“The Rachel” is back—and an expert shares how to create the look.
For too many years now, one single hairstyle has reigned supreme. Soft, flowy beach waves, with their California-cool feel, have been the go-to look du
jour decade—but the post-pandemic world may see a new leading style.
“The big 90s-style blowout is having a moment,” says Jason Lee, owner of Jason Lee Salon in Toronto. “It’s really hot, especially with Gen Z right now.” Just like other 90s trends—think zero-spandex denim, fitted crop tops, and chunky footwear—the blowout has been gaining attention over the past year (and becoming increasingly popular on TikTok), perhaps due to more people streaming reruns of 90s sitcoms during lockdown and getting inspired. “We’re starting to see more layered cuts, like the Jennifer Aniston look,” says Lee, referencing the Friends star’s much-copied chop.
The good news is it’s easier now than it was in the 90s to give yourself a pro-level blowout. “We didn’t have the technology back then that we do today,” says Lee. “The heat tools weren’t the same, and now there are so many products on the market to help you achieve [the style] at home.”
Ready to revisit “The Rachel”? Below, Lee reveals how to add volume, curl and bounce to your locks—and get it to last all day.
“This style is for people who have layers in their hair so you really get that bounce,” says Lee. When you can get to a salon post-lockdown, Lee suggests asking your hairstylist for face-framing layers as well as layers throughout the rest of the hair. “Even if you have really, really straight hair, this style can work for you if you have layers,” says Lee, but you’ll need the right tools and products to achieve the look.
Update your tools
The 90s blowout requires a round brush (preferably one with a metal base, so it holds the heat) and a blow-dyer with the narrow nozzle attachment, to lift, shape, and curl hair. Looking for an easier way to create the look? “People are really gravitating to dryer-brushes, like Revlon’s, because they’re easy to work with,” says Lee. Such dryers are basically a round brush and hairdryer in one, making it easier to replicate the expert blowout. You’ll also need velcro rollers to create and secure the look.
(Related: 7 Dry Hair Tips to Keep Your Locks Happy)
Use volumizing and long-hold products
You’ll want to start with a mousse and finish with a holding spray. Mousse will help give a lift to the roots and help hair hold the volume created with the round brush and hairdryer, says Lee. His favourite mousses are Bumble and Bumble Thickening Form Soft Mousse, Kérastase Densifique Bodifying Mousse, and Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse. If you have dry hair, Lee suggests using a heat-protecting cream on the ends, like Oribe Imperial Blowout Styling Cream. You’ll also want to finish with a strong-hold hairspray, or even a texturizing spray, which, Lee says, is something that didn’t exist in the 90s but is great now for helping the style to last longer.
Start by applying the mousse to wet hair and, if needed, a blowout cream to ends, and rough-dry hair until it’s about 80 percent dry, says Lee. Working section by section, pull the round brush through the hair, setting it with heat from the blowdryer (or using a blow-dry brush), lifting and curling hair as you go, then add a velcro roller. For the front section—the one above your forehead that includes your face-framing layers—secure the velcro roller by rolling hair away from your face, says Lee. All other velcro rollers should be rolled under. Secure each roller at the roots with a clip or bobby pin.
“Let them sit for as long as you can,” says Lee. “Even for just 20 minutes—walk around, and do your makeup.” Once hair cools down, take out the rollers, and brush hair from the roots to the ends. “Don’t be afraid to do this—once it’s cool, the volume and curls are going to stay,” says Lee. “You need to do this to break up the sections of the hair so you don’t see the separation lines from the rollers,” says Lee. Finish with hairspray or texturizing spray.