I can't believe I'm asking about bed head.
September 25, 2011 10:03 AM   Subscribe

So far my bed is my only effective hairstyling tool. Please help me come up with a better hair strategy.

There will be several layers (pun intended) of absurdity to this question, but bear with me.

I have very straight, uncooperative, never-dyed hair. It's somewhat fine, but there's a lot of it, so it evens out to "normal." After a year and a half of aimlessly growing out my hair, I just had it cut so it's about shoulder length with long layers and thick, but side-swept bangs.

The cut itself is great! Yay! But.... I need to know how to take advantage of the cut. You see, when I blow dry my hair in the morning it looks fine, but very boring. The layers just sit there, neatly. It doesn't look bad, but it doesn't really look great.

You know when my hair does look good? When I get out of bed. It looks FABULOUS! My roots are slightly volumized, the layers themselves are not quite wavy, because my hair doesn't wave, but they look textured and full and interesting. It all works well with my bangs.

The problem, of course, I can't actually go to work with this "bed head." Because, while it does look good, it also looks like I just got out of bed. When I comb it or try to control it, it just looks like I've been living in the woods for several weeks. I haven't have much luck recreating bed head from tutorials on the internet. Here's what I've tried:

1. Applying gel to damp hair and blowdrying with a round brush, then using wax to texturize ends. (My hair, lacking any natural wave, just looks big, and when I add the wax to the ends I look like one of the Weird Sisters. Plus, my hair does not like a lot of product in it -- it gets oily and limp.)

2. Gel. Blowdry. Curling iron. Tousle. (This is okay, but I don't want to use a curling iron every day [or, really, any day] and it still doesn't look "natural" anyway.)

3. Foam rollers. Frankly, I love my foam rollers (the ones that look like rag rollers that you secure by twisting the wire ends together). I can actually get full-on, all-day curls with these suckers! But I can't figure out how to use them to create a wave in my hair. I don't like looking like Baby Houseman.

I don't want to look like a teenager. I don't need edgy hair. I want something that's professional but textured, voluminous and interesting. Essentially, I need to create a wave and then somehow maintain that throughout the day without weighing down my hair. (The comparison pains me, but think Zooey Deschanel.) Can you offer any advice?
posted by Mrs. Rattery to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Buy some volume powder. It adds lift to your roots on days where you can't do anything more than wash and dry, and it stays in all day so it can be "re-activated" whenever you tousle. I don't like blow drying to get volume so I rely on this.

Quality of product is really important. I have straight-to-wavy (but pretty fine-textured) hair already so take this with a grain of salt, but Biomega Behave hair elixir was recommended to me by my stylist and it is so great. I have shoulder length hair and I use a dollop about the size of a quarter, but you could experiment. I let it air dry then brush it out. Also, going to sleep with product in your hair makes the next day's bedhead actually presentable, I've found. Learning how to make your hairstyle last 2-3 days without washing is the greatest trick I've ever learned. Dry shampoo is your friend.

And for more subtle wave, bigger rollers? Or use a wide curling iron on larger sections, so it doesn't take very long? I have had no luck whatsoever using waxes or gels so I'm not much use there.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:24 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have very similar hair but mine is longer.

When you sleep in the rag rollers have you tried misting them with water to get them to relax a little? It can sometimes be a little hit or miss so you'll have to experiment. I've also had a little luck with taking the rollers out then getting in the shower, the steam and humidity helps relax the curls. Just be very careful not to actually get your hair wet!

You can also try rolling larger pieces of hair in the rollers. I had luck once just using about 6 rollers. My hair was the perfect amount of damp when I rolled it, and the curls were just curly enough to make me happy.

You might also look into doing sock curls. (Look for tutorials on YouTube.) I haven't been able to get them to work for me but you might be luckier.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:26 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

What I do is use the blow dryer and my hand to dry my hair, and then curl (with a larger barrel for a more natural look) it all immediately after that. For the next two or three days, I just curl (same big barrel) the top few layers of my hair (without washing, of course) and use dry shampoo if necessary.
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:32 AM on September 25, 2011

Bumble & bumble surf spray might be a great product for you. It gives my hair a very, well, beachy look. I like it.

