The Best Products For Your Hair Needs

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Finding the right styling product used to be about knowing what you preferred (mousse, hairspray, pomade, gel) and what degree of hold it delivered (light, medium, strong, super). Done and done. Now? The range of options has expanded to such a degree that we need a GPS to navigate them all.
To help you make the process a little less daunting, we talked to pros nationwide to discover the salon finds — and a few drugstore steals — they pull from their kits when styling for specific textures and lengths. Which spray works for textured hair, and is strong enough to hold an updo, but won’t turn your strands crunchy and untouchable? (See, it’s like a puzzle.) Read on to find out.
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Click to learn which products are best for YOUR hair.
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Photo: Via Sally Hershberger.
Wavy Hair: Volume
“Curly and wavy hair [tend] to be a little more on the dry side, so I always advise my clients to shampoo every third day at the most,” says Jonathan Colombini, a stylist at Sally Hershberger in L.A. He loves using Sally Hershberger Major Body 3-in-1 Volumizing Spray for its dry shampoo-like qualities. Spray it on second- and third-day hair to rebuild texture where curls may have fallen flat.
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Photo: Via Shu Uemura.
Wavy Hair: Low-Slung Updo
Michael Angelo, founder of Michael Angelo's Wonderland Beauty Parlor in NYC, uses this humidity-fighting putty to seal the deal when creating grown-up ponytails with wavy and other hair types. After spritzing with a texturizing hairspray, which gives the hair grip for teasing and pinning, Angelo ties a low ponytail at the nape of the neck. The putty creates sculptable ropes of hair to wrap around the base of the pony.
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Photo: Via Living Proof.
Wavy Hair: Bouncy Blowout
Living Proof spokesperson and co-owner Jennifer Aniston’s perfectly blown-out strands have inspired plenty of hair envy. But, you’d never guess that her hair is naturally wavy. To achieve a voluminous blowout like hers (that lasts), Edgar Parra of Sally Hershberger Downtown in New York turns to Living Proof Perfect Hair Day.
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Photo: Via R+Co.
Curly Hair: For Loose Curls
We’re used to mousse the texture of Reddi-wip. But, R+Co’s Chiffon Mousse is more like perfectly beaten egg whites, before stiff peaks form. Angelo uses this aerated mousse on loose curls to keep them soft and touchable — as well as free of frizz-inducing flyaways and the dreaded product-induced crunch.
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Photo: Via Rahua.
Curly Hair: Bedhead with Loose Curls
This ‘do may sound like a mess in the making — but think more Blake Lively, and less "fell asleep with your clothes on after binge-watching Sherlock all night." Achieve controlled chaos with rich creams: “Sure, it can be used in the shower, but as a styling cream, Rahua Conditioner keeps curls soft and light,” offers Kattia Solano, stylist and founder of Butterfly Studio in New York.
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Photo: Via Oribe.
Curly Hair: Bedhead with Loose Curls
Solano follows with Oribe Crème for Style to define curls' shape and give them extra hold.
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Photo: Via Oribe.
Curly Hair: Tight Curls
When tight curls dry out, it’s Frizz City. But, using too many oils can weigh down the hair. So, Christopher Naselli — a stylist who’s worked with Nina Dobrev, Connie Britton, and Katie Holmes — uses this mousse to achieve perfectly shaped, shiny ringlets. “The mousse locks in curls, adds definition, hydrates, seals in moisture, and eliminates all frizz without ever feeling stiff or sticky,” he says.
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Photo: Via Oribe.
Textured Curls: De-frizzing and Defining
To cut static and frizz out of the curl equation, Solano applies a leave-in conditioner designed to reduce frizz (like Rahua Conditioner) combined with Oribe Rock Hard Gel: a styling cream that works on wet or dry hair to separate and define curls and add a glossy shine. Seal the look with an anti-humidity hairspray.
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Photo: Via Alterna.
Textured Curls: For the Perfectly Curly Pony
“Curls are best with definition and movement,” says Naselli. To separate and soften them, he uses this curl cream, which he calls, “lightweight, with tons of condition with loads of flexibility.” He suggests using it on dry hair to calm frizz and add texture to a ponytail.
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Photo: Via Rene Furterer.
Textured Curls: Relaxed Hair
Bad (read: wire-y) hair days for relaxed or keratin-treated tresses may seem unavoidable. But, when Joshua Ristaino, a hairstylist with the Magnet Agency who works with celebs like Olivia Wilde, is faced with this calculus problem of a hair dilemma, he busts out this genius Rene Furterer product. The lightly-fragranced cream controls frizz, of course, but it also nourishes, thanks to avocado oil. “It tames unruly hair, but it also heals it for ease of styling in the future,” he says. Ristaino applies it to towel-dried hair, and then sets it with rollers, flat-irons, or braids it to beautiful results.
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Photo: Via Oribe.
Short Hair: Textured Style
“Oribe Surfcomber is a unique, waxy mousse,” says Solano. “It amps up short hair with tons of texture and hold that will last and last.” The formula foams up to a thick, almost shaving cream-like consistency. But, once worked through the hair, it feels more tactile — like a light pomade, which Solano says is “great for adding definition.”
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Photo: Via Fine Cosmetics.
Short Hair: Sleek Style
To sculpt straight or wavy hair into a slick, wet-look style (think Shailene Woodley), Ristaino reaches for this pomade. “I love its water-soluble, gel-like consistency that washes right out,” he says. “It delivers medium hold with mega shine, and it can be set with heat,” he adds, making it perfect for sleek pixies and ‘20s finger waves.
