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Hair Up Essentials for Editorial Work by Roy Hayward

MHD - July 7, 2016 Dressing and Styling, Hairdressing Instructors

Hair Up Essentials for Editorial Work by Roy Hayward

The term session hairdressing or editorial hairdressing usually refers to hairstyles for a show, photograph, video or film. Often, the most successful session hairdressers have many years of experience within a commercial salon environment before embarking on serious hair-up work.

Starting Session Styling

A realistic route to a successful session hairdressing career would be to begin by assisting an already established session hairdresser to prepare you for editorial and session etiquette. Then, the next step is to become involved in testing on photographic shoots with other creatives such as a photographer, make-up artist and a fashion stylist. Regular testing is crucial, collaborations with a team can excel a session career. Testing with photographers will ensure the development of your skills and simultaneously build a photographic portfolio of work. This will assist you in finding representation by a creative agency.

Hair Up Techniques

Editorial or session hairdressing employs many techniques and skills which are not used so much in a commercial salon. For example, setting hair on rollers may be seen to have a slightly old-fashioned appeal. However various setting techniques are constantly being used in session hairstyles. In most high fashion magazine editorial, advertising and campaign work, the female models will invariably have had some form of set.

Editorial session styling involves a great deal of skill in dressing hair. This will take practice, a good place to start is by beginning to master some easy techniques and hairstyles. Ponytails, chignons, plaits and pleats are versatile staples within any session stylist repertoire and easy to achieve.


Ponytails are simple to achieve when it comes to hair up for a very popular hairstyle that remains truly versatile and varied. Generally, the ponytail can be worn high on the head at the crown, on the occipital bone or low at the nape. A ponytail can be straightened or left in a natural wave, or for more volume, it can be curled or texturised.

High Ponytail Hairstyle Tutorial Video

High Ponytail Hairstyle Tutorial Video


Chignons are very easy hairstyles to create and always popular in session hairdressing. A chignon can be made to look very clean or dishevelled and can be placed at almost any position on the head. Hair pieces can be added to increase the size and texture of the chignon, the finish and texture will depend on suitability and on the occasion.

Australian icon Sharon Blain demonstrates the chignon back bun >>>

Effortless elegance taught by Sharon Blain


Pleats also known as either horizontal/vertical rolls are usually worn at the back of the head. To begin, the hair is either wet or dry set, setting the hair will bulk up and add volume to the hair. To give a pleat some support, volume and control, hair is back-combed. Pleats are held in place with hair-pins and grips, which should not be seen in the finished hairstyle.

How To Do A Simple Cheat Pleat

How To Do A Simple Cheat Pleat

Plaits and braids

Plaits and braids are formed by intertwining sections of hair. Many intricate effects and hairstyles can be achieved. Plaits can be worked on or off scalp. The most popular technique used for plaiting is a 3 section plait although, plaits can be worked with many more sections for an interesting, almost basket-like weave. Plaiting can be done on both wet or dry hair and on all hair types.

How To Do A Fishtail and French Plait

How To Do A Fishtail and French Plait

Adding curl and movement to hair

Setting dry hair on rollers, such as heated rollers, tongs and flat irons will create movement, body, volume and curl on all hair types of varying lengths. Setting techniques can also soften and smooth out hair. Blow drying hair in sections and adding velcro rollers to each dried section will give fullness and soft movement to hair.

Hot, plastic and velcro rollers are cylindrical in shape and available in various sizes, once applied to the hair, they are held in place by a pin or clip. The size of the roller or tong barrel will determine the degree of curl or wave to the finished look. Before deciding on a setting technique it is strongly recommended that the following factors are taken into account.

Is the required look achievable?

Is it workable with the existing haircut or length of the hair?

Is it suitable for the texture, density and elasticity of the hair?

Are there any strong growth patterns which would limit the required hairstyle?

Are the shapes of the head and face suited to the hairstyle?

The Roll Updo Video Tutorial

The Roll Updo Video Tutorial

Setting Hair

All hair types and most lengths of hair can be set either wet or dry. Wet setting requires the hair to be shampooed and conditioned before the hair is wound onto rollers. Classic wet setting can take a directional or brickwork pattern. Firstly, directional setting usually follows the way in which the hairstyle will flow. Hair can be wound either on- (90 or 45 degree angels) or off-base (over-directed either forward or back). For example, if sectioning and winding the rollers away from the face the look will result in the hair being dressed away from the face. Alternatively, hair can be wound and set around a parting. If rollers are placed vertically, this will result in a drop curl or ‘S’ bend, giving soft waves.

Directional Setting

Wet Directional Set Tutorial

Wet Directional Set Tutorial

Directional setting techniques are applied where sectioning follows the intentions of a particular pattern in which the resulting hairstyle will be moulded or dressed. Brickwork wet setting follows a pattern similar of that as in the way a brick wall is laid, except in this case rollers are wound in rows usually on base and following the curvature of the natural head shape.

Brickwork Setting

Wet Brickwork Set Step By Step

Wet Brickwork Set Step By Step

The main advantage or reason for choosing to wind a brickwork technique means that any tell-tale rollers marks are less evident once the look has been brushed through and dressed out. As with any setting technique the cylindrical size of the roller used will determine the movement required, in most brick-work wound setting, half-length roller sizes maybe required within the setting pattern. A hood dryer is used to dry the set, once dried, allow the hair to cool, the rollers are removed and the desired look is then dressed out. Once the model has been to make-up and clothes styled, any finishing touches to the hair can be made and your model is then camera ready.

If you’re interested in a career in session hairdressing, then MHD is the best place to start, with videos covering all aspects and techniques form some of the best session stylists working today.

Join MHD today for more than 500 online hairdressing video tutorials from the biggest names in the hair industry!

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