Sam McKnight On The Magic Of Dry Styling This Party Season

As the festive season looms and the party invitations stream in, working out how to style your hair quickly and easily (particularly if you're racing out straight from work) can induce a last-minute panic. How can you add volume to your Day 3 – okay, Day 4 – hair? What's a simple up-do that you can hastily recreate in the work loos? How do you get those perfect curls or add a bit of bounce to your limp locks?

Fret not; Sam McKnight, one of the most renowned hair stylists in the world, is here to save the day. With 40 years in the business, working with everyone from Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell to Princess Diana, no one knows hair quite like McKnight. Earlier this year he launched his own product line (aptly named 'Hair') of dry shampoos and sprays, bottling a bit of his magic into colourful cans to help us transform our hair at home. Below, McKnight exclusively shares his secrets on how to achieve a host of party looks with the revitalising products from his own range.

The Best Way To Do An Up-Do

The quick route… If you don’t have curling irons, hair clips or hair rollers at your disposal, that’s fine. The Lazy Girl Dry Shampoo, £19, is all you need for a quick deskside fix. The ultra-light powder mist refreshes hair but is a styling product in its own right. It gives the hair bite, texture, hold and volume – essentially priming your hair so it’s ready to be pulled together and turned into an up-do. Dry shampoo has always been a staple in my kit bag, but I really wanted to move the idea on – take the product from a quick refresher to a styler / texturiser, which is how I use it. Lazy Girl is my dream dry shampoo, ultra-light and minus any leftover residue. It’s perfect for fine hair, just adding that bit of body and oompf.

Simply spray Lazy Girl in the roots and through the lengths. Add serious height to the look by backcombing the roots and then pull the hair smoothly into a French pleat. Use a brush to smooth down most flyaways – but avoid an overdone, sleek look. Keep the ‘last minute’, textured feel in. It keeps the look cool. Gives it that edge.

The long route… Those more glamorous up-dos are easier than you think. The trick is to have the right tools – the right styling products, the right curling irons – that prep the hair to create a look that lasts.

You want to set the hair first. Use a medium-barrel curling iron and taking the hair in segments, wrap the section round and hold for a few seconds. When you remove the iron, clip the curl in place until it’s cool. This will really lock the curl into the perfect shape that will add some hold to the up-do.

Once the hair is set, remove all the clips and rollers, spray the Easy Up-Do, £25, into each section and backcomb. Do it at the root and lock in the volume with a light spray of Modern Hairspray, £22. Use a flat bristle brush to smooth over top of hair.

Then pull the hair together from all the sides and back of the head and twist up from the nape of the neck. Fold it neatly into a French pleat (secure with pins – but the Easy Up-Do gives you enough grip and hold that you won’t really need many) and then brush smooth the top section of the hair and fold it back and neatly together into the pleat.

Cool Girl Hair

This is quick. This is my signature look in a can. It’s the rock and roll, sexy hair everyone wants. And it’s simple – we need more simplicity in our lives. Just spray Cool Girl through the crown, mid-lengths and ends. Or just throw your hair upside down and spray liberally through the hair and into the roots. Whatever. There’s no secret to this one. It just works. Throw the hair to one side and spray it into the roots, mid-lengths and ends. Throw hair over to the other side and repeat, creates great volume and texture.

Modern Curls

You need to get the hair super straight before adding in these curls. And build the texture bit by bit. First blow-dry through the lengths with a hairdryer set to medium heat. Use a pure bristle brush to really smooth the hair (but please always avoid holding the hairdryer too close to the hair). Use the Modern Hairspray liberally throughout the hair and brush thoroughly for a lived-in texture and a quick way to build a base for styling.

Then taking the hair in small segments, spray each section again from root to tip. Wrap it around a curling iron – a medium size / 19 mm – to create a tight coil. Repeat all over the head and clip each curl in place, allowing it to cool. Once cooled, remove the clips and break up the curls with your hands. A light mist of Modern Hairspray will give definition to each curl.

I love a side-parting with curls – it feels more modern. Whichever parting you go for, keep it clean and defined with the tail end of a wide-tooth comb.

Watch our Facebook Live interview with Sam McKnight for more styling tips and to learn all about his prolific career below:

This content is currently unavailable. Check it out from your desktop or on our web app!

Follow Sam McKnight on Instagram @hairbysammcknight

Show Action Button
Show More Comments...