I am a big believer of using the correct technique when dealing with hair. There is a fine line when it comes to ratting and backcombing but stepping over that fine line can lead you down the road of creating a home for rats and creating the perfect amount of volume.
I feel really bad for people when I see ratted hair. I just think OUCH that is going to hurt to brush out not to mention probably break off hair which creates fly a ways. Most ratting is not even and can look real bumpy on the head.
I am a big hair lover. When backcombing is done correctly, it can make hair look 2x's thicker and more voluminous then it really is. It will also be easier to comb out which equals no breakage yay!!
How to backcomb...
SectioningTake the hair in sections. The sections depend on how naturally think your hair is. I usually take 3/4 inch sections. When sectioning make them long, like at least 1/2 the size of your comb. The more sections you have the more volume you usually get. Make sure you leave a little bit of your hair to covering up the back combing out so it can smooth everything out. I would leave out at lease a 1/8th of an inch.
How to comb Down
Believe it or not there is a method to combing down. The best way to describe it is a circular motion. Do not just move the comb up and down that is "ratting". Make sure you pull the comb out after you push down before you move up the hair shaft again.
Create a Good Base
The base of your backcombing is what will hold your volume in all day. When combing down do not start higher then an inch off your head, 1/2 inch would be ideal. Do not move higher then that inch till your base is nice and fluffy. After you have a good base grab each side of the section and lightly pull horizontally to spread out the combing. If you have a good base it should stay in tacked at the root as you pull.
ProductsIt is true, fine, silky, and smooth hair is way harder to back comb then coarse hair. So there are products to help with difficult hair. Hair Spray is awesome to hold down fly ways but it seems that it is over used way to often. Over using hair spray can leave the hair dull, dry, and brittle. With all the alcohol in hair spray can dry the hair out can cause it to break. So use it sparingly. My favorite product for backcombing is a powdered volumiser . But beware, it can be over used really easy. I like to tell people to use it like you would pepper on your food, not like salt (unless you are a pepper lover). Lightly dust it in at your roots. The product leaves a grippy feel in your hair, less is more. So, where do you put powdered volumiser ?? Well if you put your hand at crown of your head and spread your fingers out, anywhere your palm and fingers touch is where you would apply a small amount of the powder at the roots.
Where to BackcombIt really depends on your head shape and hairstyle. The back of my head is flat so I have to make sure I backcomb on the crown of my head. I usually do three, 1 inch sections down to make my hair look like it has more volume. If you have a bob or want some volume on the sides of your head do a few sections of backcombing on both sides of your head. Just make sure after you backcomb lightly pull the backcombing horizontally to make it look even on the head.
Brushing it Out
Brushing backcombing out is SO much easier than brushing out then ratting. Remember your sections?? Well lift up each section and start at the bottom and lightly comb it out. Brushing it out layer by layer will not hurt as bad and will reduce breakage. Do not just start at the crown of your head and brush straight down.
Remember practice, practice, practice makes perfect. If you can, practice on someone else first to master the technique then try it out on yourself. Mirrors are a great tool to help you!