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Photo: Via Sachajuan.
Mid-Length Hair: Volumized Bedhead
Brigitte Bardot was known for making bedhead glamorous. (Sauntering around St. Tropez may have helped matters.) Get the look by towel-drying hair and applying a light mousse, like this one from Sachajuan (which leaves virtually no residue in your hands), to the roots before you blowdry. Use finishing spray to get perfectly tousled pieces.
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Photo: Via Sachajuan.
Mid-Length Hair: Beachy Waves
Call it the Giselle effect: Ristaino says his celeb clientele keeps requesting beachy waves. The key to the look? Apply the product — ideally a salt spray or mousse — lightly. “A little goes a long way,” he warns. Lightly spray Sachajuan Ocean Mist on 80% towel-dried hair, then tightly twist it into sections and let it air-dry. “Just don’t play with it too much,” he says, or else it’ll get ratty. And, if drying time is not in the cards, use a diffuser for a few minutes. Once dry, break up the twists loosely with your fingers and apply a finishing spray.
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Photo: Via Oribe.
Mid-Length Hair: Updo
Thanks to Karlie, shoulder-length ‘dos have never been more popular. But, with a lob (long bob), it’s hard to keep an updo, well, up. Connie McGrath of San Francisco’s Veer & Wander creates volume and lift by applying this Oribe finishing spray in sections from roots to tip, and then pinning it back into a casual updo.
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Photo: Via Oribe.
Long Hair: Pin-Straight
For sleek and polished tresses (like Gwyneth’s), McGrath treats hair with Oribe Supershine Light Moisturizing Cream before blowdrying: It offers heat protection and delivers smooth, shiny strands.
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Photo: Via Garnier.
Long Hair: Messy Updo
Texturizing hairsprays are a hairstylist’s new best friend, because they add great grip. Unfortunately, they’re not exactly cheap. Ristaino swears by Garnier Texture Tease — for all textures. “I particularly like using it when styling a messy chignon, or beach waves, with all hair types,” he says. “It basically gives you that sexy, voluminous hair that’s touchable, buildable, and easy to work with. Plus, it’s less than $5 a bottle!”
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Photo: Via Shu Uemura.
Long Hair: Salon-Worthy Blowout
It’s hard to get a bouncy, Lauren Santo Domingo-esque blowout when styling products are weighing your hair down. But, some oils are light enough to apply root-to-tip: “I love to treat long hair to Shu Uemura Essence Absolue for its weightless hydration, massive shine, and compatibility before doing a clean, classic blowout,” says Angelo.
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Photo: Via Klorane.
Fine Hair: Volume
If you have fine hair, you know that a perfect a.m. style can crash later in the day. Ristaino uses Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk (or with Nettle, for those with oilier scalps) to breathe new life into styles that have fallen over time — or because of constant hair-twirling. “Playing with your hair too much can deposit oils and dirt, so a few bursts of [this dry shampoo] will revive the style and add volume without leaving a white residue,” he says. Ristaino also keeps this in his kit for photo shoots and weddings. Apply it by flipping your head upside-down and spraying from about 10 inches away.
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Photo: Via Bumble and Bumble.
Fine Hair: Updo
To achieve their gravity-defying heights, updos require a foundation of product. “Bumble and bumble Texture cream is the perfect tool to help build that base, because it gives hair a hint of grit,” says Naselli. He suggests applying it to wet hair and blowdrying with a diffuser for more volume. Once dry, “You’re left with the perfect texture to create any type of updo.”
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Photo: Via Oribe.
Fine Hair: Weightless and Straight
Jane Birkin may have at least looked like she’d tumbled out of bed with perfectly straight, yet weightless hair. To get the same style for his finer-haired clients, Angelo lightly sprays Oribe Foundation Mist to detangle the hair. Then, he spritzes on finishing spray in order to create bounce without weighing hair down.
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Photo: Via L'Oréal.
Thick Hair: Updo
Sometimes, you just can’t beat a classic. Case in point: L'Oréal's Elnett Hairspray. Parra reaches for this old-school fixer when “updoing” thick hair. “It’s great for creating a flexible hold and makes an updo or loose waves last, without the stiff side effects,” he says.
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Photo: VIa Shu Uemura.
Thick Hair: Loose Volume
Hair gel can bring to mind that technicolor stuff your kid brother used in middle school. But, Shu Uemura’s Art of Hair Fiber Lift is fluid, clear, and all grown-up. Angelo uses it to lift thick hair to ‘90s-supermodel volume. “I love to take advantage of the volume in thick hair by applying this clean gel at the root for extra support,” he says.
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Photo: Via Oribe.
Thick Hair: Soft and Sleek
“Thick hair can quickly become unruly, dry, and damaged,” says Naselli. For this hair type, he loves Oribe Supershine Moisturizing Cream — a leave-in conditioner that eliminates frizz, restores shine, and “leaves your hair feeling like silk.”
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Photo: Via Oribe.
Thick Hair: Soft Waves
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Kardashians have great hair. To achieve waves similar to those of the sisters K, McGrath suggests the following: After applying a moisturizing cream and smoothing serum into wet hair, use a large, round boar-bristle brush to blowdry from roots to tips. Spray sections this spray, and curl with a 1.5-inch curling iron. “This spray gives heat protection while creating an umbrella effect around your hair, which keeps moisture out and blocks frizz,” she says. Finally, use your fingers to style your hair into sexy waves.
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