By learning a few (easy!) new styles and tricks, you can keep your strands healthy, swear off frizz and flatness, and make your hair look its best―every day. There’s bound to be an option for you among the cuts that follow, whether your hair is short, curly, or long, and no matter if you have 2 minutes, 5 minutes, or 20 minutes to devote to styling it.
A great short haircut is wash and go,” says Sarah Potempa, a stylist in New York City who created the looks in this story. It’s also easy to care for and surprisingly versatile. Use a gentle shampoo as needed (short hairstyles can handle daily washing, especially if you have an oily scalp). Follow up with a light conditioner―anything too moisturizing will flatten hair. A few days a week, spritz on a light leave-in conditioner and let hair air-dry to keep it healthy. Limit heat styling to two or three times a week, and keep sessions brief.
3 of 16Mary Rozzi
Ear- to Chin-Length Hair: If You Have 2 Minutes
Getting a polished, pulled-together look is quicker with short hair than with any other length―it requires just mousse and a comb.
Apply a golf ball–size dollop of mousse to damp hair.
Use a comb to make a deep side part in line with the arch of your eyebrow.
Smooth hair on the heavy side of the part across your forehead.
Tuck hair behind ears and let air-dry.
4 of 16Mary Rozzi
Ear- to Chin-Length Hair: If You Have 5 Minutes
Create the illusion of an updo simply by adding a hair accessory.
Distribute mousse through damp hair with your hands.
Flip your head over and quickly blast it with a dryer; tousle with your fingers.
Push a thin headband 1 to 2 inches back into the hair. (Or cover your hairline with a thicker band to camouflage oily roots.) Tease hair behind the band to prevent the band from slipping. Apply styling cream to ends for shine.
5 of 16 Mary Rozzi
Ear- to Chin-Length Hair: If You Have 20 Minutes
When time is on your side, a little work with a flat iron can transform your cut into something fun yet sophisticated. Use a small flat iron with beveled edges to curl hair (a curling iron would create a ringlet look―not good). Taking one-inch sections of hair, clamp the iron close to the roots. Then twist your wrist as you move the iron down to the ends.
Dab a bit of cream wax on your fingertips and smooth over each curl to give it even more definition and gloss.
For shine: Tresemmé Anti-Frizz Secret Smoothing Crème. To buy: $4.50 at drugstores. To create soft curls: FHI Heat Technique G2 (shown). To buy: $99.50, amazon.com.
To add piecey definition: Kiehl’s Creative Cream Wax (shown). To buy: $16, kiehls.com.
For a groomed look: Garnier Fructis Style Full Control Mousse. To buy: $4 at drugstores.
7 of 16 Mary Rozzi
It’s smart to work with your natural texture most days; save straightening for special occasions. Curly hair usually looks its best when cut to a medium length―not too short, not too long. “To keep your curls shiny and healthy, shampoo less,” says Potempa. Choose a formula tailored to your scalp, not your hair, and apply to your scalp only. Let the suds rinse down the rest of your hair, which will get it clean but won’t dry it out. Condition every time you shower. Most important: Keep your hands off your hair as it dries. Too much touching can exacerbate frizz and distort the shape of natural waves.
8 of 16Mary Rozzi
Curly Textured Hair: If You Have 2 Minutes
These twists are even faster to create than braids. They also disguise roots when you’re due for a shampoo but don’t have the time.
Separate the section of hair closest to your face on either side of your natural part.
Divide the section into two pieces and twist them over each other, all the way down to the ends. Repeat on the other side.
Secure the ends of each twist with two bobby pins that crisscross at the nape of your neck. Bury them in your curls so you can’t see the pins.
9 of 16 Mary Rozzi
Curly Textured Hair: If You Have 5 Minutes
A swept-up style gets your hair off your face and neck in a snap, and the look spotlights your curls instead of flattening them out.
Pull the back section of your hair into a ponytail at the crown of your head, leaving the pieces around your hairline loose. Secure with an elastic.
Twist the ponytail upward and anchor it to the back of your head with bobby pins.
