Decoding Hair Product Types

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Hair products that can lift, smooth, and move your hair to perfection are just as important as heat styling tools that can straighten and curl. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find their ideal styling products amid such an overwhelming selection. That’s why we turned to Alex Polillo of the Andy Lecompte Salon in Los Angeles, whose clients include Mia Wasikowska, Aimee Teegarden, and Anna Paquin, for the scoop on how to make products work for you.

Serum/Oil

Serums and oils are used to add shine and moisture to wet or dry hair, before or after blow-drying. "These can look greasy on thin or fine hair, so use sparingly on those hair types," says Alex. Start with a dime-sized amount in your palms and works from the ends up. Reapply small amounts if necessary.

BEAUTYLISH RECOMMENDS
Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil

Spray

Aerosol hair spray is a universal finishing product. It can provide a light hold or a completely rigid effect, depending on the product and the look you're after. To avoid a crunchy effect, don't use this on wet hair. Mist quick bursts of hair spray at an even distance from the head to finish any hairstyle.

BEAUTYLISH RECOMMENDS
L’Oréal Elnett Strong Hold Hair Spray

Mousse

Mousse is great for finer hair because it gives volume without much evidence it's there. Comb through wet hair evenly and blow-dry for volume. The amount you apply, however, is a balancing act. "You want to apply enough to give hold, but too much product will leave your hair crispy," says Alex. Start with a dollop the size of a Ping-Pong ball and work your way up.

BEAUTYLISH RECOMMENDS
Suave Captivating Curls Cream Mousse

Gel

Although it’s formulated in varying degrees of hold, gel is still one of the strongest stylers out there. Gels work well on short textured styles that need to maintain a single look without much movement. Start with a quarter-sized amount in your palm and work your way up from there, distributing it evenly throughout the front and back of the hair.

BEAUTYLISH RECOMMENDS
Leonor Greyl Gel à la Kératine

Wax/Pomade

Wax and pomade have the ability to hold like gel, but allow for more movement and malleability. Use pomade to define and separate short haircuts, and to finish and texturize longer hairstyles. Wax-based products give an even stronger hold and come in matte and glossy formulas. Take tiny amounts at a time and work the product up from the tips of the hair.

BEAUTYLISH RECOMMENDS
KMS California Design Wax

Styling Cream

Styling cream comes in varying degrees of hold, can be used wet or dry, and provides lightweight definition compared with a pomade. “My go-to product after blow-drying is Bumble and Bumble Brilliantine, but experiment and see which consistency fits your desired finish,” says Alex. Apply a dime-sized amount at first, then apply more product if your hair is long.

BEAUTYLISH RECOMMENDS
Alba Botanica Soft Hold Style Cream