Hair & Makeup

How to add volume to your hair, by Sam McKnight

Some people are lucky enough to be born with great hair. For those of us who aren’t, we know that volume – or lack of it – is usually the problem. Fortunately, the legendary hairstylist SAM McKNIGHT is on hand with his pro tips


Sam McKnight has an enviable talent: knowing how to volumize hair without making it look OTT. During his 40-year career, McKnight has styled everyone from the supers to Lady Gaga, Madonna to Princess Diana, and the notoriously exacting Karl Lagerfeld trusted no one else to design the hair for his Fendi and Chanel runway shows. In short: listen up.

Less product: more volume

“Once you use more than three products to style, you get into heavy-going hair,” says McKnight. “It’s better to start with less – mists or sprays should never leave hair wet. Waiting until hair is 80 percent dry before applying product makes it much easier and quicker to achieve the finish you want. For root lift, use a very light, volume-boosting spray misted on to a barrel brush, lifting the roots as you blow-dry. The bristles will spread the product evenly without saturating hair.”

The McKnight massage

The key to Kate Moss’s classic look is McKnight’s unique massage technique. He works on the roots, not the scalp, spending as long as ten minutes coaxing hair in the opposite direction to the way it naturally falls, before he uses the cold blast on the blow-dryer to set. His Hair by Sam McKnight Cool Girl Texture Mist creates the same effect: “Some texturizers are so heavy you can’t get your fingers through them. You can spray this mist on the roots, then backcomb the hair if needed, and finally, spend a few minutes massaging it in to make hair lifted and a bit undone.”

Curls create kick

“Curling tongs are non-negotiable for great hair,” says McKnight. “Wrap hair around a conical tong for just a few seconds so you get a loose bend. This adds volume without looking engineered, and if you are putting your hair up, it gives a natural twist and texture to work with.”

Work in a halo

“The front sections of hair can become oily and flat from absorbing makeup and skincare,” says McKnight. The antidote is dry shampoo, “but don’t use too much – just mist over the ‘halo’ of hair that surrounds the face, following the hairline, and your parting.”


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