Michelle Obama’s Hair Care Secrets Unclassified

Topping off every polished look Michelle Obama sports is a gleaming crown of carefully coifed, healthy hair. Because textured hair tends to be dry, it’s imperative that African-American women follow these healthy hair care guidelines, says Michelle O’Connor, an ethnic-hair specialist from Hollywood, Fla.

  • Quench your hair with moisturizing shampoos and conditioners during weekly washings. Use hairstyling products on a daily basis to keep hair hydrated.
  • Wrap hair nightly with a satin scarf to prevent breakage. The friction created when your hair rubs up against your pillowcase is damaging to your locks.
  • Refrain from using hot styling tools on a daily basis and apply a heat-protectant product to tresses when you do use a flat iron or curling iron. To maintain waves between sessions with irons, loosely pin curls at night instead.
  • Trim hair every six weeks to avoid split ends.

Here’s how you can get four of the first lady’s favorite looks:

Bob It: Michelle’s signature go-to look

  • Why it works: Exudes no-nonsense elegance. Adds body because every strand is one length.
  • Do the ’do: Start with an even or a blunt haircut that is chin-length or slightly longer. Wash hair and towel-dry. Apply setting lotion to small sections of hair and set in large plastic rollers. Sit under bonnet hair-dryer or allow to air-dry. Remove rollers and apply a dab of hair oil. Gently hold hair dryer over locks with one hand while moving a large round brush underneath curls until only large, uniform waves remain. Los Angeles hairstylist Rosalind Williams likes to finish with a light mist of a high-shine flexible-hold hairspray, like Sebastian Laminates.

Pony Up: The first lady keeps her mane casual when she’s hanging with daughters Sasha and Malia

  • Why it works: “A ponytail highlights the beauty of a woman’s face,” according to Johnny Wright, Obama’s hairstylist, “and it can be taken from day to night if it’s done properly.”
  • Do the ’do: Gather dry hair, smooth with a hair gloss -- try Oscar Blandi Pronto Gloss Instant Glossing Cream -- and secure with an elastic holder at the nape of the neck. Wrap a strand of hair around the elastic to give the look nighttime elegance.

Whirl the Curls: Michelle’s special-occasion loose and lively wavy bob

  • Why it works: “This imparts sex appeal,” says Williams, but it still looks “very classy.”
  • Do the ’do: Wash hair. Section, braid and let air-dry. Apply a protectant, like Mizani Thermasmooth Smooth Guard Smoothing Serum. Using a ceramic or tourmaline 1-inch curling iron (gentler, more controlled heat), hold the iron parallel to your head. Starting a couple of inches from your scalp, wrap a 1 1/2-inch section of hair around the barrel (away from your face). Continue wrapping up the barrel until you are holding the ends up against the iron. After curling the entire head, separate the curls in twos and threes with your fingers for even more volume.

Chignon Chic: Michelle’s classically elegant ’do

  • Why it works: “This hairdo will never let you down,” says Williams. “It will always stay nice and neat, no matter what you’re doing.”
  • Do the ’do: Moisturize freshly washed hair with a daily hair creme like Pantene Relaxed & Natural Daily Oil Cream Moisturizer. Follow instructions for the ponytail (above). Divide ponytail into two parts, then twist them together tightly into a spiral. For a more ornate look, braid the ponytail. Wrap all of the hair in a circular rotation around the ponytail holder and tuck inside holder. For a fuller look, add a weft or hairpiece. Spritz with hairspray.

Photo by Nicola Styles on Unsplash

Why Hermione Granger Should Have Gone No-Poo

Hermione Granger, one of the main characters in the Harry Potter series (for all you sub-rock dwellers out there), has notoriously bushy, curly, unmanageable hair. Even with her magic powers and exceptional brains, she is unable to bring her wild coiffure into submission. She did once use an enormous amount of Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion for the Yule Ball (see: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), after which she confessed to Harry that “it’s way too much a bother to do every day.” And while I’m a mere muggle (aka non-magical person), I have a solution that’s not only super easy to use every day, but also happens to be muggle-made.

Like Granger, I have a temperamental bush for hair -- or at least I used to. My hair has since been tamed after I went no-poo (which isn’t what it sounds like). No-poo is when you stop using shampoo (which also isn’t as gross as it sounds). Under a no-poo regimen you still wash your hair, just with a cleansing conditioner instead.

Why would I stop shampooing, and what’s a cleansing conditioner?

