Shu Uemura’s Gallery of Style | Vote For Your Favorite Hairstyle!

September 04, 2019
Lesley Rotchford
By: Lesley Rotchford
Shu Uemura’s Gallery of Style | Vote For Your Favorite Hairstyle!

Whether they’re snipping hair into sleek, sculptural bobs or molding it into a dramatic updos, hairstylists are true artists. Shu Uemura Art of Hair is honoring hair innovators by hosting the 3rd annual Gallery of Style competition. They challenged hairstylists working in Shu Uemura salons to create, photograph, and submit an avant-garde look that embodies the competition’s “Tokyo Rama” theme (in other words, a style that riffs off Tokyo’s diverse landscape, combining the concepts of modern design and traditional architecture).

The 15 US semi-finalists have just been announced! That’s where you come in—between now and April 24th you can view their creations and vote for your favorite. From there, five national finalists will be selected and flown to New York City to recreate their submission at a professional photo shoot. The national judges will choose one winning hairstylist, who will go on to the international competition in Tokyo—and the finalist’s hair look will be featured on the cover of Estetica Magazine’s September 2017 issue.

Now, when you see these looks, your first thought is probably going to be: These are so cool! And your second thought is probably going to be: But who would ever wear this kind of thing around town? A valid point—but these works of art can be easily reimagined to fit everyday life. Travis Valdez, education development manager for Shu Uemura Art of Hair, explains how he and his team translated last year’s semifinal looks into totally wearable street styles.

lived in french braid

LOOK #1: Lived-in French Braid by Nicole Tomasch

Avant-Garde Look

“To me, ‘Tokyo Vibe’ is the harmonious combination of tradition and trend. My interpretation is a style that embodies the history of the culture (Geisha and Samurai silhouettes) and the creativity of modern trends.”

—Nicole Tomasch

 Wearable Version

Crimping is an easy way to create volume and texture. The side “Dutch” French braid enhances the edginess of the look and is a nod to the braids in the avant-garde style,” says Valdez.

Step 1: Build volume

Work a plum-size amount of Shu Uemura Ample Angora Volumizing Mousse into dry hair, which will add volume and protect hair from heat damage. Working mousse into dry hair prevents crunchiness.

Step 2: Dry your strands

Blow-dry your hair to help your it absorb the mousse.

Step 3: Crimp the hairline

Take a one-inch section of hair at the hairline. Starting from the scalp and working your way down to the ends, crimp hair with a crimping iron. Continue crimping your entire head of hair in one-inch sections.

Step 4: Make a braid

Separate a one-inch section of hair on the opposite side of the fuller side of your part. Separate into three equal pieces and start to French braid inside out (instead of pulling each section of hair over the center section, pull under); secure with a hair elastic.

Step 5: Use hairspray for hold

Finish by misting hair with Shu Uemura Sheer Lacquer Finishing Hairspray, which gives hair strong but flexible hold and protects against heat damage and humidity.

messy side bun

Look #2: Messy Side Bun by Yuki Yasui

Avant-Garde Look

“I was born and raised in Japan. I was inspired by Japanese nature. The fluidity of waves, forests, and mountains were all aspects that inspired my creation.”

—Yuki Yasui

Wearable Version

To make this look better suited for everyday life, we make the waves a little looser to add more natural movement, turned a low side ponytail into a ‘cord’ braid that we twisted into a loose bun, and we left a few strands around the face and draped over the ear to give the style a soft, flirty feel,” says Valdez.

Step 1: Try a hair primer

Spray Shu Uemura Wonder Worker Air Dry/Blow Dry Multi-Tasking Primer on damp or towel-dried hair, from mid-shaft to ends. Wonder Worker hydrates and tames frizz.

Step 2: Twist small sections

Twist damp hair into one-inch sections.

Step 3: Tousle strands

Let hair air dry and then rake through hair with your fingers. Mist Sheer Lacquer throughout the strands.

Step 4: Create a low ponytail

Leaving out two-inch sections of hair above each ear (clip these sections back to keep them temporarily out of the way), pull strands into a low side ponytail at the nape of the neck and secure with an elastic. Separate the ponytail into two sections and twist them in opposite directions. Tease upward to add texture if needed.

Step 5: Twist and pin

Twist each section up to the hair elastic and casually pin, allowing pieces to fall naturally out of the messy bun.

Step 6: Add face-framing sections

Release the sections of hair above the ears to frame the side of your face. Pin any remaining loose strands into the messy bun if needed. Finish with another layer of Sheer Lacquer.

pumped up ponytail

Look #3: Pumped up Ponytail by Jennifer Gillis

Avant-Garde Look

“Tokyo vibe—a juxtaposition of traditional Japanese influences and an explosion of all things modern. Fluidity and movement were major themes in my creation, as a result of my study of the dragon and its tradition in Japanese culture.”

— Jennifer Gillis

Wearable Version

“A high ponytail is always flattering. This look gives you just the right amount of lift at the crown, plus the perfect amount of volume and definition in your ponytail,” explains Valdez.

Step 1: Separate the crown section

Section off about four inches of hair on the top of your head, starting at the hairline and moving back to the crown. Clip in place.

Step 2: Make a ponytail

Pull remaining hair into a mid-height ponytail.

