How Do You Actually Tease Hair? Experts Break It Down

The definitive guide to getting effortless volume.

How to Tease Hair: the Bigger, the Better

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You know those beauty terms that you've heard a million times, but aren't entirely sure what they actually mean? Teasing hair is one of them. Big in the '80s and '90s, this styling technique has been a stylist go-to for adding body and volume to hair. Getting it on your own, however, can be a little trickier. With this in mind, we turned to the pros for their guidance on how to tease hair for lasting lift.

What Does Teasing Hair Mean?

Basically, to tease hair means to give it natural-looking volume via backcombing. "Teasing hair is the technique of combing your hair in order to create volume at the root of your hair," says Andrew Fitzsimons, celebrity hairstylist and founder of Andrew Fitzsimons Haircare. "To tease the hair, use a fine-tooth comb to carefully comb the hair down toward your scalp. [This] causes the hair to tangle in a way that creates a voluminous final look." In other words, those tangles serve as a cushion, creating a pillow-y lift in the hair.

Teasing is popular not just because it's effective, but because it also works with so many styles. "Teasing can be used from the simplest of styles to the most complex," adds Matthew Collins, celebrity hairstylist and Dyson Global styling ambassador. "There really is not a hairstyle or hair type where it is not suggested or should be avoided. It all depends on the look you want to achieve."

Are There Downsides To Teasing Hair?

While teasing can be for everyone, there are some things to consider. If your hair is prone to tangles and knots, you'll want to be extra gentle when backcombing, says Collins; those with thick or coarse hair may need to work through it more and add some styling products to give it more grip.

If you have naturally curly hair, teasing could disturb the structure of those curls — so, only tease in places where you can lay it under untouched natural curls to hide the teasing. For those with thin hair, meanwhile, teasing can potentially damage the hair cuticle and lead to breakage. "You can still tease your hair," says Fitzsimons. "Just be mindful [and gentle]."

For all hair types, it helps to start slow. "Take your time brushing [hair] out," Collins says. "Start to rake over the top of the backcombing and work your way slowly to the scalp area."

How Do You Tease Hair?

Before getting into all the steps of teasing hair, let's break down the tools to do it; these are key to getting it right. Fitzsimons suggests using a rat-tail comb, which has a long pick handle that's ideal for backcombing. You can also use a dedicated teasing comb, of which the teeth of the comb sit close together so that it grips hair better as you work through it; Collins's pick is the YS Park teasing comb. (If you need to add some grit, Fitzsimons suggests a texture spray like his Apres Sexe Texture Spray.)

For actually teasing, first prep hair with a texture spray and then section off the area you want to tease. "Be strategic about where you are planning to tease and how much you are going to tease," says Fitzsimons.

Then, lift that section of hair perpendicular to the head and, on the underside, comb in a downward motion, making a C-shape from mid-shaft to the root. (For those with long hair, start four inches above the root, says Collins.) Repeat this movement three to four times, starting from a higher distance each time. Once you have your desired volume, you can style hair however you want.

"You can put your hair in curlers, put it up in a ponytail, or add in a hair accessory," says Fitzsimons. "The options are limitless." Easy enough to do and styled in any way, teasing hair seems to be the simplest solution yet to faking the volume you've always wanted.

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