Trend Alert: Matte Hair

Fashion swings like a pendulum, and these days, it’s describing an arc away from super-shiny hair of dubious provenance, toward matte tresses as messy as an unmade bed. The look began on the Paris runways this spring and summer, where models wearing shimmering, reflective fabrics sported hair that was the opposite of the glossy clothes: flat in texture, full of body and deliberately dulled down.

Surprisingly, the look of two-day-old hair seemed fresh, and the trend has taken off, appealing to women who want a bad-girl edge that says “I’m not trying too hard.” For its star practitioner, look no further than Twilight’s Kristen Stewart, an actress who rocks the matte look both on and off camera.

Careful readers of fashion magazines will notice that the “no product look” can be seen on models in both articles and ads, with bed-head hair that is neither shiny nor stick-straight. It’s as if they all “just said no” to silicone (products, that is).

Get the Matte Look
Summer is the perfect time to try this trend, because it’s warm enough to let hair dry naturally without a blow-dryer, which uses heat to add shine. To get the look of unwashed hair without having to wait for it to happen in real time, we asked Fabrice Gili, the national creative director of Frederic Fekkai salons, for tips.

  • Hair washing: Wash your hair with your regular shampoo, but for the second shampoo, take a plain bar of all-natural olive oil soap. “I like the traditional cube soap that my grandmother used on us when I was growing up in France, but any olive oil soap that’s pure, gentle and unscented will do,” he says. Lather up and massage the foam starting halfway down your hair all the way to the ends, carefully avoiding the roots. Rinse thoroughly. “The soap will leave a matte finish wherever it was applied, and add depth and texture,” says Gili. It’s best to air-dry your hair, but if that’s not possible, try attaching a diffuser to the blow-dryer. “Any other tools, like a straight iron or a flatiron, will only add shine and negate the effect you’re trying to achieve,” he says.
  • An even quicker way to get matte hair is by styling it dry and using a powder. Sprinkle or spray dry shampoo on the roots, working it through the scalp, and then bend over to brush it out. “The powder surrounds the shaft of the hair, almost doubling its circumference, which makes it look and feel a lot thicker,” explains Gili. “On all the fashion shoots I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been using dry shampoo, and it adds a lot of body and gives a really big result,” he says. If you’re all out of dry shampoo, baby powder will work in a pinch, he adds.
  • Another way to tamp down the shine while adding texture is to braid your hair while it’s still wet. “A few hours later, take out the braid, and you will find a nice matte soft wave,” he says.

If ever there was a low-maintenance but avant-garde hairstyle, the matte-and-mussed look is it. Gili invites you to try it. “This is being worn by young, contemporary women who are thoroughly trendy and ‘get’ what’s happening,” he says. And it may be happening throughout the fall season, if the hairstyles at the recent fall/winter ready-to-wear shows are any indication. Talk about putting out the “welcome matte.”