So much has evolved since I began paying attention to my hair. When I started modeling at age 16, there were very few hair salons in my town, and most products were found in drugstores and targeted to the problem du jour (dandruff apparently being a big one). Ladies gave themselves “perms” at home, including my mother. I recall her rolling up those tiny rollers and applying smelly chemicals every few months to curl her beautiful brunette hair. Hair coloring was also primitive: We experimented with lemon juice in the sun, peroxide in our bathrooms, and various colorants to add frosty streaks, cover gray and highlight.
Today, it’s a different story. Our towns are filled with excellent stylists and chic salons. Products are safer, too, and formulated to really improve all hair types (not just cure dandruff). I still love to experiment, though. I wash my hair four or five times a week, using a different shampoo and conditioner each time — and I swear by the benefits of a weekly moisturizing mask.
For great everyday hair, I follow these rules:
1. Start with well-shampooed and -conditioned hair.
2. Blow-dry with as few products as possible.
3. Use a gentle natural-bristle brush for blow-drying.
4. Try not to backcomb, unless you are doing an updo or covering thinness.
5. Apply unscented light hair spray sparingly, if needed, after your hair is the way you want it.
6. Keep a small brush in your bag for touch-ups throughout the day.
During my modeling days, we didn’t have a team of stylists for photo shoots. I had to do my hair myself. Here are a few of my favorite looks and the styling tools that you can use to achieve the volume, hold or sweep you’d like.
HIGH STYLE: For an updo, hair spray is essential to keep strands smoothed back. Look for a formula that offers a light hold, and an alcohol-free formula to prevent dryness.
RETRO FLIP: Aerated foams give hair body, and help it look and feel thicker. Today’s formulas are much softer to the touch and won’t weigh fine hair down.
SIDE SWEPT: Boar-bristle brushes distribute oils to deliver flawless, shiny strands.
LIFT OFF: Using a lightweight spray at the roots adds both volume and texture. Blow-dry hair with the air focused upward; backcomb for more height.
Pantene Pro-V Style Series Airspray (Level 3 Hold), $7, pantene.com. John Frieda Luxurious Volume Perfectly Full mousse, $10, johnfrieda.com. Y.S. Park G-Series Curl Shine Styler brush, from $40, passionbeauty.com. L’ Oréal Paris Boost It Air-Blown Texture Mist, $5, lorealparisusa.com.
How-to blow-dry like a pro
1. PRE-DRY & PREPARE: Tousle hair dry a bit first, then place a round boar-bristle brush beneath the hair around the face, focusing warm air on the roots for lift while keeping strands taut.
2. SECTION & STYLE: Before drying the sides, pin up hair so you can start with the bottom layer and work with small sections. Use the round brush to add subtle bend to ends.
3. LIFT & SMOOTH: Work front to back, blow-drying sections from underneath to create lift, then from above (focusing the blow-dryer’s nozzle down) to really smooth hair.
4. COOL & FINISH: Last, switch the dryer to a cool setting and concentrate it on the roots around the crown to achieve a soft, natural look.
Martha's tool kit
HOT AIR: This hair dryer makes quick work of drying my entire head. And it’s light, so I don’t experience any arm fatigue. Kevin Mancuso blow-dryer, $299, kevinmancuso.com.
LIGHT LUSTER: A favorite for glossy, healthy hair. It contains light oils that really nourish and soften. Oribe Gold Lust Repair & Restore shampoo and conditioner, from $17 each, oribe.com.
MASK IT: I couldn’t believe how wonderful my hair felt after I used this mask. The softness lasted for days. Nexxus Youth Renewal Masque, $22, nexxus.com.
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