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The Five Keys To Creating The Perfect Updo

Maggie Mulhern | February 28, 2019 | 11:39 AM
Ann Bray always rises to the occasion when creating one of her amazing updo'[email protected]_alvarez_babylisspro
Photo By @luis_alvarez_babylisspro Photo 1 of 11
Ann Bray perfecting an updo.Photography: @luis_alvarez_babylisspro
Photo By Photography: @luis_alvarez_babylisspro Photo 2 of 11
Hair: @annbray for @aquagehaircarePhotography: @luis_alvarez_babylissproHaircolor: @nicole_fowler_aquage @lesliewilson_aquage and @maybesaylor for @ruskhaircareMakeup: @dutchpolaroidFashion Designers: @lorysunartistry and @verygathercole Fashion Stylists: @leahsnow17 and @twomuchstyle
Photo By Photography: @luis_alvarez_babylisspro Photo 3 of 11
Hair: @annbray for @aquagehaircarePhotography: @luis_alvarez_babylissproHaircolor: @nicole_fowler_aquage @lesliewilson_aquage and @maybesaylor for @ruskhaircareMakeup: @dutchpolaroidFashion Designers: @lorysunartistry and @verygathercole Fashion Stylists: @leahsnow17 and @twomuchstyle
Photo By Photography: @luis_alvarez_babylisspro Photo 4 of 11
Hair: @annbray for @aquagehaircarePhotography: @luis_alvarez_babylissproHaircolor: @nicole_fowler_aquage @lesliewilson_aquage and @maybesaylor for @ruskhaircareMakeup: @dutchpolaroidFashion Designers: @lorysunartistry and @verygathercole Fashion Stylists: @leahsnow17 and @twomuchstyle
Photo By Photography: @luis_alvarez_babylisspro Photo 5 of 11
Hair: @annbray for @aquagehaircarePhotography: @luis_alvarez_babylissproHaircolor: @nicole_fowler_aquage @lesliewilson_aquage and @maybesaylor for @ruskhaircareMakeup: @dutchpolaroidFashion Designers: @lorysunartistry and @verygathercole Fashion Stylists: @leahsnow17 and @twomuchstyle
Photo By Photography: @luis_alvarez_babylisspro Photo 6 of 11
Hair: @annbray for @aquagehaircarePhotography: @luis_alvarez_babylissproHaircolor: @nicole_fowler_aquage @lesliewilson_aquage and @maybesaylor for @ruskhaircareMakeup: @dutchpolaroidFashion Designers: @lorysunartistry and @verygathercole
Photo By Photography: @luis_alvarez_babylisspro Photo 7 of 11
Hair: @annbray for @aquagehaircarePhotography: @luis_alvarez_babylissproHaircolor: @nicole_fowler_aquage @lesliewilson_aquage and @maybesaylor for @ruskhaircareMakeup: @dutchpolaroidFashion Designers: @lorysunartistry and @verygathercole
Photo By Photography: @luis_alvarez_babylisspro Photo 8 of 11
Hair: @annbray for @aquagehaircarePhotography: @luis_alvarez_babylissproHaircolor: @nicole_fowler_aquage @lesliewilson_aquage and @maybesaylor for @ruskhaircareMakeup: @dutchpolaroidFashion Designers: @lorysunartistry and @verygathercole
Photo By Photography: @luis_alvarez_babylisspro Photo 9 of 11
Hair: @annbray for @aquagehaircarePhotography: @luis_alvarez_babylissproHaircolor: @nicole_fowler_aquage @lesliewilson_aquage and @maybesaylor for @ruskhaircareMakeup: @dutchpolaroidFashion Designers: @lorysunartistry and @verygathercole
Photo By Photography: @luis_alvarez_babylisspro Photo 10 of 11
Hair: @annbray for @aquagehaircarePhotography: @luis_alvarez_babylissproHaircolor: @nicole_fowler_aquage @lesliewilson_aquage and @maybesaylor for @ruskhaircareMakeup: @dutchpolaroidFashion Designers: @lorysunartistry and @verygathercole Fashion Stylists: @leahsnow17 and @twomuchstyle
Photo By Photography: @luis_alvarez_babylisspro Photo 11 of 11

Doing a proper “updo” is so much harder and more complicated than you think. MODERN decided to check in with award winning and master stylist Ann Bray to ask her to share her tips on what a stylist must do to get a perfect result.

“Asking Ann Bray how to ‘pin’ is like asking a prima ballerina how to do first position,” Luis Alvarez, VP BaBylissPRO (and Bray’s favorite photographer) says. “She strives for perfection in everything she does. The answers that you get from Ann will help you reach creative higher ground.”

After hearing the Alvarez comment, we acknowledge that asking Bray about some of the basics may be overkill, but why not learn from the best?

