How to Tease Your Hair Without Completely Damaging It

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Teasing your hair can be such a tease (ha!). It looks seductively simple to do, but with improper technique, you could end up looking like an extra in a Motley Crue video. Worse yet, you could cause severe breakage that will leave your hair kind of motley, too.

So if your knowledge of teasing extends only to “pick comb + hairspray,” put down your weapons, because we got tips from Moroccanoil artistic director Antonio Corral Calero. Calero says we shouldn’t be afraid to tease. “It’s a great way to build volume and give shape to your look,” he explains. Here are Calero’s best teasing tips, including his step-by-step instructions for a hair-raising experience.  

Teasing 101

Teasing involves moving your comb in both directions across hair, up and down, to build texture. If you have finer hair, you’ll want to be careful—teasing can cause major breakage if you’re too rough. “I’d recommend backcombing as a gentler alternative,” says Calero. So what’s the difference? When backcombing, you work in one swift motion and direction, combing down toward the root.

The right tools

For teasing, you want one of two types of combs: a rat-tail comb, which has the extra-long pick handle that’s ideal for backcombing, or a teasing comb, which has multiple lengths of bristles to help build volume. You can also opt for a brush if you ultimately want a softer look. Calero likes Moroccanoil’s Boar Bristle Teasing Brush because it has natural bristles, which “help distribute hair’s natural oils for volume and shine.”

Prepping tips

To get the best results, start with second-day hair. “Teasing is easier on hair that isn’t freshly washed, since it will already have a foundation to build on from prior products. That helps hold the shape and style,” Calero says. However, you can also try it right after you blow-dry clean hair if you double down on products. Wash locks with a volumizing shampoo and conditioner, and then layer your hair spray as you work, applying several coats between steps to keep your height in place. Calero recommends using a flexible hair spray that’s strong, but allows for a brush-out after teasing for a uniform, polished look. If you’re not a full believer in teasing alone, you can also add a lifting product like a root booster. “Apply directly at the roots on damp hair, and blow-dry with a round brush focusing on the areas where you want more volume.”

How to tease, step by step

1: Once hair is dry, part it where you want to add volume. Start by sectioning hair into 4-inch pieces, and then subdivide each section into two smaller, 2-inch sections. Clip one of these to the side. This will be the hair you use to cover the teased area.

2: Take one of the sections of hair, and pull it taut and away from your head.

3: Starting at the root, brush against the grain toward the scalp using short strokes. How tightly you pull will help determine how much tease you get (the tighter you pull, the more friction you create). For extra oomph, move your comb back and forth in both directions.

4: Spritz that area with hair spray and release the hair you clipped to the side so that it falls over the teased hair.

5: Repeat steps 1 through 4 anywhere you want to build extra volume.

6: Once you’ve teased all sections, lightly brush out hair for a more natural look.