Messy Hair

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How to Achieve a Messy Hair Effect

In this Article:Selecting Your Messy LookStyling Long Hair with the Messy EffectTousling Short HairCommunity Q&A

The messy hair look has gained popularity. It looks good on all hair lengths and with all hair textures. It is a great way to give off an unassuming impression while looking your best. With the right tools and products, you can make this hair effect work for you in the best way possible.


Selecting Your Messy Look

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    Determine your hair texture. Depending on the texture of your hair, you may need to add some product to make sure your messy hair maintains the look you want all day long. It is important to have the proper tools of the trade before you get started.[1]

    • If your hair is thick, coarse, or curly, you are in luck. This look is going to be easy for you. All you will need is a light styling product to keep the frizz in control. You will not need any kind of heat styling (like a curling iron or blow dryer).
    • If your hair is wavy, this look will be pretty easy for you. A little texture cream should be all you need.
    • If your hair is fine or straight, do not worry. With the right products, you can add texture to your hair that will make sure the messy look stays put. Get some styling products that add texture (like sea salt, volumizer, or texturizing pomade). You will probably need to use those with some blow-drying and curling.
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    Consider your hair length. You may have short hair, medium length hair, or long hair. The length of your hair affects the amount of product you use, how long it takes to style your locks, and which messy look you want.

    • Short and medium length hair look best with both tousled messy hair and curly messy hair. Tousled messy hair is done with your fingers. If you are going for the curly messy hair and you have short hair, be sure to use a smaller barrel size of curling iron.[2]
    • Long hair can also do both types of messy hair but generally looks better with curly messy hair. You will use a larger barrel curling iron because you want loose curls that you can tousle with your fingers.[3]
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    Decide which style of messy hair you want. There are a few ways you can achieve the messy hair effect depending on the look you are going for and the texture of your hair. You can go for tousled messy hair, curly messy hair, or combine them.

    • If your hair is wavy or curly you can achieve any of the messy effects without much extra effort.[4]
    • If your hair is fine, curling the hair first will help maintain the messy hair effect longer. Just tousling the hair with your fingers will not be enough, even with product in your hair. It will benefit you to have the heat styling help of a curling iron.[5]
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    Gather your tools. Depending on your hair texture and length, and which style of messy hair you want to achieve you will need a few tools and products to make your messy hair look fabulous.[6]

    • If your hair is curly, a curl-forming cream will keep your curls under control without weighing them down. Avoid using texture sprays and anything with alcohol. If your hair tends to frizz you can try a lightweight frizz control product as well.
    • If your hair is wavy, try a sea salt spray to add texture and keep your messy look lasting all day long.
    • If your hair is fine and straight, you will want a texture wax or molding balm. This will help your hair stay in place after curling and tousling.
    • You will also need a brush, a blow dryer, and a curling or flat iron (unless your hair is already curly).


Styling Long Hair with the Messy Effect

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    Wash your hair. First, you need to wash your hair. You can prepare your hair by using a shampoo or conditioner that adds moisture or controls frizz. Remember that rinsing your hair in cool or cold water adds a nice sheen to your hair.[7]
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    Towel-dry your hair. Dry your hair so that there is no excess water dripping from the ends of your locks. Press your hair between the folds of the towel rather than rubbing the towel on your head. Sometimes it helps to pull your hair into a towel and leave it there for a few minutes while it sops up the water.[8]
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    Apply any necessary product to your hair. By now you should have your products ready to go. Apply any texturizing products you may need to your hair. If you are using pomade or wax, work it into your hair from the roots first.[9]

    • Some people prefer to apply their product after they blow-dry their hair. This is usually only done with lighter products like sea salt spray or anti-frizz spray.
    • If your hair is fine you may need to tease the product into your roots. You can do this by pulling apart the top layer of your hair and running a comb or brush through it backward. Start from midway through the strand and comb to the root. Keep doing this until a knotted mess forms.[10]
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    Blow-dry your hair. Dry your hair using a blow dryer. If your hair is fine, flip your head upside down and blow-dry it from the roots first by massaging your fingers into your roots. This will help add volume to your hair.
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    Curl your hair. Unless you have curly hair you will need to curl it a bit before you tousle it. To curl your hair you have a few options, depending on how controlled or messy you want your curls to look.

    • If you want controlled curls you can use a wide barrel curling iron (½ inch to 1 inch wide). Curl sections of your hair, settings them aside as you go. When you have curled all your hair, spray the hair with sea salt or holding spray. Tousle it a bit by running your fingers through it and scrunching it. You can also achieve this using a flat iron as a curling iron.[1]
    • If you want more casual curls, spray a section of your hair with sea salt or holding spray. Twist the section until it twists into a small bun, and clamp it down while it dries (or dry it with your blow dryer). Do this until all your hair is clamped down. Release all the twists and run your fingers through them.[2]
    • If your curls are too controlled you can pull them apart with your fingers. This will create a looser look.
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    Tousle your hair. If you are going straight for the tousled look, all you need to do is apply some texturizing spray or holding gel/spray and tousle your hair with your fingers. Sometimes it helps to flip your head upside down to do this.[3]
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    Apply hair accessories. If you want you can wear a headband, barrette, some pins, or pull the hair back into a ponytail. If you do not want to do any of that you can just leave your beautiful locks free flowing.[4]


Tousling Short Hair

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    Wash and dry your hair. To prep your hair for styling, use a moisture rich shampoo and conditioner on your hair to wash it. Then, dry your hair by gently squeezing your hair with a towel. Do not try to wrap your hair up in a towel to dry it, as this can damage your hair.

    • If you have curly hair, you may want to use spray gel after towel drying your hair to maintain your curl. Put a few dollops of the spray and run it through the bottom section and the roots of your hair.[11]
    • If you have straight or fine hair, you can use a large dollop of volumizing mousse in your hair to give it some body.
    • If you have medium to thick hair, you can apply a styling cream to help control any flyaways. Use your fingers to comb it through your hair for easy, even application.
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    Blow dry your hair with a diffuser dryer. You should then use a diffuser dryer to dry your hair until it is about 85 percent dry. Avoid touching your hair a lot as you dry it, as this will create more frizz.[12]

    • You can try flipping your hair and run the dryer through your hair to dry it quickly and efficiently.
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    Secure the top section of your hair. Use a hair tie or a clip to lift up the top section of your hair, from your hairline, to secure it so it is out of the way. If your hair is short enough that you do not have any layers in your hair, or layers long enough to tie back, you can skip this step.
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    Apply a heat protectant. Make sure you protect your hair from the heat of the curling wand by using a heat protectant. You can find heat protectant at your local beauty supply store or drugstore.[13]

    • Look for a heat protectant that is also a styling spray, as this will allow it to protect your hair and make it easier to style.
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    Wrap the lower section of your hair around a wide-barrel curling wand. Alternate between holding the wand vertically and horizontally, as this will create more messy look. You should curl one small section vertically and then switch to curling the next small section horizontally.[14]

    • Start by curling your hair vertically, wrapping your hair on the wand, away from your face. Release it after about five seconds. Then, turn the wand so it is horizontal and wrap the hair around it, away from your face. Release after five seconds.
    • Follow this sequence, alternating between vertical and horizontal, all the way around your head.
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    Repeat on the middle and top sections of your hair. Once you have finished curling the lower section, take out some of the hair from the small ponytail at the top of your head to create a middle section. Then, repeat the alternating curls all the way around your head for the middle section.[15]

    • If you have a lot of hair left in your ponytail, you may be able to create a top section of hair that you would then curl in the same way. If you only have the small pieces that frame your face left in your ponytail, take them out and curl the small pieces in alternating directions.
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    Apply sea salt spray for a matte texture. Finish your messy hair look by spritzing your hair with sea salt spray. Use your fingers to scrunch up the ends of your hair to create a nice, matte texture.[16]