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Styling Products 101


Let’s face it — having a good hair day requires plenty of help.

You need the right shampoo and conditioner – maybe a deep conditioning treatment too if your hair is super dry. It also takes a good blow dryer and/or curling or flat iron to give your hair the texture and smoothness that you want.

But when you really want your hair to look fab, you also need the right styling products to keep your tresses in line.

Choosing a styling product can be pretty confusing, though – just take a stroll down the hair care aisle at your local drugstore and the sheer number of options will probably overwhelm you.

So if you’re having trouble picking out a styling product that gives you the look that you want, here’s a rundown of the most common options and which type of hair and needs they’re best for.


Gel is probably the most versatile of hair styling products. It works on all hair types and lengths, so it’s one that most of us should have in our arsenal. Gel can help keep your style in place, with hold ranging from light to firm, but it can also boost shine for straight hair and fight frizz and pump up the volume of curly locks.

To use gel, squeeze a small amount into your palm – go with a nickel size amount for very short locks and up to a quarter size for long hair – and rub it between your hands. Apply it to your hair at the roots and work it downward. Use on wet hair for light control and to play up the texture. To increase volume, focus the gel at your roots and lift the hair up as you blow dry. Prevent frizz by applying it to damp locks and allowing them to air dry.

Avoid gels that contain a lot of alcohol, which can dry out your tresses and cause flaking. Try the TIGI Bed Head Small Talk for a versatile, easy to use option.


Mousse doesn’t provide the kind of firm hold that gel can, but that makes it an ideal option if you want a soft, natural look for your ‘do. Because it has a lightweight consistency that won’t weigh hair down and can boost volume too, it works best on medium to long locks that are on the fine side. If you’ve got naturally curly or wavy hair, mousse can also help define the texture and fight frizz.

To avoid a crunchy, stiff look, apply mousse to wet or damp hair, not dry locks. Squirt a golf ball size amount into your hand and liquefy it between your palms. Work the mousse into your roots and then gradually downward with fingers or a comb. As you blow dry, turn your head upside and lift at the roots to build volume. Allow curly or wavy hair to air dry for a soft, textured look. If you really want to play up your curls, though, dry your hair with a diffuser attachment.

As with gel, stay away from mousse with too much alcohol. Dove’s Nourishing Curls Whipped Cream Mousse is an ideal option for curly or wavy hair, while the Bumble and Bumble Thickening Full Form Mousse works well for fine or thin tresses.


Wax may not sound like something you want to put on your hair, but it can come in pretty handy if you’ve got a super short do like a pixie. That’s because wax helps add texture and definition to short styles so you can get a sexy, piece-y look. It also makes your hair look shinier and locks your style in place all day.

To apply wax, work a thin layer between your fingertips and twist it into the ends of towel-dried hair. Avoid using it too close to the roots or your hair may look greasy. You can also use wax on dry hair in specific spots where you want a little more pieciness.

Try the KMS California Hairplay for a wax that provides high shine and flexible control.


Hairspray is that classic styling product that we all probably already have in our bathroom. It works on any hair type and length when you want to hold a style in place all day. Hairsprays typically come in different formulas depending on the type of hold that you want – flexible sprays provide some hold but don’t leave hair stiff or crunchy, while firm control sprays act as a glue to lock hair in place but can leave it pretty stiff and hard. Some hairsprays also act as a shine spray to make hair more luminous.

To apply hairspray, hold the bottle approximately 8-inches away from dry hair and spray. It’s usually used as the last step of a styling routine, but flexible hold spray can be also be used before styling to help you brush your locks into the right place.

The Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Working Hair Spray offers flexible hold for a more natural look, while the Kenra Platinum Finishing Spray 26 delivers full control that won’t let your hair move at all.

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing