Thursday, March 17, 2011

Big Show, big hair tutorial...

It is a shame.  A horrible, horrible shame.

Especially when speaking as a stylist.

I live in Augusta, GA- perhaps one of the most stereotypical Southern cities I have ever lived in.  People readily say "ma'am and mister," love their sweet tea, and fix a gossip with, "but bless her heart!"  Every truck is studded with a deer sticker, and women are nuts about being bronze and blonde.  They love their "Lily," Reagan, and "Social" is a must for the young up-and-comers.

What is so shameful about this city?  Well, I'll tell you.  An entire city of women have been ruined for big hair, by one very small group of people.  I won't go into who they are or how... fabulous (?) their hair can be at a grocery store on a Saturday night- but I can say that the instant I start to pull out a teasing comb during an updo, my guest inevitably says, "Now- I don't want to look like a _____."

It is so very frustrating.  In my mind, nothing says "glamour" more than big, full, curly hair.  A person can go overboard (as our neighbors often demonstrate), but lets not let them lay claim to all of the elegance, allure, and excitement represented in a bit of back-combing!

C'mon people!  Lets take back our hairspray.  Lets take back our curls.  Throw out the flat iron for one evening, an lets have some fun!

So, here I am, sporting some moderately big hair.  It is tasteful, but still special enough for an evening in sequins.

When I get out of the shower, I do my makeup, brush my teeth, and then head for the blow-dryer.  I begin about 15 minutes out of the shower, by adding a little bit of sculpting foam.  We'll call it a "dallop."

These are the products I am using today:

Work the foam through very well, from roots to ends.  Then turn on your dryer, and throw your hair around like a rag doll.

Focus on drying your roots up and away from your head...

...until you are about 75% dry.  What does that look like?  An 80's rocker...

Your roots will be almost dry, but your ends still need some work.

If your hair is long, a clip will work well to pull some of your hair to the side.  I just brush mine over...

Then grab a large round brush and go for it, starting with the underneath portion of your hair.

What I am doing here is called "under-directing."  I am pulling the hair down and drying it, which will give maximum smoothness and minimum body.  I usually do this with the underneath portion of my hair.  Here is a good side view of it...

Now, this is "over-directing."  See how I am pulling my roots up where they grow?

"Over-directing" produces maximum volume.  If I was using a smaller brush, I could get a decent amount of curl from this technique, but I could also (if not careful) get the brush really tangled in my hair.  So, if you have hair as long as mine or longer, you should really use a large brush.

Now, for the top portion of my hair, I will attempt to demonstrate what I do for the most "oomph."

Comb your hair over, like this...

Now, take your brush and rest it on the base of that section.

Now, pulling up and over, start rotating the brush away from your head, still holding it taut at the base.

Your brush should start to pick up the hair it is resting on.  Now, once you have accumulated
all of the hair on your brush, start to pull it up and out...

And roll down...

And then hold the dryer to it until its dry.  If you turn it and still feel some drag, it is not dry.  If your brush easily turns, it is!

Continue this all over your head.  Feel free to turn off your dryer at times to position your brush.  It really can be a workout!

Now, for my bangs: I gently put the brush under them, and I dry them with the dryer positioned horizontally, directly behind them.  I do not roll my bangs onto the brush, as this is not 1992.  I had a picture of this, but my face is just frightful in it.  I think my tongue is actually hanging out.  

When you are dry, blow your hair all around again, to be sure you are really dry.  We are about to curl, and you can't curl wet hair.  

This is the finished product:

Man.  I could just kiss my hair to pieces.  I love it.  

Now.  Clip up the top of your hair.  Hope you have had a curling iron heating up...

Before I start, let me show you how not to curl hair...

Do not take a section of hair, clamp it at the bottom, and roll up.  

Think about it.  Your ends are the most fragile part of your hair.  If you do this, you are exposing them first, keeping them closest to the barrel, and then rolling everything else on top of them.  your ends will be curly, but your mid-shaft will be limp or even straight (please ignore any innuendos.  It is very late.)  And you will have hair (again) from 1992.  Instead, do this...

Clamp your hair at the mid-shaft, and while rolling away from your face, feed the hair through by turning and quickly clicking your iron.  It takes some practice, but you can do it.  Turn and click until all of the hair is fed through, and you will have a much more modern wave.  

Note that the slower you are while feeding the hair through, the curlier it will be.  By extension, the faster you move, the looser your curl will be.  If you pull the hair out and the curl is too tight, gently tug on it while it is still hot, and the curl will loosen.  

So, here is my hair clamped up...

I know.  time to do the roots on that black.  Or not.  

Start curling, section by section.  Your iron can only take as much hair as it is wide, meaning if you have a 1" iron, it is most effective at curling it's width (at the base of your scalp) in hair.  Get it?  No?

Well, just don't put too much hair in your iron.  Here we go.  

AWAY from your face.  One side will be harder to do than the other, but remember: they are sisters, not twins.  

Here I am, halfway through:

And finished...

I could stop here, but I do this all the time on a Sunday morning.  I need something bigger...

So, take a paddle brush, and when your curls are COMPLETELY cool, brush through that mess!

Believe me, this will not take your curls away.  I just like the softness of this look.  

It draws all of the curls together, and makes it look less like 8th grade graduation, and more like today.  

Now, sprinkle some Powder Play in the crown of your head, like this:

Next,  take a teasing comb, and gather the section at your crown.  If you used the Powder Play, this will be a bit more difficult, but do it.  

Now, place your comb about 2 inches away from your scalp on this section, and run up and down your hair shaft ten times.  

When you are done, your hair should stand off your head, like this...

You could continue to back-comb all over, but I will stop here for now.  Take a comb and a hand mirror, and gently cover up any of the rattiness you just created...

Now, take your hands, placing your fingertips just into your hair, and lift gently until you have the look you desire.

Finally, take any hairspray you like, lean over, and spray.

Stay leaning until the spray has dried.  Lift and spray.

Do not drop until it is dry.  Now, check yourself out.  Are you the picture of hotness?

Of allure?

Of husband-come-and-do-only-g-rated-things-to-me-for-the-sake-of-the-blogness?

Of course you are.  And the "travelers" can eat their heart out.  

My back-combing.  MINE!

See you soon,

Rachel Bee


  1. I love your blog! You are an amazing woman! I believe your husband was the photographer for my friends wedding. What a creative family! Love your tutorials!

  2. Rachel, your hair and attitude are gorgeous. Having been a southerner all my life (and leaving & returning to Augusta many times) I am now dying of curiosity/. Some of us remember all too well the '80's, whether we were in high school, colllege, competing for whatever the tiara of the day or in a marraige! The hair = all 4 feet of it, took forever to style, and the pics don't lie ----UGLY HHEHHEHEH==
    Yours, however, lovely, feminine in a strong & natural way.

  3. thanks, marcella. LOVE having an in-house photog. we make a very good team. love him.

    susan...thanks. we laughed as my hair was teased sky high about my "jon benet" bangs in the late 80's. i could never get it quite right. they'd always flop down the middle and look ridiculous!

  4. Ha - at least you weren't old enough to take full responsibility for your appearance. I'm just glad I never got into the Madonna phase heeheeehee

  5. That was Susan, not Stephen :)