Step 3: Curl front sections

Take front section of hair out of the clip. Brush through and spray with Sheer Lacquer for hold and shine. Take a one-inch section from your hairline and curl it away from your face using a one-inch curling iron. Clip curl in place to help it set and let it cool.

Step 4: Curl and clip up

Divide the remaining hair in that front section into two more sections (one in front of the other) and curl and set each section, so you have a row of three clipped curls.

Step 5: Create texture and volume

Remove clips and bring down each curled section. Add three clicks of Shu Uemura Volume Maker Invisible Texturizing Powder to the root of each curl, and massage the product into the scalp for lift and grip.

Step 6: Volumize the tail

Wrap remaining pieces of hair around the base of the ponytail; secure the ends underneath the ponytail with a bobby pin. Tease the ponytail with your fingers and spritz hair with Sheer Lacquer.

teased pony

Look #4: Teased Ponytail by Karly Cagliani

Avant-Garde Look

“I was inspired by Japanese street style, more specifically the bright colors and decorated hairstyles worn in Harajuku fashion. My look was influenced by their eye-catching fringe and double ponytails.”

—Karly Cagliani

Wearable Version

This is about contrasting textures. You have sleek, polished hair on top and then a full, matte, textured ponytail. It’s a runway-ready look that feels completely right for real life too,” adds Valdez.

Step 1: Use a styling cream

Squirt a dime-sized amount of Shu Uemura Kengo Feather Tenacious Hold Cream into the palm of your hands and rub your palms together to emulsify the product.

Step 2: Make a sleek ponytail

Apply the product from your hairline to the nape of the neck, and then smooth hair back into a low center ponytail; secure with an elastic.

Step 3: Curl the tail

Take a one-inch section of hair in the ponytail and wrap it around a ¾-inch curling iron to create spiral curls. Curl the entire ponytail.

Step 4: Apply texturizer and tease

Dust three clicks of Volume Maker from mid lengths to ends to add volume and texture. And then tease the hair in the ponytail using a teasing brush.

Step 5: Cover the elastic

Take a one-inch section of hair from the ponytail and wrap it around the ponytail elastic; secure the ends under the base of the ponytail with a bobby pin.

Step 6: Spray for hold

Mist Sheer Lacquer on the ponytail to keep the teased hair in place.

textured mohawk braid

Look #5: Textured Mohawk Braid by Summer Verrett

Avant-Garde Look

“Japanese warrior meets Tokyo 2016. This is a style that reflects Japanese culture of the past and present. It’s timeless.”

—Summer Verrett

Wearable Version

“A textured mohawk braid is fun and unique—but can be tricky to pull off. This chic, easy-to-create version is actually multiple ponytails that have been ‘Frenched’ together,” explains Valdez.

Step 1: Make a small front ponytail

Grab a one-inch section of hair at the hairline and pull it back into a slightly off-center ponytail and secure with an elastic. Clip the ponytail off to the side.

Step 2: Add a second ponytail

Create a ponytail of equal density right behind the first ponytail and secure with a hair elastic.

Step 3: Split the two tails

Split the first ponytail into two equal parts. Pull the second ponytail through the center of the first ponytail and clip to the side.

Step 4: Keep making small ponytails

Take tails from first ponytail and create a third ponytail. Split second ponytail in half and pull the third ponytail through the center and clip to the side. Continue this pattern down your head; secure end of mohawk braid with a hair elastic.

Step 5: Boost volume

Spray Shu Uemura Texture Wave Dry Texturizing Spray throughout the braid from the hairline to the ends to add volume and definition.

Step 6: Pull apart sections to create height

Expand each section with your fingertips, and then spray the mohawk braid with Sheer Lacquer.

half up topknot

Look #6: Half up Top Knot by Jasmine Galazka

Avant-Garde Look

“I was inspired by Tokyo’s modern architecture as well as the historic Geisha-inspired bun. The ladder braids represent sticks, which were used by Geishas in their hair to ward off evil.”

— Jasmine Galazka

Wearable Version

“With just minor tweaking, the avant-garde top knot becomes a polished day or night look. It’s a go-to look for second or third day hair—simply apply Shu Uemura Shape Paste to add hold and texture,” says Valdez.

Step 1: Pull into a high ponytail

Section off the top three inches of hair and pull strands into a high ponytail; secure with an elastic.

Step 2: Tame with molding paste

Take a dime-size amount of Shape Paste and rub it between your palms, then spread it onto your ponytail for hold and control.

Step 3: Braid the tail

Separate hair into three sections and braid the ponytail; secure ends with an elastic. Add thickness by pulling the braid apart starting at the bottom and working your way up.

Step 4: Create a braided bun

Twist the braid around the base of the ponytail, pinning as you go along to keep the top knot in place.

Step 5: Fluff the bun

Pull hair apart a little to expand the top knot and then apply Sheer Lacquer.

Step 6: Smooth and add shine

To smooth the hair outside of the top knot, apply a dab of Essence Absolue on your palms. Press palms through the hair, from mid-length to ends.

Read More: 
The Best Style of Layers for Your Face Shape and Hair Type
3 Haircuts to Try if You Have Super Fine, Thin Hair
4 Steps to Create the Perfect Low Bun