This post is intended to be lighthearted and fun — and I hope it’s helpful in some way too!
Until recently, my hair has always been about shoulder length or shorter. It was pretty easy to style — not a ton to work with, easy to achieve volume and hairspray was my best friend. I would do fun updos and be creative in the way I styled it. But then I decided to stop chopping it when it hit my shoulders and see if it would actually grow. You see, I have hair that is as fine as baby hair when I don’t use product. It slips out of ponytail holders — and one time I tried to get a “body wave perm.” Um… it came out stick straight. I just honestly never thought Kacia, “a girl with long blonde hair” would ever be possible. And to be candid, I still sometimes do a double-take when I walk past a mirror because I’m still getting used to it actually being long! There was a point, however, when I felt like I was learning how to use a curling iron again, learning how to apply product…heck, even learning how to correctly wash my hair, dry my hair…. all over again, because of the length. Yes, I could easily throw it into a ponytail, but I wanted to be happy with it down and styled as well. Recently, I think I’ve found my magic formula, and I’ve had a lot of people asking me what products I use, what tools I use and what my tips are….so, get ready for it, here is my …..
You still reading? Uftdah. Okay!
1 // get the right products Now, I tend to fight back tears when I walk into stores like Ulta and Sephora — not tears of happiness, no, but tears of oh-my-goodness-how-do-I-know-or-choose-or-what-is-best-but-oh-I-like-that-packaging-distraction-distraction-distraction. Am I alone in these feelings? Ack. So I definitely picked the brain of a gal who (I think) cries tears of joy when she walks into these types of stores — she is super knowledgable and has helped me a ton in figuring out this whole manage the long hair dilemma.
I tried a sample of Aquage given to me by Kate, and finally had my “ah ha!” moment after watching her video tutorial on how to apply it to the roots. I couldn’t believe the difference — even in high humidity and hot temperatures. I totally decided to try the KMS product on a whim, and I am so happy with it! It doesn’t dry out my hair, but I find that it helps keep the oil at bay as well. I don’t think it’s advertised as doing so, but I find it does!
The combination of these two products are the perfect foundation for my hair — I’m able to get volume that stays and isn’t just put there by hairspray.
I’ve learned long hair and oodles and oodles of hairspray? Yuck. Ick. One big dread. Don’t do it.
But these products aren’t my only volumizing trick!
2 // throw in some hot rollers!
I was a total showchoir gal. Yup. Guilty as charged. And with showchoir comes BIG HAIR and OH MY CURLS. I also just grew up in a home with 2 sisters. And while they both have naturally wavy hair and actually straighten their hair, I have to work to get any curl to stick. Yeah…that whole “my hair gets frizzy and big when it’s humid? Not me. It looks like I did take a flat-iron to it! Yuck.
Up until recently, I have always used hot rollers in a set of varied sizes — similar — I still love the beautiful curls you can achieve from tinier curlers, but I was wanting something different. My hairstylist took off a good three inches in my length earlier this year, and about that same time….my hot rollers bit the dust. It was time to buy a new set, and I wanted to see how a larger curler worked in my hair. I wasn’t looking for tons of tiny curls, but rather a bit more volume at my roots and a soft, loose and natural looking curl.
I was sure to check Ulta’s return policy — and ask as I was purchasing them! — before buying this set of rollers. I was nervous that my curl-rejecting hair would just be completely flat even after using them. Boy was I happy when I found the opposite to be true — the perfect soft curl and volume, volume, volume! If it’s hot and humid, or if I just want the curl at the ends to hold a bit better, I’ll spritz each section of hair with Redken Hot Sets before putting in the curler. I always wait until they are completely cooled before removing. I’ll hit them with the cool air on my hairdryer if I need to.
before ||| after
A few tips:
- Experiment with placement of the hot rollers. I have found I achieve a near perfect “swoopy bang” when I roll away from my face with that curler. You can see in the image above how it is different than the way I’ve curled the rest down, against my head.
- Use the fact that your hair is up and away from your face to your advantage — put on your make up, etc! Or even take one curler out at a time, curling the ends with a curling iron, if you’re wanting to achieve a tighter curl, but have the volume at the roots from the large rollers.
- Those top back curlers on the top of my head? They are the last two I always take out, and I tease each one after removing the curler. It’s the perfect time to have that section of hair separated from the rest to add just a bit of staying power to the volume the curler provides. If I wait until later, I always create quite the bird’s nest in the back trying to separate a section to tease.
3 // finishing products I have found three hairsprays that I really like — and way more than that that I can’t stand. My go-to for this summer heat is a new one I just picked up in Chicago: Redken Fashion Work 12. It’s the first hairspray that I’ve found to be great against humidity, but also still allow for some movement of my hair. Redken QuickDry 18 I really like because it dries super fast — so if you struggle with hairspray weighing down your curls or hair after spraying, this one might be a great option for you! I use the Kenra 25 here and there, but it is always my go-to when putting my hair up in a low chignon or updo of sorts.
4 // prep even when it’s going up
Now that I’ve gotten pretty quick at putting in hot-rollers, I try to put them in even if I know my hair is going up that day. Not only does it get my hair away from my face and neck as I put on my make-up and get dressed, but it also gives my stick-straight hair some movement, which helps it behave when I pull it back. If I don’t have time to put curlers in, I at least put some product in my hair and hit my roots with my hair dryer. If I let my hair air dry, getting any type of lift or volume at the roots is next to impossible.
Lately I’ve been loving just a low bun-chignon-ish-look at the nape of my neck. A few bobby pins and a spritz of hair spray, and I’m good to go.
5 // lastly, plan for the next day I’ll be the first to say that college ruined me. Just kidding, although I definitely used to wash my hair every day prior to it! Especially in the summer, I try to plan when I’m washing my hair to coincide with the day’s activities. If we are going for a morning or midday walk…..and it’s forecast for 85º at 9am, I typically wait until the afternoon or evening to wash the locks. I’ve found that taking a few minutes to prep my hair before bed makes me feel a bit more put together in the morning.
1 // Apply dry shampoo to your roots before going to bed. Even though my hair is super blonde, I still find my hair looking just plain white if I use dry shampoo in the morning. Spraying it in at night allows for it to absorb the oil at my roots — and I find I get nice volume in the morning.
2 // Twist your hair into a top-knot bun. Sometimes I’ll do no-heat headband curls too, but I like the more subtle wave I get from a quick bun. The above photo was a morning after taking out the bun I slept in. I also really struggle with my hair becoming a tangled mess at night if it’s not pulled back in some way, but wearing a hairband scares me because of potential breakage.
3 // I actually just tried this shortcut I’ve seen pinned everywhere, because I wanted to report if it worked or not — and now I’m kind of hooked! Do the dry shampoo thing the night before, sleep with your hair however you’d like, and then in the morning, put your hair in a crazy-high pony tail. Like right on top of your head. Spritz the ends with hot sets or hairspray, give the ends a quick curl with a curling iron, take out the pony…and voila, subtle curled ends — and it goes much quicker than piecing and layering out your hair to curl when down!
I hope my clueless-self finding a bit of success with long hair has given you the confidence to try some new products and make it work as well! While you’ll see me a lot with my hair pulled back in the crazy heat of the summer, I’m definitely still taking time to wear it down too — and it just helps me feel more put together for my day.
What products do you love? Are you the opposite? Working to decrease volume from your naturally curly and thick hair? I love that we are all so different.