Combining classic glamour with couture references, Sarah Mason – salon director at Sarah Mason Professional in Galway – provides her twist on bridal styling

“For a bride’s big day, there is sometimes nothing more beautiful than softly swept up hair that is simply tucked away with the perfect shape. But for the style to last, there needs to be a methodical approach. 

“I always say that putting hair up, no matter the occasion, is like building a house – first you need a strong foundation, then you build the shape and finally, you get to decorate.

“Preparation is key. In my kit I always have plenty of strong hold clips, pins and elastics. If you don’t have padding, you can make it out of the client’s own hair, and regardless of the hair type, I always start with freshly shampooed hair having used a lightweight shampoo and conditioner.

“After towel drying, I apply product to the roots to aid that initial styling phase. My go-tos are Wella Professionals EIMI Volume Boost Foam or System Professional Volumize Aerolifter foam as they create flexible and mouldable lift.

I then love to create a beautiful couture blow dry, and so I focus on crafting soft volume and curvaceous ends that are easy to wrap into place. This forms the foundation of the look and so needs a lot more consideration than speedy rough drying!

“Before you embark on dry styling, my top tip is to always, always test your hairsprays. You should be reaching for a light and dry workable spray, and you don’t want to be dealing with uneven product distribution or to be running low.

“For a look like this, which is all about the shape, I begin with round or two of backcombing to create a memory in the hair. Then, I section off a triangle or horseshoe shape from the recession line to the crown, and keep this for the decoration stage.

“After sweeping the rest of the hair back behind the ears, I align a row of clips above the occipital bone to create an anchor point before rolling this lower section of hair up to create paddling. I take my time to secure the perfect shape, as a bridal look has to not only go the distance, but will be photographed throughout the day. When securing the pins, I also make sure they are neatly tucked away out of sight!

“Following the structured approach to building the bulk of the style, crafting the last section is where you get to use your imagination. For me, it’s where I go to a happy space and just free my mind as I manipulate the hair.

“My signature flourish is a softly sculpted swirl, set in place over the top of the updo so as to look elegant and effortless. I create this by splitting the remaining hair into three sections, using a curling tool and then placing the waved lengths over the top for the form I’ve previously crafted. I follow the underlying shape, but add extra movement to give the completed look a ‘wow’ factor.

“To finish, a strong hold hairspray is a must, but I always spray from a distance. This distributes the product for the perfect hold, but without making it the style look matte. For modern bridal styles, I never use a shine spray, unless I am looking for a specific, high-vinyl sheen that is slick and sleek.”