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Back-combing, Teasing and Ratting

There are times when you want more fullness than your hair gives you naturally. You may want "big hair" for a romantic "date" look or the uplift of a little poof in the crown. For this extra fullness, you often need something called back-combing, teasing or ratting. It's the art of tangling the hair to create a cushion to lift the style and then smoothing over the top. The effect should be that of naturally thick hair or hair that has lots of body. Backcombing is an art that some women find easy to accomplish but many others can't seem to master.

Here are some tips:
    Preparation:
  1. Use a body-building shampoo or one that is formulated for fine hair.
    Use a conditioner because you want your finished style to be shiny and to appear touchable. If you have very fine or limp hair, try to apply the conditioner to the ends only. Then rinse thoroughly.

  2. Apply a firm hold styling foam or gel - roots to ends. Blow your hair dry, creating as much fullness as possible. Do this by lifting your hair as it drys or turning your head upside-down to dry it.

  3. Curl your hair all over in the style of your choice. See "roller tips" and "curling irons" for help. Even straight styles will benefit by a set with extra-large rollers.

    Back-combing:
  1. If your hair still feels very soft and silky, give it a light spray of hair-spray for more texture.

  2. Choose the section of hair you want lifted. Hold it up firmly with one hand.You can use a comb or a brush. I use a comb because it offers more control. Insert the comb about half way between the roots and the ends, then push the comb down toward the roots. It will take many hairs with it. Do this several times, until there is a nice cushion at the bottom of the section of hair.

    (Choosing small sections and using a comb will give you a firmer "cushion" that will last longer. Using a brush and large sections will give a softer effect.)

  3. Spray each "cushion" with hair spray before you move on to the next section.

  4. When you have back-combed as much of your hair as is necessary for the style you choose, start smoothing it. Brush or comb over the top of your newly-created and sprayed cushions. Using very light pressure, smooth a little hair at a time, starting at the bottom and working toward the top.
    Again, you will be using light pressure, making sure that you are not brushing through your back-combing. You will be working with a thin layer of hair over the top.

Once you have mastered back-combing, you can use it to fluff a flat crown or bangs or to create the classic "big hair" looks. And the best part about it is that it will stay there until you brush it out.

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