From the best hair products and styling tools to how-tos, we've got you covered with tips that will make your locks turn heads. To get the best hair styling tips and techniques for our readers, we talked to celebrity hair stylists expert opinion on flattering hair styles and the Beauty Lab experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute to learn about the best products for any hair issue or concern.
Read more below to get the breakdown on everything you need to know about styling your own hair at home, including haircut basics, combatting frizz, finding the best styling products and more so you can better achieve whatever look you desire.
Know your hair type
Getting to know your hair can prevent you from wreaking havoc on innocent strands. So, before you pick up a heating tool or brush, learn to distinguish your hair type. Hair typically falls under two categories: Fine and thick.
Your hair is fine if a single strand is hard to see; you struggle with maintaining volume; and locks never feel heavy. You have fewer strands, which are super skinny.
Your hair is thick if it feels coarser; bobby pins can’t hold styles in place; and your biggest problem is taming frizz. You seem to have an infinite amount of strands and they weigh a ton.
Start with a good haircut
Regular haircuts aren't just for removing dead ends — they can also make your hair appear thicker and full of life. A good haircut also provides a good foundation for executing any hairstyle you desire.
Have flat hair that could use a little more bounce? "Try face-framing layers and short, soft layers to boost volume," says Jenny Cho, Suave Professionals celebrity stylist.
When it comes to thick hair, Edward Tricomi, master stylist and co-owner of Warren-Tricomi Salons, recommends growing your hair long with density-lessening layers or lopping it off. Just avoid shoulder-length cuts — those can look too boxy and chunky, he says.
Choose hair products based on hair thickness
The foundation for healthy, luscious hair begins with a shampoo and conditioner formulated for your hair type, along with a deep-conditioning treatment for weekly blasts of moisture. One important takeaway when it comes to products: Different hair types have various needs.
"Someone with fine, straight hair might want more lightweight formulas like mists and sprays because heavy conditioners might weight hair down," says Danusia Wnek, chemist at the GH Beauty Lab.
Someone with thick, curly hair, on the opposite end, might want richer oils and thick creams to lubricate strands and might not worry about weigh down. "Selecting products specific to your hair type ensures that formulators and product developers have kept your hair type in mind when creating products," Wnek adds.
Become styling product-savvy
Styling products may be different in nature, but one thing remains the same: A little goes a long way. Always start with an itty-bitty amount and add more if needed.
• Hair gels are more liquid-y to the touch, but they dry quickly into a shiny (almost “wet”-like) hard shell. They’re best for creating spikes on short hair, slicking hair down, and defining curls.
• Hair mousse is a lighter styling foam that gives a crunch-free, volumous look. Our Beauty Lab experts recommend the John Frieda Volume Lift Air Whipped Foam because it showed superior performance when tested in increased humidity over a period of time.
• Other finishing products, like creams and serums, are the lightest of the bunch and perfect for last-minute touch ups. Lastly, Cho says she always has a bottle of hair oil in her makeup bag. Described as an all-in-one miracle product, it penetrates the cuticle, heals damage, calms frizz, and adds luster.
Get the right hair tools and accessories
Customize your arsenal to address your texture and hair type, but stock up on these fundamentals: A lightweight hair dryer that won’t elicit damage, the right hairbrushes, and Tricomi suggests getting hair ties and bobby pins that color-match your strands.
Learn the hairbrush basics
For everyday grooming, choose paddle brushes. When you blow-dry, use a round brush to easily grab every strand. But watch out for round brushes with metal frames — when combined with hot air from a dryer, it can heat up way too fast and burn your tresses. Your safest bet is to stick with a wooden one.
But not all brushes are made equal, and when you factor in bristle types and hair texture, a brush could make or break your hair:
• For fine hair, brushes that exclusively house natural boar bristles are the best. They smooth and enhance shine without pulling or tugging.
• For normal to thick hair, try a boar-and-nylon combo to detangle; plus, you’ll get the added benefits of smoothing and creating a healthy sheen.
• Got really thick hair? A brush with nylon bristles is strong enough to help detangle gnarly knots.
