Imagine waking up and knowing that no matter what the day throws at you, your hair will look great. It’s the kind of dream that I have on a regular basis, so whenever I have the opportunity to quiz hair experts on creating flawless looks, I always make an abundance of notes. I want to know everything, including what products they keep in their kits, how to keep hair smooth, and how to give curls and coils more definition or hold. So when I got the chance to chat with industry-renowned hair artist Vernon François about all things hair, I jumped at it.
As a session and celebrity stylist, product line founder and recently appointed global consultant for Redken, François has coiffed hair for countless red carpet looks, cover shoots and TV appearances. Yes, this is a man who knows how to make all hair types look and feel amazing. Over the years, he’s styled the likes of Lupita Nyong’o, Laura Harrier, Serena Williams, Amandla Stenberg and Willow Smith—and that’s only a handful of his impressive clientele.
So to help you and me achieve our dreams of great hair every single day, read on for his simple hairstyling tips and favourite product recommendations. Trust me—they're basic but in a good way.
Tip #1: Skip the Heat
"Create waves overnight without heat," says François. "First, prepare straight or wavy hair with a prep spray. Next, take a long silk scarf—or an old soft, cotton T-shirt—cut into strips, then twist or braid this through the hair. You'll wake up to a fabulous wavy look with body and movement. Brush it out if desired."
Tip #2: Section Your Ponytail
"Style thick or dense hair into a ponytail in two or three sections to minimise tension at the scalp," explains François. "Start by taking a circle-shaped section of hair at the crown, pull that into a ponytail or a puff, and then gather the outer layer at the front, back and sides in to join it. This will enable you to get a slick, snatched look that’s kind to the delicate strands around the hairline."
Tip #3: Embrace a Hairpiece
"All hair textures can wear hair extensions for a dramatic but temporary change," says François. "Seek out good-quality hair extensions that mimic your hair's true texture. Preparing and styling the hair before applying it to your head will easily give you full control over all angles, minimising stress and saving you time. Once you’re happy with the shape, finish with a hair spray that gives shine and hold, like Redken's Pure Force 20."
Tip #4: Use Your Fingers
"Detangle kinky, coily, curly and wavy hair before styling using your fingers instead of a brush," advises François. "This will minimise breakage, help to keep kinks and curls formed, eliminate pulling and preserve length. Start at the ends of your hair and gradually work upwards, massaging out any tangles along the way. A spritz of my Leave-In Conditioner will help to speed the process along."
Tip #5: Try a Head Massage
"Self-care through head massage helps you feel relaxed, positive, and in the right frame of mind for approaching the styling of your hair," says François. "At the same time as stimulating circulation at the scalp, it encourages hair to be malleable for cooperative strands. A little hair oil on your fingertips is an extra treat while doing this. You’ll be glad you took the time."
Tip #6: Train Strands to Lie Flat
"For a sleek style that is effortlessly smooth, prepare hair the night before by training strands to lie flat against the head," explains François. "Apply a mousse, like Redken’s Guts 10, to damp hair. Then, French-braid or tie behind each ear, get the roots and hair around your face smooth, and just let it sit. Strands will be more cooperative the next day, meaning less pulling. Brush the ends out in the morning with a round brush if desired. This works particularly well for straight and wavy hair."
Tip #7: Deep-Clean Hair
"Cleanse post-workout hair and eliminate product build-up with my dry-shampooing technique," explains François. "Section hair before applying a sulphate-free shampoo directly on to dry hair. Massage into the scalp, emulsify with a little water, and then rinse through hair in the direction of the water flow. This deep clean sets the stage for conditioner being absorbed most effectively into hair afterward."
Tip #8: Play With Your Parting
"Elevate your look with minimal effort by changing where and how deeply you part your hair," says François. "Start the parting at the highest point of your eyebrow to add drama. Longer hair? Try parting it closer to your ear with most of your hair falling over the crown of your head for volume. You’ll show fresh kinks, coils, curls and waves instead of those usually exposed to the elements. Sweep and pin the smaller section up at the back by the nape to create shape."