The Importance of Using Products Effectively, Part I

We’ve all done it. We see someone’s makeup or hair and immediately have to know what they are using. We read reviews online, we ask people we trust and we buy, buy, buy. But no matter how great something looks on someone else, sometimes it is not right for us. However, if you are repeatedly trying new products that are highly endorsed by sources you trust and you are not seeing the results you want, sometimes the issue isn’t the product, it might be the application.

I can’t tell you that there is exactly one way to do anything, but I am going to go through some different product types and give some different tips and tricks!

Mousse, Gel and other Form-Building Products

Some products are more for detailing and others are more for structure. The most important thing for structure supporting products like mousse and gel is to make sure they are thoroughly dispersed through the hair, especially inside of the hair. In really dense hair, it can be difficult to get product throughout the interior of the hair. A lot of people will just take the product and plop it on the surface of their hair, which will cause the weight of the product to collapse the shape of the hair, and can even make it crispy in places. I always emulsify the product through my palms and fingertips and then start at the back hairline and massage the product through the root area and then pull it through the ends. That way the majority of product is on the interior and then the product is lighter through the ends. You can always go back in and put more product on the ends, but it is harder to get inside the hair once there is a lot of product on the ends.

Product will not create the maximum volume unless it gets to the roots. If you aren’t getting the root dry during your blowout, your hair will flatten as it continues to dry. So be sure that the root is going in the direction you want while you are pre-drying your hair before you pull out a round brush.

Pomades, Clays, Waxes and Putties

These are the detailing products.  If it comes in a tub, it probably fits in this category. For short hair styling it is important to start with small amounts of products and thoroughly emulsify the products in your hands before going into the hair. Also, like above, you need to really press the product into the interior of the hair. To get that tousled look you really want to give yourself a little scalp massage with the product. If you focus on the ends it will just be weighed down. Detail ends with the product left on your hands after you have already pressed the majority into the root area. For controlled looks you still want to press the product all throughout the hair, root to end, but make sure to continuously direct it in the direction you want it to go.

For medium or long hair, make sure not to use too much as it can weigh the hair down. Sometimes that is the goal, but you don’t want the hair to look droopy. Start small and emulsify into your hands. You can always go back for more product afterwards.

Hairspray

First of all, use the correct spray for your needs! A common mistake is to reach for the most intense spray possible, but sometimes stronger sprays will collapse the hair instead of keeping the volume.

For use with hot tools, use a light to medium hold working spray and don’t hold the can too close to your head. Make sure it is evenly distributed and try not to overdo it. You don’t want your hair crunchy! Too much spray while working can just cause the flyaways to be stickier and crispier. I prefer Shaper Zero Gravity for curling iron sets.

The really tacky firm sprays are more for flyaways on slicked back hair. Mist hair with spray then smooth flyaways with tail comb.

For volume at root you can spray a medium-firm spray on partings (like where you would tease) and even hit it with the blow dryer to dry spray into the hair. I do this when I tease but it can be done without teasing, too.

Finish with a mist of spray that is suited to your hair type. Lighter sprays for fine hair and firmer sprays as needed for thicker hair. Remember that spraying hair at the end will help seal a look, but to really help it hold it is important to use other products to create the form before that last step. Without the structural support of mousse or gel, it will fall. A firm structure will keep it from collapsing.

Oils and Shine Serums

Know the weight of the product you are using. A lot of these products are easy to get carried away with. Don’t for a second think that since you have used one oil or shine serum that others will react to your hair the same way. Some are very heavy and it is important to use small amounts. Some are better put in wet, others dry, and still others can be used both ways. Some oils will feel like they aren’t there at all until all of a sudden there is way too much. Always start with the manufacturers’ instructions and then go from there.

When in Doubt, Read

Some products are activated when they are shaken. Others look like they would go in wet but go in dry and vice versa. Some are focused at the root (although, you should always pay attention to the root). Some look like one type of product but they are something else. A lot of times the directions will hint at the amount you should use, which can be crucial. Don’t say a product is too heavy until you have tried using less and really focusing where you are putting it, and don’t say something is too light until you have tried using more.  Products are your friends.  Be patient with them and pay attention to the feedback you are getting.  And when in doubt, ask your hairstylist.

Stay tuned for Part II, with makeup application tips.

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