A gorgeous braided updo or an elegant chignon are perfect for New Year’s Eve, and having your hair pulled away from your face can really show off great bone structure and a graceful neck. We’ve certainly been seeing creative styles on the runways and red carpet for the past few years, with women like Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, and model Heidi Klum, above, all donning fabulous ’dos. But how does one achieve such styles? And without a personal hairdresser?
“Even professional hairdressers working on the most beautiful, financially-privileged women in the world use faux braids, ponytails, chignons and extensions to create those striking looks,” said San Francisco Bay Area hair and makeup artist Sarah E. Hyde. Having been in the biz for more than 20 years, Sarah has worked with many types of hairpieces and wigs—on my own head, and on the heads of brides, models and actresses.
I really trust Sarah; in fact, she’s responsible for the hair (and makeup) on model Anna Marie Braun, above, from this photo, shot by Danielle Fletcher exclusively for Beauty Shall Save the World back in 2010 at the amazing Blue Sky Studios. You can see how timeless the hairstyle is. It’s actually a faux ponytail, and made our towering model about 6’3″ tall!
Above is a behind-the-scenes look at the anatomy of Sarah adding the hairpiece to Anna, and below is the final look. As you can see, the hair color does not match perfectly in the photos above but blends seamlessly and believably in the shot below. Keep in mind that natural hair varies in texture and color so you want to go with something glamorous yet still natural looking.
There are ready-made hairpieces for every occasion and in innumerable styles. If you can afford to go to a hairdresser, take your piece with you and they will often weave your own hair into the mix for an ultra-believable look. Otherwise, try doing it yourself. I have a lot of personal experience with fake hair, so I like to use more than one hairpiece at a time. Experiment and practice your look now so that when New Year’s and Valentine’s Day come, you’re good to go. It’s not as impossible as it seems to have impossibly gorgeous hair. Here are some looks that are almost too good to be true.
Wear it like Penelope for the New Year, below…
…and half-up, half-down with a flower for Valentine’s Day. Not bad for under 40 bucks. Cheaper than a single visit to the hairdresser, and yet you can reuse the piece for years. Remember to incorporate accessories into the style, like a velvet bow or a hair gem or a beautiful headband, to keep it looking fresh. Accessories are also an easy way to hide loose ends or any imperfections.
This style works well with bangs and an effortless tousled kind of ease. But just because it looks effortless doesn’t mean it is. This little hairpiece was expertly added by Jennifer’s hair stylist and woven with some metallic ribbon. The fringy bangs and side tendrils make it look kind of messy in a bedroom hair kind of way. Sexy. I like this bun by Look of Love, below, to get the look, but you have to use your imagination…and a bit of hairspray, for the effect. Wear it low and messy on the nape of the neck like Jennifer, above, or higher on the head with slick hair for a completely different effect. Chopsticks optional.
Anyone can get this look with a braided headband. I’ve worn them for years, and they are super easy to pull off with your hair up or down. You should be able to find braided headbands in your beauty supply store for next to nothing. Wear two or three stacked together for the ultimate drama.
Miley Cyrus is blessed with many things, but waist-length silky smooth hair was never one of them. The ombré ponytail above is wrapped with her own hair for a sleek, dressy elegance. You can find fake ponytails everywhere online or in any beauty store or wig shop for 20 bucks or less. Don’t be afraid to backcomb the pieces or cut them to make them integrate better into your own hair. But remember, practice makes perfect so get started early to enjoy your new hair for a new era!