Well, shampoos can dilute the natural oils that some hair types need in order to hold a proper curl and/or avoid turning into a ball of frizz. Cleansing conditioners, on the other hand, remove dirt and grime from your hair without removing those precious oils. When I was using shampoo I found myself applying a ton of products to try to get oils back into my hair. With cleansing conditioner I can just let my hair air dry and -- voila! -- my curls are intact, moisturized and don’t resemble shrubbery.

Transitioning into a no-poo regimen can be tricky. Because your hair is used to having some of your natural oils go down the shower drain along with the suds, it has been compensating by producing extra oil. You’ll have to wait for your hair to adjust to less shampoo. You can try using a dry shampoo to quell excess oil, or instead opt for a low-poo regimen (which allows mild cleansers). What I find works for me is a low-poo regimen where I use a mild cleaner on the roots of my hair if it’s particularly greasy (like after rigorous exercise), but on a typical day I want to preserve my natural oils so I only use a cleansing conditioner.

Now if anyone has compared your hair to Hermione’s or used “bushy,” “frizzy” or “mad-scientist-y” to describe your locks, I’d recommend you give cleansing conditioner a try. This simple change would have saved Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’s star pupil a lot of hair grief. When it comes to hair care, it seems it’s the muggles who possess the magic fix.

How to Take a Waterless Shower …Yes, Waterless

Taking a shower takes up your time, energy and water, and then leaves you to deal with your soaking wet body and hair. And there are days when that’s a far bigger commitment than we can handle. Taking the occasional waterless shower is a great way to achieve shower-fresh status without getting wet. Plus, you’ll nourish your hair with natural oils and save water. Here’s how to complete a typical shower routine sans eau.

Step 1: Exfoliate

This step is for all the body and face scrub fans out there who crave baby smooth skin, but it’s an optional step. For everything below your décolletage, give dry brushing a try. All you have to do is gently brush your skin with a body brush. Dry brushing will not only remove dead cells, it’ll also increase blood flow. For your face, neck and chest, you can use a clean washcloth to rub even more gently.

Step 2: Cleanse

If you want to master of the art of laziness waterless showering, you’ll need to invest in cleansing cloths. These little guys will make your life so much easier. All you need to do is wipe your body and face down with wipes. Give special attention to your more aromatic areas (armpits) and don’t forget to wipe behind your ears.

Step 3: Powder

Some people like to finish showers with a little powder; for example, baby powdering their underarms. The cleansing cloths will offer just enough moisture for powder to be absorbed if you’re into that. However, the real star of the waterless shower is dry shampoo, an oil-absorbing powder for the hair (it typically comes in an aerosol spray). Apply dry shampoo to greasy roots, bangs, etc., and no one will even guess you skipped a shower. It’s like magic.

Step 4: Moisturize

Apply lotion or body oil to your skin as you normally would after a shower. However, since you didn’t soap up, chances are you won’t need as much, so proceed lightly. If you want to add a little extra luster to your hair or went a tad too far with the dry shampoo (it is pretty fun to spray!), add some oil or styling cream to the ends of your hair. Stick to the bottom three-quarters of your hair, though, because putting product too close to your roots will undermine your water-saving dry shampoo job.

Step 5: Scent

Apply your usual deodorant, essential oil or perfume. It may sound obvious, but applying deodorant to clean underarms will keep you fresh longer. Also, scents from oils and perfumes will last longer on moisturized skin.

Step 6: Dress

I know this is a no-brainer (and should apply even after a wet shower), but it has to be said: Make sure you wear clean clothes (undergarments especially).

And there you have the waterless shower. For an even lazier stealthier waterless shower, keep dry shampoo and cleansing cloths on hand for quick, on-the-go freshening.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Surviving the April Hairpocalypse

Hair beware: The April “Hairpocalypse” is upon us. While you might spend ages getting your hair just right, April could care less. April laughs in the face of styling tools, blowouts and bangs. There’s nothing the month loves more than sneaking under your hair-shielding umbrella to add a bout of frizz to your look. But enough is enough, ladies. While we can’t control the weather, we can take the proper measures to ensure that hair doom is not imminent. With these tips, we shall survive.

Survival Tip No. 1: Go Natural

Put down the hair straightener. I repeat, put down the hair straightener. The Hairpocalypse is no time for heat-styling tools. Take a shower and let your hair air dry. Whatever you’re left with is what you’re going to be working with this month. It’s time to embrace whatever curl or wave you’ve been styling away from the world. Trust me, it’s beautiful, and with the right products and styles, you won’t miss the heat.

