Styling Tips for Straight or Curly Hair
The easy, step-by-step guide to making the best of—or transforming entirely—the hair texture you were born with, whether straight or curly.
To Make the Most of Straight Hair
How to style it: Use a deep-cleaning shampoo. Scalp oils easily migrate down straight hair and can make it feel greasy. Follow with a lightweight conditioner on the ends only. Don’t load up on styling products, which can flatten. Instead, blow-dry with a smoothing paddle brush, aiming the air toward the ends. (Blow-dry directly into your hair and you’re apt to create frizz.) And the real secret to lustrous, shampoo-commercial hair? “Light reflection,” says Ken Paves, a celebrity stylist with salons in Los Angeles and Clinton Township, Michigan. Rub shine serum between your palms, then smooth onto hair.
To Make Straight Hair Curly
How to style it: Use moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. “Hydrated hair holds its style, while hair that’s dry falls flat,” says F. Wayne, a stylist in New York City. Towel-dry hair and prep with mousse. Then blow-dry with a medium-size round brush. Working in two-inch sections, lift hair from one side of your head to the other as you dry, focusing the air on the roots. This technique, called overdirecting, builds volume. Finish by winding portions of hair around a medium-barrel curling iron, then setting the curls with lightweight hair spray. (Skip the spray if your hair is fine—the mist will just weigh it down.)
To Make the Most of Curly Hair
How to style it: Use hydrating shampoo and conditioner. The outer cuticle layer of curly hair tends to lift up; the extra moisture may help strengthen weak strands and prevent breakage. Next, add a nickel-size drop of styling cream (more if your hair is thick) to towel-dried hair. Then shape your hair into twists and dry it naturally or with a diffuser. If you want looser curls, finish by winding sections of hair around a large-barrel curling iron. It may seem counterintuitive, but this can straighten coils a bit.
To Make Curly Hair Straight
Your best cut: For ease of styling, Labrecque recommends going to extreme lengths. Very short curly hair can be blown straight in minutes flat. Very long curly hair tends to flatten under its own weight. Steer clear of midlength cuts unless you’re committed to daily blow-outs.
How to style it: Straightening curly hair is a little like ironing a shirt, says Jason Low, also of the John Frieda salon, in New York City and Los Angeles: “You need consistent tension, strong heat, and some moisture.” Start by using antifrizz (sometimes labeled “smoothing”) shampoo and conditioner. Next, work a pea-size drop of hydrating styling cream through damp hair, spritz on a heat-protectant spray, and crank the dryer up to its highest heat, which will help hair dry fast, before it has a chance to curl. Pull hair taut while blowing on a low speed and aim air toward the ends to avoid flyaways. Finish with a flat iron and a drop of shine serum.
Products to Make the Most of Straight Hair
To buy: $4.50 each at drugstores.
2. John Frieda Frizz-Ease Sheer Solution
To buy: $10 at drugstores.
Products to Make Straight Hair Curly
To buy: $4 each at drugstores.
2. Nexxus Pro-Mend Bodifying Mousse
To buy: $13, drugstore.com.
Products to Make the Most of Curly Hair
To buy: $4 each at drugstores.
2. Paul Labrecque Curly Style
To buy: $22, paullabrecque.com.