The key to any hairstyle is getting the hair texture right. Whether you wear your hair loose or do it up somehow, prepping the base right is integral to every look. From messy buns and boho braids to formal updos, knowing how to texturize your hair properly can make all the difference to your hairstyles. We’ll be talking about texture this month in a three-part series devoted to achieving proper hair texture: the first part discusses texturizing products, their role and what you need to buy.
Investing in the right texturizing products is extremely important because they give you:
- Support and hold
- Control over the style
- Volume and body
Let’s jump to the various hair styling and texturizing products you should add to your stash.
Crèmes and hair lotions work on a two-tiered level: they help condition your hair to make it more manageable and they help create texture prior to styling. Crèmes and lotions typically offer less hold and maneuverability as compared to other products discussed here, but they go a long way in helping you tame your hair.
if you’re dealing with issues like frizz, static and flyaways, hair crèmes can leave your hair smooth and soft. They may not make for the most impressive product if you’re into adventurous styling, but I definitely recommend having one on-hand to keep your hair looking beautiful on a day-to-day basis.
Pro Tip: hair crèmes and lotions, as the names suggest, have a thick, creamy consistency, which means they tend to weigh down extremely fine/ thin hair. Regardless of your natural hair thickness, work in small portions with a dime-sized amount. It’s always easier to build up rather than to take down a styling product.
If there’s one hairstyling product that everyone, even the most reluctant of beauty enthusiasts, has in their stash, it’s hairspray. When it comes to hairstyling, hairsprays are the most multipurpose product you can invest in.
A single can will come in handy in so many different ways. There’s the most obvious use of hairspray: to provide hold and support. But there’s also so much more you can do. You can use hairspray to create extra volume at the roots with, you can use it to create a naturally grainy texture while backcombing, and you can spray it onto your bobby pins to keep them from sliding. Then there’s the matter of the finish: I advise picking up a couple of different types so that you can simply spritz some on for a shiny, polished texture or one for a more matte look. Buying a dependable hairspray can make all the difference to your styling experience.
Pro Tip: Find a mini-can to keep in your bag and use for touch-ups throughout the day. They’re especially handy if you’re holding up an intricate hairstyle through a long day and for events like weddings.
Hair gels are a type of styling product that is typically associated with male users, given the kind of advertising we see around these goods. It goes without saying that anyone can use hair gels- and to any number of ends. You should ideally reach for a hair gel anytime you’re creating a hairstyle that requires a high degree of definition and/or significant hold. Hair gels are great for carving out intricate looks and defined textures, which is what makes them a solid bet for spiky hairstyles or looks with intricate loops or accents.
Much like hair crèmes, hair gels too tend to weigh fine hair down, which can be a problem if your natural hair is thin. That said, if you’ve got enough natural body to hold the product up, hair gels offer an unbeatable amount of hold through the day.
Pro Tip: Use a hair gel anytime you want to create a wet-look hairstyle: these products smoothen out the hair cuticle, thereby creating a high-shine, glossy finish. Conversely, avoid anytime you’re looking for a matte finish or a vintage-inspired ‘do.
Hot on the heels of hairspray as a popular styling product comes the hair mousse. When it comes to creating natural texture and tons of unabashed volume, nothing compares to a hair mousse. The foam-like product is super easy to apply and manipulate, which is what makes it a great buy for even those who are new to hairstyling. Unlike a lot of other texturizing products (think hair gels) mousses are easy to spread through the hair, so you don’t have to worry about lumpy, uneven application and lopsided results.
I don’t recommend using mousses alone for complex hairstyles: instead, use them just to get the base ready the way you want it. While hair gels and even crèmes can be used to shape and fix hair into place, mousses are a lot softer and more pliable, which makes them the ideal texturizing product. It’s not a standalone styling solution but is great for giving your hair a shiny finish and a soft-to-the-touch effect before you use styling tools and other products. From Old Hollywood waves to sleek, straight hair- it all looks and wears a lot better with a dollop of mousse to sit on. Not to forget: a good hair mousse is the secret ingredient to the perfect DIY bombshell blowout.
Pro Tip: Always use mousse in slightly damp hair (80-90% dry). If you’re starting out on bone-dry hair, use a spray bottle or even just your palms to work a little bit of water into your hair: mousses need some moisture to latch onto and blend with. To recreate the iconic Victoria’s Secret waves, get your hair ready by working some mousse into damp hair and leaving foam rollers in over night. When you wake up the next morning, you’ll have that oh-so-soft, sexy tousled texture that everyone covets.
Hair Pomade/ Wax
Soft, natural texture definitely has its place in hairstyling narratives, but ever so often you need to shake things up and go for some major drama. If you’re aiming for edgy, extremely defined hairstyles, hair pomades and waxes are your best friend. Hair pomades/ waxes are definitely not the stuff of everyday styling- they’re all about extreme looks, intense texture and dizzying detail. Think Mohawks, undercut braids and gritty moods. Hair pomades allow for an unparalleled amount of control when styling, which makes them the perfect product for expert stylists and those looking to create highly detailed styles. If you’re aiming for one of those ‘style within a style’ hairdos, pomades and waxes are absolutely essential: you can treat every individual segment of your hair differently.
Pro Tip: As tempting as it is to be jump right to the piece-y, runway-inspired looks, I advise using pomades and waxes only after you’ve achieved a certain degree of expertise with styling. They do take some getting used to, and you can’t quite throw a look together and expect it to work when it comes to the more ‘expert level’ hairstyles. Work your way up: do buy a pomade/ wax to get used to the feel and potential of the product, but don’t attempt a complex look on the day of a big event if you’re new to styling.
Hair serums are a must-have styling product, so if you don’t have one yet or think you can make do with another ‘similar’ product (many people try to use hair oils in place of serums) do be sure to buy one.
Hair serums can be used throughout the styling process, from texturizing to finishing. Texture plays into the entire look every step of the way, so you’ve got to start out right and finish off well for a hairstyle to be successful. Most folks will use serums to add a bit of shine at the end or to untangle unruly hair, but you can also use them to get a sleek texture at the beginning (in curls and in straight hair).
Hair serums can help tame out-of-control hair, add some much needed gloss to dry and brittle strands and work out even the tiniest snags to get your hair ready for braids and updos. Just be sure to use them carefully: hair serums are oil-like substances infused with silicones, so they spread fast and quick. You don’t want your hair to end up looking greasy, so a small pump is usually enough. It’s easier to work them through wet/ damp hair but you can also use them on dry hair- just start out with a tiny squirt and only add more if you really need it.
Pro Tip: When you’re buying a hair serum, be sure to read the description to know what kind of use the particular product is intended for. Serums are usually marketed as all-purpose styling products but not all of them function the same way. Some hair serums carry ingredients that make them safe for heat styling whereas others will work much like fat/oil does when used for cooking food on heat: they’ll end up frying your precious locks and are only intended for use after thermal/ heat styling.
Spray gels work much in the same way as regular gels, albeit without the same thickening effect. This is because spray gels do not contain the congealing agents found in traditional gels, which makes them somewhat easier to work with- a good idea if you’re new to styling but want to be able to enjoy the kind of maneuverability offered by gel styling products. The spray feature also allows you to coat all strands evenly, which comes in handy when you’re working in segments and need to be able to target those hard-to-reach sections. Spray gels work wonders for defining waves and curls and can help create a lot of volume and the illusion of thickness when sprayed into the roots.
Pro Tip: Use spray gels only in damp/ wet hair. You’re going to end up with scraggly, clumpy hair if you use spray gels in dry hair.
Next up, we’re going to take a look at the different styling and texturizing tools in the market and how you can maximize on their potential.