One of the most crucial elements of any hairstyle is the hair texture. Because texturising is such an important part of styling hair, whether you are a professional hair stylist or an at-home fashionista, I’ve decided to do a little series on getting hair texture right. When we talk about hair texture, and achieving the right kind of texture when you are styling your hair, there are two levels of consideration: the first is the kind of products you use in your hair to get the texture right, and the second refers to the tools used to enhance the texture and style the hair. In this post we discuss styling and texturising products and the different purposes they serve.
Before we really get into it, it is important to understand just why we use products when styling hair. If you’re tempted to skimp on products or you are worried about adding the wrong thing to your hair, understanding how and why they work will help you make the right choices. Texturising and styling products serve a number of purposes: they can help you achieve as much or as little volume a look calls for, they can lend support and control to a look and hold it together through the day, and they can help you enhance your natural texture or create a new one altogether. Whether you want your hair to look glossy or guarantee that it stays frizz-free all through the day, the right products can take a look from ‘what?’ to ‘wow!’ in no time at all.
The first product on our list is the ever-popular hair gel. Hair gel is best suited for when you want highly defined curls or waves in your hair. It can also be really effective for hairstyles that need a high hold quotient, like spikes.
The strengths of this kind of texturising product lay in the high degree of control and hold it offers while styling. If you’re considering a hairstyle that needs support and structure and you don’t want to have to worry about it going limp as the day progresses, hair gel can be the ideal solution. The problem with hair gel is in its own texture and composition: it’s a heavy product, which makes it ill suited for fine hair and also difficult to spread properly through the hair. As a result, it gives the best results in short to medium-length hair and should be avoided by those with long hair.
Hair gel can be used in dry, wet and damp hair. Most hair gels create sheen in the hair because they work by smoothening the cuticle. If you’re planning a wet-look hairstyle, a hair gel can be the perfect product to get the right texture.
If piecy, sharply defined texture is what you are after take a gander at hair wax or hair pomade. This sort of product is great for highly specialised and targeted texturising because it really allows you to get in there and get your hands dirty. It lets style each individual section or strand as you want to. That kind of manoeuvrability isn’t easy to come by when you’re styling hair. Hair wax/ pomade is perfect for a highly personalised take on hair styling and texturising: you can look forward to spectacular results, whether you want a carefully crafted Mohawk or you’re twisting your hair into faux cornrows.
Now, I must admit that despite all the popularity surrounding the product, hair wax or pomade can take some getting used to. There are both upsides and downsides to the choice and I advise experimenting and practicing a couple of times before you really commit to this kind of product. The good news is that it can help create a wonderful, piecy texture and if you’re going for a slightly messy or edgy look the results can be unparalleled. You can keep messing around with product all day long and recreating the look and reworking it as and when you want. However, the downside is that if you don’t have enough styling practice or you don’t buy the right kind/ brand of pomade or wax the overall effect could be that of scraggly, weighed-down hair.
Ideally, wax or pomade should be used on dry hair, or at most, on slightly damp hair. Apart from the texturising power, the product also gives you a range of finishes to choose from: wet-look, dry, natural, matte and so on.
Did you know that the most popular and widely used hair styling and texturising product after hairspray is hair mousse? Yep! It’s a universal favourite, and it’s obvious why. This foam-like substance is absolute magic when it comes to creating loads of natural volume and unbeatable texture in hair. What makes mousse so popular is the fact that it is oh-so-easy to use. It spreads like a dream through your hair, coating every strand without weighing hair down and this makes it the ideal texturising product for those with long hair. You can enjoy a natural finish and soft, shiny hair because it smoothens the cuticle and adds hold to a style without making your hair rigid or heavy.
Mousse is often the perfect companion to styling/ texturising tools. You can use it to create a soft, pliable base (your hair) that can be perfectly shaped into ringlets, curls, waves or even poker-straight hair. And if it is just a bit of natural, effortless glamour you are going for, spray some mousse into your hair and scrunch it around with your fingers and voila! You have the unbelievably sexy, just-out-of-bed touseled hair that everyone envies all the supermodels for.
Hair mousse should only be used on damp hair. Whether it is an overnight hairstyle such as braiding your hair to style it into tight spirals or a more immediate look, mousse works best in hair that is about 80-90% dry. You can use a clean spray bottle to spritz some water all over your hair or you can even hold your hands out under running water and then pat them all over your hair before you work the mousse in.
