How to Do Big Hair

Illustrations by Kevin Hand

Texas women may not have invented big hair, but they realized long ago the allure of the coiffed crown. Just consider Ann Richards, who made it her trademark and once declared an official Big Hair Day, in 1993. The style is powerful yet elegant, bold but surprisingly down-home. As Gail Huitt, the former governor’s hairdresser, who has been a stylist in Austin for 43 years, points out, “Nothing is worse than a big-butted woman with a little head.” Though the look never fell flat here, hair-up-to-there is now experiencing a resurgence across the country. Jessica Simpson released a line of clip-on extensions; infomercials for the Bumpit, a leave-in volumizing insert, dominate late-night airwaves; and Vera Wang requested that her models wear modified beehives for her fall runway show. Thankfully, you don’t need tons of hair to have big hair—Richards had baby-fine strands, Huitt says—just a can or three of hairspray and a fine-toothed comb. Here’s how to achieve new heights at home.

1. Some hairdressers swear by dirty hair—the scalp’s oils are like a natural hair product—but Huitt recommends starting with freshly washed locks. Wick away moisture with a towel, then apply a volumizing product at the roots.

2. Flip your hair upside down and blow-dry completely with a diffuser attachment, which creates even more volume. Using the pointed end of a rattail comb, part the hair about two inches back from either your hairline or bang line.

3. Back-comb the sectioned hair at the roots and spray each teased piece with a(n) (un)healthy dose of Aqua Net. Continue parting, teasing, and spraying your way back toward your crown. Gently smooth out the top with your comb.

4. Curl and pin the ends if desired. Set the hair into an impenetrable helmet by fogging down the do one last time. “After that, don’t touch it,” says Huitt. “As soon as you put your hands in your hair, you break the fragile bonds of the product—or a fingernail.”

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