The Biggest Hair Mistake Every Woman Makes

Photographed by Jens Ingvarsson.
Hair is a fickle master. Some days you put down your blowdryer, smile contentedly, and do a hot-chick-in-a-bro-movie slow-motion head toss. And sometimes, you look in the mirror and ask God what you did to deserve the unspeakable mess that is sprouting from your head. Blame it on the weather, genetics, or the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol — but no matter the reason, the truth of the matter is sometimes your hair is just kind of a dick.

With all of these factors working against you, it'd be safe to say you are pretty particular with the products you put on your head. Which is all well and good — if it weren't for the fact that you're most likely using the wrong ones. Or, at least, that's the theory of Jon Reyman, a stylist and founder of Spoke & Weal salons.

Reyman posits that many women buy products based on their hair type — i.e. curly, wavy, or straight. The problem with this, according to him, is that not all hair of the same type has the same needs. And, you can manipulate hair through heat-styling to change its type — from straight to curly, and vice versa. That's why Reyman says you need to start choosing products based on your texture — soft or coarse — to get the best-looking hair.

"Hair texture is controlled by two things," he notes. "Products and styling tools (or lack thereof). Those are the things that control the way your hair works. Because if you have fine, limp hair, it's just going to be fine and limp, no matter if it's curly or straight."

Reyman claims that hair type is simply really good marketing. "If you just apply product based on whether you have curly or straight hair, you are not going to get the same results. Not all curly-hair products solve curly-hair problems."

Navigating this territory is no picnic, especially with all the products out there, each touting a different, life-changing claim. Reyman says to think of picking out products like reading a GPS: You have to know where you're starting and where you want to go. Consider what your hair looks like right now and what you want it to look like. "After you know your destination, then you need to decide what ingredients you are going to use," he says. Reyman says that instead of looking at your hair solution as one way and one product, you should mix and match different types of products and styling techniques to get what you want.

"Styling products are one of two things: an oil product or a hold product," says Reyman. "Some products are a combo of both, but it will usually be more one than the other. After I've felt [the product], I need to see the degree of it. Some are soft and light, while some are soft but thick and dense. Some products have a light, movable hold, and some have a really strong, structured hold."

So what does all this mean for you? Read on to learn about your hair texture, as well as the products and styling moves that are best for you.
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Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
Soft & Straight
This hair type is usually quite fine — volume is your big issue. Another big clue? It looks and feels flat. “Soft, straight hair is usually limp — there’s not a lot of coarseness,” says Reyman. It’s also slippery, meaning it doesn’t really hold a curl. "Fine hair, whether straight or curly, has the same needs, and that is no oils. If you put oils in it, it will be flat, " he says.
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Reyman advises starting off your routine with a strong cleansing shampoo and a very lightweight conditioner — with just enough to detangle without saturating the strands, which will only exacerbate that limpness problem. "I recommend a really strong shampoo, because the cleaner [hair] is the puffier it gets. Shampoo swells the hair up — it opens the cuticle. Conditioner is meant to close the shaft and soften," he says. Bumble and Bumble’s Sunday Shampoo is astringent, which will expand the hair shaft and make your hair feel full before you even get to styling it.

Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo, $25, available at Bumble and Bumble.
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For your hold product, Reyman advises opting for one with a light or medium hold. It could be a gel, spray, or mousse — just be sure it's lightweight. It will keep your hair in place without feeling sticky or stiff — a common problem soft-textured girls have. Also, skip the oils and leave-in conditioners — the better slip and feel your hair has, the flatter it will look. Rough, textured hair may not feel great, but it looks voluminous. Bumble and Bumble’s Thickening Hairspray (used as a prep product) will give your hair the texture needed to hold a style, be it glamour waves or a simple blowout.

Bumble and Bumble Thickening Hairspray, $29, available at Sephora.
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As for drying, Reyman says a blowdryer is your best bet — it swells up the cuticle in a way that air-drying can't. Applying Shu Uemura Angora Mousse to wet strands will make the hair “gummy,” which is better for your hair type than it sounds. That slight bit of tackiness adds more body and helps the hair set. The key word there is "slight" — you don’t want it to be stiff and clumpy.

Shu Uemura Art of Hair Ample Angora Volumizing Light Mousse, $39, available at Shu Uemura Art of Hair.
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Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh.
Soft & Wavy
Wavy hair has the same issues as straight hair, says Reyman, but with the added challenge of frizz. “The mistake many women make is that they use oils [to tame the frizz], but then it gets greasy and heavy.” That works against wavy hair because it weighs down your strands, making them look limp.
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Aveda’s Pure Abundance Style-Prep is one of Reyman’s top picks for soft-textured hair. “It’s very cleansing — it feels rough and dry when you use it, and that’s the palette I want when working with this hair type.”

Aveda Pure Abundance Style-Prep, $24, available at Aveda.
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For a styler that delivers both hold and frizz protection, try Arrojo Cream Whip. It’s a two-in-one product that allows you to create a more defined wave, but with a softness that keeps frizz at bay. And, since you are avoiding conditioner or using very little of it, this will supplement that moisture your hair needs, without all the greasiness.

Arrojo Cream Whip, $20, available at Arrojo.
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Dry shampoo is always a soft-textured girl’s friend, as it can help sop up those oils that are making your hair limp, as well as add needed texture and volume. This one by Rene Furterer is the gold standard for dry shampoos — it works like a dream without making hair snarly or leaving behind a residue.

