Walking down the hair care aisle in your local pharmacy or Wal-Mart can make you wonder, "Can there possibly be this many hair products in the world?" Apparently yes, but the real question should address which ones really work, or more specifically, which ones will work for you.
Every woman wants to have hair that complements her features, brightens her face, and makes her look youthful. On top of that, we want hair management routines that fit our lifestyles and our budgets.
Sometimes, a new hair product will be unveiled surrounded by so much buzz that you feel like you just have to try it. While buying and trying new hair products can be a fun experience, it can also lead to much waste. Some of us have years-old bottles, jars and cans of product in our bathroom cabinets that were probably best left on the store shelf.
Does Pricey Equal Pretty?
If you want to make smart hair care choices, you have to know your hair type, your needs, and your preferred style. You also have to know how much you can spend. Hair stylists love to pitch their pricey salon brands to clients, and the costs of these can add up very quickly. Even when buying hair products from a pharmacy chain, you can still run into "special" brands that cost five times more than their counterparts and promise to make you look like you just stepped off the red carpet. Are these products actually better? Most studies done on the subject say they aren't. You can usually get the same or similar results from a bargain brand hair product as from one sold at salons.
Some women claim to notice a distinct difference between salon and store brand products, and cannot be swayed. They may mentally associate the packaging, scent and other properties of their favorite high-priced brand with positive results. Or they simply have not tried comparable lower-priced hair care products, or have tried brands that did not work for their hair type.
If a hair care product works for you and you can afford it, there really isn't a need to switch. However, if your budget calls for cutbacks and salon hair care products end up on the chopping block, don't freak out. It's very likely you can find lower-cost replacements that are more than acceptable.
The act of washing dirt and oils out of your hair should be so simple, but the gazillion shampoos to choose from can make it very complicated. You can eliminate a good number of these candidates by deciding which type of shampoo you really need. First, evaluate your hair type by pinpointing its basic traits. Is it curly? Color treated? Thin? While some shampoos don't specify what hair types they cater to, most do. This matters because shampoos vary in their ingredients, and while they may not give the results their commercials claim, they do make a difference. If you have dry or color-treated hair and wash it daily using a shampoo with strong surfactants meant for oily hair, you risk stripping and damaging your hair.
It might be a good idea to buy more than one shampoo and alternate between them. Shampoo can lose its effectiveness after a time, and switching back and forth occasionally can give your hair a fresh shot of energy. If you use a lot of hair products or a volumizing shampoo (which can also leave behind a build-up), it might be a good idea to choose a clarifying shampoo as your alternate. It will remove old styling products that can make your hair dull.
Think about what your style goals are. If your hair is curly and you want to enhance the curl, pick shampoos that do this. If you straighten your curly hair, it's wise to choose a shampoo that protects against the ravages of flat ironing or processing
Conditioner coats the hair shaft and infuses it with moisture. It helps make hair shinier, more manageable, and easier to comb. When choosing conditioner, use the same criteria as choosing a shampoo. Focus on hair type and desired result. Many companies make product lines that feature shampoo-conditioner "twins". The shampoo and conditioner of complementary formulations are displayed together and have similar packaging. This helps take the guesswork out of matching up shampoo and conditioner. It also assures that the scents of the products will harmonize as well.
Sprays, Gels, Pomades, Waxes...etc.
Getting your hair to stay in place can be quite a challenge. Wind, rain, humidity, and time can all take your "do from perfect to blah. That's why there are so many products designed to help you lock in your style. The cardinal rule of hold products is not to use too much and not to use too many different kinds at once. If you enjoy edgier, punk-inspired looks, you may be able to go a bit heavier on the product, but be careful of excess build-up.
As a general rule mousses work best for shaping thin hair, pomades and pastes for thick or frizzy hair. Waxes are usually used on shorter styles and those with a sculpted look.
Hair serums are made to nourish and treat frizzy and/or dry hair. They often add healthy oil to the hair and seal out humidity to produce sleek glowing locks. Sprays can be used by just about anyone to set a style, but you still might want to choose one that's labeled for your hair type.
Hair-Type Enhancing Products
Hair-type enhancers are made to bring out the best in your hair type, making curly hair springy and straight hair sleek and glowing. Formulas for specific hair colors exist as well. They claim to deepen the color of your hair with pigments that match your natural (or dyed) color.
Hot oil treatments and other deep conditioners are to be used periodically to revive your hair. They contain ingredients that penetrate into the hair shaft to help seal split ends and make your tresses look healthy. Deep conditioning treatments are most important if you have dry, damaged or color-treated hair