This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Anh Co Tran has been called the godfather of cool hair. Many know him as the traveling stylist and friend of fashion influencer Aimee Song, the visionary behind her signature sharp bob, which has become somewhat of a must-have accessory at Fashion Weeks from New York to Paris. He also cuts Jake Gyllenhaal’s hair. No big deal.
Beyond his point-cutting skills, Tran is renowned for his styling, specifically his ability to take straight, fine, or thin hair and create this kind of “lived-in” texture that’s not beachy in an patterned and obviously-curled kind of way — a dead giveaway that you just came from the salon. Instead, it’s intentionally imperfect and softly bent, like Parisian bedhead.
Tran’s technique alternates between two different wave patterns: the soft-bend “nuwave” and the more familiar “lived-in” wave. “The ‘nuwave’ is an undulating kind of wave,” Tran explains, waving his hand in an S-wave motion. “Basically, you use the curling iron to create bends, backwards and forwards. Then, you combine that with the ‘lived-in’ wave — wrapping the hair around the barrel and sliding it out — and when you blend them together and shake it out, it creates this cool, natural texture.”
how I will be styling my hair for the rest of ever @anhcotran34
Perfecting the effortless, windblown aesthetic of the Tran wave is all about practice. His key tips: Start with the front, top sections, they’re the most important — if you’re fatigued by the time you get to the back, you can afford to be less precise in sectioning and it still looks good. Don’t forget to break up the waves with your fingers, and add a little dry-texturizing spray if you want more second-day-hair vibes. Then, possibly the most important, invest in a reliable curling iron.
For Tran — who cuts and styles 25 clients in a busy day — a fast-moving curling iron was essential, and no hot tool out there was perfect. As a seasoned stylist of twenty years, an artist, and an innovator in his own right, Tran made a move to custom design his own. He partnered with haircare brand Sultra, and they started from scratch, sketching then developing Tran’s dream irons, two professional Marcel options, and two (easier to wield) thumb-clamp irons, each available in 1.25″ and 1.5″ barrels.
What differentiates Tran’s tools from others on the market is equal parts his thoughtful design and the heat technology. “Efficiency was my number one priority,” he explains. “The ceramic barrel heats up fast, the clamp opens wide so it can grip more hair, and it glides so easily.” For my naturally-wavy hair, Tran recommends I skip the blow dry (music to my ears) and use the 1.25″ iron, working the “nuwave” soft bends and some mismatched “lived-in” curls to smooth and texturize my natural waves. “With a little technique and a good iron, you can do your hair at home, quickly, and it looks so good,” he explains. “But also like that French style, like you didn’t actually put any effort in.”
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