The back-to-school rush is on, and if the thought of spending hours on your hair makes you want to throw on a hat and call it a day, don’t reach into that closet just yet. Top stylists share their tress tricks in this time-saving guide that’s sure to help you get your glam on — and put time back on your side!
1. Bring on the braids
What you’ll need: elastic
Skip the morning rush by locking in your style while you sleep, says Rodney Cutler of New York’s Cutler salon. First, apply a lightweight spray or gel and then twist your tresses into a couple of braids and sleep in them. Take them out when you wake up and you’re ready to go in minutes.
“It’ll create a disheveled sort of texture,” Cutler says. “It’s sort of a little curly, a bit messy and little bit more Rock-and-Roll.”
MORE: 30 New Braid Hairstyles
2. Pin up your style
What you’ll need: elastic or pins
Looking for a softer curl? Cutler suggests applying product and then securing curls with elastic or pins and leaving them in overnight.
“Wrap your hair around your finger and then wrap the end in, so you don’t get fish hooks, which means straight ends,” Cutler explains. “When you wake in the morning, you just take out the pins and then you have incredible, beautiful curls — and it will look like you’ve set your hair.”
3. Use a hidden helper
What you’ll need: bobby pins or small clips, ponytail holder (optional)
Pulling your hair back is a big timesaver, but be sure to keep it low and loose around the ears, don’t yank it skintight, says Stanley of New York’s Christopher Stanley Salon. His trick is to use bobby pins to help perk up your style.
“Find bobby pins that match the color of your hair, and randomly pick like five curls, and pin them back with bobby pins,” Stanley says. “As long as you keep it loose, bobby pins will disappear in their hair, you won’t see them. For shorter hair, you can add a clip on either side of the head by the ear.”
“If you do have short hair or medium-length hair, part the hair a bit and secure it with a pin and let it dry (and then take the pin out) to create finger waves on one side,” adds Cypriano, master stylist and color director at New York’s Christo Fifth Avenue Salon
When buying hair accessories, Stanley suggests choosing something that matches your hair color because unless it’s a really expensive piece, you really don’t want to see it!
4. Invest in an iron
What you’ll need: medium/large curling iron, lightweight hairspray
The glamorous look that’s in style right now is still disheveled and sexy, but there’s a bit more form to the curls, Cutler says. This next trick only takes a few minutes, with the help of a medium- or large-size curling iron.
“If it’s after work and you’ve had your hair naturally curly all day, you want to go into the evening and just spend 10 minutes,” Cutler says.
“You don’t have to be a genius with the curling iron. Just grab two-inch sections, wrapping each one around the outside of the barrel, and let it set for three to four seconds.
Then just shake, use a little bit of hairspray that’s very light, like Redken’s Quick Dry, and just break up some of the curls and you’ll have that sort of disheveled, sexy sort of curl.”
5. Pile it on high
What you’ll need: one large clip
Most of Dana Kaplan’s clients at M Salon in Cambridge, Mass, are time-starved. They have kids or go to college or work two jobs. They need to style their tresses in a matter of minutes. Kaplan suggests this trick that long-haired curlies can sleep on or easily include in their morning routine:
“When the hair is 95 percent dry, just a little wet, you pile it on top of the head and kind of scrunch it up, very messy, you don’t make a big deal about it, and then add a plastic clip,” Kaplan says.
“You can put in a little spritz or gel, whatever your comfortable using. When you let it down, it comes out as a softer, looser, funkier kind of curl and it can help take a lot of the bulk out of longer hair.”
6. Prep curls for staying power
What you’ll need: Portable table top dryer, 1800 watt blow dryer and nozzle attachment, wide-tooth comb, medium tooth rat tail comb, neck towel, spray bottle, and styling products.
At Miss Jessie’s Salon in Brooklyn, N.Y., Miko Branch says the majority of curlies with more tightly coiled tresses must do the prep work in advance. “There’s no getting around it,” she says. The key is to plan ahead.
“You want to take the time to establish that curl pattern maybe one day out of the week, re-twisting by section and then taking it out,” Branch says. “Then during the week just preserve the style with maybe a satin cap in the evening.”
