Bedhead: L.A.'s Undone Hair King Shares 4 Secrets of Messy Chic

Alessandra Ambrosio Messy Hair Inset - P 2014
REX USA; Courtesy of Clover Worldwide

Alessandra Ambrosio Messy Hair Inset - P 2014

Hairstylist Jon Reyman shows us how to achieve the messy, undone hair favorited by Alessandra Ambrosio, Emma Stone and every off-duty runway model working on-duty

No matter where you go these days — office, restaurant, party, black tie, airplane, New York, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico — women may be dressed in a wide variety of ways, but they have one thing very much in common: messy, or “undone,” hair — no big round brush skid marks anywhere to be observed. No signs of rollers. Or hot irons. Curling irons may be used — but you better not look like you tried too hard. Banana curls went out with Charlie’s Angels. The series.

So when did the falling-out-of-bedhead look become the height of fashion? Think Emma Stone, Cameron Diaz, Jessica Chastain, Reese Witherspoon, Angelina Jolie — and and a bevy of runway models in between.

According to editorial and runway stylist Jon Reyman, who opened his salon Spoke & Weal on L.A.'s West Third Street last spring, the trend isn't actually that new.

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“I started to see undone hair on the runways about five or six years ago," say Reyman. "I remember doing the hair for a Temperley show — with European editorial hair superstars Guido Palau and Luigi Murenu. They were just shoving the hair up in a bun. Makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury walked backstage and said, ‘Guido’s doing all undone hair now.’ And that was it. He wanted to make the models look the way they do off the runway. Then Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta started showing undone hair at shows — conservative fashion brands started getting messier and messier with the runway hair. Then of course it spread to the street, eventually.” And as bodies become more stretched by yoga, pilates and spinning, and clothes get sharper, more tailored, shoes sexier, makeup more perfectionist — something's got to be undone. Years ago, in The New York Times, then-fashion critic Cathy Horyn wrote that modern dressing is a unique combo of old and new, chic and undone: One element always has to have edge, rock 'n' roll, flamboyance, rebellion. These days, that's hair's job.

Funny Reyman should bring this up. I went to see him for a specific blow dry because I’d heard he was great at giving rather flat hair a ton of volume without making it look like you came out of a 1970s prom in Atlanta.

“Nobody wants what my clients call ‘Texas hair’ anymore,” Chris Bragg, co-owner of new L.A. salon Goddard & Bragg, told me recently. “It’s all about sexy, beachy, undone texture.” Easier said than done — or undone, for that matter.

Remember when a day at the beach was considered a bad hair day? Now it’s what every celebrity and model aims for, every time they leave the house. But again — easier said than blown. Blow dry bars turn out mostly cookie-cutter curling iron versions, achieved with round brushes pulled so hard, again and again, almost like making fresh pasta, they get a lot more bounce than bend. Undone’s hair’s supposed to move — not swing — and definitely not bounce. If you are bouncing, you or your hairdresser’s probably doing too much.

One thing Reyman does that 99 percent of hairdressers do not: He shows you what he’s doing. He has you help. He acts as an undone hair educator — because we all know the natural messy look is the hardest thing in the world to achieve.

Here’s what I learned after the best undone blow dry of my life, which lasted an entire week:

1. Fine-haired types that want to achieve volume, movement and expansion shouldn’t be using conditioners or oils. That’s right! Put those shine products away! They decrease the volume of the hair shaft, making it smaller. Flyaways? Ends? Those are good for volume and undone hair. “The hair generally can’t look good and feel good,” teaches Reyman. “Better that it look good.”

2. Put away the round brush. “I prefer Denmans ($14.99) or Vess large-vent brushes or paddle brushes,” says Reyman. “They smooth out the hair but don’t make it flat. Brush and blow dry in the opposite direction of how your hair grows — for lots of volume. Lift the root up as you dry.” These brushes have lots of space between the teeth, for expansion.

3. Use your fingers with the blow dryer to achieve a messy volume. “You can smooth out the bottom of the hair with the brush at the end, when it’s nearly dry,” says Reyman. “Don’t overwork your hair. That’s no way to achieve undone.”

4. Use hold products for volume and texture. He likes Aveda Pure Abundance spray. “It takes the hair shaft and expands it,” explains Reyman. “Use them in wet or dry hair, or both. Don’t overuse.”

“To me, less is more. If you overdo the hair, it looks overdone.” He also likes a flat iron to simply put bend in the hair — using it almost as a quick crimper. “Messy volume is sexy,” says Reyman. “Fluffy roller-style volume is so so so 90s.” In other words — not.

To come undone or not to come undone — when it comes to hair, this is no longer the question. The only question is: HOW?