Backcombing For Beginners

If like me you’ve got fine hair, one of the best ways you can cheat the appearance of having big hair is by backcombing. For years I actually had no idea what backcombing was but basically, you comb the underside of your hair backwards and then smooth over the top section so it looks volumised and has added height. If you’re creating a beautiful ‘up-do’ or hair for a special occasion, backcombing is a great place to start. It is also how hairstyles such as Amy Winehouse’s trademark ‘beehive’ are created. Before you try backcombing your hair for yourself, there are some points you need to consider. Firstly, if you are trying to add some volume to your hair, it’s a good idea to use a clarifying shampoo every so often. These work by stripping away gunk and oils that have built up from other products that you have used which can weigh your hair down and make it appear flatter.

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Backcombed hair on my wedding day

You can also use volumising products such as shampoos, conditioners and mousses which can help to boost volume. Apply conditioner to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair only though as applying it to your scalp can weigh your hair down and make it appear greasy. Aussie have some really good volumising products which I highly recommend. Personally I find my hair easier to style a day or two after shampooing. I have very dry hair and if I try and style my hair when it’s freshly washed, it’s too slippery and the style just doesn’t hold as well, if at all. If you wish to backcomb freshly washed hair, try adding products that make your hair feel less slippery such as salt spray. 

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I like Aussie volumising products as an inexpensive, salon brand alternative 

Another good tip for adding volume to your hair is to blow dry it upside down. It’s an old trick which my mum was taught by a hairdresser years ago but it really does work as it dries your hair almost weightless. Next time you dry your hair, turn your head upside down and use the diffuser attachment on your hairdryer. And remember to use your hairdryer on a lower temperature setting to minimise heat damage. In terms of actually backcombing your hair, I would suggest watching some good tutorial videos before you attempt it yourself as backcombing can damage hair if done incorrectly. The basic technique is to take a section of hair that you wish to add volume to (most people choose the area right on top of their head and sometimes the sides too) and hold it straight and taught as close to the end of the hair as possible so that no strands of hair can work loose.

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L’Oreal Elnett is an easily available, inexpensive hairspray that works well for long lasting hold 

Then using a brush or comb halfway between the roots of your hair and your hand, repeatedly and firmly brush downwards towards your scalp to create a volumised ‘cushion’ of hair. If done correctly, it should look a complete mess at this point! But don’t worry, the next step is to use a brush to smooth over the top layer of hair. Work from the roots and brush very gently over the top layer only so you don’t remove the backcombing or flatten the volume you have just created. Once you have finished styling your hair, you can then set your style in place with hairspray. L’Oreal Elnett is a good, inexpensive hairspray to hold your style. I’m not overly keen on the smell but it holds really well and brushes out very easily so it is still my ‘go to’ hairspray. Backcombing isn’t the ‘dark art’ that many people consider it to be and as long as you use the correct technique, it’s a style that you can easily achieve at home. 

Until next time, stay beautiful x 

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