Basic Hair Tools Checklist

You don’t need a drawerful of products—just assemble a simple kit of must-have tools for your hair type.

For Fine, Straight Hair

  1. Check Blow-dryer

  2. Check Fine-tooth comb

    When hair is dry, use a fine-tooth comb to tease sections at the crown to get lift. Start two inches from the scalp, and comb hair toward the roots.

  3. Check Hot rollers

    Hot rollers (not the Velcro kind, which pull and tear fine hair) are the secret to volume and bounce for this type of hair. Look for velvet-covered hot rollers. Use on dry hair, and remove after eight minutes.

  4. Check Round boar-bristle brush

    Boar bristles are gentle on delicate hair, and a round shape helps you attain maximum volume. Use the brush to pull sections of hair upward as you blow-dry. To fight flyaways, spray the bristles of your brush with Static Guard. Spray from two feet away, let dry, then brush through and start styling.

  5. Check Thickener

    Use one containing body-building wheat protein before applying other styling products.

  6. Check Volumizing spray

    It’s the antidote to drooping hair: Spritz at the roots, then blow-dry.

  7. Check Volumizing or thickening shampoo

    These formulas have fewer conditioning agents that can weigh down hair.

For Fine, Wavy or Curly Hair

  1. Check Blow dryer

  2. Check Diffuser

    When you don’t have time to air-dry, attach a diffuser to your dryer and blow-dry on low to speed things up.

  3. Check Duckbill clips

    Use them for lift. Open a clip and slip it into damp hair at the roots, twist it slightly, then anchor. Repeat all along the hairline. Remove clips when hair is dry.

  4. Check Leave-in conditioner

    This seals water into damp hair. Use a superlight hydrator on towel-dried hair before applying other styling products. Twice a week, swap your regular conditioner for a protein-based one, which hydrates intensely.

  5. Check Round boar-bristle brush

    When you want to blow your hair straight, use a gentle boar-bristle brush, which won’t snag hair.

  6. Check Shampoo

    Textured hair tends to be dry, so use a formula with silicone or oils (such as almond) to avoid frizz.

  7. Check Volumizing mousse

    Versatile mousse creates thickness and shine and lifts fine curls without weighing them down. Too much styling cream and defrizzing serum can cause fine curls to collapse.

For Thick, Curly Hair

  1. Check Blow dryer

  2. Check Boar-and-rubber-bristle round brush

    To wear your hair straight, blow-dry with a round brush. Mixed bristles grip hair well.

  3. Check Conical curling iron

    Use it to enhance your natural assets—it can help define unruly curls no matter how tight or loose they are.

  4. Check Curl cream

    Holds thicker curls together. A protein-based cream defines natural curls without stiffness.

  5. Check Diffuser attachment

    Air-drying thick hair can take a long time; blow-dry using a diffuser (which keeps curls intact) to cut down on styling minutes. Towel-dry first by gently patting out excess water. Rubbing can agitate the hair or take out too much moisture, which creates frizz.

  6. Check Rich conditioner

    When thick, curly hair is well moisturized, it’s less likely to frizz.

  7. Check Shampoo

    Textured hair tends to be dry, so use a formula with silicone or oils (such as almond) to avoid frizz.

For Thick, Wavy or Straight Hair

  1. Check Blow dryer

  2. Check Flat cushion brush with mixed bristles

    No brush works better to create a smooth, straight look. The boar bristles mixed in with the nylon ones help grip and move through thick hair.

  3. Check Flat iron

    When you’re in a hurry, skip washing and blowing out your hair and go for a flat iron. A ceramic one is gentle and adds polish and smoothness.

  4. Check Gel cream

    Keeps hair smooth but not greasy.

  5. Check Shampoo

    Textured hair tends to be dry, so if your hair is wavy, use a formula with silicone or oils (such as almond) to avoid frizz. For thick, straight hair, use a double portion of shampoo in a formula for your hair type—normal, oily, dry, or chemically treated.

  6. Check Silicone shine spray

    Hold the bottle at arm’s length and spray a fine mist over the entire head before flat-ironing. The spray will provide a protective barrier to the direct heat of a styling iron and amps up glossiness.

  7. Check Velcro rollers

    To give thick strands body, wind sections around the rollers, spritz with hair spray, blast with a dryer, then remove. To avoid tearing hairs, unwind down the length of the hair instead of pulling up as you go.

For Coarse, Relaxed Hair

  1. Check Blow dryer

  2. Check Conditioner

    Choose an ultralight leave-in so that the hair retains its body. Apply it to towel-dried hair every time you rinse or wash in the shower. A heavy, creamy conditioner will weigh down relaxed hair.

  3. Check Flat iron

    Use it to touch up sections of dry hair around the face or at the roots.

  4. Check Heat protectant

    When you use a flat iron, you must protect your hair from its direct heat. Apply a featherweight liquid strengthening heat protectant before ironing. Since it contains silicone, it will add shine, too.

  5. Check Shampoo

    Use a protein-based shampoo (common ingredients include silk amino acids and extracts of wheat and soy) to help reinforce weak areas.

  6. Check Shower cap

    To avoid having to blow-dry and iron too often, don’t wet hair every day (too much heat styling can make hair prone to breaking). Use a shower cap on days you don’t shampoo.

  7. Check Silk scarf

    Sleep with your hair covered in a kerchief made of satin or silk to protect from breakage and keep it smooth.

For Coarse, Wavy or Curly Hair

  1. Check Blow dryer

  2. Check Flat iron

    After blowing hair dry, use a flat iron to smooth frizz and make the hair shine.

  3. Check Hair spray

    When you blow-dry your hair straight, hair spray controls flyaways and keeps hair in place without a sticky, tacky feeling. Note: If you wear your hair naturally curly, there’s no need for finishing products. When moisturized with enough conditioner and setting lotion, your hair will behave.

  4. Check Leave-in conditioner

    Make this hair type wash-and-go: With your fingers, rake a quarter-size amount of leave-in conditioner through damp hair to activate and define the curl pattern.

  5. Check Paddle brush

    On days when you blow your hair straight, use a flat paddle brush, which keeps hair smooth as you dry.

  6. Check Setting lotion

    To help tame frizz and bring out natural curl, apply a setting lotion to wet hair. You can dilute it with water depending on how much hold your hair needs.

  7. Check Shampoo

    Textured hair tends to be dry, so use a formula with silicone or oils (such as almond) to avoid frizz.