beachy wave to it. I like full hair, so I always like to give the hair a good blowout. Anytime you’re doing a beachy look and want that full feeling, it’s important to start with a good blow-dry. Then, I finish it off with a sea-style spray to bunch it up and make it look like the wind blew through it. You want a bounce, and the blow dry will help ensure that the style stays—and looks sexy!”
If you want to do a pin curl for your client’s special day or glamorous holiday party, Steenman says you really need to rely on the proper products because it’s all about the movement.
“I like using products that control the movement of the hair without giving it a crispy look,” she says. “Pin curls will give you such a beautiful, classic look and because women are wearing their hair sleeker these days, the finger waves and pin curls at the front are almost like wearing an accessory, so to have a good product to control that movement in the hair can tie the look together and is very reminiscent of an old Hollywood style!”
Pro Tip: While many stylists may ask their clients to come in with day-old hair, Steenman prefers to wash her clients’ hair the day of the service, so it has a clean look to it—making it the perfect canvas for a polished look.
Salerno adds that the most important thing with pin curling is keeping the hair flat around your finger and pinning it directly on the section.
PRO TIP: Salerno says she can’t stress enough the importance of layering products in the hair—especially when creating styles that need to last all day.
When working with curly-haired clients, the same glamorous styles can be achieved but there’s a bit more thought that needs to go into the treatment and preparation of the hair.
When Salerno preps curls, she uses curly hair-specific products and lets the hair dry naturally until it’s almost dry and then uses a diffuser to open the curls. When styling for parties, weddings and events, she says she loves to enhance her clients’ natural texture.
“I choose a curling iron barrel size close to the size of the client’s natural curl to elevate and enhance the look she already has,” she says. “When creating updos on my curly-haired clients, my go-to is to use as many elastics as I can while keeping the hair in its most natural state.”
Since it’s no secret that curly hair needs moisture, Steenman says you need to make sure to have a good moisturizing product on hand before styling your curly-haired clients’ locks.
“Keeping curly hair shiny is also important, as curly hair tends to not have a lot of shine,” she adds. “A lot of women with curly hair seem to be going for a more lived-in and natural look these days but still want to dress the hair up in some way, so hair accessories are a great option!”
Comments are closed.