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ABUZZ ABOUT THE BEEHIVE

Grab the hairspray and a rattail comb: Big hair is back, but not the big, big style of the '60s. Today's look is more casual, and focused on the "bump" on the crown of the head.

The beehive is back, proving that the '60s trend of summer starts at the top. But this ain't your mother's beehive. And lucky for us, today's spin on the inflated 'do requires less backcombing than the one that made Aqua Net a household name. This less-sticky version is a little more relaxed - think Brigitte Bardot's teased but tousled look, not Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl.

Authentically stiff (and large) '60s beehives were sent down the runway at both Christian Dior's and Oscar de la Renta's Resort collection shows, and John Travolta and the cast of Hairspray are rocking them on the big screen with the movie remake of the camp classic. Celebrities also are sporting a variety of plumped-up versions.

The look is all about the "bump" at the crown of the head, whether you pull the top half back for a rocker look like Lily Allen or pin it up for a controlled look, a la Scarlett Johansson. The man who does this for both women is stylist Ian James, who was quick to give us the buzz on the beehive.

"This style can work on any kind of hair, but with finer hair, you should add a little more product in the beginning for texture," James says.

To begin the all-important ratting process, he suggests dividing hair into 3-inch-wide sections, starting at the crown. "Start teasing the crown of the head with the first area you have sectioned off. Use a rattail comb to tease right at the root up to about 2 inches away from the root, and lightly spray each section." He prefers a spray called C-System by MOP but says any spray that locks hair in place and gives texture will do.

"Lightly brush down from the top to balance the shape, tame down tangles and make sure it's not too high." Those with wavy or curly hair might skip the brush down, James says, for more texture and a modern cool look.

It's not hard to get carried away, turning your beehive into a wasp's nest. "Someone like Amy Winehouse wears her hair so high and so big, she looks like an alien from Star Wars. She can pull it off with her attitude and presence, but it's not feminine and sexy. The bump on the crown should not be too high; the key element is balance."

Forget perfect. "With Lily Allen, we did it a little messier to give it a rock 'n' roll edge, which we achieved by loosely pinning it in the back. . . . Keep it loose. Making it too perfect and done will look outdated and campy.

"For a casual daytime look, go for bed-head texture rather than perfectly groomed. You want to look feminine and gorgeous." The back of the hair can easily be tucked away to keep the look effortless. "You can pull the hair into a loose French twist, or a great variation on pulling it all up is to put it in a ponytail and twist it around and then pin it down."

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