12 Simple Hair Products, Big Results

Finding a hair routine that consistently works well for your 'do is a bit of a double-edged sword. Sure, locking down reliable styling aids, accessories, and tools is the best way to execute tried-and-true looks in no time, but it also means that you're no longer discovering new things or trying more intimidating options.

Naturally, sticking to what you know means you're probably missing out on some seriously great options just because they're foreign to you. You guessed right: It's time to change that — and who better to ask for input than those who do hair for a living?

In the spirit of trying something new — or something old in a new way — we asked a few pro hairstylists for their most clever advice. Ahead, the pros share tips and tricks on using a dozen of their most trusted products and tools in unexpected ways.
1 of 13
French Hairpins
These pins are a staple in professional hairstylists' kits, but to the untrained eye they can look more like the aftermath of a bobby pin used one too many times. That is, permanently stretched open. However, they're the perfect addition to anyone's hair arsenal.

While they aren’t the best tool for tacking wispy strands to a bun or ponytail — use a classic bobby pin for that — Rodney Cutler, Redken Brand Ambassador and co-owner of Licari Cutler Salon in NYC, says they're perfect for creating a head of perfect curls without an iron, on any hair texture or length; just heed his advice.

Taking small sections (about a quarter of an inch in width), “wrap the hair in-between the two prongs of the pin in a figure-8 motion,” Cutler instructs. “This technique is called ‘rick-racking.' Once hair is fully wrapped, apply styling cream onto the pinned sections and heat with a flat iron for three to five seconds. When you remove the pins, you’ll have perfectly not-too-coiffed-looking tight curls.”

Warning: This is definitely an intermediate styling technique, but once you get the hang of it, it'll be easier (plus, these take up way less space than a set of rollers).

Diane French Hair Pins, $19.37, available at Brand Beauty Supply Store.
Advertisement
2 of 13
Hairspray
Hairspray is super-common — but there's a better way to use it when you want to control flyaways.

Cutler suggests spraying it directly onto your hands and then applying it with your fingers, or entire palm, before smoothing back hair — rather than spraying directly onto your head, which can misfire. Then, “take the can and roll it along the hairline — this rolling effect will help suppress those unwanted stray hairs.” Translation: You’re basically steamrolling those pesky wisps down, so they’ll stay put more securely.

Redken Control Addict 28 Extra High-Hold Hairspray, $21, available at Ulta Beauty.
3 of 13
Velcro Rollers
This old-school beauty staple is the number-one training tool in the hair-flipping Olympics. That is, rollers are the key to getting that slow-motion shampoo-commercial bounce or lighter, natural-looking volume, depending on how many you use. Cutler uses them as a blowdrying aid, making us rejoice that we can give our hair lift without using a round brush.

“Once you put Velcro rollers in your hair, blowdry from roots to ends to give hair a long-lasting bounce,” Cutler explains. “Make sure your hair is completely cooled down before taking out the rollers to give lasting results.”

Liana Le
, stylist at Marie Robinson Salon (tending to the hair of Julianne Moore and Jane Krakowski), also cites Velcro rollers as a big booster for fine hair, describing the sectioning as an “imaginary mohawk,” so you can envision exactly where to place the rollers.

“Hot rollers are also a grandma favorite, but are still a legit tool to get volume and body in your hair,” Le adds; they're an industry staple for old-school glamour hair or just big-time volume. “Same sectioning as the Velcro rollers!”

Drybar High Tops Self-Grip Rollers, $10, available at Sephora.
4 of 13
Crimping Iron
Assuming you haven’t tossed your crimper ages ago, boot it up (or pick up this modern version) and get to clamping. Lest everyone question whether you’re going too deep into early-'90s nostalgia, crimping irons are actually a secret tool for creating volume — invisibly.

Caeleb Michael
, editorial stylist at Sparrow Salon, breaks this out as a fast way to create volume under smooth styles without having to backcomb or tease. “Just crimp underneath the base of your hair,” says Michael. “Avoid the top part of your hair, so you can't see the crimp." This gives your hair lift and body without the backcombing. "Think of this like the express route to getting some height in your hair," he adds.

Bed Head Little Tease 1" Tourmaline Ceramic Crimper, $29.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
5 of 13
A Firm Toothbrush
There's no reason you should be using a firm-bristled toothbrush on your teeth (just think of your poor gums!), but for hairstyling, they work gangbusters. It’s like having a mini hair brush to nip annoying wispy bits of hair, cowlicks, and flyaways without having to disturb an otherwise done hairstyle.

