A Guide to Hair Product

Over the weekend, in the name of purging and in the interest of saving my sanity, I finally decided to tackle the job of sorting through the rather daunting stack of boxes still unopened from my move two years ago.


Much to my amusement (and horror) there were pictures; pictures from a dark, dark time in my life about 20 something years ago, or as I like to call it 10 years B.P. – Before Product. Fast forward to present times and the glorious mane you all see today (LOL). I am sure you were thinking, “How bad could it have been?” Well, you will have to take my word for it, as there ain’t no way I’m subjecting myself to that type of humiliation.


But it got me to thinking: what is the difference between then and now? Is it that there are better hair products? Perhaps. Or is it the knowledge that I have now that a 15-year-old me simply had no clue about?


I have always felt that it is important to know where one’s strengths and weaknesses lie, and that it is better to work with what you’ve got then to fight against it. This is especially true when it comes to hair. But in a time when we have so much choice, the task of selecting the right product can seem overwhelming.


It’s difficult to know what choice is the right one for you. Out of a vast sea of options, which product is the one that will save you from looking like a 15-year-old me? Well, to help you all avoid those wonderful B.P. years, I have put together a list of the most commonly used products and what hair style they are typically used for. Welcome, my friends, to your Carlsberg years.


1.  Anti-frizz cream

For coarse, curly, or naturally frizzy hair. Use on damp hair to keep the hair smooth and free from frizz.


2.  Blowdry spray

Gives heat protection and a faster drying time when blow drying. May also help your style stay longer.


3.  Dry shampoo

A spray or powder that absorbs excess oil from hair while also providing body and texture.


4.  Hair chalk

Colourful chalk used for temporary colour (usually fashion shades and pastels). Colour is temporarily sealed in by applying heat with a flat iron or curling iron.


5.  Hair oil

An oil that is targeted towards getting smooth, shiny hair. Can be used on towel dried hair or dry hair. Usually only a dime size amount used on hair, avoiding the root area directly.


6.  Hair primer

Lightweight cream that’s applied to damp hair. It helps smooth the cuticle and protects the strands to make your style last longer.


7.  Sea salt spray

A liquid infused with salt. Sprayed throughout towel dried, air dried, or defused hair to give “beachy” waves and matte texture.


8.  Styling wax

Soft hold wax used to give control and create a defined texturized look, usually works best on shorter to mid-length hair.


9.  Pomade

Most typically used by shorthaired clients. It’s especially helpful for flyaways and blending in shorter styles. Gives a slightly lighter hold than wax would, and gives the hair a high-gloss sheen. Pomades are great for mid- to slightly longer lengths of short hair. For example, this product would be perfectly paired with the pompadour.


10.  Fibre pastes and clays

A super strong, pliable product that gives a matte finish and can be used in short hair to create texture or spike and tame seriously unruly and stubborn hair by binding strands of hair together. Usually this product is very thick, resembling a dried-out wax, and has to be worked in the palm of the hand a bit for it to soften up before being worked into the hair.


11.  Hair paste / styling cream

Falling somewhere in between pomades and fibre pastes, these middle of the road cream-like products come in many varieties. Some mattify and some add sheen. They create texture and offer control. Depending on your needs there is likely to be one with the right holding strength and finish you desire.


12.  Gel

A clear, heavy, gelatinous-like product that offers unparalleled hold to short styles. Exercise caution with the amount of gel used to avoid “helmet head”. Gel is great for keeping spiky hair in place, keeping short hair flipped out, or taming flyaways. Will add definition to short curls and is the perfect product for creating the “wet look”.


13.  Texture powder

Can be used for many things like building body, creating more texture, and mattifying. A very workable powder that is added to dry hair at the root and gently massaged into the scalp. Fantastic when used for “up-styles”. It’s like backcombing but in powder form.


14.  Hairspray

A spray that has many functions, from setting the hair, to achieving volume and texture, to “slickback” or “definition” and helps create and hold an up-do. Hairspray comes in a variety of strengths or “holds”, the lighter of which are used for volume and to tame flyaways, etc. Use the stronger varieties to set a style. The strongest variety of hairspray is often referred to as “lacquer”.


15.  Thermal protectant

Typically a liquid in spray form (although it can also be found in a cream form). It is used to protect your hair from the high temperatures in heat styling tools that can ultimately do massive damage, causing breakage and dryness. It can also help hold ironed and sleek styles.


16.  Mousse

A foamy product typically used on towel dried hair, although it can sometimes be used on dry hair. Mousse is used to build volume, bounce and also hold. It can also be used to help tame and define curl. Apply directly at the roots and pull through the entire length of your hair before drying.


17.  Curl cream

A cream used on towel dried hair. When used on curly hair it reduces frizz and defines the shape of curl. When used on straight hair it builds texture. The best way to apply this product is by scrunching or twisting it into the hair.


18.  Anti-humectant

This is a moisture-blocking product applied to the hair, usually once dried. It repels moisture from your hair therefore preventing frizz and helps prevent curly hair from reanimating due to excess moisture in the air.