Looking For Big (Hair, That Is)

Looking For Big (Hair, That Is)

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Photos courtesy of Pepsi Co/Jane HouleLeft: Cindy Crawford in the famous 1991 Pepsi commercial; Right: Sabrina preps Sara for some modern 90s volume.
Big 90s Hair

An awesome editorial hair stylist I’ve worked with, James Pecis, has a signature bumper sticker he uses to tag his hair kits, backstage at fashion shows, and, oh you know, Williamsburg, Brooklyn neighborhoods. It reads: “The higher the hair, the closer to Jesus,” and Miss Dolly couldn’t be more on point.

Credit our unabating obsession with all things 90s, but big hair is everywhere. Haloed by flyaways and a signature side swoop, there’s a certain “freedom” to the new big that makes it modern. As if sexy Cindy forgot about her steamy bath for a few days and added a bit of hair powder to her roller set. She’s Pepsi commercial Cindy’s slightly dirtier lil’ sis. As hair stylist Guido Palau, the man behind all that good root lift of the “Freedom 90” video puts it: “The combination of grunge and 90s supermodel gives hair a modern direction.” Who’s gonna argue with the man who handed Cindy her towel?

More importantly, how can we mere mortals get this modern take on 90s volume? Here’s the lowdown with some Freedom video tidbits thrown in, because aligning oneself with supermodels is always smart.

Mousse was a key product used on the Freedom set, albeit in different ways. Guido says: “It was all about bringing out their own personality. The girls all had such strong personalities and looked so different from each other. Cindy was a sexy wet style, Christy was glamorous and womanly, while Naomi was a natural beauty as she always is. Tatjana was more mysterious and romantic. They cultivated their own style.” 

He applied mousse to Tatjana Patitz and Linda Evangelista’s ‘dos from roots to ends. On Linda he used a small round brush to give her short boy crop subtle root lift, and on Tatjana he blow-dried and then went in with a 3/4 inch curling iron and pinned each curl to set it. He then applied a bit of hair oil to give the curl some moisture. His mousse of choice these days is Redken Guts 10 Volume Spray Foam and he’s a fan of Redken All Soft Argan-6 Oil.

I wanted it for myself, so my fine-haired friend Sara and I enlisted the help of the Director of Styling Education for Bumble and Bumble, Sabrina Michals, made like SJP, and set out looking for big.

Sara and I have very different textures. My hair strands are numerous and each individual strand is super thick, while Sara’s hair is fine with medium density; each of her strands is thinner than a sheet of paper. To achieve that awesome fluffiness, silicone stylers are banned for both of us because they smooth down the cuticle and take away the awesome dry texture.

But there’s more to this look than avoiding silicones. According to Eric Spengler, Chief Commercialization Officer/SVP R&D at Living Proof Haircare, “The most common way to add friction to hair is to rough up the cuticle. This gives hair the feeling of added texture and volume by creating more space between fibers.” However, since these methods can lead to breakage and even thinner hair, conditioning is essential. Lots of fine-haired ladies skip conditioner for fear of limpness—but don’t. A good product to try is Living Proof Full Conditioner, an oil- and silicone-free conditioner that won’t weigh down fine hair.

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