The world of haircare can sometimes be a baffling one if you’re not a professional. You want great hair (who doesn’t) but where to start? With the basics, that’s where. Read on to discover the must-haves to keep in your kit and you need never have a bad hair day again.
Brush It Off
A good hair brush is an obvious essential — brushing stimulates circulation which contributes to good hair and scalp health – but brush your hair too vigorously when wet and at its weakest, and you could exacerbate breakages and split ends. Step forward the Tangle Teezer, a brush with specially designed, ultra-flexible teeth that minimise snagging and pulling even when hair is at its most vulnerable. It’s also exceptionally good at detangling hair that’s been wrapped in a topknot all day or tackling unruly kids’ hair. “Start at the bottom of your hair and work your way up,” advises stylist George Northwood who tends to the hair of Alexa Chung and actress Alicia Vikander, “this will help clear the hair of knots so you’re not tugging.”
Modern shampoo formulas mean they’re so much more than just detergents, so make sure you really tailor your choice to what your hair needs. Coloured hair should look for ingredients that will help prevent fade, while hair that’s prone to build-up should look for clarifying options with ingredients like apple cider vinegar. Hydrating shampoos meanwhile will help curly hair stay defined and bouncy, and if you’re lacking in volume then seek out shampoo formulated without silicone, which can weigh it down. When it comes to your checklist for conditioners, ingredients like nourishing natural oils and butters will go a long way to helping with dryness and detangling, but it’s also down to how you use it.
“A lot of people just use conditioner in a default way every time they wash their hair,” says Neil Moodie, stylist and co-founder of Windle & Moodie, “but hair changes all the time according to seasons and colouring. Try and be a bit more prescriptive about what your hair actually needs – use just a little on the ends if it feels in decent condition, or if it’s feeling very dry use more taken right up to the root.”
Used once a week or when hair needs an injection of deep conditioning, an intensive mask is a great addition to your haircare arsenal. Look for one that contains protein (keratin and wheat protein are commonly used in hair repair treatments) to fortify and nourish really damaged or thirsty strands. Just ensure you don’t use it more than you really need as conversely too much protein can cause hair to feel brittle.
A kit essential and not just for disguising less than fresh hair, dry shampoo is actually a brilliant texturizer in its own right, according to George. Mist through clean hair when you want to recreate that effortless bed head texture or add to roots when hair needs a reboot towards the end of the day. “It’s especially good for people with fine hair who don’t like a lot of products as it adds invisible body and bulk. I also like to use it to mattify hair when it’s too shiny and slippery.”
Make it a Mousse
Shaking off its old-fashioned image, mousse is a pre-requisite in a good styling kit. Why? That’s thanks to its ability to add natural volume to fine, flat hair, as well as texture and body to pretty much every other type. Ask any professional hair stylist too, mousse is the unsung hero behind every style they create. Happily, the days of that tell-tale crunch are over too, as formulas have become more refined and virtually invisible.
Whether you opt for a serum, cream or oil formula, a finishing product will add a touch of polish to your look. “Oils are good for heavily coloured, porous hair that drink up products, but otherwise cream formulas are a good option,” says George. Apply a small amount to dry hair to smooth and finish your style or, if you’re worried about hair looking too product-y then apply to towel-dried hair before you blow dry: “It’ll look less concentrated as the heat will evaporate some of it, but you’ll still retain some of the polishing, smoothing effect.”
“Hairspray is without doubt the most used product in my kit,” says Neil, “I would be lost without it.” If you’re surprised by that declaration, don’t be; far from being just something to set stiff styles in place, most hairsprays today are efficient hybrid formulas that fuse hold, heat protection and grip – AKA an essential foundation for any style. Mist through hair before and after styling (especially when using heat) and shine and staying power are guaranteed.