Learn to embrace your natural texture
More and more women are starting to embrace their natural hair texture. But, after years of using hot stying tools, it might take time for you to understand what your hair really wants and needs to look its best.
For curly girls, “It’s all about using products that are curly girl friendly,” says Michelle Sultan, Creative Director for Imbue Curls. That means not using any products that might dehydrate the hair, like sulfates, mineral oils, waxes, or drying alcohols, she adds. Those with wavy hair can also use similar products to help with definition.
Style according to your hair type
If you have fine hair you've got some versatility when it comes to styling options. You can play with messy 'dos, experiment with chignons and low buns, and straighten or curl with ease. Ultimately, how you wear your hair depends on personal style.
For women with thick hair, on days when it tends to get heavy and want to put it up, try braids, side ponytails or high buns. The upside to a dense 'do? “A blowout can last longer,” says Renato Campora, celebrity hair stylist for The Wall Group. “And there isn’t much of an issue with using products because hair won’t get weighed down the way fine hair would.”
Battle frizz for good
In a GH tester panel, 95% of testers reported dealing with frizz. There are several ways to help tame frizz, such as getting a good haircut, using cooler water, sleeping on silk. and finding moisturizing shampoos and conditioners that work for you.
"Products with high alcohol content tend to dehydrate the hair causing the hair to search for moisture," says Stephen Thevenot, a New York-based hairstylist at David Mallett Le Salon. Instead, use shampoos with hydrating ingredients or cleansing conditioners if you suffer from dry scalp.
A good serum helps too. Orlando Pita Well Behaved WELL Anti-frizz Cream Serum is beloved by our Beauty Lab experts because it was loved by consumers, didn't leave hair too tacky or sticky, and scored will for smoothing frizz without weighing hair down.
Boost volume by teasing
If you have fine hair, a lasting boost can require some time commitment and skill. Enter: Teasing. The wrong way to tease hair is starting at the end, and moving the comb up and down,” Cho warns. “It’ll tangle the hair, and it’s a nightmare to comb it out.” Here's how to do it right:
- Before you begin, make sure hair is completely dry and de-knotted.
- Use a fine-tooth comb, or a tail comb, to separate a section of hair at the front; clip it to the side.
- Take a section at the crown area and hold it straight up. To avoid damage, Cho says to start at the mid-shaft and push the comb down to the roots. Pull the comb out and start from the mid-shaft and backcomb again.
- Finally, comb the swept-aside section over the teased bump for a voluminous lift.
Learn how to curl hair like a pro
Curling your hair is a nice way to add volume if your stick straight mane is craving some oomph. First, find a curling rod with a barrel of 1 ½ inches that has a heat setting gauge (the smaller the barrel, the tighter the curls). Fine hair doesn’t require as much heat compared with coarse hair. If you have a heat setting that spans between 1 and 10, set it to 6 for fine hair and 8 for coarse hair.
- Prep dry hair by spraying a heat thermal protector and detangling knots.
- Mist a 1 ½ -inch section near the nape of your neck with a lightweight hair spray because it “defines, maintains curls and keeps them really shiny,” says Cho.
- Wind the section around the wand, leaving the ends untouched, for roughly five seconds. When it comes to styling the sides of your hair, tilt your head to keep a safe distance between your skin and the rod to avoid burns. (Cho recommends that novice curlers wrap a towel around their neck.)
- Repeat, misting and curling section by section until your whole head is complete.
- Once hair is cooled completely, gently pull and finger-comb the curls for a natural finish. Optional: Lightly mist hairspray all over to set
Know the right way to straighten hair
If you have fine or damaged hair, set the temperature to 300 degrees or less. Average hair should be ironed at around 300-380ºF. Crank it up to 400ºF for thick, coarse strands, and "always use heat protectant," says Cho.
Speed matters: “If you’re going too fast, your hair won’t straighten,” says Tricomi. “And if you go too slow, that’s when your hair burns and damage occurs.” Pass through methodically, section by section, from roots to tips until hair is pressed sleek and straight. Finish with a hydrating serum from mid-length to ends for shine, and a light hairspray at the crown to curb flyaways and frizz.
To read the full article, go to Good House Keeping