There are many techniques you can use to mix it up, like a bantu knot, which is where the hair is twisted and coiled up into little balls and then let out.
7. Skip a step, or two
What you’ll need: water
Most curlies know they shouldn’t be washing their hair every day. If you do it anyway (well, maybe not you, but someone you know, of course!), reconsider. Stylists say it’s even more important to shampoo less in the fall when the air is drier and zaps moisture from your mane. Plus, you save a step in the morning shower — when every minute counts!
“Just wet your hair and put a bit of conditioner, if you feel the need to put something in,” Cutler says. “Your scalp is going to extract a little bit of oil just because you don’t wash it and that will sustain your scalp and help your curls form a bit.”
Joseph of Signature Hair Salon in Philadelphia agrees, and says curlies don’t even need a daily conditioning step. “The natural oils of your, especially as you get older, are favorable to keep it healthy,” Joseph says.
Once you’re out of the shower, Joseph reminds curlies to thoroughly blot the hair. “Get all the excess water out, from the root to the ends, making fists of hair with your hair upside down and really squeezing,” Joseph says. “A lot of times when you put gel in, it’s locking the water in and dragging your hair down. It doesn’t allow the curls to be as strong.”
8. Choose the right products
Michael Cunningham of Salon Michael in Chicago also reminds curlies that when you don’t shampoo every day, choosing the right styling product is critical.
“Make sure you're not using something that’s too sticky or gummy that’s going to weigh your hair down the next day,” Cunningham says.
“Use something light, like a Matrix Curl Life, which has a cool new curl re-activator that is pretty awesome. It’s lightweight and you just kind of mist it and scrunch your hair. As well as Redken Fresh Curls, just spritz a little bit on your hair and scrunch it. That will save tons of time.”
Cunningham also suggests the new Ringlet lightweight gel, which he calls “unbelievable!”
9. Style what you can see
For long hair, Cypriano suggests saving time by focusing your styling efforts on the sections of the hair that will be seen. So spend your time only on the top portion of your hair, skipping all hair underneath and below the ear.
“Just apply product on the pieces surrounding the crown and do apply a good amount so that hair lays over the rest,” Cypriano says. “This will keep the hair from frizzing as it dries.”
10. Mist your mane
What you’ll need: spray water bottle, water or curl-activating spray/lightweight gel, clips
Finally, a simple trick to use all day: Keep a mister bottle on hand to help your curls spring back into style, anytime, anywhere.
“Buy a mister bottle, they’re cheap, and just use water,” Stanley says. “DevaCurl has a product called Mister Right, which is a re-curling mister that will reactivate the gel in your hair. Turn your head upside down, reactivate the gel in your hair, maybe scrunch in some more gel or cream and then put little clips in the top of your head to get the hair to dry up and full, rather than flat to the scalp and then out in a triangle.”
More tips to help you unwind
Check out these tips to help you ‘de-stress’ as you get ready for back-to-school.
Make Time for You: Set aside fifteen to twenty minutes every week – either alone or with other teachers – to dedicate to relaxation. Whether giving yourself a facial, a manicure or a home spa treatment, this time is meant to return your radiant glow.
Meditate: Light an aromatherapy candle. Sit in a darkened room with some restful music playing in the background. Put aside thoughts of the difficult student, the overwhelming work load, or the disagreement at the faculty meeting. Concentrate on your breathing, and keep your thoughts on the present moment.
Soak It Up: A good soak in a warm bath can almost guarantee a relaxing evening.
Give Yourself a Facial: There are a number of facial scrubs available – muds, peels, and masks. Cleanse your face thoroughly, apply the product, and then relax for approximately 10 to 15 minutes depending on the directions on the package. Use this time to cleanse your mind of all the business of the day.
Close Your Eyes with Cucumbers: For tired eyes use a slice of cucumber as a refreshing treatment. Leave them on your eyes for about 15 minutes – and relax.
Get Off Your Feet: A warm soak feels especially good if you’ve been standing on your feet all day. Just fill a basin with some warm water. Use a foot scrub if you have one. If not make a sugar scrub and give yourself a foot massage.