Island Stylin’

Braided Tresses to Impress

By SANDRA WEYANT | Aug 16, 2017

Styling your hair in the summertime can be quite a hassle, especially when you live down the shore and you’re spending most of your time at the beach. None of us want to waste hours blow-drying, flat-ironing or curling our hair, only for the ocean waves and salty breeze to mess it all up. So, what do we do with our long locks? Instead of a ponytail or bun, there are more fashionable alternatives, like braids.

We reached out to two expert stylists from Red Sails Salon and Lavish Salon to get the scoop on the hottest plaits for summer ’17. Nancyann DePaola of Red Sails Salon has been a stylist for more than 40 years, and she has devoted her life to creating the most gorgeous hairstyles for her clients. Taylor Restaino has been working at Lavish Salon for five years, and it’s “the only one” she ever wants to work at. Restaino went to Ocean County vocational technical school for her training, and her specialties are balayage hair color and up-dos for weddings and proms.

At Lavish, Restaino says many people come right from the beach and ask to have their hair washed and braided to cool off from the heat. “Customers will usually get either a few braids on the side or two going down their head to get the hair off of the back of their neck. We’ve had more braid requests this summer than any other so far,” she said. “It’s a beachy atmosphere and lifestyle here in Beach Haven, so clients want something loose and carefree.”

The best part about braided hairstyles? They work well with every type of outfit! Whether you’re looking for a casual braid to wear out on the town or a fancy up-do for a special occasion, you can’t go wrong with braids. On those days that your hair isn’t cooperating (we all have ’em), a braid is the perfect solution. Try one of DePaola and Restaino’s suggestions.

Hair we go!

Back to Basics. Basic braids are relatively simple to create and look clean and trendy on everyone. To make a regular braid, you divide your hair into three sections. You then cross the right section over the middle, then the left over the middle and keep alternating until you reach the bottom, and voilà, a masterpiece.   

Say Oh Là Là. French braids include three sections of hair that are crossed together from the top of the head to the base of the neck. This classic hairstyle is also popular and worn as double braids going down the sides of the head. French braids never seem to go out of style, and young girls love to wear them. Remember all of those slumber parties we had when we were kids? We all had that one friend who knew how to braid really well and got us hooked on them.

Fish for Compliments. Fishtail braids are one of the more difficult styles to learn, but the end result is simply stunning. “It’s a two-strand braid and you take a little piece from the two strands and keep crossing it over into the other piece. It ends up looking really nice,” Restaino said.

DePaola says the fishtail is actually her favorite braid. “It is more intricate-looking and tighter than others, and actually looks like a fishtail when you’re done.”

Do Go Chasing Waterfalls. Unlike most other braids, waterfall braids allow you to keep most of your hair down. It is a traditional and elegant style that is commonly requested for weddings, but also very popular for young adults.

“It literally looks like a waterfall on the hair. If you are visualizing the back of the head, from ear to ear is where the braid would be and the rest of the hair is curled,” DePaola said.

To create a waterfall braid, “it starts off as a regular three-strand French braid and you cross and drop a piece as you go, but it gets difficult. Flowy and beachy is the ultimate look,” Restaino said.

Size Matters. In this case, bigger is better. The hair trend for summer ’17 is chunky, messy braids. “If we do basic braids on our clients, we fan them out to make them look bigger. It’s definitely the most popular look for this year,” DePaola said.

“A huge trend is stretched-out braids. Just any braid, made larger,” Restaino said. “People don’t really like smaller braids as much anymore. More so, bigger and pulled out. It gives it a looser, beachier look.”

Add Decorations. Jazz up your braid with some fresh flowers, like Baby’s Breath or roses, or opt for a flashier look with crystals or gems. Not a fan of hair accessories? No problem. Braids are gorgeous all on their own, without any embellishments.

“Flowers are more popular for weddings for brides and flower girls, but it’s all personal preference. Whatever a client wants, we will do it,” DePaola said.

Trends change every day, but Restaino and DePaola are always surfing the web to keep up with the newest hairstyles on the scene. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest serve as the ultimate inspiration. Pinterest is the “go-to place” for creative hairstyles, and many clients will bring in photos to show each stylist, according to DePaola.

“Doing hair is an art. If you see it, you can do it. If it’s in your mind, body and hands, you will do it. I may see it a little differently and everyone’s hair is different. You can bring in a picture, but I may do something that works better for you,” DePaola said.

YouTube is another resource that Restaino and DePaola both utilize for learning new tricks and styles, and is one of Restaino’s favorite websites. “You’re always learning as a stylist and trends change all the time, so you have to keep up with it,” Restaino said. “We will do classes here for braiding or color techniques, so we’re always being educated one way or another. Whatever you feel like you need a little more help with or more knowledge about … those are the classes we pick.”


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