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Hair & Makeup

How to home-style your hair like a pro

LA-based celebrity hair stylist LAURA POLKO has tended to the tresses of the Hadid sisters, Adriana Lima and Priyanka Chopra. Here, she shares her styling secrets for a professional finish with RHEA CARTWRIGHT


As we acclimatize to swapping dinner reservations for digital catch-ups on Zoom, one way to maintain a sense of normality is with perfectly poised hair. Laura Polko is the A-listers’ go-to hair guru for red-carpet-ready styles, but here are her essential tips for achieving salon-worthy success from the comfort of your own home…

It’s all in the prep

The key to creating professional styles starts in the shower – and, as the saying goes, if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail. Firstly, “you need the hydration from your shampoo and conditioner,” according to Polko – because healthy, hydrated hair is paramount to achieving a pro finish. To avoid creating unnecessary breakage or frizz, swap your usual towel for a microfiber turban, which is “ideal for removing excess water without damaging your hair in the way that a traditional towel does”. After a rough dry, Polko says a leave-in conditioner is crucial. “I use one on every client – and a good conditioner doubles up as a heat protectant, acting as a barrier between your hair and the styling tool.”

Have the right tool kit

“Your tools are the most important things to make the style you want to do super-achievable,” says Polko. Whether it’s a smooth blowout or effortless beach waves, make sure you have the correct appliances and brushes for a professional finish. The new generation of straightening irons and blow-dryers use the latest technology to regulate heat for a salon-worthy finish. “If you invest in the right tools, you’ll get the salon results you want.”

Create volume

For a lift that lasts, it’s all about mousse. “Every professional stylist always uses mousse to get that volume, hold and bounce,” says Polko. Her technique to add volume to your hair is to add it section by section, before blow-drying. “Even product distribution is key – don’t just apply it on the top of your hair or only on the ends.” Polko says people often go wrong when parting their hair by only blowing out either side of the part and completely forgetting the crown. “For maximum volume, take the crown section at the top of your head and direct the hair straight up and back with your round brush,” she advises. If you want even more body, finish off with a texturizing spray to up the ante even more.

Go sleek and straight

For that ultra-smooth polished finish, Polko suggests starting with a nourishing mask to infuse your hair with maximum moisture (the more hydrated the hair, the less it will frizz). “You also need to use a serum if you want impeccably straight and shiny hair. Apply it while your hair is still damp and make sure you coat the ends so they dry perfectly,” she advises. Do make sure you blow-dry with the nozzle facing down the length of the hair to minimize any flyaways or frizz. When it comes to straightening, Polko says the correct heat setting for your hair type is essential for a professional finish. “I use the T3 Styling Iron, as it uses ions to flatten cuticles, which gives amazing shine, and it’s set at 450°F so you get the straightening without the damage.” To tame flyaway hair, which can ruin the finish and create a halo effect in photographs or video calls, Polko suggests misting a toothbrush with hairspray and gently brushing over the hairline, parting and ends as needed.

Create defined curls

For naturally curly hair, locking in and layering moisture is a must. “Divide your hair into sections and apply a small amount of product to each section rather than all over,” advises Polko, so that each strand is properly saturated. A leave-in conditioner followed by a curl cream is a perfect combination for frizz-free, defined curls – and the thicker your hair, the thicker your product textures should be. Allow your hair to air-dry if your schedule allows. If you’re pinched for time, use a diffuser to speed up the drying process and create more volume by flipping your head upside down and focusing on the roots. As tempting as it may be, avoid touching your hair until it’s fully dry, otherwise you’ll create frizz. Finish off with a light oil or mist for extra shine.

The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown