Spring is here, the sun is doing its thing and we're at the cusp of festival season. So how are we already running out of ways to style our hair up and away from the nape of our necks?
Before defaulting to a ho-hum pony, we flashed to E! Style Collective member Nikki Lee's Instagram feed and the goddess braids she's weaved for us in the past. Hope!
To build on our braiding expertise, we called on the boundary-pushing talents of Laini Reeves, the hairstylist who sends stars like Emily Blunt and Amy Adams down the red carpet in styles that appear intricate but are deceptively doable.
Case in point: Emily Blunt's halo braids. While the style stood out on the red carpet during awards season, Reeves noted that the look is just as right at the beach or at Bonnaroo.
To get the look at home you'll need to call on a few updates to conventional braiding style.
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Volumize hair: One pratfall of around-the-head braids? Hair pulled so tight to the crown can look more Little House on the Prairie than modern-day festival warrior.
To combat this effect, Reeves suggested applying a strong-hold mousse (like Blow Pro Body By Blow No Crunch Volumizing Mousse) to the length of the hair—from root to tips—then rough drying with a blow-dryer. "This swells the hair so it will look fluffy and light, but not product-y," Reeves explained.
Repeat the process another time or two to pump hair to towering heights. (The thinner the hair, the more times these steps should be repeated to reach maximum volume.)
Allow an off-kilter part: Oftentimes around-the-head braids follow a familiar formula, in which a sharp center or side part is cut for an exacting look. To create a more of-the-moment effect, start braiding from where your hair naturally parts. Creating the look slightly off-center adds a fresh twist to a time-honored style, Reeves noted.
Reverse your braid: When strands are woven over one another, hair lies closer to the head. Today's braid requires more lift. Leave a 3-inch circle of hair free at the nape, then braid remaining hair by weaving pieces under one another, the stylist instructed. This will give more height to the overall look.
Braid the remaining hair and pin ends or snake sections across the back of the head to connect.
Rough it up: To add a final touch of nonchalance to the look, Reeves suggested running a hand along the braids to undo them a bit and create texture. Next, use hands to create friction at the hairline near the ears and temples to create flyaways. (Yes, you read that right, flyways help make the look.) "This makes the hair look softer and creates a style that works for a festival or an event," she said.
Here's hoping that this festival season, easy braids will dethrone the ubiquitous flower crown once and for all.