Beachy, mermaid-inspired waves have been synonymous with summer hair for years, but this season celebrities like Gwen Stefani, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kim Kardashian and Olivia Wilde have taken a hard left on the trend train and made sleek, straight and frizz-free hair the look du jour.
“We are seeing a big shift in preferences, and women are wanting more of a smooth, deliberately polished look,” celebrity stylist and Pantene global ambassador Danilo tells Hello! “It isn’t a wash-and-go style, but there is something really appealing about a woman who has deliberately styled her hair.” Like ironing your blouse before heading to the office, these straight, polished and stylized looks have stars storing their salt spray and reaching for frizz-fighting smoothing lotions and a flat iron. Danilo, who works with stars such as Penélope Cruz, Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson, says even celebrities who are known for tousled beachy waves are opting for this more manicured coif.
“In many ways, this is the backlash to the years of super-low-maintenance mermaid waves,” says Harry Josh, celebrity hairstylist and John Frieda global creative consultant. “Beachy waves and wavy brushed-out hair is slowly making its way out, and the [trend] pendulum is shifting to the opposite direction. That’s the thing about trends, it’s never a subtle shift – it always goes to the opposite extreme.”
For Harry, razor-cut edges and a long, side-swept fringe (like the look he recently created for Olivia Wilde) are essential, as this trend can be unforgiving. “You can’t get away with split ends, frizz or fly-aways,” says Harry of the Cher-inspired superlong locks seen on Kourtney Kardashian or the Cleopatra-esque bobs snapped on stars like Rihanna.
In addition to regular trips to the salon, Danilo highlights the importance of moisture when trying to create smooth hairstyles. “When summer comes, women become fixated on not weighing down their hair so they skip products like oils, mask or conditioning treatments.” This hair-care faux-pas leads to dull, brittle and lifeless strands – all of which won’t flatter a straight-hair look. To combat damage caused by sun, the drying effects of chlorine or the harsh mineralized water found at cottages and lakes, Danilo recommends clients use a deep conditioning mask every week and always prep hair before styling (both on dry and wet locks) with a nourishing leave-in conditioner.
“That’s the secret, I always style with leave-in conditioners.” Danilo shares with Hello! “It’s the reason I can give clients like Gwen [Stefani], someone who has chemically processed hair, three or four different styles in 24 hours without major damage.” Smoothing lotions can also be applied to damp hair to help protect against heat damage, while nourishing oils are best massaged into dry ends to rid them of a brittle or “fried” texture.
When it comes to styling your sleek strands, leaving hair down may not be practical for steamy summer month. “Creating a super straight and sleek updo is not easy and it has to be super clean, which means you need to calm yourself to get it done!” Harry says with a laugh. Minimalist styles like a tight bun or ponytail are best to flatter straight hair. “Everyone with medium to long hair can rock my Bardot-meets-Charo ponytail,” says Danilo of his favourite summer style: the glossy, high ponytail. “You want your hair to be a very heightened glamourous version of putting your hair in a pony-tail. You need volume, texture and a smooth finish.”
To create the glossy look, use a flat iron to meticulously straighten hair by passing the paddles quickly over strands, section by section. Use short, rapid strokes near the roots to avoid burning hair and be sure to pull hair all the way through to the ends for a smooth finish. Once straight, sweep hair up and back to create volume at the top of the head. Secure your ponytail at the top of your crown, wrap a section of hair around the elastic to conceal the closure. Give the tail of your ponytail another pass with the flat iron and set the look with a mist of lightweight hairspray. “Every woman knows how to pull her hair back into a ponytail,” says Danilo. “The finish, volume, texture or position is what makes a ponytail look and feel modern.”