Now that you’re a fan of our how-to makeup series, we’re thrilled to present the first of many hair tutorials with celebrity hairstylist extraordinaire Jen Atkin. As one of the most in-demand stylists working today, Atkin is responsible for the locks of ladies like Jessica Alba, Khloe Kardashian, Zooey Deschanel, Gwen Stefani, and more. But despite her busy schedule, she took a break to walk us through some of the most requested looks from our readers.
In this series you’ll see everything from fishtail braids to polished chignons, all done by Atkin on real girls from our office, right here in the Byrdie studios. First up, Atkin breaks down the secrets behind getting perfectly messy texture. This style has a lot of names—French girl texture, bedhead, model-off-duty hair—and with a little practice, you can master it at home.
(Full disclosure: it takes a lot of work to look this effortless!)
Click through our slideshow for the 8 easy steps to pulling off one of the most popular looks around!
Start with dry hair. If you’re planning on shampooing your hair first, either allow your strands to air-dry, or rough dry them with a blow-dryer. If you’re working with day-two locks, apply dry shampoo on your roots in long, horizontal sections.
Lightly mist a salt spray, like Sachajuan’s Ocean Mist Spray ($28) or L’Oreal’s EverStyle Beach Spray ($7), through your dry strands from root to tip. Blast your hair with a blow-dryer to set the spray; this will deliver texture. Divide hair into medium-sized, horizontal sections with large clips.
Now that you’ve sectioned your hair, add movement using a one-inch curling iron. “Wrap hair around the curling iron using your fingers to hold the last inch or two away from the heat,” Atkin says. Repeat over your entire head, going in alternating directions.
Next, you’ll want to create deeper bends in your hair, and lightly smooth the curls you’ve made. Working with vertical sections this time, use a flat iron to go over the curls and soften them, Atkin says. Then, create bends by lightly running the iron down random sections, briefly pausing and twisting the flat iron. Alternate twisting the iron under, or out, each time you pause. Tip: Keep your iron on a low heat setting while you’re perfecting this trick to avoid damage.
Smooth your ends with the flat iron.
Rake your hands through your curls and bends to assess whether or not you need more texture. If so, go back in with the flat or curling iron to create more texture.
Twist the ends of your hair into mini dreadlocks. The goal is to create a piece-y texture before you blast with product.
Use one hand to fan out your hair, and then spray texture spray through out your locks, from root to tip. Atkin recommends Orbe’s Dry Texture Spray ($42), or try Big Sexy Hair’s Flip It Over Texture Spray ($19). “This step gives that messy finish,” Atkin says.
Warm a pea-size amount of matte paste in your hands and slide them through the ends of your locks. Optional: glide the remainder of the product through the bottom half of your hair for additonal separation. Atkin recommends Kevin Murphy’s Gritty Business ($35), or try R+Co’s Conformist Hair Paste ($27).
Set the look with hairspray and you’re done!
Check our other how-to’s here!
Photographer: Chris Patey
Hairstylist: Jen Atkin
Makeup: Lauren Andersen
Stylist: Laurie Trott
Model: Mary Carls, Clique Media Social Media Intern
Mary wears her own Gap denim vest and rag & bone T-shirt.