This New OUAI Stuff Gave Me That Elusive Model-Off-Duty Hair

The style should say "I pose in couture for money," not "I do menial tasks in a corporate environment but the benefits are good."

We seem to be in the eye of some paradoxical tornado of beauty trends that encourage looking very effortless and undone while also lining out the several steps, tools, and products involved in looking quite so "unfinished." For some girls, this comes naturally, and it's those girls who are wholly responsible for such chicken-or-the-egging on of this trend.

I'm talking about "model hair" or more specifically "model-off-duty hair." Taken literally, one can interpret this as how someone whose job it is to look good for a living wears their hair when not doing that job — which is true with the caveat that models seem to keep their hair in an ever-mutable state offering length and color variables to serve whatever shoot or show they are being hired to model for.

While being a model seems like a glamorous job I, for one, would absolutely HATE to have to run it by the people responsible for keeping me paid whether I can do diddly to my hair.

The editorial elite may just now be celebrating models with buzzcuts, natural texture, and wild colors, but "model off duty" hair is still so singular in its aesthetic. It's generally bob-length or longer, indecisively loosely waved and tousled but still shiny, bouncy and clean-looking. It has movement and always falls just so, purposefully disheveled, never "messy." I tend to think everyone in LA has this hair, but that's mostly just what Instagram tells me.

The pro way to do it usually involves blow-drying your hair straight to de-frizz, curling sections into loose waves, brushing out the waves to make even looser waves, and then to spray/rub in some sort of texture shine stuff, but never a stiff hairspray.

Then along comes this OUAI stuff, which doesn't just appear super chic, but is the brainchild of the apparent creator of said model-off-duty hair herself, Jen Atkin, hairstylist to the stars (most of those stars being the Kardashian-Jenners).

The Smooth Shampoo and Smooth Conditioner are paraben- and sulfate-free, which passes the initial test of "will this destroy my already chemically-destroyed hair?" The answer is no, and actually, it lives up to its smoothing claims, which is pretty impressive considering my hair is forever hydration-challenged. I can't imagine the magic it may work on someone with healthy hair.

For me, the really big deal here is the styling products. Ouai's Hair Oil and Finishing Creme are the key proponents to achieving this model-off-duty hair. It even says so on the back of the tube. I am not merely projecting, here. This is literally made for that. I use the Hair Oil on damp post-shower hair as I comb the front sections forward like I'm combing bangs. I split in that down the middle and tuck behind my ears. And then I'll twist four quadrants of hair back (an upper and bottom section on each hemisphere of my head) and use a butterfly clip to secure them to my head.

I hang out like that for a while as it air-dries, and then shake it out once it's 90% dried. After twisting and tousling into this loosely wavy thing, I use the Finishing Creme on the ends and mid-shaft to zhuzh and twist parts into some semblance of this imperfectly styled thing.

That's the no-heat-styling method, and it works since I have relatively short hair. If you're impatient and fear no hot tool, by all means, curling-wand the shit out of your hair to get those waves (might I recommend the Beachwaver, which spins automatically for you, lessening the chance of burning your skin, as I seem to do every time I use a curling wand?). Just skip the very ends — no flicks allowed, from what I've witnessed!

While these two styling products work like a charm, they're not really a replacement for the expert hairstylists you'll find on set of your Joe Fresh shoot, but hey, if you're not a model, they'll do just fine. I mean, off-duty hair can pertain to days I didn't have to work or got to leave work early, right? Like when the whistle blows at 5 p.m. and I shake out this office bun out and head to the Cheers for a post-work drink with this impeccably fancy private-school bedhead? The style should say "I pose in couture for money" not "I do menial tasks in a corporate environment but the benefits are good."

What's a 9 to 5 when you could have this awesome 3 p.m. hair after your 6 a.m. call time? No competition.

  • Is there a better name for this hairstyle I'm just not aware of? Like "trendy girl hair"?
  • How do you feel about the inundation of these "models doing things" beauty trends?
  • But you secretly still want to do it, right?