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10 Hair Care Products and Tools I Swear By

The most essential products for the bathroom

By

Young woman combing conditioner through hair, reflection in mirror
Christopher Robbins/Photodisc/Getty Images
Are you overwhelmed by all the mousses, gels, irons and other hair care products vying for your attention? What you really need boils down to 10 basic tools and products. Here are the hair care products and tools most women should have on hand.

2 Different Types of Hair Brushes

The higher quality your hairbrush, the healthier your hair. Don't fret about spending money on a good brush because they're worth it and last a lot longer than a cheapie brush; plus, they're much better for your hair. The best brushes have rubber bases with boar's head bristles mixed in with synthetic bristles. These allow bristles to flex, cutting down on the damage to your hair.

You need at least 2 brushes in your tool arsenal: a round brush to add body when blow drying hair and a paddle brush for drying bangs and finishing hair so it falls flat.

Hairstylist Eve Scrivo of the Eva Scrivo Salon in NYC, where I get my hair cut and colored, insists that we'd all have much healthier hair and scalps if we brushed our hair a lot and regularly. Yet another reason you want a good hairbrush: a bad one can pull on and damage hair, whereas boar bristles naturally carry your hair's oils from your scalp down to the rest of your hair.

See My List of the Best Hairbrushes before you buy.

The Right Shampoo for Your Hair Type

Shampoos work by cleansing hair of dirt and oil. It's important to select a shampoo that's formulated for your hair type. If you have oily hair, you should not be using DevaCurl shampoo, even if it's the only shampoo in the shower. I've done this and I promise you that shampoo like this that's formulated for curly, dry hair will leave your oily hair flatter than ever. You're better off shampooing daily or every other day with a mild shampoo.

If you have normal hair, choose a shampoo that's formulated for normal hair, but make sure to use a conditioner on your ends, which tend to be drier. Dry, frizzy hair doesn't need to be shampooed often. Some women with super dry hair opt to never shampoo their hair, using conditioners instead.

See How to Pick the Right Shampoo for Your Hair Type.

Conditioner and a Deep Hair Mask if You Have Dry, Frizzy Hair

Unless you have baby fine hair that goes limp at the sight of creamy conditioners, you need to condition your hair after every shampoo. Hair pros will tell you conditioner can help repair heat- and chemical-damaged hair. The truth is conditioners protect your hair from these things. More than conditioning, I like how conditioners have moisturizing agents that coat hair leaving it tangle-free. Want to spend less time brushing out long wet hair? Condition the ends. Your comb will zip right through.

If you have frizzy hair, invest in a great hair mask and use it weekly. To properly use a hair mask, first squeeze your hair of extra water after you shampoo. Then apply the mask from crown to ends, combing it through with a fine-toothed comb. Let it work its magic while you shave your legs and soap up your body, then rinse out, making sure not to leave any which will weigh hair down.

See Best Shampoos & Conditioners for Hair Types.

Dry Shampoo if You Have Oily or Normal Hair

Dry shampoos are miracle workers. There's nothing better for hair that's a bit greasy than a generous spray of dry shampoo. These work by absorbing oil in between washings and they add body and allow you to hold off a day if you don't want to wash your hair. Talcum powder also works in a pinch (full disclosure, until a few months ago, I never used dry shampoo, I only used talcum powder). Just make sure you go easy on your part and at the hairline. You don't want the powder to be obvious (though I must admit, sometimes the smell of baby powder is a dead giveaway, but the smell is worth not having oily hair, IMO). Talcum powder works better on light hair than dark hair.

My hands down favorite dry shampoo is Klorane Dry Shampoo With Oat Milk. I no longer use baby powder because this works even better.

Styling Spray

No matter your hair type, there are styling sprays on the market that will help your hair look better either by creating volume or taming down frizzies.

Want volume for your fine hair? Try a volumizing spray. I include a bunch in Top 15 Products for Fine Hair. Dry shampoo works to give hair body, too.

If your hair tends to be dry, your battles will be with the frizzies and getting your hair to settle down. This article, Frizzy Hair Fixes: 7 Rules to Live By, is full of useful information including why you should never rub hair dry with a towel.

You never want to apply product from the top of your head down. This means the top of your head will be weighed down with product. Instead, Scrivo suggests you apply the product in the back of the head first where hair is thickest, working the product through to the sides and the top of the head.

A Curling Iron and/or Flat Iron

I have a few curling irons and flat irons in my beauty tool arsenal. It's good to have both on hand if you want to change up your look. They both work on all hair types. Curling irons add volume to flat hair and structure to wavy hair. Flat irons will tame curls and flatten straight hair even more so it falls like a sheet. Always use a flat iron with ceramic plates, it is much safer on hair.

I've researched the best curling irons and flat irons on the market:

An Ionic Blow Dryer

Never underestimate the power of a good blowdryer. The more powerful your dryer, the better. A strong, ionic blowdryer, like the pro favorite, "Tourmaline," will speed drying time which reduces your hair's exposure to damaging heat. If you have thick hair, you'll want a dryer with at least 1,875 watts. Those with finer hair can make do with 1,500 watts. For information on what features to look for in a dryer, click here.

For the best dryers on the markets, check out this list: Top 11 Blow Dryers and don't miss this article, "Blow Dry: 10 Things to Know About Blow-Drying Your Hair."

Sea Salt Spray

If you crave those sexy waves that only come in August after a long day at the beach, you should invest in a bottle of sea salt spray. There's nothing better for scrunching your hair into sexy, beachy waves than this stuff. They come in a few brands (Bumble and Bumble makes one that I use), but you can also make your own using this recipe, Salt Spray Recipe for Hair. After all, it's just salt and water.

Hair Spray

I sometimes use hairspray to boost my hair's volume, but I also love it for keeping my hair in place when it looks absolutely perfect and I want it to stay that way. Whether you use hair spray every day or only for special occasions, it's good to have a decent one on hand.

Rollers

I use foam rollers in my hair to give it body, but I know a lot of women who love hot rollers. In any case, these are great to have on hand in case you want to add body to the crown of your hair or add true definition to your wavy hair or curly hair.

More on hair styling:

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