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Any Which Way But Loose

Blueprint, July/August 2007

As the mercury rises and your desire to be near a hot blow-dryer plummets, it's time to learn some super-easy, super-stylish ways to wear your hair. New York City stylist John Ruidant shows you how to take it up, smooth it down, and gorgeously twist it all around.

Braids of Glory
"Don't fight your hair's natural wave in the summer -- go with it," Ruidant says. To create this romantic style (at left), he side-parted hair, then divided off two sections near the face and French-braided them, securing each with an elastic band. He pulled the rest into a loose bun and wrapped the braids around it, fastening them discreetly with bobby pins. Set it with a long-lasting hairspray, such as Garnier Fructis Style Sleek & Shine Anti-Humidity Hairspray ($4, drugstores).

Bun on the Run
A simple braid can become a refined knot in no time flat. Try this style next time you're dashing out the door; your mind may feel frazzled, but your hair will have the poise of a ballerina.

1. To get hair sleek, work in a strong-hold wax, such as Redken Rough Paste 12 Working Material ($15, for stores). Run a natural boar-bristle brush through hair to distribute the product, and pull into a low ponytail.

2. Divide ponytail into three even sections and braid, securing the ends with a clear elastic band. Try Sephora Snag-Free Hair Elastics ($3.50 for 8, "If any pieces poke out of your braid midway, push them back in using the end of a rat-tail comb," Ruidant says.

3. To finish, wrap braid around the base of the ponytail to create a bun (or tie in a knot if hair is long). Tuck ends under the bun and secure with bobby pins.

Polished Ponytail
A classic pony is the quickest way to give longer hair a pulled-together look. Add a neat tuck and a sleek twist, and this schoolgirl staple takes on real sophistication.

1. Apply a light styling cream, such as Biolage Hydratherapie HydraSeal Leave-In Creme ($14, for stores). Use a natural, boar-bristle brush to distribute the cream, and then sweep hair up into a high ponytail.

2. Give your ponytail volume by teasing its under layers with a comb. But keep the top layer, which will cover the teased hair, sleek. Next, secure another elastic about 3 inches from the ends.

3. Tuck ends under ponytail and fasten with bobby pins. Wrap ends around ponytail's base to cover the elastic.

Band Leaders
Those with shorter lengths can look chic just by sliding on a headband. Vibrant wraps that contrast with your hair color come off dramatic, while matching tones are more demure.

A modern head wrap, like this bright azalea one by Jennifer Behr ($128,, offers style in spades, and other benefits to boot: If you have bangs, it holds them neatly in place. And because it's such an eye-catching accessory, you can forgo earrings. To style, slip the wrap over your head, then position it. "Most people look good with it pushed back and a little hairline showing --it's flattering," Ruidant says. "If you want a more face-framing look, wear it pushed forward, covering your hairline." Instead of blow-drying hair into smooth submission, give ends a playful lift. Just rub a pea-size amount of soft, tacky pomade, such as Pantene Texturize! Texture & Shine Defining Pomade ($4, available at drugstores), in hands and then work it into ends. Back-comb a few layers for volume.

You don't have to go totally goody-goody just because you're wearing a headband. If you're up for a walk on the wilder side, shorter hair can take a fun, very tousled turn. To get volume galore, apply a medium- to firm-hold mousse to damp hair, from roots to ends. Try Catwalk Root Boost ($8, for stores). Then hit hair with a dryer, lifting it at the root or flipping your head upside down to give ends some direction. For those with fine, slick hair that doesn't hold a headband well, Ruidant has a fix: "Back-combing the area under and behind the band prevents it from slipping off." And if you have very short hair, you can still try a version of this look by using pomade and roughing up strands with fingers. Cara Accessories "Chunky Stone" headband, $68, Henri Bendel, 212-247-1100

Text by Elizabeth Graves

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