Embrace Imperfect Hair

“Summer-evening hair should be slightly untamed, so it looks like the sun and humidity just created a natural, subtle bend,” says hairstylist David Babaii, who’s known for making stars like Scarlett Johansson, Kate Hudson, and Gwyneth Paltrow look gorgeously unkempt. His trick: Take random two- or three-inch sections of hair and wrap them around a large-barrel curling iron. Hold for just 10 seconds, release, and shake out the curl before it cools.

Do a Big Side Sweep

Girls with coarse or kinky hair know that going from the pool straight out to dinner does not happen,” says hairstylist Nelson Vercher of the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City, who has worked with Iman and Kelly Rowland. “The best idea is to create a balance of control and chaos by pulling some hair off your face and letting some fall loose and free.” To get “a totally now version of a disco ’80s look,” Vercher says, apply a styling cream (he uses Jane Carter Solution Condition & Sculpt, $9) to damp hair. Diffuse or air-dry, then finger-comb the hair on one side over to the other “so you have fullness falling over one shoulder.” Hold the pulled-over side back with bobby pins attached at two or three spots from the crown to the nape.

Try a Desert-Island Hair Accessory

A summer night is prime time to tuck a fresh flower in your hair, especially if you’re on vacation. Arrange your hair first (in a twist, ponytail, or half-up/half-down style) and add the flower where hair has been clipped or pinned. “Run a hairpin through the flower’s stem to help secure it,” says Danilo, “and make sure to use a bloom that will survive the night, like a small orchid or a sprig of freesia.” Really feeling one with nature? Make an organic headband: Stylist Ward Stegerhoek, who did the hair for Sports Illustrated‘s 2011 swimsuit issue, ties a strand of leather or raffia around a flower or weaves it through a few tiny seashells and wraps it around the head, knotting it at the nape.

Twist, Braid, or Knot it Back

“Tap into memories of being a kid in summertime and playing with your hair,” Danilo suggests. Add texture by spritzing a sea spray at the roots of damp or dry hair, then section hair into four parts: sides, top, and back. Gather the back section into a ponytail, then twist or braid the sides and top and pull them back, attaching each to the ponytail base with a hairpin. Even easier: Do one small braid and work it into your bun or pony. “It’s meant to look funky and interesting, not perfect and neat,” Danilo says. For inspiration, see Rachel McAdams’s loosely plaited updo.

Use Conditioner as a Styler

To make your hair touchable, skip heavy-duty products. “Go for an effortless hairstyle as opposed to a hairdo,” says Gwen Stefani’s stylist, Danilo. “To achieve this, use a conditioning spray rather than stiff hairspray or gel.” Mist a leave-in conditioner (like Pantene Medium-Thick Hair Solutions Detangler, $3.99) through damp hair, then dry it with a diffuser. “The less you work your hair, the more your natural texture comes into play.”


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