Show Your Hair Who's Boss
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Show Your Hair Who's Boss

Tame curly, shiny, limp, and frizzy hair with these essential tips.

Curly Hair

Always fighting limp, frizzy, flat, or fuzzy locks? The problem's not your hair, but how you're styling it! Switch to the right products and tools and you'll feel like you've gotten the hair of your dreams.

Curly Hair

The problem: Your curly hair tangles, fuzzes, and just won't curl the way you'd like.

The solution: Mastering curly hair might seem like an epic challenge, especially since what works for one woman's tight ringlets might not necessarily work for another's waves. Confusion over how to master curls only adds to the trouble. "Women think their curly hair is thick and strong, but in reality 90 percent of curly hair is extremely fine and gets weighed down by the wrong products," says Ouidad, owner of a New York City salon devoted exclusively to curls. By using the right combination of products -- including ultra-hydrating conditioners and the best of the new curl-specific styling products -- you'll be one step closer to unlocking the secret code to your hair's natural rollicking, wavy beauty.

Your 3 Essential Steps

Pre Shower Kick off your get-perfect-curls routine with a conditioning treatment created especially for use on dry, dirty hair. These treatments, which are usually in oil form, are a cinch to use and will infuse curls with the moisture necessary to get them in tip-top shape. Simply soak the tube in a cup or basin of hot water and then use your fingers to saturate your hair with it. The heat will help soften the hair's outer layer and allow the treatment's ingredients to penetrate deeply. Leave it in for just a few minutes (even three minutes will do!) and hop into the shower. Rinse out the oil and follow with an extra-hydrating shampoo and conditioner created especially for curly hair. Wash your curls gently (no brisk rubbing!) and try not to shampoo more than three times a week; use a wide-tooth comb in the shower to distribute the conditioner evenly through your strands. Once you're out of the shower, resist the temptation to wrap your curls in a towel, turban-style. This only disturbs your hair's natural curl pattern, leading to less defined waves later.

Post Shower Since your hair is already untangled, there's no need to fuss with a comb or other tools. Instead, spray a leave-in treatment to add extra moisture (like a curl booster) and follow it with a styling product that will give you your desired level of hold. Gels will deliver the strongest result, followed by mousses and creams. Make sure to saturate every strand with your styling product and carefully arrange your curls with your fingers. Once they're in place, air-dry and don't touch! "Every time you touch your curls, you're disturbing them and leading to frizz," says Harry Josh, a stylist at New York City's Space Salon.

Finishing Touch If you have no time to air-dry, use a diffuser to dry hair under low heat and to keep curls in place. For added oomph, use a curling iron on random pieces around your crown and face and in the back of your head. Finish with a dab of silicone or smoothing cream for gloss and shine.


Shiny Hair

The problem: You want your hair to look glossy, not greasy.

The solution: With so many factors affecting your hair's shine -- its health and texture are high on that list -- it's not surprising that it's such a tricky result to get. While popular shine-enhancing serums certainly add sheen, there's a very fine line between lustrous hair and hair that just looks greasy. The secret to perfect shine lies in how the serum is applied, as well as the amount; experts agree that it's best to use a little bit at a time. "When you use too much product, it weighs down the hair, making it either dull or greasy," says Sasha Ellard, manager and stylist at the new Blow Styling Salon in New York City, a salon devoted exclusively to styling. Here's how to do it right.

Your 3 Essential Steps

In the Shower A clarifying shampoo used once a week use will break down accumulated product buildup and clear the way for great shine, since less gunk on the hair means shinier, more vibrant locks. Follow with a lightweight conditioner, avoiding your scalp and roots where hair gets greasy most quickly. Some experts recommend a quick rinse with cold water at the end of your shower to help seal the cuticle. (A smooth cuticle equals tons of shine.)

Post Shower Apply just a dab of styling cream or mist to the ends of your hair to enhance its glossy quality. Hair can be either air-dried or blow-dried; if blow-drying, make sure to aim the nozzle of the dryer down to help smooth the ever-important cuticle.

