Hollywood's "Hair Facelift" Is The Best Red Carpet Secret You Haven't Heard Of Yet

Photo: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock.
Live in Hollywood for long enough and nothing surprises you. Men dressed as Jesus walk our streets, everyone knows about the woman in the pink corvette, and running into an A-lister while walking the dog is barely even something to text home about. And the beauty secrets? They're as inventive as it gets.

When it comes to the red carpet, a glam squad can spend hours getting a look just right for only a minute or two in front of the camera — and a whole lot of that time is spent on what many in Hollywood refer to as the "hair facelift." Spoiler alert: It has nothing to do with plastic surgery.

A "hair facelift" is a unique, multi-step process that can do one (or all) of the following: tighten the skin on the face, make hair appear thicker and fuller, and fill in an uneven hairline. Basically, all the things that cosmetic plastic surgeons can do to create the illusion of perfection.

Let's start with tightening. "You can take the bit of hair from behind the ear, braid it, and pull it back to [fake] a proper facelift," celebrity hairstylist Andy Lecompte told us. "Then, you pin in it together in the back [under the top layer of hair]. You can lift the braids up to do the neck or eyes, [too]."

You can take the bit of hair from behind the ear, braid it, and pull it back to [fake] a proper facelift...

-Andy Lecompte
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Celeb hairstylist Jen Atkin practices the technique, too. "The tension from the braids can definitely help tug on the skin, creating a tighter and slightly-lifted look," she told us. The trick isn't exclusive to hair worn down, either — many stars opt for a tight ponytail for a sporty look — and lifted results. "A sleek ponytail is a super chic and strong look that can totally make you think you got an instant facelift!" Atkin adds. "To get the hair as smooth and sleek as possible, you really have to tightly comb the hair back and secure it with a hair bungee. This will pull the skin on the face back with it, making your face feel tighter and lifted."

The final step? Powdering the hairline and part for a fuller, more youthful look. This is a clutch technique for anyone with a widening part or fine or light-colored hair — but it's also a preventative measure. "The flash opens up the hair,"Lecompte says. Translation: While your hair may feel and look amazing IRL, a blinding flash bounces off your scalp, showing in photos. (Did Kanye just pop into anyone else's head?)

"This is an old school tip that makes hair appear fuller in photos," Atkin says. "This is especially useful on updos, braids, or sleek looks. If the hair is pulled back and there is some exposed scalp, it can be distracting and can be a dead giveaway of a spray tan."

No one is lining up to tell the world that their client gets a hair facelift — or tell their client they need one. Think of it like this: The tightening trick seems to be on the secret menu — by request, or on a need-to-know basis — but powder comes with purchase. "I use a tinted powder on nearly all of my clients," Atkin says. "It’s basically like eyeshadow for your part."

I use a tinted powder on nearly all of my clients...

Jen Atkin
A few years ago you'd see neutral, matte eye shadow pots in nearly every hairstylist's bag for this, but today's new formulas make it easier — and if hairstylists don't do it, a makeup artist might. "It gives you that little something extra," Kristofer Buckle told us, makeup artist to Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, and Blake Lively. In fact, sick of using formulas he found subpar, Buckle created his own two-step formula with his clients in mind: a pomade to cover the scalp and even the hairline, and a powder to set it. Of course, something this novel immediately sold out.

Fret not, Lecompte recommends Color Wow or Toppik. And how to use it? Let Atkin break it down: "They come in different colors that match different hair colors and were originally designed to cover gray or blend in your roots as your hair grows out — but I use it to fill in partings," she explains. "I’ll just dab a little powder on it to fill it in. This is also great for filling in hairlines, as no one has a perfect hairline." Amen to that.
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