You may sometimes find yourself picking up a new hair product at the store because it just looks so appealing, but you have no idea how to use it. Or you may have products that you think you’re using correctly, but you’re mistaken.
So, with all due respect to the pros who already know all about this and more, here are my top five picks, and tips on using them.
1. Dry Shampoo
You’ll need to use quite a lot of it in order for it to work, and you need to apply it right to the roots and as close to your scalp as you can. Try flipping your hair in all different directions while you apply it, in order to get it all over your roots. Leave it for a minimum of 30 seconds to absorb the oil, and then use your fingers to rub it in (if you’re lazy) or brush and blow-dry it through your hair (to do it properly).
Tip: Use dry shampoo sparingly on just-washed hair that is a bit too clean and perfect to have any volume or texture. Now you can give yourself an artfully tousled look. Don’t use dry shampoo as an all-over body powder after you shower. One of my friends used Kloraine this way and the only benefit was that she gave me something to laugh about for a month or two.
This is the unsung hero of hair products, and a stylist’s go-to product for a last-minute photo shoot. Depending on the length of your hair, take a golf-ball to baseball sized quantity of mousse, and use your fingers to pull it through damp hair from the scalp to the ends. It doesn’t matter whether your hair is just washed, or if you’ve dampened it with a spray bottle – just go over it with a blow-dryer after you apply the mousse and your hair will be ready for styling.
When a runway model needs to change her style several times in one show, this is what the stylists do. Mousse is available for enhancing curl, shine, hold, body or volume, so choose one that fits your needs. Curl Defining Mousse from Pantene is particularly good for curls.
Tip: Don’t just drop a huge ball of mousse on the crown of your head. Begin halfway down the length of your hair and work your way to the ends. Otherwise you’ll get an oily scalp and your hair will be overloaded with product.
3. Hair Spray
Everyone needs this one. It’s probably the most versatile of all hair products. Once upon a time, hairspray was mostly used to stick teased bangs and French rolls into place. Now you can find a whole array of different products for waves, curls, volume (check out 24-hour Body Finishing Spray from TRESemme) or bounce. Hairspray can also be flexible and light, so that you can brush through it and style it again (Elnett from L’Oreal is the obvious choice here.)
Tip: To get a neat hold and shiny finish, spray it on a paddle cushion hairbrush instead of directly on to your hair; then use the brush to apply the hairspray to your hair. You’ll get a lighter application with less build-up on your hair.
4. Anti-Frizz Serum
These products are great for adding shine, defining curls and making hair manageable, but if you’re not careful you can easily use too much and end up weighing down your hair. This is especially true of fine hair. Only use this if your hair is just-washed and still damp, and the amount that you use should be tiny (pea-sized). Apply halfway down the hair shaft and work it down to the tips, avoiding your scalp.
Tip: Put the serum on your palm, and then run your hairbrush over it to coat the bristles with serum. Now begin a few inches beneath the top you your head and run the brush through your hair to the ends. Use a Dennan or Tangle Teezer style hairbrush that is designed for wet hair, rather than a ceramic or barrel brush.
5. Hair Oil
I’m referring here to styling oils such as Moroccan Oil, rather than deep conditioning products. These styling oils contain silicone, much like an anti-frizz serum, so use them in tiny amounts only. To get the best results use it sparingly on your damp hair, combing it through before you heat-style. Again, avoid the scalp area: start halfway down your hair and work it to the ends.
Tip: Try using a bit on your dry hair just before you heat style it, or before swimming or exposing it to snow, wind or sun. Think of it as Chapstick for hair. If you have fine hair, look for the lightest formulas you can find.