Sweep the front section of hair back toward the twist. Pin with bobby pins (a few tendrils may fall out).
Slip a pretty comb into the back of the updo.
10 of 16Mary Rozzi
Curly Textured Hair: If You Have 20 Minutes
Straightening your hair requires some work, but if it’s done right, the look can last for at least three days. The key: Go light with the styling products.
Dry damp hair in small sections, using a blow-dryer on medium heat and a flat brush with boar and nylon bristles (this combo grips hair best).
Smooth out stubborn fuzzy bits with a small flat iron. Run a pea-size dab of styling cream over the hair’s surface to reflect light. Then mist with a fine hair spray to block out curl-inducing humidity.
11 of 16 Geoffrey Sokol
Curly Hair Styling Essentials
For shine: Pantene Pro-V Restoratives Frizz Control Ultra-Smoothing Balm. To buy: $5 at drugstores.
For everyday hold: Aussie Catch the Wave Mousse and Leave-in Conditioner. To buy: $4 at drugstores.
To create a sleek blow-out: Denman classic brush (shown). To buy: From $12, folica.com.
For frizz prevention: John Frieda Collection Frizz-Ease Moisture Barrier Firm-Hold Hair Spray (shown). To buy: $6 at drugstores.
12 of 16 Mary Rozzi
Medium to Long Hair
Long hair offers the most styling choices, and it’s low-maintenance (you can go a few months between trims). But keeping your hair evenly moisturized is key. Avoid overshampooing, which may lead to dry, damaged ends; two to three times a week is enough. Use a rich conditioner afterward, applying from your ears down to your ends. Spritz on a leave-in conditioner daily (you can layer other styling products right over it). Potempa’s everyday strategy: Apply mousse, twist into three loose buns, blow-dry for about 10 minutes, then take hair down. It will have loads of body.
13 of 16 Mary Rozzi
Medium to Long Hair: If You Have 2 Minutes
Give a ponytail polish with a simple twist. Create a center part that’s about 3 inches long.
For volume at the crown, lift that section up, spritz it with hair spray, then blast with a dryer (or, in a pinch, just tease it).
Sweep hair into a ponytail and secure it with an elastic. (Tip: Look down when you make the ponytail so the back of your hair is smooth, not bumpy.) Take a piece of hair from the underside of the tail, wrap it around the base, and pin the end.
14 of 16Mary Rozzi
Medium to Long Hair: If You Have 5 Minutes
This bun appears a lot more complicated than it is, and it’s a great solution when your hair is looking flat.
Pull hair back into a low side ponytail just behind your ear and secure with an elastic.
Separate a 2-inch-wide section from the ponytail and braid it.
Pull the braid aside and wind the rest of the ponytail around its base. Anchor with hairpins.
Wrap the braid around the bun and pin the ends into the underside.
15 of 16 Mary Rozzi
Medium to Long Hair: If You Have 20 Minutes
Changing your hair’s texture dramatically transforms your look. It is also time-consuming and involves (potentially damaging) heat styling, so save it for special occasions.
Apply mousse to damp hair. Blow-dry, tousling with your fingers. Make a loose center part.
Using a curling wand, wind a section of hair away from your face. The wand doesn’t have a clamp, so it creates smoother curls (no weird crimps) on long hair. Pause for 20 to 30 seconds, then gently slide hair off. Repeat all over.
Run your fingers through the ringlets to separate them into bigger waves. Spritz with hair spray to help them hold their shape. For more help using your curling iron, watch this video on how to curl hair.
16 of 16Geoffrey Sokol
Medium to Long Hair Styling Essentials
For everyday hydration: Aveeno Nourish and Condition Leave-in Treatment. To buy: $7 at drugstores.
To create full waves: Enzo Milano 1-inch Clipless Curling Wand (shown). To buy: $150, easycurls.com.
For hold: L’Oréal Professionnel Infinium Regular Hold Working Spray (shown). To buy: $23, lorealprofessionnel.com for salons.
To add volume: Redken Full Frame 07 Volumizing Protective Mousse. To buy: $16, redken.com for salons.