clip in bangs

Photo: Fernando Milani

Clip-In Bangs

Alicia Thomas, 39
Technology Entrepreneur

Why she'd like to try bangs: "I've been wearing my hair the same way for years. Now I'm approaching 40, married with two young kids and working on a start-up, and the time seems just right for a new look."

Ken's magic: Ken spritzed Alicia's hair with a thermal protectant spray (try Pantene Pro-V Stylers Heat Protection Spray), ran his fingers through it to make sure every strand was coated and pressed it with a flatiron. The clip-in bangs Ken chose for Alicia were slightly lighter than her mahogany hair. "The front and crown of your head are always lighter than the rest because they're exposed to the sun," he says. "Having the fringe a little brighter is key to making it look natural."

The verdict: "I feel so stylish. I love the way the bangs frame my face."
top knot

Photo: Fernando Milani

Loose Layers to Topknot

Elena Brower, 44
Yoga Teacher

Her nonnegotiable hair rule: "I have to wear my hair back when I'm teaching yoga."

Ken's magic: To create texture and keep her from "looking like a Robert Palmer girl," Ken worked a walnut-size dollop of mousse (try TRESemmé Youth Boost Youthful Fullness Flexi-Bounce Mousse) through Elena's dry hair. Next he pulled all her hair back tightly into a ponytail, twisted the ends into a bun and pinned everything in place. Then he pulled pieces out around Elena's face, misted them with hairspray (try Fekkai Sheer Hold Hairspray), and lightly brushed them back in place. "You don't want the results to seem too 'done,'" says Ken. "This looks ethereal and fresh."

The verdict: "I'm much more likely to wear my hair up all the time now! This look is definitely more feminine and softer than a perfect bun."
faux short

Photo: Fernando Milani

Long to Faux Short

Eliza McNitt, 23

Her current hair goal: "To grow it down to my waist. I've never had short hair."

Ken's magic: Ken divided Eliza's hair into three-inch pieces. He misted each with hairspray (try John Frieda Frizz Ease Keraflex Flexible Hold Hairspray), then bent it into an S shape and used a flatiron to set it into a loose wave. Next, he combed through her hair with his fingers. He pinned up the top half and teased the bottom section, which he pulled back into a ponytail, with the elastic four inches from the ends. Then he rolled the ends under toward the nape of her neck and pinned them. He unclipped and teased the top section and pinned it to the rest of her hair, tucking the ends (and the pins!) under. He set his work with a quick hit of hairspray. Doing Eliza's hair in stages "gives more control and a polished-looking finish," says Ken.

The veredict: "This look makes me feel like a 1940s movie star!"

Photo: Fernando Milani

Temporary Highlights

Ashley Acosta, 25
Marketing Professional

Why she's involved dyeing her hair lately: "I like it dark. But I love the idea of experimenting with highlights."

Ken's magic: Since it can take a few washes to remove even nonpermanent dye, Ken chose clip-in pieces to add Ashley's highlights. He went with caramel swatches to flatter her naturally dark brown hair. "Put them in prominent areas, so you get your money's worth," he says. He attached them right next to Ashley's bangs and just below her part. (Mist hair first with hairspray, such as Carol's Daughter Monoi Repairing Flexible Hold Hairspray, to give the clip-ins something to grip.) "Adding pops of color brightens up Ashley's face," Ken says.

The verdict: "Clip-ins are a great way to test the waters. I feel glamorous and sexy!"

Photo: Fernando Milani

Short to Faux Long

Sarah Meyer, 30
O Assistant Editor

Her fantasy: "Long, thick mermaid hair. Which I thought I would never have—until today."

Ken's magic: To add texture, Ken worked a volumizing mousse (we like Suave Professionals Luxe Style Infusion Volume Soufflé Mousse) through Sarah's dry hair and misted volumizing spray (try Nexxus New York Salon Care Hydra-Light Root Lifting Mist) just at her roots. After that, he teased her hair and sprayed it with hairspray (try Clairol Professional iThrive Weather-Resistant Hairspray). He sectioned the top, pinned it up and placed the extensions underneath at an angle, so they formed a V-shape from the nape of her neck to her temples. Halfway up Sarah's head, he laid a row straight across. "This method blends better with your existing cut than when you set all the extensions in parallel rows," Ken says. He finished by smoothing everything out with a flatiron.

The verdict: "I feel like Sasha Fierce—like I should go to Miami or L.A., put on a shimmery dress and dance on a table!"
straight to curly

Photo: Fernando Milani

Straight to Curly

Shannon Blackmon, 27

Why she hated her natural curls: "They were always too big, too flat or frizzy."

Ken's magic: "There's no way around it: You have to let naturally curly hair air-dry," says Ken. "When you add heat to textured hair, it expands the cuticle, which makes curly hair frizz instantly." He applied a smoothing cream to Shannon's damp hair (try Ken Paves You Are Beautiful Relaxing Balm). Once it dried, he refined her curls with a small curling iron and then finished with a waterless shine serum (we like Dark and Lovely Anti-Reversion High Gloss Spray Serum) from midshaft to ends. "It's important that the product be water-free since water reactivates the natural texture of dry hair," he says.

The verdict: "This is fantastic. I went from using six products to two. Ken makes the maintenance easy. I'm obsessed. Obsessed!"