Did you know that one of the quickest (and most dramatic) ways to change your look is to change the way you part your hair? We didn’t understand the power of parts until recently, when Vanessa Alcala, a hairstylist at Marie Robinson Salon in Manhattan, let us in on the secret. Take a look…
Here, our friend Hayley Nichols wears her everyday side part. “A lot of women part their hair on auto-pilot,” says Vanessa, “but if you’ve been doing it the same way for years, changing your part can update your whole look.” Here are her three tips:
1. Go Far Right or Far Left
Vanessa says women who part their hair on the side usually approach it too conservatively. A side part can look meh if it isn’t far enough over. Instead of combing your hair into a side part when it’s wet and then blow drying around the part you created, try blow drying your hair until it’s at least 50 percent dry – working in all directions – before creating your part. Rake and lift your hands through your hair to find a natural part that’s emphatically on the side. If you’re wondering which side is best for you, Vanessa says to try both and then choose the side that gives your hair the best volume.
2. Don’t Be Too Centered
If you’ve tried a center part before but felt it looked too severe, give it another try, but this time create your part a little to the left or right of center. As with side parts, don’t create the part until you’ve dried your hair at least halfway and then use your fingers to lift and separate the hair before letting it fall on its own, creating as natural a middle part as possible. “Don’t be too contrived about finding a middle part,” Vanessa says. “Your natural middle part is rarely ever dead center.”
3. Mess It Up
Women often make their parts too straight, says Vanessa, by creating a strongly defined part line. But letting your part to fall naturally into place, allowing it to meander and curve, it looks more modern and less flat. Put down the brush, Vanessa says: “Use your fingers to encourage your hair to fall into place organically.”
That’s it! But since hairstyles are often easier said than done, here are some additional pro tips from Vanessa…
* Choose the Right Part
Vanessa says there are a few rules for what works best: Round faces benefit from a style that elongates the face, so try a middle part. Squarer faces, or women with strong jaw lines, look great with a deep side part, which softens their angles. And anyone lucky enough to have an oval face can experiment with either part.
* Work With Product
Vanessa swears by three products when creating a pretty part: Use Oribe texturizing spray before blowdrying. It gives fine hair a slight grit, which makes it much easier to style. You can also try using a little mousse in your damp hair to help set the style you’ll create. And, finally, her favorite light hair spray holds everything in place. (Vanessa prefers to spray her fingertips and apply it to just a few sections of hair, to keep it light.)
* Gather the Best Tools
A two-inch round brush like this one is a good everyday tool for blow drying, Vanessa says. She also recommends trying a flat iron to smooth a few individual sections of hair (you don’t have to do your whole head), slightly bending the flat iron with your wrist, back and forth, as you go to create a very subtle, bedhead-y wave.
* Create a Blank Canvas
If you normally part your hair on the side but want to try a middle part, or vice versa – or if you’ve had a super straight part for years and years and want to make it more natural – you might need to encourage your hair to start over. To do this, blow dry the whole center section of your hair (the hair that frames your forehead) while pulling it up and back. Brush toward your crown without letting it fall into a part. Then blow upward on either side of your head to create volume. Now you’re ready to make a fresh part!
Whichever part you try, Vanessa recommends giving yourself a little time to get used to a new look. It sounds strange, she says, but adjusting to a new part can be even harder than adjusting to a new cut. Keep the faith, though. We have seen the light.
Thank you so much, Vanessa!
What a difference, right?! Where do you part your hair these days? Would you try these?
(Photos by Nicki Sebastian for Cup of Jo. Hair styling by Vanessa Alcala of Marie Robinson Salon. Modeling by our friend Hayley Nichols, who is the office manager for Friends Work Here, home of Cup of Jo’s office.)