How To Find Your Natural Hair Part & Switch It Up (If You So Choose)
In case you haven't heard, hair parts are a hot topic these days. The standoff started on TikTok, with middle-part devotees scoffing at any off-center style, those with dedicated side parts fluffing their strands in defiance.
Allow us to put the debate to bed: There is no one hair part that's "better" than another. Choose any part you please! You can stick to a style that flatters your face shape, or you can choose whichever one you prefer—TikTok feuds be damned.
Now that we've got that out of the way, there are advantages to switching up your part from time to time. Experts recommend it for healthy hair growth, as putting pressure on the same spot each and every day can cause breakage.
If you're looking to flip your part, though, how do you switch it without stubborn cowlicks or growth patterns? And how do you find where your natural part falls? We tapped celebrity hairstylist Marcus Francis, brand ambassador for Better Natured, for all the hair-parting tips.
How to find your natural part.
"An easy way to find your natural part is to take a wide-tooth comb or a paddle brush and brush back your hair when it's dry," says Francis. "Your hair will fall to either side and fall where it naturally wants to." If the thought of taking a brush to dry strands makes you shudder (those with curls know what I'm talking about), you can comb your hair back while it's wet, then flip your hair upside down a few times and see where the strands naturally fall.
Another way to determine your part: your hair growth patterns. Peer at your hairline in the mirror and notice which direction the hair grows out of the scalp. "If you see the hair going toward one side at the hairline, that is also an indicator of what side your hair favors," says Francis.
If you find that your hair doesn't really grow in a certain direction, which is common with full-bodied, bouncy curls, you might not have a visible natural part. That said, a hair part is by no means mandatory—let the spirals fall where they may for gorgeous volume.
How to switch up your part.
If you want to switch up your part for styling or general hair health reasons, Francis recommends starting with wet hair. You'll also need a tail comb and your styler of choice (thickening spray, leave-in, et al.). Then follow these steps:
1. For a middle part.
Here's how to create a part down the center, nary a cowlick in sight:
- Comb your hair back, and take the pointy end of the tail comb to create your part down the middle. A good rule of thumb is to trace a line from your nose, upward with the tail to make sure it's centered.
- Spritz your styler along the side of your hair that wants to go the other way. If you've had a dedicated side part, it's the area that may bounce back up or won't lay down flat. Then comb the stubborn side of your hair and "work the product into the follicles," says Francis.
- To air-dry, Francis recommends securing the more stubborn side with a few hair clips to avoid any cowlicks.
- For extra hold, he says you can take a paddle brush or round brush and create tension on one side of your hair. Take a blow-dryer and aim it at the scalp area (on a low heat setting, so as not to cause damage). "Pull the dryer away every five to 10 seconds to let it cool, then use the dryer again," he says. Repeat on the other side of your hair, and voilà—a brand-new center part.
2. For a side part.
On the flip side (pun very much intended), if you want to switch your center part over to a side part, you'll follow the same steps as above. Pick which side you want the part, and follow along:
- Comb your hair back, and take the pointy end of the tail comb to create a side part, wherever you want it to fall.
- Spritz your styler along the side of your hair that wants to go the other way (i.e., if you had a middle part or a stubborn side part the other way, use your styler on the hairs that bounce up or form cowlicks). Comb down the stubborn side of your hair and work the product into the follicles.
- To air-dry, secure the stubborn side with a few hair clips.
- For extra hold, take a paddle brush or round brush and create tension on one side of your part. Take a blow dryer and aim it at the scalp area (on a low heat setting, so as not to cause damage). Pull it away every five to 10 seconds to let it cool, then repeat on the other side of your part.
3. For a diagonal part.
Contrary to what TikTok might have you believe, hair parts are not limited to a middle-versus-side debate. Case in point: diagonal parts. This style creates tons of natural volume at the crown, and they're especially flattering for diamond-shaped faces:
- Choose a side to part your hair.
- Take a tail comb and slice it through the hair, aiming for the crown of your head. "Don't aim at the opposite corner, as that would create an imbalance on the top of your head with volume," says Francis. "Aiming toward the center of the crown has a more flattering effect on both sides of the hair, as well as creating natural volume on top." Rather, let the back of your hair fall naturally.
- Air-dry or style as usual.
4. For a deep side part.
A deep side part elongates the face and softens up angular features, which can flatter round, heart, and diamond face shapes. It's a similar process to creating the side part:
- "A good guideline would be the arch of the eyebrow," says Francis. Take your tail comb and trace it from the arch, upward into the hairline.
- Then apply your styler, and follow the steps for a side part above. A final note: "The setting clips are key for this style to prevent the section of hair from separating," Francis adds.
5. For a zigzag part.
The '90s-inspired style offers tons of volume as well. For curls (which tend to have more volume already), a zigzag part is an effortless way to add some flare, especially if you're creating pigtails, braids, or buns:
- On wet hair, use a tail comb to slice through the strands—start at your desired side, says Francis, and trace it toward the crown.
- Rather than tracing straight back, switch sides until you reach the back of your head. Francis recommends spacing them out about 2 inches, but you can create as many zags as you please.
- Let air-dry. If you want the zigzag part more visible on the crown, grab a gel to slick down the roots and set the style.
Again, there's no one hair part that's inherently better than another. However, switching up your style does have its advantages for hair health, and it might be fun to flip things around from time to time.
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