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The sexy chignon is on the rise this season—literally. Placement is key, says NYC hairstylist Reginald Drummer, who suggests wearing it right on the crown of the head. Start gathering hair into a high ponytail, leaning your head back as you form it to keep hair taut. Get extra hold by using a soft-hold gel (we like Pantene Medium-Thick Smooth Definition Gel, $4) for a polished look (shown here), or just let strands fall out naturally. Once pony is tied in an elastic, start twisting in one direction so that the hair coils around. Secure with a few bobby pins at the base.
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Long, Loose Waves
Sexy, center-parted waves have become a modern classic. For cascading curls like these, prep wet hair with a setting lotion like Garnier Fructis Style Sleek & Shine Smoothing Milk, $4. Blow-dry directing the nozzle downward over roots. Then wrap inch-wide sections of hair around a curling iron with a 1-1/4-inch barrel, concentrating on top layers that frame the face, says Kevin Murphy, an Australia-based stylist. Continue wrapping sections of hair around the iron in different directions so that all the pieces don't fall into the same curl formation. Flip head and shake out for a sexy, relaxed look.
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Textured, beachy waves are laid-back and imperfect. Scrunch a holding product in wet hair from roots to ends—Aussie Aussome Volume Styling Mousse, $3, works well. Then start twirling inch-wide sections around your finger, scrunching and twisting as you go, says Amanda Jenkins, master hairstylist at Arrojo Studio in NYC. Set with pins all around the head. Either leave hair to air-dry, or speed up the process by blow-drying with a diffuser—it sets the style and eliminates frizz.
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High-impact retro waves can be fuss-free. Start by blow-drying damp hair with a smoothing lotion—try John Frieda Root Awakening Strength Restoring Smoothing Lotion, $6.50. If your hair is curly, use fingers to gently pull out some of the natural springing ringlets as you dry. For naturally straight locks, you need to build texture, says Murphy. Part hair down the middle, and start wrapping wide sections of hair around a 1-1/4-inch curling iron—only curl up to about eye level. Immediately after, wrap the section around a medium-size roller to set the look, he says. Wait 10 minutes, comb through, and spritz with hairspray. A good one: Sebastian Professional Shaper Zero Gravity Hairspray, $17.
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The Dressed-Up Pony
Boost an everyday ponytail with two easy moves: Create lots of height and secure it low, on the nape of the neck. Start by applying volumizer like Aveeno Nourish + Style Volumizing Foam, $7, to wet hair, then blow-dry, says Jenkins. When hair is nearly dry, smooth with a round brush. Back-comb with a wide-tooth comb and smooth it out once again before forming the ponytail. Tie with an elastic. Wrap a small section of hair around it and pin to secure.