Rene Furterer Naturia Dry Shampoo, $27, available at Rene Furterer.
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Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Soft & Curly
Same as with wavy and straight, with curls you need to shampoo frequently and use minimal conditioner. This advice goes against pretty much every curl authority: They preach the gospel of no-poo. Reyman assures girls with curls that shampooing soft coils is integral to their style. “You want to hold the curls together [so they are fully formed], but not with [a ton of] oils,” he advises.
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Unite’s Moisturizing Conditioner, when used sparingly, gives curly hair just enough hydration to support the curls and hold them together without over-conditioning.

Unite Moisturizing Conditioner, $25, available at
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Reyman also recommends Aveda’s Style-Prep for curly girls, but advises to apply it minimally. As far as heat-styling goes, he says that it's best to dry with a diffuser to get that “fluff” without losing the definition of the curl. "If you put some texture spray in your hair to give it guts and then let it air-dry, it will be flatter." The texture spray combined with the blowdryer are what gives curls the oomph they need to look their best. And it goes without saying that any heat-styling — for straight, curly, or wavy — should be followed by a lightweight frizz product to control any flyaways that may have cropped up during the drying process.

If you are air-drying, use Bumble and Bumble’s Brilliantine once your hair is set to add shine without making it greasy.

Bumble and Bumble Brilliantine, $24, available at Birchbox.
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Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
Coarse & Straight
While it's usually associated with curly hair, Reyman notes that women with straight and wavy hair can also have coarse texture. This hair will feel a bit rough to the touch, have a fuller density, and appear drier.

The coarser the hair, the more oils you'll need — use rich, heavy oil to shrink down the hair and avoid the fluffy look this texture is prone to. You should also stock up on strong-hold stylers — the delivery system doesn't matter, as long as it has some serious hold. The hold helps to support the now-shrunken-down hair, so you don't lose your natural shape.

Reyman's big rule for coarse strands: Condition every chance you get, and shampoo as little as possible. Use a very light shampoo and a conditioner that feels very heavy. "For coarse hair, it becomes about oils — they need a heavier oil to shrink the hair down, and then a medium to strong-hold product to support their hair."
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Arrojo’s Shine Luxe Conditioner fits the bill —it’s heavy and rich, so it shrinks down the hair and softens it in the process. Heavy conditioners, in general, are great for coarse hair because they fill up the hair cuticle so it doesn’t feel so rough.

Arrojo Shine Luxe Conditioner, $10.50, available at Arrojo.
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For shrinking down the hair (noticing a pattern here?), try Aveda Naturally Straight — it’s an almost balm-like lotion that you can use generously without worrying about it making hair greasy. It also has a light hold that will support the hair and make it pliable — meaning you can wear it natural or add some bend or curl to it more easily.

Aveda Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight, $26, available at Nordstrom.
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To soften up the hair and keep that shrinking thing going, try the L’Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil. It will add some shine and reflection to your hair.

L’Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil, $32, available at Birchbox.
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Photographed by Jens Ingvarsson.
Coarse & Wavy
Of all the hair types, Reyman says this one is the most versatile. “It feels rough, but the nice thing is it’s quite pliable, so you can make it straight or put a bend in it — it’s the best of both worlds,” he says.
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As for shampooing, Reyman says it’s best to tread lightly — if you cleanse the hair too much, it will leave your strands fluffy, which will make them much harder to work with. Try Hairstory’s New Wash, a cleansing conditioner of sorts that cleans the hair without stripping it of its natural oils.

Hairstory New Wash, $40, available at Hairstory.
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To support your hair’s natural curl pattern, try Oribe’s Gold Lust. It shrinks the hair just enough to make it soft, but without weighing down your waves.

Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil, $49, available at Barneys New York.
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Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
Coarse & Curly
On the other hand, coarse and curly hair tends to be the most challenging, says Reyman, because it requires more of everything. “You need a lot of set to hold the hair together and a lot of oil to shrink it down. If you don’t manage it properly, it’s a big fuzzy mess.”

Reyman notes that a different combo of products can lead to different effects on curly hair in particular. "With all curls, every product you put in it changes the curl pattern. So if I put in two oils and one hold, I get a different curl. Curly hair is so responsive to the different products you put in it."
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If you’re more into shampoo than into cleansing conditioner, Oribe Shampoo for Brilliance & Shine is a good pick. It’s rich and not overly cleansing, so it gets the job done but doesn’t ruin your curls in the process. Like with all shampoos for coarse hair, err on the side of caution and use a small amount — you can build up from there if you find you need more cleansing.

Oribe Shampoo for Brilliance & Shine, $46, available at SpaceNK.
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For a good mix between oil and hold, try Aveda Be Curly Curl Controller. It balances out the two needs without going too far to one side of the spectrum, which could result in limp or stiff curls.

Aveda Be Curly Curl Controller, $23, available at Aveda.
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Kérastase Elixir Ultime is basically pure gold for curly hair. Try applying it to wet hair all over, then using a small amount of it post-styling to smooth out any dry or frizzy areas.

Speaking of drying, Reyman says you can go both ways with coarse hair. Air-drying will create one type of effect, while blowdrying will produce a very different type. This is where that product cocktailing comes in. Maybe you need two oils and one hold when you blowdry, or just an oil when you air-dry. Reyman says it's important to experiment with products and techniques to get your ideal look. "Technique controls the end results," he says. "It has to be collaborative between technique and products."

Moral of the story? Ignore all those labels shouting "Curly!" "Straight!" and instead check out the feel of the product to test what will work best with your texture. If we learned nothing else from every rom-com ever, if it feels right, it's probably because it is.

Kérastase Elixir Ultime, $28, available at Kérastase.
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