Think top athletes like Victoria Azarenka and Ana Ivanovic are as proficient at braids as they are at their backhand? Think again! For that, they have NYC stylist, Julien Farel to thank. Currently in his 10th year operating a pop-up salon at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Farel and his team tend to the coifs of top competitors, both female and male (think Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal). Players pop by before their matches for everything from highlights, haircuts, and styling or to get their game face on—which includes a sweep of YSL Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain over lips.
Not surprisingly, braids are the go-to for most female athletes. It keeps strands off the face, tames frizz, and looks great on the Jumbotron. But these laid-back looks are equally aisle-worthy, especially if you're the type who prefers braids over blowouts. We spoke with Kevin Lee, the style director at Julien Farel, to get his take on sporty styling.
1. An Ounce of Prevention
A few weeks before the wedding, schedule a smoothing keratin treatment, especially if you have frizzy, unruly strands. Keratin treatments involve minimum effort with maximum results. You'll spend less (if any) time under the blow dryer, and rainy, humid days won't put you in panic mode.
2. Breaking Bad
Those random pieces of hair that shoot right up? That's hair breakage, most likely caused by the metal bar on your hair elastic (or god forbid, you've been holding back your hair with a standard office rubber band). Look for metal-free options (L.Erickson Ponytail Holders are our favorite) and don't pull hair back too tightly. If your ponytail makes you look like you've had a face lift, that's your sign to loosen it up.
3. Head Off the Heat
Head off damage, dryness, and UV by prepping strands while they're still wet. Before any athletic pursuit, Lee advises rubbing a conditioning product, like the Julien Farel Hydrate Conditioner into hair from the ears down. Not only will it protect hair's health, but you'll get a deep conditioning treatment while you're working out.
4. Pretty Pony
A chic ponytail doesn't require much styling finesse. With wet hair, slick it back, making sure it sits in proportion to your face, neck, and the neckline on your dress. It's sleek, but it also lends to a more formal look as well, says Lee.
5. Plaits, Please
The typical 3-strand braid can be elevated in a few short steps. First loosen up the braid, says Lee. You don't want it too tidy. Then twist it around itself, in a bun, and use a few bobby pins to hold it in place. Effortless, but special; "A ponytail on steroids," says Lee.