After competing for six years and fussing with different hairstyles for the stage, I have adopted a less-is-more attitude and have found that the NPC and IFBB judges seem to prefer a more natural look in competitors these days. There is no reason to fuss incessantly over one’s hair unless someone is going for a rat’s nest look. The more natural a style is, the better it looks onstage and the more it flatters a competitor’s facial features and physique without distracting the judge’s eye from essential judging elements.
A great hairstyle for stage should follow these guidelines:
1. It should flow nicely with the lines of the body, especially in women’s physique, fitness and women’s bodybuilding where there is a lot of movement.
2. It should look natural and not overdone.
3. If a competitor opts for an edgy look or cut, it should complement the appearance and demeanor of the competitor as well as the routine performed.
4. In most cases it should have a bit of height at the crown.
Please don’t go for the overcurled, oversprayed look which makes competitors look like beauty pageant rejects from 1984. It’s no longer in fashion and looks clownish onstage. A BIT of hairspray is fine, as long as it is used to increase volume at the crown or hold the general shape of a hairstyle while still allowing some movement. Women who have fine, thin hair often have to use hairspray, hairpieces and extensions for extra volume and length, but if the hairstyle doesn’t create a seamless blend of natural hair with the extensions, the results can be quite unattractive.
If you have difficulty doing your own hair, hire someone to do it for you. Many competitors visit the hair salon early in the morning before a contest to make sure that their hair is styled to their liking. However, if you are blessed with great hair which needs little styling, you might want to save some money and try one of the basic styles listed here.
LONG & STRAIGHT:
The latest trend for competitor hairstyles has been the long, arrow straight, flat-ironed look. This is a great look for “ethnic” ladies who have thick, dark hair. Even the curliest hair can look beautifully sleek onstage when it has been straightened. This particular style is especially popular within the Bikini division and one which I turn to for most contests I compete in now. If you decide to go for this look, make sure to flat iron small sections to get the best effect, and add a bit of height at the crown. Also make sure to arc the hair away from the face so that it doesn’t fall into eyes and cover up facial features. This can easily be done by arcing the flat iron in a C shape around the face.
If you opt for a wavy look, and your hair is naturally straight, the best and most natural way to achieve this look is to put damp, clean hair into one big braid, or twist your hair and pile it into a bun, and keep it like that for several hours. Another way to get beachy waves is to use a 2-inch barrel curling iron. I always advise curling the hair in front in a direction away from the face so that it doesn’t keep falling forward and covering facial features.
Many women opt to curl their hair with a 1 inch or 1-1/2 inch curling iron, hot rollers, or regular rollers, imparting a soft, feminine look. This is a very popular and simple look for any women’s division. However, if your hairstyle has to be perfectly curled every second, and you have limp, fine hair which doesn’t hold a curl well, you run the risk of having a meltdown backstage. I have seen competitors work on their hair literally for hours on end, constantly fussing, spraying, teasing, only to have it all fall by the middle of prejudging. So by all means do the soft curls as long as you know they will probably morph into beachy waves as the day progresses, especially if you are a fitness, physique or bodybuilding competitor performing routines.
If you have naturally curly hair, why not let it be? If your curls tend to be unmanageable, allow a hairstylist to tame any frizz and add gloss and body to what you already have. You can also tame the frizz by using a diffuser on your hair dryer at home and create beautiful curls which look great onstage.
Fitness competitors will often don a ponytail during their routines, but I love the elegance of a high ponytail which a handful of figure competitors have sported. Not only is it different, it shows the competitor’s face, neckline and upper back more clearly. Whether the ponytail is arrow straight, wavy or curly, it’s a good idea to slick back stray hairs with a bit of hairspray for a finished look.
The Details Count: Tips For Great Stage Hair
THE SHORT OF IT:
Some ladies have edgy, short hairstyles which completely suit them and look fantastic onstage. However, I wouldn’t advise getting a radically different haircut from what you are accustomed to right before a contest, because it could throw you off your game, especially if you aren’t happy with the results. Allow at least a couple of months between an extreme cut and a contest.
I firmly believe that unless you have big hair, you need to do a bit of teasing at the crown and also volumize the hair around the face to give a bit of height and depth. Whenever I see ladies who go onstage with their hair completely flat against their skulls, their natural facial beauty is diminished and their heads look tiny. The key is to do a bit of teasing, apply hairspray to the teased sections, then smooth hair over it so that it looks seamless.
BARRETTES & CLIPS:
I am not a fan of stage hairstyles which feature hair drawn up into a barrette or clip because they interrupt the natural sweep of hair as it falls around the face, but this option can work well for competitors who have especially unruly hair. A bit of bling on a barrette can be very nice, but big bows and flowers generally look tacky onstage and should be avoided.
A PART OF IT ALL:
I see way too many competitors with deep side parts and hair falling into the face like Violet from the Incredibles, and to be honest, it isn’t alluring at all. All it does is hide the face and all the efforts of stage makeup application. If you are dead set on parting your hair on the side, style the hair around your face so that it arcs away from the face and frames it.
Since we are on the subject of hair parts, I want to caution you fair-skinned ladies on the importance of shading in the part with bronzer. If you don’t do this, a very prominent white line will be evident on your scalp which can be very distracting. Don’t forget that portion of scalp!
Stage lights will really make you stand out if your hair is shiny. For this reason, I highly recommend shine serum, but make sure to use a light hand with these serums to avoid looking like you fell into a grease pit! Pay attention to stray hairs and flyaways, as these catch the light and register as a strange haze or halo around the head.
One last bit of advice: It’s a good idea to plan out your hairstyle in advance, especially if you are in a division which requires you to perform a routine. Make sure you can move without any restrictions and without worrying if your hairstyle is staying in place. All the mental reminders about tucking in the abs, pulling shoulders back, walking properly in clear heels, etc. are worrisome enough, so you shouldn’t have to stress out over your hairstyle!