When I talk to moms about styling their hair, they all seem to agree on two things. The first is that they don’t have a lot of time to devote to it. Heck, a lot of mothers struggle to find time for the basics like, you know, showering. The second is that despite the time crunch, they crave variety. Understandable. It’s easy to get bored wearing a default ponytail every day.
The solution to both these common woes is to create hairstyles that easily transition into new looks on the second and even third day. If you spend a small amount of time on day one, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can rework your ‘do on the following days. Depending on how much hair you have and your skill level, shampoo days will require an investment of about 15 minutes. You will earn this time back on the following two days when you’ll skip the shampoo and blow dry in exchange for a quick alteration.
Saving time while looking great is the name of the game, so I stuck with styles that are basic and chic for the tutorials. To demonstrate the wide range of looks you can create with little effort, each three-day set of styles features a different hair texture — straight, messy waves, and curls. Go ahead, shake things up!
You will need a few basic hairstyling tools including a blow dryer, curling iron, brushes, comb, clips, ponytail holders, bobby pins, and your favorite styling products. A few decorative hair accessories are nice but optional. If your hair is prone to oiliness, dry shampoo is a lifesaver. I used Pravana Fresh! Volumizing Dry Shampoo whenever my hair looked and felt greasy. More details on tools and products are included in the how-to’s below but feel free to improvise.
Three-Day Straight Hair Tutorial
If you are going to go through the trouble of straightening your hair, you want it to last at least a couple days, right? Luckily, maintaining straight hair is a little easier in the winter because dry air prevents frizz.
You can achieve straight hair a number of ways. If you prefer, you can straighten your hair with a flat iron or let it air dry if you have naturally straight hair. I used a 3 ½” Olivia Garden Ceramic + Ion Thermal Round Hairbrush and Sam Villa Professional Hair Dryer to create a style that has a little volume and bend. If you haven’t yet mastered the art of the blow dry, I would encourage you to learn. A complete tutorial and video can be found here, and this post offers some fantastic tips for shortening your drying time.
1. Rough dry your hair without a brush to remove some of the moisture. There is no need to start with your hair soaking wet. Your round brushing will take longer and your arm will get really tired!
2. When hair is still damp but not wet, apply product(s). I used My Amazing Hair Secrets Quick Dry Shake ‘n Spray for heat protection and faster drying time and Redken Guts 10 Volume Spray Foam for volume and hold.
3. Create a horizontal section at your nape and clip the rest away. This section should be no wider than the width of your brush. Take smaller sections if your hair is thick or coarse.
4. Use your round brush and blow dryer to dry the section. Make sure the hair is completely dry.
5. Take another horizontal section above the first and repeat until you have dried all of your hair.
Day 2: Headband with Height
If you are a crazy sleeper like I am, you may wake up with some wonky bends. Don’t panic. Hair has memory, especially when you have used styling products, and it will likely fall back into place. If you have bangs, you may need to take a couple minutes to spray them with a water bottle and restyle. My hair tends to flatten out when I sleep on it. To remedy this situation, backcomb the top.
1. Take thin sections parallel to your front hairline and spray with hairspray. I used Paul Mitchell Express Dry Strong Hold Hairspray.
2. Backcomb to the desired height. I used a Paul Mitchell Teasing Brush, but a fine-tooth comb will do the trick as well.
3. Use your brush or comb to smooth the top layer.
4. Insert a headband. If you don’t have bangs or want to get them out of your face, you can use the headband to push them back off your forehead. I’m using a classic u-shaped headband but you can substitute a stretchy headband or scarf if you prefer.
Day 3: Sleek & Chic Pony
Your hair may be starting to look a little greasy by day three. Luckily, you can use that sheen to your advantage by creating a smooth and sleek ponytail. Though it is almost as quick to create, this is not your running-out-the-door pony. The placement and structure make it look intentional and chic.
1. Flip your head upside down and use a brush to smooth your hair into a nice and clean ponytail. A grooming brush with boar bristles, like the Sam Villa Styling & Detangling Brush I used, works really well for this.
2. Secure with an embellished ponytail holder or tie a piece of ribbon around the band.
Three-Day Messy Waves Tutorial
This set starts with a pretty, twisted updo that doubles as a great, no-heat way to create a messy texture. It’s the most effortless (and prettiest, in my humble opinion) of the three. Since hot curling irons can be dangerous to use on squirmy kids, this is also a fantastic technique for waving girls’ hair.
Day 1: Twisted Updo
On the first day, I created an easy updo. This style works just as well on midlength hair as it does on longer hair. I like a very messy, barely there texture, so I twisted my updo back with my hair dry. If you want more defined waves, create the updo while hair is damp.
1. Apply a styling cream like Living Proof No Frizz Nourishing Styling Cream from scalp to ends.
2. Divide your hair into two roughly equal sections and clip one side out of the way.
3. Grab a small section on one side and begin twisting away from you.
4. Pick up a bit more hair and continue twisting, incorporating hair as you work down to your nape. Keep twisting until you reach the ends and the section starts to coil.
5. Wrap the coil around into a small bun and pin in place. Then repeat on the other side.
Note: If it bothers you to sleep in pins, remove them just before bed and secure both ends of your twists together with a small hairband to prevent them from unraveling.
Day 2: Messy Waves
1. Remove your bobby pins or hairband and use your fingers to shake out the waves. Do not brush!
Day 3: Boho Braided Half-Up
1. Grab a section on one side in the front, braid it, and tie it off with a small hairband. Repeat on the other side.
2. Gently pull on the sides of each braid to make it wider and messier.
3. Tie both braids together in the back and add a cute clip, decorative barrette, or ribbon.
Three-Day Curls Tutorial
Why curls? Well, oils have a harder time making their way down curly locks, meaning your hair will look clean for a longer period of time. Additionally, curls are a great starting point for a multitude of looks, making the next two days a breeze to restyle.
Day 1: Soft Curls
Creating modern, loose curls doesn’t require a lot of time. I like to use a curling iron held vertically, as shown in this tutorial but you can use hot rollers, foam rollers, or any other technique you prefer. If you have curly hair, apply a curl cream like DevaCurl Styling Cream and use a diffuser attachment on your blow dryer or allow it to air dry.
1. Create a 2-3″ horizontal section at the nape and clip the rest of your hair up out of the way.
2. Take a vertical subsection and apply hairspray. I used Paul Mitchell Express Dry Strong Hold Hairspray.
3. Use your curling iron, held vertically, to create the curls. I used the professional version of this 1″ Hot Tools Pink Titanium Curling Iron. Clamp the section into the iron and wind it around away from your face, leaving out the ends.
4. Continue curling sections working from the nape up. When you reach the top, do not wind the hair all the way to your scalp to prevent too much volume at the top and a “Shirley Temple” look.
Day 2: Accessorized Half-Up
1. If you have an extra minute or two, tease the hair at your crown for added height. Otherwise, skip that step.
2. Grab a chunk of hair from each front side and secure them together in the back with a pretty barrette, clip, or hairband.
Day 3: Loose Looped Bun
1. Brush all of your hair over to one side at your nape and secure it in a ponytail with a small hairband.
2. Pick up individual curls, wrap them around your fingers and pin down the loops. Let the curl dictate direction and don’t over think this — work quickly and let it go. It’s supposed to be messy!