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A Beautiful Updo For Any Dressy Event


I recently received a very sweet email from Eve, a regular visitor. She had questions about how to achieve a special look for an upcoming wedding she was attending. Eve graciously provided two photos of a gorgeous Asian woman with long perfectly straight hair and a slightly backcombed, gathered crown (photo to side and below). Eve wanted to learn how to achieve the style in the photo. Specifically she wanted to know how to get her own hair super straight as well as achieve and maintain the gathered crown look. (Photos to the side and below are courtesy of Eve).

At we try to address issues that are of general interest to the majority of our visitors. Since we get lots of email asking about updo ideas for weddings, homecomings, Prom and Winter Formals, this seemed like a good styling article to include. In addition, people are always interested in achieving that super straight look that the Asian model displays.

One thing is certain. If your hair is not naturally straight and you want this style to include straight hair, it is very important to start with the right shampoo, conditioners and styling tools. This is essential for ultimately turning your hair into super straight locks. This style can also look stunning with waves and natural curls (see photos below). However, many people love the long and sensuous look of the style that Eve wants to achieve.

I happen to have very wavy hair myself and there are times when I want my hair to be as straight as possible. It takes some work on my part but it is worth it. It is always a pleasure to create a style that highlights straight and shiny hair. Yes, I like my natural waves and I also happen to think naturally curly hair is beautiful. But sometimes, in my opinion, it just feels nice to get my hair stick straight.

Instructions For Creating This Style

Here are some step by step instructions for creating this look. 1. Wash your hair with a moisturizing shampoo to make your hair soft. I personally use either Aveda Shampure, Phytologie S88, Paul Pender's Rosemary All Natural Shampoo or Edwin Paul Luxury Shampoo. The key is to make the hair soft and supple so that it is easier to straighten.

The softer the hair the better chance you have of removing kinks, waves and curls. If you already have a favorite moisturizing shampoo that you get great results with, use that. If not, there are many on the market to choose from in both the salon line and the retail chains.

2. Use a good rinse-out conditioner. I personally prefer Aveda's Curessence (which adds lots of deep conditioning as a bonus). There are lots of great rinse-out conditioners to select from that will add to the softness of you hair, which is key for this look. Make sure your final rinse is a cool to cold blast of water to close your hair shaft.

3. Blot your hair dry carefully with a thick, absorbent towel. Do not rub or twist your hair. (Gowns to the side and just above are by Chessa e Bruno) 4. Use a very good detangling/leave-in conditioning product like Aveda's Curessence spray, or similar. Use a giant pick or comb and remove all the tangles. Start at the bottom of your hair and carefully work your way up to the roots. Take your time, be gentle, and get your hair as straight as possible. Don't pull on your hair so you can avoid ripping or splitting the ends. 4. If you want stick straight hair use a good temporary straightening balm. If you have a slight wave and want to show it off (photo below) or you want to leave your curls as they are naturally, you can skip the straightening balm. For straightening my naturally wavy hair I happen to love Edwin Paul's Smoothing Lotion but I have had good results with KMS Straight Out and other similar products. 5. Use a good blow dryer that is set on medium speed and cool temperature. Use a good paddle brush to dry your hair straight. Use the paddle brush to hold your hair taut as you blow-dry it. The tighter you are able to hold your hair the straighter it will be. Direct the dryer air from your hair roots down to the ends. This smoothes the hair shaft and adds shine as it straightens. If you have long layers be sure to dry the underlying sections first. When they are dry, clip them to one side and then dry the top hair. 6. After your hair is completely dry, set it on the largest sized hot rollers you can find. The larger the rollers the smoother the hair. Leave the rollers in your hair until they are completely cool. The longer you can leave the curlers in, the better hold you will get. Remove the rollers after your hair is cool and if possible, carefully pin the curls in place until right before you get dressed.

Note: If you are wearing a gown or outfit that has to be pulled over your head, put the outfit on BEFORE you add the rollers or before you remove them. 7. When you take the hot curlers out do NOT brush or comb your hair. Spray your fingers with a light shaping spray and the use your fingers to lightly arrange the hair. 8. To create the volume and the gathered crown hair complete the following: a. Take a rat tooth comb or a pick with wide teeth and carefully pull a section of 2-4 inches of hair from above your ear on either side. b. As you have the hair gathered on each side carefully add hair from the back of your head near the crown until you have gathered hair in a line from above your left ear to completely over to your right ear. You can make the section of your crown as thick or thin as you like. Experiment to get the right proportions of hair gathered. Jennifer Lopez likes this style and has been photographed with a similar look (see above). c. Capture all of the hair into a "hair friendly" elastic band the color of your hair. If you prefer, you can use a clip or other clasp. Cover the elastic band with a jeweled or sparkly barrette.

Place the barrette so it pushes the hair that you have gathered "up" towards the front of your hairline to give it the fullness. You can also decorate the back, sides and front with flowers, floating jewels or other hair jewelry. d. If you don't feel that this makes your hair full enough you can lightly "tease" or backcomb this section of hair to give it more fullness. If you prefer, you can use a small barreled curling iron to give this section more body and fullness.

Separate the crown hair into small sections and then use a small or medium barrel curling iron to give more fullness to the hair. e. It is important that you practice creating this style a few times before you actually wear it for the big event. Allow yourself plenty of practice times to experiment with either the backcombing or the curling iron to determine which works best for you. If neither method works to your satisfaction go to a beauty supply store and ask if you can buy a foam rubber French Twist piece or a "ratt" that will add instant fullness.

Buy any ratt or foam pieces in a color to match your natural hair so that it would not show. Ivana Trump uses ratts to give her hair fullness.

You can also use a clean pair of nylons rolled into a tight cigar shaped form and try them as a "ratt" of sorts. F. Once you have the style in place use a good hair spray to hold it in place.

If You Decide To Add Curls

This hairstyle is actually a good foundation for many variations of the style. You can wear the style loose and sexy like the photos at the top or you can dress it up for weddings or formal events.

You can wear the hair on the crown teased up, loose, or you can wear it piled with curls like shown to the side. There are many ways to have the height at the crown coupled with super straight locks, curls, ringlets or waves.

If you decide that you want to do just a few ringlets around your face to finish the style you will need to use a small to medium-barrel curling iron.

Separate hair into small sections from 1/2 to 1 inch in thickness. Spritz with a good setting lotion. Take the curling iron, clip the ends of hair near the base of the barrel. Hold the iron vertically, twisting carefully so that your hair coils around the iron.

Be careful not to tangle your hair so that the iron gets caught. If you do, take your time and carefully unwind the iron to avoid pulling or ripping hair.

Hold the curling iron in place for a minimum of 20 seconds. If you prefer looser or fatter curls or waves try medium hot rollers or bendable rods instead of the curling iron.

An important thing to remember is that the size of the curling iron or hot curlers that are used has a direct correlation to the size of the curls that will result.

Take your time and play with this look. Try all sorts of different variations until you have the style exactly the way that you love it.

There is no question that this is a stunning look for just about any formal event.

If you want to talk more about this or other hair care articles on or anywhere else, please post a message on's Hair Talk Forums.

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