This guide will lead you straight to the right products for your hair type, and tell you exactly how to use them.
If Your Hair Is Fine and Straight
Start by using a thickening shampoo and conditioner, but use the conditioner only on the very ends of your hair. And rinse it out really, really well. To style your hair, use a heat-protecting spray from midlength through the ends of your damp hair, then comb through a mound of mousse, this will add body with a bit of control. And you’ll definitely want to embrace dry shampoo—it adds texture, grip, and bulk to slippery fine hair, and it can be used throughout the day to create fresh lift. You’ll need to wash it out within a few days though, especially if you plan to wear your hair down—too much buildup kills volume.
Avoid: Oils and silicone serums (they weigh down fine hair).
If Your Hair Is Thick and Straight…
You have the texture to pull off almost any style. But you’ll still need time and patience. Start the styling process by combing a few drops of styling oil through wet hair section by section, followed by a small dollop of styling cream.
Tip: If you work your way from the back of your head forward, you won’t weigh down bangs and face-framing layers.
Shine sprays are your friend because the bulkiness of your hair can make it look dull. Finish any style with a shine-enhancing spray (but use it only from the midlength to ends).
Avoid: Volumizers…and that’s it. Your hair can hold its own against any styling product (when used in moderation, of course).
If Your Hair Is Kinky and Coiled…
Tight curls require an intense, carefully considered approach to styling products. Your routine should start in the shower: Use a deep conditioner, but only rinse it out halfway. Conditioner residue helps keeps curls shiny and smooth. Post-shower, immediately comb through a leave-in conditioner.
For more gloss and definition, when your hair is about 50 percent dry, twist large chunks of curls around your fingers (with a generous blob of styling oil or silicone serum) and then stop touching them. And as a general rule, opt for creamy products instead of sprays (they can leave hot spots of product in curly hair).
Avoid: Any styler with alcohol and strong-hold gels (they sap moisture); dry shampoo (you need your oils).
If Your Hair Is Wavy…
Wavy hair needs frizz and pouf control. But that doesn’t mean you should drown it in rich shampoos and styling products. If you’re using a frizz-fighting shampoo and conditioner (most of which have silicone in the first handful of ingredients), pick lighter styling products that contain natural oils instead of silicone, they’ll smooth waves without smothering them.
If your waves need a little coaxing to reach their full potential, salt sprays are better than gels or curl creams (the pump trigger lets you mist them on more evenly). Once all your products are in place, part your hair and then let it air-dry. If your ends look scraggly once your hair is totally dry, run a little styling oil (most are actually a mix of oils and silicones) over them with your fingertips.
Avoid: Pomades (too sticky); gels (too crunchy); straightening creams (too heavy)
If Your Hair Is Curly…
You need to battle frizz and dryness. If you haven’t already, switch to sulfate-free shampoos, which won’t exacerbate dryness, and rich conditioners (with silicone or panthenol), which seal in moisture. But know your limits: Fine curls can take only so much hydration before they fall flat. If you’re using a heavy conditioner (the kind in a tub), choose water-based stylers that have water as the first ingredient.
On days you aren’t shampooing, refresh your curls by getting them wet in the shower and running a conditioner from the midlength to the ends. And to keep curls in place without the crunch of gel, use a curl-refreshing mist (water spiked with light conditioners) as needed throughout the day.