Most people understand hair serums as a finishing product and not so much a texturising product. It’s true, serums are usually used as a final touch to most hairstyles (or conversely, right at the beginning to set a smooth stage) but remember the finish of your hair is also a part of its overall texture. Serums are highly concentrated, transparent, oil-like substances that add a tremendous amount of shine and gloss to your hair by smoothing the cuticle. You can start out with the most brittle, woebegone-looking hair and end up with unbelievably glossy hair in mere moments. If you’ve got too much volume or body (and yes, there can be such a thing as too much volume!) hair serums can really help you tame your hair. The ingredients list of any hair serum will reveal a staggeringly high amount of silicones, which is why they pack such a punch. Hair serum is ideally meant for wet or damp hair but if you are using it on dry hair (to get tangles out or to boost shine) make sure you use it very sparingly or you could end up looking like you’re carrying around your own personalised oil spill atop your head.
The good thing about hair serum is that even a little goes a long way, so those seemingly-expensive-but-teensy bottles will actually last you a really long time. Hair serums work well with a variety of other texturising products like hair crèmes or mousses. You can use serums to create a fine, fuss-free base and other products for styling and support. On the flipside, hair serums might not be the best option for those with very fine hair because these viscous liquids tend to be heavy and they can leave thin hair looking limp.
Put very simple, the primary purpose of hair serum is to fight frizz and combat any static electricity, dryness and flyaways. If you want sleek, shiny hair that’s completely under your control, this is the way to go.
If the thick consistency of hair gels is not your thing, you might want to look into spray gels. These are essentially the same product, but without the thickening agent in the hair gels. This makes spray gels much easier to work with because you do not have to worry about the product spreading unevenly through your hair. Spray gels are meant to be used in either wet or damp hair. They help texturise hair in two ways: by boosting shine and by lending structure and support to the style.
The spray system makes it really easy to ensure that you’ve got all your hair covered. You can work in small sections and target every one of them. Because of this reason, spray gels are especially suited for those portions/ styling moments when it is just hard-to-reach a particular section of hair. So, the next time you are worrying about not being able to add enough volume and lift to the roots or you have a nagging suspicion that your curls are only partly covered by product, get your spray gel out and spritz away.
Hair crèmes/ lotions are more likely to figure on the lesser-known end of the styling spectrum, but you’d be surprised to find that you can achieve some fabulous textures with these. Crèmes and lotions are ideal for controlling common hair texture problems like static, flyaways and frizz. This is a styling and texturising product that also works to condition your hair, and thus leaves it considerably smoother and straighter. You can also use hair crèmes/ lotions to define your curls.
Hair crèmes and lotions are really great for a natural, beautiful texture that is also soft to the touch. This variety of texturising product actually makes the hair easier to work with and more manageable: in fact, if you’ve always lived with hair that seems to fight your every command, a quality hair crème could be your saviour. These products also offer a really good hold and can keep the texture in place for a really long time. The only major drawback is given the thick, cream-like consistency these products might be too heavy for thin hair.
Hair crèmes/ lotions can be used in all kinds of hair: dry, damp and wet. Since they’re creamy, it might take a little bit of time and effort to be able to evenly spread and work the product into your hair. If you aren’t used to hair crèmes just yet, I advise working in small sections and with coin-sized amounts to begin with. This way you can add more product as you go along and not worry about ending up with too much in your hair or wasting product.
And finally, we’re at the best known and most used of products: the hairspray. The hairspray is without a doubt the most loved hair styling product: it’s one of those items you are sure to find in everyone’s bathroom/ styling cabinet. When you’re going for va-va-volume and you need something to help defy gravity and keep your look together through the day, a hairspray is your best friend.
For a rather simple product, it does a bunch of neat things. First and foremost, hairspray keeps hairstyles from falling flat. It will keep a style together for much longer than it would naturally. Other than this, a hairspray can also affect the texture and finish of your hair: from natural-look products to shine-boosting and gloss-enhancing varieties, there are a number of different finishes you can choose from. You can also choose between a number of different strengths: from touchable, flexible varieties and medium-hold products to super-strong finishes for that helmet head, there’s no dearth of options.
Hairspray should be used on dry hair, once your style is complete. You can also spray a little bit on throughout the day to make sure your style stays in place and looks good.
That covers most texturising and styling products available in the markets. If you are new to hair styling, pick one or two that you feel comfortable with and then work your way up to the rest. If you’re an old hand, take a look to see if you’ve missed something in your collection. I hope this post was informative. Watch this space for my next post in the series on various texturising tools!