Puff Perfection 101. . .
The puff is one of the easiest ways to style your hair in a pinch: when you can't get your 'fro just right, and your wash n' go looks ready to flop, pulling it into a puff can save the day.
While a simple pulled back pony puff is sometimes the order of the day – especially when you have only 3 minutes left to rescue your 'do and restyle – there are some basic techniques for giving your hair that je ne sais quoi and, importantly, making sure that this low-maintenance style is also low-stress on your hair.
Styling the edges
When it comes to your edges there are a variety of options. You can choose to slick the edges back for a high-shine contrast with the billowy clouds at the ends, or simply smooth it back with a brush.
To get the extra-glossy look, be sure to double up the brushes and use a thick moisturizing leave in styler like Brillantina. If you like a hard hold look, but don't want to sacrifice your strands precious moisture, you can layer a small amount of gel over the Brillantina. This way you can get extreme hold, without extreme dryness that most gels bring. Check out our edge care guide for how to get controlled, healthy edges.
And keep this in mind: ultrasmoothness is not a necessary component of the puff. Many times, a more natural look – where the hair at the base matches the ends in texture and shine level is what'll suit you most.
The frizz curly hair naturally forms can create a cute halo which really frames the face in the case of a pull-backed style – which can otherwise look too severe on some faces. Experimenting with different edge styles adds extra variety to your puff repertoire.
Protecting the hairline
Make sure you don't pull the hair too tightly to achieve your style. Ensure your hair is fully detangled and stretched (detangling it and leaving it in big, but firmly done braids will usually do the trick) before you pull it into a puff. This way, you will be less tempted to put in that extra tension to get it to go back, tension which risks causing traction alopecia.
If you want the hair extra smooth, it's better to use more styler than to overstretch the hair physically. And always remember to take your puff down as soon as you get home to give your hair a break after wearing the style all day. Your edges will love you for it.
Getting a BIG puff
If you'd like a huge, voluminous puff but your hair is not quite long enough to achieve it, there is a simple trick.
Instead of using a regular ponytail holder to hold your puff in place, choose an elasticated headband (make sure it is seamless with no metal grips to cut into your strands). Place the headband around your neck like a necklace, then wrap it around again, so it looks like you're wearing two necklaces.
Then, simply slide the headband up over your neck and face, over your hairline. This allows you to capture more hair at once, and starts you off with a mega puff-meets-'fro. Keep sliding it back until you reach your desired puff size. Finally, tug the ends gently then cup it with your palms, to get it into a puff shape. This method is also a good way to guard against pulling your hair too tightly.
Styling the ends
You can mix up the effect at your ends by playing with your hair's inherent range of textures. For the quintessential afro puff, where the hair is styled into a blur of strands, simply comb the hair out thoroughly so the strands are fully separated. Then, cup into place with your palms.
For a denser, more compact look, pick the hair out with a comb, spritz with water and cup into place. This will encourage shrinkage and can thus help you rein in volume or circumference as desired.
You can also define the puff lightly (don't go overboard with the definition or it will lose some of the signature cloudlikeness that give puffs their essential style). After picking the hair out, which separates the curls from their clusters, gently rake in leave in and smooth small sections at random with your fingers.
Other options include separating out the ends of a twistout, braidout or roller set. You can even "stack" your puffs; pull your hair back into two puffs one right on top of the other, allowing the hair from the top to cascade downwards, so that the two flow into one puff.
Whatever you choose, be creative – your natural texture offers a world of possibilities to give you your own individual style.
Keeping the ends hydrated
With your tips exposed and separated out, it is easy for them to become very dry, very quickly. Insulating your hair is a must; the multilayered moisturizers and sealants lock in moisture for longer. Given the level of exposure, it might be necessary to reinsulate almost on a daily basis. At night, bun or coil your hair so that it doesn't lose moisture.
Preventing the tangles
A common issue with puffs is that the hair on the inside can tend to get matted while in the style. Avoid this by always making sure your hair is well detangled beforehand, and by layering your moisturizers so that individual hairs are less inclined to wrap around each other. Never, ever do a puff on dried out, dehydrated hair.
You can amp up the uniqueness by accessorizing freely with your puff. Whether on the hair itself or on your ears, wrists or neckline, the combination of simplicity and evocativeness this style brings, means you can pull out all the stops accessories-wise.
Puffs can be the perfect complement to statement earrings – big hoops, innovative dangly styles, you name it. Since the hair is both big and pulled away from your face, it gives you the chance to really make your features and adornments stand out.
Also experiment with cloth headbands in different fabrics, as well as hair jewellery in metal, wood and even semi-precious stones.
Sampling these steps as you need them will ensure you rock a perfect puff every time and draw a range of different looks out of this deceptively simple style!
DHA Hair Care Experts
Dominican Hair Alliance