The smell of Elnett hairspray is the smell of my twenties. The smell of my entire modelling career, really, wherever in the world it has taken me. Because I can’t think of many photoshoots I’ve been at where there hasn’t been a cloud of Elnett escaping through the door of the hair and makeup room; it’s one of the fashion shoot sensory staples, along with the sound of the clothes steamer and the frightening feeling of cold metal on your eyelids as the lash curler clamps down.
Mr AMR (who has been a photographer for far longer than I’ve been a model) didn’t know that we were shooting these pictures for an Elnett feature, but recognised the smell straight away. It’s just so nostalgic, I suppose, if you’ve worked in the fashion industry – it reminds me of those crazy, heady days in London or in Milanese or Parisian studios, rushing through the final shot with a motorbike waiting outside, ready to speed me to the airport to catch a flight to New York or Berlin or wherever it was I needed to go next.
But enough of the reminiscing; it’s not the nostalgic smell of Elnett I’m supposed to be talking about, or even the fact that it must be one of the most iconic beauty products in existence. It’s the versatility of this non-crunchy, lasting-hold spray that makes it as useful for taming flyaways as it is for creating dramatic avant garde hair sculptures.
I’ve put together three looks – and by “looks”, I mean very easy hairstyles that I wear on rotation – for three different occasions.
You can probably tell that the first is my most casual – this is what I go for when I seriously can’t be bothered to do any hair styling whatsoever. The ballerina bun with hair scraped back tightly and any loose sections pinned up with hairgrips. Ironically, this style is the easiest to do but requires the most Elnett – because I have regrowth from my postpartum hair-loss, there’s a whole mane of short baby hairs around my face. It looks ridiculous, like I’m a dandelion, and I have to virtually lacquer the baby hairs to my head.
With a very chic, scraped-back look it’s always the flyaways that ruin the overall effect, so even if you don’t have baby hairs or regrowth you’ll need a bit of hairspray. You can either mist the Elnett lightly over your head and then pat down the offending hairs or spray your fingers and smooth down that way. The resulting graphic kind of sleekness is well worth the few seconds’ effort.
Ta-dah! From sleek and shiny to cute and wavy, I like to think that this is what I’d wear to an afternoon tea at Kensington Palace if I ever went to afternoon tea at Kensington Palace. There’s something a bit Alice in Wonderland about this whole get-up, but bear with; I’m trying not to wear jeans so much at the moment which means a bit of a departure from the norm in the wardrobe department.
At any rate we’re concentrating on the hair, here (here hare here, name the film!) which has been gently tonged to create low-key curls that look soft and relaxed. If you have hair that easily drops when you curl or wave it you can spray each strand very lightly with hairspray before using the wand or tongs and then, once you’ve done the whole head, do a once-over misting to set everything into place.
The joy of Elnett is that it brushes out very easily, so you can have strong hold for as long as you want it but then change your style quickly without being left with loads of crunchy, sticky residue.
And then if you want to turn up the volume and drama a bit, it’s as easy (almost) as tipping your head upside down and spraying the Elnett into your roots. Warning: this is not for the faint-hearted – you will get maximum lift and volume!
Here I’m in my evening attire (swanky drinks at a hipster bar) and I’ve gone a little bit rock and roll with the old barnet. By adding the volume to the roots, I’ve given the whole head of hair a messier look but I’ve also used Elnett on my fingertips to give a bit of definition to some of the top strands so that I don’t just look like Stig of the Dump. (Do you remember that book from school? I used to love it! Cultural references aplenty in this post, don’t say I never learn you nothing.)
I’ve also parted my hair quite far down on the side of my head so that the top section sweeps across in a sort of faux fringe. It feels a bit Debbie Harry and the mussy texture stops it from looking too heavy. What do you think? Do you prefer crazy volume and a sexy bedhead vibe or the more prim and proper girl-next-door curls? I think my favourite (and this is controversial, because it’s not really showing off my hair at all!) is the sleek ballerina look. Mainly because I’m lazy and it requires no thought, but also because I like the way it makes my face look.
Favourite style in the comments below, please – you can find Elnett here* online and at most good retailers. A quick note on this Hush playsuit* which is the comfiest thing in the world; it’s soft, unstructured and would look equally good with heels as it does with flat summer sandals. A brilliant holiday staple. If you’re dithering on sizes then go larger rather than smaller – the 10 was a little short in the body for me!
This post contains an advertorial for L’Oreal Elnett.