Deciphering Hair Care Products: What You Need, What You Can Skip

Beendown a hair care aisle lately? Frightening, isn’t it? The endless best combinations of shampoos and conditioners, gels, mousses and waxes to choose from are enough to boggle the mind. Today we’re going to tell you what products do what and teach you when to reach for pomade and when to leave it on the shelf.

Mousse: Mousse is a foaming styling product whose sole purpose is to add body and control to your hair. You should be using mousse as a hair care product if you have fine or limp hair and want it to appear thicker or your hairstyle requires a lot of volumes.

Curling Mousse: Provides volume and defines curl that is already there in your hair. This won’t create curls that aren’t there so those with straight hair need not apply.

Gel: This hair care product is short hair’s best friend. Gel works best for giving styling control to men’s hairstyles or ladies styles that require a lot of holds. It also works wonders for those who have a little natural curl in their hair who want to scrunch style more curls into their hair.

Spray Gel: This is the perfect gel option for those with super fine hair that needs hold in their hair care products. This product will give you all the hold you need but won’t weigh your fine hair down like heavy gels will. Also works for scrunching curls.

Styling Wax: This soft holding, pliable concoction is perfect as an alternative to gel for those who like the “wet” look but hate crunchy hair (which really should be all of us!). Hair wax is probably the single best styling product out there as it adds definition to all hairstyles, combats “frizzies” and creates sleek looks in seconds. Personally, I think every man, woman and child should own a jar of this hair care product.

Pomade: Pomade is very similar to styling wax but with more hold. Use this if you want a wet look on naturally curly hair or if you want to define the layers in coarse hair.

Curl Enhancer: This product does just what it says, it enhances the curl or natural wave you already have. This is a good hair care product to use alone or in combination with a spray gel for scrunching in curls. What this product does not do is create curls in straight hair.

Anti-Frizz serum: This silicone based product coats the hair shaft and fights frizz like a superhero. If you have naturally curly hair you should always mix this in with a little bit of your favorite styling product to banish frizzies for good.

Hair Glue: Who knew it would come to this? For those who literally need to glue their hair in place, this is the hair care product for you. Use this for extreme spikes, Mohawks and faux hawks.

Thermal Protector: This product creates an invisible barrier that protects your hair from damage due to heated styling tools. If you style your hair with blow dryers, curling irons, flat irons (especially) or combinations of these every day you need this.

Smoothing Cream: This creamy hair care product helps to smooth out wavy or curly hair. If you’re going from curly to straight use this to help iron out most of the kinks during the blow drying phase. Follow up with a flat iron for the ultimate in smooth hair. If you’re planning on keeping curl in your hair don’t use this.

Root Boost: This very specialized product is designed to give lift and body just at the roots of your hair. This creates volume in your hair but leaves the rest sleeker. This is good for those who are prone to creating bubble-like styles with their hair or those with fine hair who need volume with soft hold.

Hair Thickener: This product makes hair feel thicker and is one of those hair care products most people should pass up on. Unless you have baby fine hair this product will probably just end up making your hair feel like someone stuck liquid gum in it.

Shine Spray: This liquid silicon product is meant to be used last on a hairstyle and gives a glimmering sheen to your hair. This is the perfect finish for updos or hair that has been straightened with flat irons.

There you have it: the most popular hair care products defined. Are there any others you’d like to know about? If I missed one (and lord knows I probably did) leave a comment and I’ll fill you in.

In the spirit of this blog post here’s today’s question: if you could only use one hair care product (excluding shampoo and conditioner. We’ll be nice and give you those for free) what would it be?