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Beauty Queen: Messy Braids

If you love the thought of adding a twisted edge to your look this spring, you are in luck. This month’s edition of Beauty Queen features one of this seasons key looks for your locks: messy braids. Several of our favorite fashionistas have pounced on the look, so we decided to get down to business and find out how it is done.


If you love the thought of adding a twisted edge to your look this spring, you are in luck. This month’s edition of Beauty Queen features one of this seasons key looks for your locks: messy braids. Several of our favorite fashionistas have pounced on the look, so we decided to get down to business and find out how it is done.

First, a little history. As with many trends, our first peek at messy braids came from the catwalk. In September 2009, leading trendsetter Alexander Wang sent models down the catwalk with oversized, messy braids (top, left). No doubt inspired, Rachel McAdams, Mary Kate Olsen and, more recently, Lauren Conrad, have all been seen out and about in a twisted version of their own braid. The look was also seen in the print world: Karlie Kloss sported the look for the Hermes spring ad campaign (top, right).

While messy braids appear effortless, there is more to it than meets the eye. “This look is great on pretty much everyone. You can control how ‘messy’ you get but, in my opinion, the messier and less styled the better!” says celebrity hair stylist George Papanikolas, whose clients have included Nicole Richie and Miley Cyrus. “The key to getting this look is not trying to make the braid too perfect. It usually works best with hair that isn’t freshly washed, so it is a great look if you were out the night before.”

So how do you get this look? “The Alexander Wang look is smooth, so you need to start with a good basic straight blow-out. Use a non-greasy smoothing crème on damp hair before you begin blow-drying,” says Jessica Tingley, who has worked with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Kate Bosworth. “Then, simply gather your hair into a low ponytail to one side, allowing soft layers to fall free and frame your face, then braid to the ends. After you finish the braid and secure the end, lightly rub your hand up the braid to ‘rough up’ the texture and give it that wispy, soft look.”

So what type of hair do you need? “This look works really well on long hair, with long layers or bands. The reason it looks so modern is that it has a soft volume and a wispy feel; it’s not tight and slicked back.”

Jessica recommends Aveeno Nourish + Volume Mousse, especially if you want to try the Rachel McAdams version, which isn’t as soft as the Alexander Wang version. “Start by applying a soft-hold mousse to add volume and hold, before blow-drying.”

For a finishing touch, George recommends Joico’s Design Collection Texture Spray to give your hair the roughed up, wispy beach texture, especially if your hair is clean or you want to give it more grit. “This will also help the braid hold together better,” he adds. “Don’t worry if a few strands are loose. It will add to the appeal.”

THANKS TO: George Papanikolas of the Andy Lecompte Salon and Jessica Tingley, an Aveeno celebrity stylist.

8 Comments

  1. Jaime

    February 26, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    Dying to rock this look this spring! I hope my hair is long enough lol

  2. Jaime

    February 26, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    Dying to rock this look this spring! I hope my hair is long enough lol

  3. Rachel

    February 26, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    I’m really loving the braids! I wish my hair was long enough to do this though!

  4. Rachel

    February 26, 2010 at 10:31 AM

    I’m really loving the braids! I wish my hair was long enough to do this though!

  5. Audrey Allure

    February 26, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    I love the look of the messy braids; I definitely want to try it when my hair grows a bit longer 🙂

  6. Audrey Allure

    February 26, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    I love the look of the messy braids; I definitely want to try it when my hair grows a bit longer 🙂

  7. Sherin

    February 26, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    I love messy braids. They are so not easy to do though! Lauren Conrad looks really good with hers.

  8. Sherin

    February 26, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    I love messy braids. They are so not easy to do though! Lauren Conrad looks really good with hers.

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