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Dispatch from LA: Bigger (Hair) is Better

January 1 | 5 minute read

Memo How To Add Volume To Hair Hero Hero 16x9

Words by Amber Kallor

Originally published on | March 26

Get the inside scoop on Hollywood’s biggest beauty happenings in 'Dispatch From Los Angeles', where seasoned journalist Amber Kallor talks to the A-list pros and tastemakers setting the trends.

Judging by the number of sky-high updos, bouncy blowouts, and cumulus clouds of curls wafting down recent runways and red carpets, voluminous hair is back—and it’s bigger than ever.

Miley Cyrus worked it out on stage at the 2024 Grammy Awards and in her latest music video for “Doctor” sporting a supersized style reminiscent of her godmother Dolly Parton, a beauty icon who proved time and again that the higher the hair, the closer to heaven.

Tracee Ellis Ross arrived at the 29th annual Critics’ Choice Awards in a slinky black dress and a fluffy roller set that recalled Old Hollywood and her Motown queen mother Diana Ross. Even Beyoncé paid homage to her Houston roots with Texas-sized hair on the sidelines at Super Bowl LVII.

“I think we’re experiencing a return to glamour. The world has been so disconnected with this feeling since COVID,” says Nai’vasha, the hairstylist responsible for coiffing Tracee Ellis Ross’ curls. “I believe there is an excitement surrounding the nostalgia of dressing up and being seen.”

Tracee Ellis Ross’ hair for the Critics Choice Awards is inspired by Diana Ross. Hair by Nai’vasha. Image credit: @erik.melvin via Instagram.

The larger-than-life looks seen on the catwalk at Marc Jacobs, Christian Cowan, and Song Jung Wan this season certainly won’t go unnoticed if worn out in the wild. Justine Marjan, the celebrity hairstylist who created a “classic set” with a curling iron for Cowan’s show, said that big hair is “more touchable” than years past. Unlike the stiff bouffants and blowouts of yore that were frozen in place with a full can of hairspray, today’s gravity-defying styles maintain a soft, movable quality that feels thoroughly modern.

Marjan attributes this shift to an emphasis on hair care during the pandemic. “Now, in a post-pandemic world, hair is fuller, healthier, and we are ready for more glam and styling options,” she adds. To which we say: Bring. It. On.

Here, A-list pros explain how to achieve va-va-voom volume without destroying your strands.

Come clean

Freshly washed hair is the best base for any voluminous look, says Bob Recine, the pro responsible for Cyrus’ head-turning Grammys look. Marjan recommends a volumising shampoo and conditioner for fine or thin strands, while thick or textured hair may benefit from moisturising formulas that help prevent frizz.

Using a clarifying shampoo or scalp scrub once a week also helps boost roots by eliminating excess oil and product residue, she adds.

Add oomph

Big hair isn’t necessarily filled with secrets, but it is plumped with products that provide strength and support. To prevent strands from falling flat, Recine suggests applying mousse, thickening gel, or a volumising spray to clean hair. Hairstylist and content creator Matt Newman says that “hair easily weighed down by products can also get a great lift from powder-based volumizers,” which are best applied to dry strands near the roots but not on the scalp.

Go big

For a bouncy, Barbarella-inspired blowout like the one Recine created on Cyrus, prep strands with a heat protectant and a humidity spray. Then, mist sections with a light layer of hairspray and use a medium-sized, round brush (Newman says a metal barrel with plastic bristles works best) to lift roots up and away from the scalp as you blow dry.

This technique allows you to lock in lasting volume without lacquering the finished look in spray, which often results in stiff, helmet-like hair. While strands are still hot, wrap each section around a large Velcro roller horizontally and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before unravelling. “The longer it sets, the better,” says Recine.

Miley Cyrus and her voluminous hair style at the 2024 Grammy Awards. Hair by Bob Recine

Be a tease

After a blowout, build even more volume by gently backcombing hair. To prevent breakage, start one inch away from the roots and gently push strands down with a teasing comb. Set with a medium-hold hairspray. “Always respect the limits of hair,” emphasises Recine. “Don’t keep re-teasing and re-spraying.” Marjan prefers to use a nylon- and boar-bristle brush. “Lift the hair in sections and create a C-shape as you brush back towards the scalp,” she says.

Set and sculpt

Retro roller sets are returning to the beauty scene in 2024. To get the look, apply mousse to damp hair and wrap small sections around plastic curlers or flexible rods. Allow strands to air-dry or speed up the process by attaching a bonnet to your blow dryer.

Another option: Do as Marjan did backstage at New York Fashion Week and wrap dry hair around a curling iron, pin each section in place, and mist with hairspray. Once cool, unwind and sculpt strands with a bristle brush coated in more hairspray for a sexy take on the ladies-who-lunch look.

Hair by Justine Marjan for Christian Cowan's show at New York Fashion Week. Image credit: @justinemarjan via Instagram

Deflate and detangle

Never brush out a big, bouncy style–especially if you’ve teased hair to dramatic heights. “Take a hot shower and let all [the product] melt away with shampoo and conditioner,” says Recine. Follow with a detangler or serum to smooth strands and seal in hydration, adds Newman.

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