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Styling Products Guide

"Use high-performance products so you only need a small amount to get the style you are looking for."
- Sally Hershberger

Choosing the Right Styling Products

For those of us who are tress-obsessed, trying a new styling product can be as thrilling as opening a birthday present. With so many types of styling products out there, how do you know which ones to buy? Here's the lowdown on choosing and using the right products for your style.

Straightening Strands

The right styling products are just as important as tools and techniques for creating sleek, straight looks that last. Straightening serums and balms like John Frieda Frizz-Ease Hair Serum Extra Strength Formula will straighten, smooth and protect strands while drying. Don't apply serums to the roots or hair can look greasy. Look for water-based products so hair will appear smooth and airy and not weighed down. When hair is dry, use a light lightweight finishing product such as Barex Gloss Spray to smooth flyaways and enhance shine.

Enhancing Waves

Create the look that every starlet loves: flowing, beachy waves. Use a wave enhancing spray like Sally Hershberger Wave Spray for Wavy Hair on damp hair to create a perfectly mussed, tousled style that's sophisticated and natural looking. Products designed to softly define waves will also increase manageability and shine. Get tips from the pros on creating gorgeous waves with a flat iron.

Defining Curls

Moisturizing styling products will capture curl definition and help curls maintain a spring in their step. Gently work a curl gel or cream like Ouidad Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel evenly through damp hair before drying with a diffuser to accentuate curls, prevent frizz, and increase shine. Use a curl gel to create more detailed definition and separation, and use a cream to tame frizz and create smooth, soft curls. Get more curly hair drying tips here.

"I love Miss Jessie's Curly Meringue. It's especially great for girls who have thin curly hair; it separates and defines curls and gets rid of frizz, but won't weigh hair down."
- NYC-based fashion hair stylist Caroline Prince

Smoothing Frizz

Everyone gets frizzy, whether your hair is curly, straight or in between. Frizz can be caused by weather, damage from careless heat styling (we can't say it enough, use a heat protectant!), or just daily wear and tear. Fight the war on frizz by applying a smoothing serum on damp hair to smooth and seal strands, block humidity and boost shine. If hair is thick or curly you will need to use more serum than if your hair is straight or wavy. If you are using a curl gel or other styler, apply serum first.

Boosting Volume

Give roots a lift and create natural-looking texture without getting stiff. Caroline Prince, NYC-based fashion hair stylist recommends Redken Layer Lift (or try Sedu Volumizing Heat Protecting Boost). She says it's an excellent way to add thickness and volume throughout the length of the hair, which is often neglected. It helps add body to layered hair by plumping up the ends as well as the roots. Fine and thin hair is easily weighed down by products. "If hair is fine, focus on lightweight spray gels and mousses intended to amplify volume," recommends Sarah James, Hair Thursday blogger.

Enhancing Shine

Glossy shine is the top hair desire, no matter your length or style. To create gorgeous shiny strands apply a shine enhancing serum like Citre Shine Color Prism Anti Frizz Serum on wet or dry hair. Hold your style and add lustrous shine with a spray like John Frieda Full Repair Sheer Mist. Using a flat iron and a professional hair dryer will complement your product routine for the shiniest shine.

Men's Grooming

Maureen DiMaio, stylist at Truman's Gentleman's Groomers in NYC advises men who are new to using styling products to choose products with simple, goof proof instructions. It's smart to experiment with a really small amount of product. If hair is thin in areas, avoid shine enhancing styling products that will draw attention to the scalp and thinning spots. Here's a quick guide to choosing a great groomer for your hair:

Product Ideal for
(Try Jonathan Product Dirt Texturizing Paste)
Defines details; adds texture and dimension; sculpts; creates spikes, dreads
(Try Joe Grooming - Grooming Cream)
Provides styling control; delivers shine and conditioning; good for straight, sleek looks and softening natural curls
(Try MiN New York Secure Firm Gel)
Creates long-lasting hold and control; adds shine; boosts fullness; ideal for short, thicker hair
(Try Joe Grooming - Grooming Compound)
Molds and sculpts styles with a natural looking matte finish; adds texture and traction; good for fine or thin hair
(Try Folicure Thickening Mousse)
Creates body with light control; thickens strands for overall fullness; ideal for thinning hair
(Try Alterna Hemp Sheer Pomade)
Delivers pliable hold; adds lots of texture; defines layers and enhances waves with a natural look and feel

Following Directions... or not!

Once you have your products picked out, it's time to get styling. This is a case where it's ok to break the rules. Every product comes with specific instructions to get you started, but you should feel free to experiment to get the best results for your hair and your hairstyle. If you're unsure how much to use, "start with a little the first time you are using a product. Use a little and see what works on your hair," recommends stylist Andrew Todd, co-owner of the fabulous DiPietro Todd Salon in San Francisco, CA.

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