Survival Tip No. 2: Know Your Hairpocalypse Allies

  • Oil, wax, pomade: These are our best defense against the onslaught of H2O. Wax and pomade are especially great for short hair and will help avoid the hair-plastered-to-your-face or mad-scientist frizz looks. For my long, bottom-curling hair, my favorite weapon is oil -- argan oil to be exact. It’s light enough to not make me greasy, and will lock my curls down and fend off frizz.

  • Moisture: But wait, isn’t all the moisture in the air causing the problems? Think again. Frizz thrives in dry, damaged and heat-treated hair. You don’t want there to be any room on your “moisture bus” for April’s contribution, so make sure your hair isn’t thirsty by boosting your deep-conditioning game. And for all my curly- and wavy-haired pals, get on board with cleansing conditioners. They won’t strip all the natural oils (aka your protective shield) that are made specifically by your body for your hair.

Survival Tip No. 3: Try Hairpocalyse-Friendly Hairstyles

When I said “go natural” I didn’t mean you’d have to wear your hair like it’s Woodstock all over again. Here are some cute, trendy ’dos that will stand up to rain, humidity and wind.

  • Top Bun: A bun is both compact and easy to keep covered. This is also an easy fix for when your hair gets testy during these hard times.

  • Fishtail Braids: Because fishtail braids will look great even if April messes them about. #winning

  • Half Up and Back: Natural (even poufy or unkempt) hair looks so medieval princess when you tuck or tie half up and back. Bonus points if you add a braid a la Game of Thrones. Plus, this look is rain-tested (see: the rain scene in The Notebook).

  • Messy Pony: Nice try, April: It’s supposed to be messy. #stillwinning

  • Headbands and Scarves: They’ll smooth back the hair around your crown, making you appear instantly well-kempt. These are especially great for short hair during the Hairpocalypse.

Chic Coachella Hair

Coachella is as much about what you wear and how you style your hair as seeing your favorite bands jam out. So if you’re heading to the desert to dance the day away (or even if you’re just rocking Spotify at home), these easy-breezy hairstyles are sure to keep you looking cool when it’s burning up. New York Fashion Week hairstylist Sherri Jessee breaks down how to achieve each music festival ’do in five minutes or less.

Kate Bosworth’s Sexy Bedhead Hair 

Wake up ready to party with this hot, just-hopped-out-of bed look. Brush your hair out using a soft bristle brush first, and create an even center part. Blast a dry wax or spray gel from the mid-lengths of your locks to the ends to create texture, dimension and separation. Then tousle hair with your fingertips. Finally, wrap a few face framing strands around a clipless curling iron to emphasize the shape of your style.


Nicole Richie’s Glam Bohemian Waves 

Make a music festival style statement with glam bohemian waves that will still look haute after a long day. Seriously. The secret? Adding a glitzy headband. Start by using a root-lifting or texturizing spray to amp up the texture in your hair. Next, wrap random sections of hair around a 1 1/4-inch clipless curling iron. Place a bejeweled headband on your forehead, where your hairline begins. Voilà, you’re ready to roll!


Sienna Miller’s Carefree Crown Braid 

Perfect for girls with long locks who don’t want to sweat it out at Coachella, a crown braid is actually a lot less complicated to achieve than it looks. Loosely brush your hair and gather tresses into a low ponytail at the nape of your neck; secure with a hair tie. Now, divide your ponytail into two even sections. Do a traditional three-strand braid on each section, securing the ends with clear elastic bands. Wrap the braids across the top of your head and secure with bobby pins.


Vanessa Hudgens’ Free-Spirited Updo 

Whether you’re roughing it in the campgrounds or living it up in a swanky hotel, this free-spirited updo is ideal for messy next-day hair. Simply freshen up your roots with your favorite dry shampoo (hold it six inches away from your roots and spray). Then pull hair back, allowing random strands to gently fall out. Twist hair, and secure it with bobby pins at the back of your head. Accessorize and lock your style into place with a few cute clip-on flowers.


Bella Thorne’s Mini Braids With A Twist 

Nothing says boho chic quite like a bunch of mini braids. To steal Bella Thorne’s twisted-up style, take a small section of hair from the left side of your head and loosely twist it, draping it across the back of your head. Pin the ends just behind your right ear (cross two bobby pins to secure). Now, grab a small section of hair by your right temple, allowing your fringe and underneath hair to softly drop out; pin. Create three tiny braids (also on the right side of your head), making sure to tie the ends off with clear elastics. All done.