Cutler sprays hairspray directly onto the bristles and brushes it onto the hairline to make sure baby hairs and flyaways smooth down.

Swissco Tortoise Hard Natural Bristle Toothbrush, $4.50, available at Smallflower.
6 of 13
Pomade
Le says pomade is an excellent finishing product to polish dry ends and frizzy flyaways. "Pomade works for smoothing out frizzy hairlines, especially by the ear, or even [for] polishing dry, frizzy ends, I really like to use a forming paste or cream to finish,” Le says. “My favorite is Forming Cream by [American] Crew.”

Used sparingly, this stuff is great not only for all of the above, but also for giving slippery hair some grip, braiding, or even keeping a ponytail or bun from slipping out of its elastic or pins.

American Crew Forming Cream, $17.95 (3 oz.), available at Loxa Beauty.
Advertisement
7 of 13
Hair Bungees
These MacGuyver-looking hair ties aren’t necessarily just a utilitarian tool — they’re actually a really easy way to secure ponytails of varying thickness without causing breakage. These are especially great if you have thick hair and are tired of snapping elastic hairbands on that third go-around.

“As opposed to using regular hair ponytail bands, these are great because once the hair is secured the bungee cord allows you to anchor the hair without taking any of the ends off,” Cutler says. Hot tip: You don’t necessarily have to attach the hooks to one another — you can hook one end and wrap it around until it hooks onto the other end, or you can hook both ends into the hair itself, making these extra useful for buns and topknots.

RickyCare Black Bungees, $7, available at Ricky's.
8 of 13
Mousse
This foamy styling product can be pretty unwieldy, so it takes patience and some know-how to get the most out of it. Le is enthusiastically pro-mousse, since it makes injecting volume and bounce into a hairstyle fast and easy. “Usually people are intimidated when they see me bust out the whipped mousse before I start a blowout at the salon for fear that it might weigh the hair down or make it sticky,” she tells us. "If the product isn't used right, that will definitely be the case."

The right way? Le applies mousse on towel-dried, damp hair and then reaches for a round brush. “It must be smoothed out with a round brush, lifting the root 90 degrees,” Le instructs. “For a little extra lift, I like to let the hair cool on the brush — it will settle in the shape and give you a beautiful, classic bounce.” So, there you have it — the key to non-sticky moussed-up hair is all in the brush-out.

Ouai Soft Mousse, $28, available at Sephora.
9 of 13
Flat Iron
Flat irons don’t seem that scary…until you accidentally burn yourself with one and then hide it in a drawer forever. Michael’s tip is to “remember to tap the iron...around your scalp to get the roots flat and avoid burns." You don’t need to necessarily pull it through or clamp it closed, since the tapping will let you straighten the hair closest to your scalp without burning the skin on the edge of the plates.

Remington Therapy Frizz Control Straightener, $39.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
10 of 13
Diffuser
Think of a diffuser as the fastest route to air-dried texture — minus the waiting. One might have come with your blowdryer, but if not simply pick up a universal attachment, like Revlon's option.

"When diffusing your hair, less is more,” Michael advises. “Don't move the hair or nozzle around too much — this will only create frizz.” Keep it slow, use on medium heat, and then simply follow celeb hairstylist Mara Roszak's advice here.

Revlon Universal Hair Dryer Diffuser Attachment, $9.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
11 of 13
Styling Cream
Another thing you can — and should! — pick up in the men's hair section is slightly lighter than pomade, but still in tacky territory: styling cream! For curly hair, Michael opts for this product because it’s the perfect marriage of hold and conditioning. “This will have a better effect than using most 'curling' products to prevent frizz,” he says, warning that less is more in this case. The key? Apply it to wet curls.

Aveda Brilliant Universal Styling Creme, $21, available at Aveda.
Advertisement
12 of 13
Beach Spray
Not all beach sprays are created equal, but they seem to share a similar reputation: great for texture as long as you don't mind a dry and sticky finish. Le’s tip for making a beach spray give you the style without the crunch? Spray it onto partially blowdried (“about 70% dry,” she says) hair and let it air-dry with the product in it. That way, you get the cool, beachy texture, but with more control over the style you want to create.

Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray, $39, available at Oribe.
13 of 13
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!
Advertisement