How To Perfect Your Messy Hair Look

Sable Yong


Whether it’s the influence of Parisian-chic or perhaps just enough inspirational #iwokeuplikethis selfies, the messy hair look is a complex conundrum of “just the right amount of imperfection” vs. “did you, perchance, have an argument with a leaf-blower?” but ultimately is completely covetable. Everyone’s messy style will be different depending on hair texture and length, but pretty much everyone agrees that when done “right,” the alluring quality lies half in the nonchalance of the wearer as well as in the expert coaxing of one’s natural texture to look its best without looking contrived. In layman’s terms—let your freak flag fly (with ample volume, natch).

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First, you’re going to want to take a bit of consideration to your hair’s natural texture. Thick, coarse, frizzy, curly? While you may lament its unruly nature most days, messy hair is basically what your hair is best at. Lucky you, all you’ll need are some light styling products with probably no heat-styling required. Messy hair truly shines on your second-day and longer after washing, when your scalp’s natural oils have had a chance to impart some grit and body to your hair. Work with it. If your hair naturally gets a bit oilier at the roots than you’re comfortable with, dry shampoos and texture powders are your magic wand. They’ll sop up the grease without sacrificing body and volume.

For those of you with naturally stick-straight, fine hair, don’t cry out just yet. Messy-chic hair is within your reach, though it’ll take a bit more effort. If you’re cool with keeping your straight hair straight, sprayable dry waxes are the easiest way to impart a bit of texture and separation in your hair. There are also dry finishing sprays that set your hairstyle with light-as-air texture. You can also use beach/sea salt sprays to give straight hair that same texture. For volume, reach for those texturizing powders again—they function both as a way to get some voluminous grit at your roots while simultaneously absorbing extra oil, so feel free to dust some at your roots for lift. If you wish your straight hair had more body, you could use a bit of heat styling, or perhaps a bit of sleep-styling.

Sleeping in one or two buns on top of your head after coating your strands in a light styling cream will give you bends and waves upon waking up. If those come out WAY too wavy/curly, you can always loosen those up by lightly spraying styling spray or applying a light texture cream on the extra bendy bits and finger-styling. If you just decided you want waves upon waking up sans buns, using a curling wand on errant sections of hair will give you spontaneous movement, especially after you break up the waves with your fingers and blend them with the rest of your hair. The dueling textures will give you that undone quality without going overboard with the curl/wave pattern.

The wash-and-go method works great for low maintenance messy styles on naturally wavy hair. After towel-drying hair, use a texture/curl cream and distribute throughout damp (but not very wet) hair from mid-shaft to ends, and mold/sculpt/twist pieces to your liking so it dries in that direction. And voila—hair dried to your desired finish.

Now, the best way to wear messy hair may ideally be riding in a convertible, top-down. If you don’t have that at your disposal, some well-executed hair flips will do the trick.

MORE: How To Pull Off A Messy Bun If You Have Short Hair