Blow drying upside down helps, as do alligator clips. You can clip up sections of your hair with these after spraying with voluminizer and dry. It gives the roots a bit of oomph. My hairdresser uses these when I get a cut and it helps.
posted by k8lin at 12:34 PM on September 25, 2011

If you have a regular stylist, you can ask them for tips or even a training session with the blow dryer. I'm definitely a hands-on learner and doing this helped me. Instead of their blowing your hair dry at the end of the cut, you could do the training session. A bigger tip than usual wouldn't hurt, either, although not strictly necessary.
posted by Currer Belfry at 1:59 PM on September 25, 2011

Seconding Surf Spray. I also have fine hair that does nothing unless I threaten it, and a few shots of Surf Spray when it's damp gives me a little bit of wave without a whole lot of product.
posted by gnomeloaf at 2:16 PM on September 25, 2011

A good volume-enhancing shampoo can also really help, as can some pre-blow drying spray. I am a big fan of Lush's "Big" shampoo, it actually makes the layers in my cut look awesome. If you spray your hair with some conditiony heat protector before blow drying, that also helps your hair not to go limp from the blow drying. Also, dry on warm and low instead of hot and high if you can.
posted by pazazygeek at 2:19 PM on September 25, 2011

Nthing Surf Spray after washing at night, pull hair back into loose and messy twisted bun and in the morning, you should have natural-looking waves.
posted by kinetic at 2:40 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone! I'm going to try out some options tonight. I don't think the blow drying is my problem--I know how to get volume, I just don't know how to get definition! At any rate, I'll give everything here a shot and report back on what works!
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 3:51 PM on September 25, 2011

I was coming in to recommend Surf Spray, but also to suggest Living Proof's Full product line.
posted by mogget at 7:30 PM on September 25, 2011

I have hair much like yours. It looks best when I wash it rarely (say every 4-5 days or so), brush it infrequently, and generally let it alone. I'd say try washing less--you should get more definition. And maybe try this. It's a line I've had good luck with. Doesn't weigh hair down, adds definition, very non-greasy even a few days later.
posted by Go Banana at 7:49 PM on September 25, 2011

Are you going to bed with wet hair? Maybe this is indicating that air-drying works better with this cut.

Either way, you might get some mileage out of my technique for getting definition and not frizz in second and third-day hair:

1. Run a very, very wide-toothed comb or hair pick through it to get the big snarls out.
2. Spritz heavily with water (or alternatively, scrunch well and slowwwwwly with a soaking wet washcloth -- make sure to hold each scrunch for a count of 20 before you let it go.)
3. Then take a dab of regular conditioner, no bigger than the size of one or two peas, rub your hands together to spread it around, smooth it into your hair, focusing mostly on the parts below your ears. Scrunch slowwwwwwly.
4. Do a little light rearranging with your fingers if necessary, then allow to air dry (which should only take five or ten minutes.)
Optional: Do the scrunching with your hair flipped upside-down for better volume.

It takes a long time to describe but it's about a two-minute operation and doesn't require any products you don't already own, so it's worth the try, right?
posted by Andrhia at 8:40 PM on September 25, 2011

I have similar hair -- straight, ultra-fine, and LOTS of it. Right now I'm growing it out from a pixie cut to a chin-length bob, and it's just about to mid-ear.

I've found a couple of ways to get more texture and body. Like others have mentioned, don't wash every day. I wash my hair once or twice a week. I also don't use conditioner anymore, because it was the number one culprit for lank, lifeless hair. Now I wash my hair using a bar of castile soap or plain glycerine soap. Gets it clean, but doesn't leave my hair flat and bland.

I've also just started using curling tongs every few days. The first day it's a little TOO curly, but after sleeping on it, I get some good wavy texture that can be arranged neatly without too much fuss.

Have you tried finger-combing your bed hair into place? Less harsh than using a brush or a comb, but it can be useful to get things to look less just-woke-up.
posted by themissy at 7:39 AM on September 26, 2011

Thanks everyone. So far the experiments have been successful, to varying degrees. By far the most effective and easiest (and expensive) solution is the Surf and Spray. I can't believe it can make my sad, straight hair wavy. I still won't believe it!
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 3:35 PM on September 26, 2011

I have long straight hair that is incredibly thick and resistant to styling, and the only way I can get a wave going (without an hour of styling & my arms getting tired) is to put my hair up in a messy bun with product, blow dry it, and then take it down. If you lift the crown/roots up a bit, sleep it in, then the morning is extra fun when you shake your hair out.
posted by joydivasian at 9:57 PM on September 26, 2011

I read a suggestion somewhere (maybe here on AskMe) for a homemade version of the B&B Surf and Spray stuff: mix salt + water + a tiny bit of conditioner in a spray bottle (+ essential oil for scent if you like), shake to mix, and spray on. Might be fun (and cheap!) to experiment with.
posted by aka burlap at 10:45 AM on October 5, 2011

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