Finishing Touch And now the big moment: Perfect your look with a teeny drop of lightweight silicone serum. A light application, say the experts, makes all the difference. "Take a dab of spray-on shine enhancer in the palm of your hands and then apply only to the ends of hair," advises Ted Gibson, salon owner in New York City. Avoid your roots, as shine serum here will quickly morph into grease.


Flat Hair

The problem: Two hours after leaving the house, your hair falls flat and limp, especially on top.

The solution: Most women with thinner hair must contend with locks that quickly deflate. Have no fear, though -- weightless volume is surprisingly easy to achieve! Products such as mousse and thickening spray do an excellent job of delivering light and swingy hair all day long. "Volumizing foam mousse isn't too heavy, but isn't too light, either, so it works on everybody," says Josh. (Avoid creams and waxes, since they can be heavy and make hair fall.) Embrace an entire thickening regimen -- from shampoos to conditioners to mousses -- and you'll maximize your hair's fullness and find the bounce you never knew you had.

Your 3 Essential Steps

In the Shower Before getting wet, vigorously massage and comb the hair and scalp to banish any excess styling product buildup, which is a big hair flattener. Then lather up with a shampoo and conditioner specially designed to increase your hair's volume by temporarily plumping and coating the hair shaft, leading to increased thickness for hours. When applying conditioner, however, avoid your scalp (your hair probably falls flat because of excess oil production, so conditioning the roots will only weigh it down) and instead focus on the middle of your hair and the ends.

Post Shower Apply a golf-ball-sized dollop of volumizing mousse (slightly less for chin-length locks or shorter) all over hair, followed by a spritz of thickening spray (lift up the top of the hair and focus on the roots and the area around the face). Bending from the waist, flip your hair over and dry the underside for a minute or two before blow-drying normally with a round brush, for added fullness.

Finishing Touch For extra height, flip hair over again and spritz a lightweight volumizing hairspray on your roots. Try to resist the temptation to run your fingers through your hair during the day, as this distributes your natural oils from your scalp and can contribute to flatness.


Frizzy Hair

The problem: Your hair frizzes if they even predict rain.

The solution: Frizz is an equal-opportunity menace, targeting women no matter what the hair type! It occurs when dry hair sops up moisture in the air and expands, so hydrating your locks when they're wet is crucial. Luckily, there are tons of products designed specifically for smoothing, such as heavy-duty silicone serums and extra-moisturizing creams.

Your 3 Essential Steps

In the Shower Use a pre-shampoo treatment (like the one prescribed for curly hair) once a week for five minutes to keep thirsty locks quenched and in tip-top shape. Suds up with a smoothing shampoo, followed by an anti-frizz, intensely hydrating conditioner applied all over the hair.

Post Shower Beginning at the ends of hair, which tend to be the most dry, apply a quarter-sized amount of smoothing cream or balm all over. Follow with a pea-sized amount of extra-strength silicone serum or styling milk, rubbing it between hands and fingers, and then combing through hair lightly (don't forget the back of your head and the underside of your hair). Blow-dry hair on high heat with a round or paddle brush, clipping up sections that you're not working on. Start blowing the back of your hair first, working your way to the front and top in small sections. Make sure you get your hair 100 percent dry, advises Christo, owner of a New York City salon, otherwise your hair will attract moisture. (You know what happens then!)

Finishing Touch If you don't have time to blow-dry your hair thoroughly, or want to get hair even sleeker, use a flat iron to smooth, followed by another thin layer of anti-frizz gloss.


Lathering Up

Shampooing might be the most overlooked part of your hair regimen, but it's also one of the most important. The foundation of great hair starts in the shower with both what you're putting on your hair, and how you're using it. Only extra-fine hair that gets oily very quickly needs to be washed every day -- otherwise, stick to a once-every-two-or-three-days schedule to keep hair properly hydrated. One-size shampoo definitely doesn't fit all, so make sure to choose a version based on your specific hair needs (hydrating, clarifying, volumizing, or smoothing). And don't heed the old myth that hair gets "used to" shampoo -- switch your brands up if you like (a little change can be fun!), but swapping is by no means necessary to ensure your shampoo's effectiveness.