Play hair dress up with these pro hacks from Sam McKnight, the mane stylist the supers call on

The latest release allows you to cast a lineup with some of our favourite supers including Irina Shayk, Precious Lee, Imaan Hammam, Candice Huffine and Natalia Vodianova.

And select from nine on trend hairstyles created for each model, by the globally renowned Brit hair stylist Sam McKnight. If you’ve ever lusted after a catwalk hair creation from the tousled top knots or perfect black bows at Chanel to the voluminous heights at Fendi, the chances are it was Sam and his team behind the look.

For those in the know, he’s the fashion world’s go to guy for sexy, ahead of the trend hair. His 40 year career has seen him working with fashion royalty from Princess Diana to Kate Moss, collaborating with designers Karl Lagerfeld and Vivienne Westwood, as well as originating hundreds of hair trends on catwalks in all the fashion capitals.

Virtual hair is the trend we couldn’t avoid in 2020, with our hair being front and centre be it on zoom calls or Houseparty. But rather than having to rely on our own cutting, styling and colour skills, imagine if you could have beachy waves, a bouncy blowdry or perfect high pony created by the hair king of the catwalk, Sam McKnight? Well now you can and so can your avatar.

It’s all part of the interactive fun on the fashion gaming app Drest that allows you to play fashion stylist and challenges users to create their own photoshoots – casting models, selecting hair and makeup looks and styling outfits from fashion partners such as Gucci and Christian Louboutin. Launched in October 2019, Drest has gained a global fanbase, with 82% of users female and 57% aged 21-39 who not only play, but shop the content.

His genius hair creations had their own retrospective exhibition in 2016 and are celebrated in his book Hair By Sam McKnight. The name he also gave to his styling range that can take you from a super natural texture to haute hair in the one spray can.

Yet despite many dazzling accolades, in person McKnight is fun and unassuming and delights his IG fans with pictures of gorgeous home grown flowers from his garden.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen people be so enthusiastic about their hair and talk about it as much as we have seen this year, weirdly enough,” says McKnight as he chats exclusively to GLAMOUR ahead of his debut Drest hair collection. “I feel that a lot of barriers have been broken and people are a bit more confident now and want styles or colour that are more experimental after lockdown.”

It’s also the direction he took when creating the supermodel looks for Drest. He reveals they had to create the styles in IRL first and then tweak to fit digitally. “We needed to exaggerate the hair for a bit of power so it looked real for an avatar. We got to play with wigs and pieces so that was fun. Normally I’m not a fan of Photoshop but it made it easy to tweak the styles to girl’s faces and head shapes.”

While we may not have the help of the Drest Photoshop whizzes, we can take advantage of McKnight’s best hacks and go-to hair stylers for when we want to up our digital hair game at home. You’re most welcome.

Perfect a sleek ponytail

Want a super smooth high tail like Precious’? You’ve got it down according to McKnight, but this is his perfecting trick.

“I always think girls do their pony tails best on themselves because they can grab it really tight and get it in the right position. It’s the finishing off that makes it look really well done. Use a really soft, small natural bristle brush to smooth over the surface and hairline so you don’t get those deep tramlines. Spray hairspray onto the brush and then brush away from your face into the ponytail. Then give it a blast of spray all over so that it stays down.”

The fast route to beachy waves

“Sometimes you can get away with just a spray of Bumble Bumble Surf Spray or Fudge Urban Sea Salt, but if your hair is really straight you’ll want to tong it first. I use a Babyliss 25 mm tong to make a few loose waves, not too tight, maybe four all over your head. You can pin it up, even sleep in it and then when you take it down you’ll have an uneven wave and you can just shake it out and give it a spray.”

The bouncy blowdry secrets

If you want a voluminous blowdry like the Major Diva look created for Candice Huffine you’ve got to start from scratch, says McKnight.

Wash your hair, then tip your head upside down and rough dry it. Put in a volumizing spray or mousse such as L’Oréal Professionnel Tecni.ART Full Volume Extra Mousse at the roots, but not too much because you don’t want to make your hair too heavy.

When the hair is almost dry set it on large Velcro rollers, you’ll need eight or 10 all over your head. Pull each section of hair up so you’re lifting the hair and roots towards the sky, before you roll it down because that will give the roots some movement.

Dry with a hood attachment that goes over the end of your hairdryer for 15 minutes, with it as warm as you can handle.
Make sure your hair’s fully dry then give it a blast for five or 10 minutes on cold after that.
I mean, that’s the long haul, but if you’re short on time skip that and blowdry your hair as above then use hot rollers.

Go bespoke for curls and coils

“The biggest myth that’s being debunked as we speak is that Afro hair’s not versatile, but in fact, it’s more versatile than Caucasian hair. The hairstyles are limitless! I always take a bespoke approach as far as products go and I love mixing oils and creams as it works for this kind of hair.

I love Charlotte Mensah’s products because they look after the scalp as well, and I think often with Afro hair, the scalp needs just as much if not more treatment sometimes than the hair. Another range of great products is Virtue Labs.”

Get the wet look to suit you

Want to recreate a wet finish like Candice’s? “It all comes down to your hair texture,” says McKnight. “I like L’Oreal’s Pure Wet Gel but if your hair is really flowing, I wouldn’t use a gel. For super-fine hair I just use a lot of hair spray and then spray a little tiny bit of water on. Just to get the droplet feel and add a little bit of a stringiness to it.

For thicker hair we use Cock Grease. It’s a water soluble pomade and it’s quite heavy. For dry hair you might prefer to use a leave on conditioner.”

Grow your own embellishment

And while we had Sam in conversation, we couldn’t resist asking for a friend, for his top flower growing tips. “The easiest thing to grow are bulbs as you can just shove them in the ground and they will appear. Buy the bulbs online from J Parker in Jan/Feb, but don’t put them in the ground until after the last frost. Then leave and watch them spring up about April.”

And with grow your own flowers at the ready, you’ll have the perfect embellishment for your Spring style.

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