Makeup artist and Beauty Squad member Lauren Cosenza supports trying anything in the quest for self-expression. Each month she pushes our cosmetic boundaries beyond the beauty comfort zone. In this edition she tries out a trend revival from the fall 2012 runways: the bouffant.
When you’re a makeup girl in a hair and makeup world, you are always fascinated by the hair part of things. How do my counterparts get hair to be so sleek, so wavy, so piece-y, so angular? It’s fascinating. And while I know it’s a combination of art and science, just like it is with makeup, when hair is done really right, it’s magic.
So you can imagine the chills I got when show after show—from Carolina Herrera to Derek Lam, Moschino and Oscar de la Renta—models walked down the fall 2012 catwalks with modern and bold interpretations of the seemingly timeless bouffant.
I was initially curious about how the stylists got all that volume (this hair was big!) and how they got all that height (this hair was high!). And then there was my next question: Where can I get one?
I dialed up celebrity hairstylist Kristan Serafino, whom I met on set at a Cosmopolitan job years ago and who is the hair to my makeup on many pro shoots. She not only took me through the steps to achieving this look, but she also agreed to give me a bouffant to wear out on the town.
Here’s how she created the look:
Step 1: Kristan shampooed and conditioned my hair. A clean scalp and hair helps to add volume to the bouffant.
Step 2: She applied Nexxus Mousse Plus Volumizing Foam styler to my wet hair to add texture and volume.
Step 3: Using a T3 AntiGravity 2.5" Barrel Brush, Kristan blow-dried my hair smooth.
Step 4: Taking sections of my hair that were no larger than the width of the flat iron, she flat-ironed my strands using the Kiss Silicone Protextion Flat Iron.
Step 5: Next she backcombed my hair. To do this, she took a section of hair no wider than the width of a teasing comb and held it firmly at the ends with her fingertips at a 90-degree angle away from my scalp. With her free hand, she placed the teeth of the comb about midway down the strands and then combed it toward the scalp. She eventually teased my entire hair, section by section.
Step 6: With a teasing brush, she began to gently brush my hair back and away from my hairline to create a smooth shape.
Step 7: This step was optional. She took a ribbon and lay it directly on the hairline, tying it tightly at the nape of my neck. Using her fingers, she shifted the ribbon, gently sliding it back to create the look. She then pulled my loose strands into a low ponytail, spraying the ends with Redken Quick Tease 15 for added texture.
Step 8: She finished the look with a misting of L'Oréal Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray.
I died over the finished look. So did Kristan and our photographer and every single person who saw it.
The look was so retro that we decided to take our after pics in a laundromat. On our way there and for the entire night, my bouffant commanded all the attention. When I was riding in an elevator, a delivery guy got off on the wrong floor because he was so stunned. At dinner with friends at Salinas, I got comments like, “Holy hair! How can I get it?," “So Mad Men!” and “Look at your hair! Is it real?”
I loved the look so much that I really couldn’t part with it. Kristan advised me on how to carefully sleep in it and smooth it over in the morning to keep it for another day. I had meetings at Condé Nast’s headquarters. If you’re going to test a beauty dare that’s straight from the runway, this is the place to do so. The verdict: The bouffant was beloved! It got full and unanimous approval from the beauty and fashion magazine elite.
For a hairstyle to evoke this much attention and praise, I had to get Kristan to spill more insider tips and tricks—and thankfully she obliged.
Everyone went crazy for this look. For those women who want to create it at home without a celebrity stylist, what should they watch out for?
The secret to keeping a long-lasting bouffant is to make sure there is almost no gap between your tease and your scalp. If the teased hair is not sitting directly on the scalp, then the bouffant will loosen and the height will become unstable.
How can they minimize damage from all the backcombing?
Any excessive or aggressive action to the hair shaft, especially to thin or chemically processed hair, can result in split ends. The best way to avoid damaging healthy hair while achieving a bouffant is to use a teasing comb or brush and also to apply proper teasing techniques like locking the tease.
How do you care for your hair after creating a bouffant? I was very worried about matted hair or knots.
Never wet hair until the tease is completely brushed out, or you and your hair may regret ever having fun with a bouffant! The best way to remove a tease is to gradually disassemble the tease by following these steps:
Step 1: Hold a small teased section of hair straight up and away from the head.
Step 2: Working from the back of the teased section, and using a downward motion with a brush, gently scoop out a section of tease. Repeat this step until the hair has returned to its natural condition.
Who is the perfect candidate to bring this runway trend to life?
Any woman with the self-confidence to embrace regular change to their basic style (and enough hair spray) can rock a bouffant. By regular change, I mean innovation to their existing style and not drastic metamorphosis. What I preach to all my clients is a woman’s hair is her most important accessory—and the only accessory she wears all the time, every day.
Are extensions necessary to achieve the look or can backcombing alone achieve the desired height and texture?
For your style, we were able to create the bouffant without using extensions. But it’s always uplifting to add extensions to achieve added volume.
How should women put together their overall look to best play up a bouffant?
This is a choice of personal style, so anything goes. While a bouffant looks naturally elegant with formal wear, it adds bohemian flair to rock-glam style and adds a Mad Men feel to office chic. I recommend you experiment with the height, width and density of your bouffant to achieve different styles for different occasions. Remember, not all bouffants are created equal! Create an extreme version for an attention-grabbing fun night out on the town, and then keep the tease modest and only a few inches from the scalp for practical everyday wear. Most important is to challenge yourself to accessorize your hairstyle to your daily wardrobe. You’ll be shocked at your options and the results!
Photos: Oscar de la Renta (Getty Images); Aisha Singleton