Bray, who recently wrapped up doing the hair for a movie starring Bette Midler, humbly agreed to our request. Here she shares her five keys to creating the perfect updo:

FIRST THINGS FIRST:

 “Deciding on a design or theme is one of the most important things to do before you touch the hair or pick up a comb,” Bray says. “During this organizational process, you will essentially be creating a blueprint for your design. Many times I will start with a sketch.” Bray points out that it doesn’t matter if you are creating for a movie, a photo shoot, styling for a wedding or prom - the process is the same. “You must know where you are going to achieve the desired outcome.” That process begins by determining three things: the desired shape, the flow of the hair and the finished texture or textures. Bray then advises to “train, train, train” on a mannequin head which she calls her “best tool.” It is then that Bray says it’s time to call in your knowledge of the great basic techniques. “It is number one. You can use the same elements in many different ways to create from the simplest to most complex designs. With your basic techniques you can create anything.”

PREP:

Bray points out that it’s important to prep the hair with a product that will give grip while remaining flexible and pliable (her favorite is Uplifting foam by Aquage.) She then sub-divides the hair into the sections of the style (front, sides, back, etc.) “This is the road map that I laid out at the beginning of the design, and what I will follow throughout the process.” Here she breaks down the importance of the sectioning in that road map: - Does the finished look have volume? How much? - Is it close to the head shape? How close? - What direction is it traveling? How does it connect to the adjoining section?

“Knowing what part of the whole structure each section supports keeps me moving in an organized manner while I’m creating the style. Make sure to blow dry the hair with the correct brushes and combs in the direction you want your style to flow, adding volume or closeness where desired according to your plan.” Bray then  reinforces each choice with a thermal tool, to give curl or texture where needed, remaining aware of the purpose of each section. The hair is then brushed thoroughly, tracing along the lines of the desired direction of the finished style. “Re-section for control if necessary,” Bray adds. “To keep the hair smooth never use clips with teeth, and always clip in the same direction the hair is intended to flow, keeping the blueprint in mind. Staying organized and knowing the purpose of each section also enables you to stay in control of your time management.”

BACKCOMBING:

According to Bray, the purpose of backcombing is for stability and shape. “Backcomb with purpose, knowing where, what, and why each section is backcombed.” Using the fine teeth of a number 7 or number 9 large, hard rubber comb, secure a firm base while backcombing with short, downward strokes. “The angle the hair is held will determine the final result,” Bray says. “Holding the hair at a 90 degree angle and backcombing from underneath creates maximum volume. As you lower your angle, the volume will decrease.” Bray adds that lift is very important to connect your shapes while backcombing by taking a small section from adjacent shape and backcombing the shapes together. “Work in the direction of the shape, being careful not to over-direct hair out of its intended position. If you do, you will destroy the flow of the line.” For styles that require that the hair lay close or flat, Bray holds the hair firmly and close to the head in the direction it is intended to flow, and holds the comb at an angle, backcombing on top to lock hair close to the scalp. ”Remember to be careful that the teeth of the comb do not go through to the front of the hair - this helps to maintain a smooth finish.” 

PINNING:

If any hair pins are needed to secure the style (such as a French twist), Bray says to remember to align the pin with the direction of the hair’s movement, going in between the hair strands. As the top hairs close over the pins they become invisible. “For this reason do not 'straddle' the hair with the pins. How a pin is applied to the style is important. I usually direct the hair pin straight in and, once I find scalp or other secure areas, I change the direction to a strong diagonal before sliding the pin into the hair.”

Bray uses bobbie pins for styles that need maximum hold. “In strong, heavy hair pins are left closed for the best holding power. Very few pins are used to hold the style together as they are not needed because of proper prep, structural backcombing, and layering with a fine, fast-drying spray.” For a French Twist, Bray says open pins are used to hold the first section. She then crosses over the ends of the pins and reverses direction on the last pin at the top to create a chain effect to prevent any hair to slip out into the wrong direction.

THE FINISHED COMB-OUT:

Defining the shape is one of the final steps and the last in Bray’s five keys. It is here that she adds finishing touches, such as pleating or any other special detail. “As you began combing, switch to the wider spaced teeth and, using a light, gentle touch, smooth over the lines of the design. Follow through lightly with warm, dry hands, creating volume and closeness on the surface of the hair, constantly referring to the mirror.”  To secure the shape while combing, Bray uses holding pins, which will be removed at the finish. Most importantly, Bray adds, “Maintain the direction of the desired shape and finish, remaining adaptable as you work. Stand back and check your style from all angles. Are you pleased with the finished style? If so it is time to spray lightly to lock in place [Bray uses Aquage Finishing Spray] and remove holding pins.”

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