With so many different bottles, tubes and cans of hair products from which to choose, it can be difficult to figure out what they all do. Here is some help.
Anti-frizz gel or serum
See Straightening gel.
Any substance that repels moisture. They are used to prevent frizz.
Another name for either a sculpturing lotion or a styling creme. Tends to add a lot of shine.
Much like a styling pomade, with a firmer viscosity. These products tend to come in either pots or stick delivery systems. Use these products for defining only. Piece out individual curls or wisps of hair. Less is definitely more with wax, which tends to work better on shorter hair.
Any substance that promotes the retention of water. Products that have humectant properties are a must for curly hair.
Mousse products are a legacy form the 1980s, the era of big hair. They were developed to create weightless volume. These are products that are liquid in their packaged state and when dispensed, they become a foam. They give light to firm style support without weighing the hair down.
They are great for adding volume at the root or to define curls. They tend to have a very thick viscosity and offer firm, flexible styling support. The tradeoff for this type of product is you do not get a great deal of shine. A molding creme, if properly applied, can be one of the most versatile products. But use a small amount. You can always add more as needed. They may be too thick for longer hair.
These are styling gels with either a water-soluable or non-soluable wax base. These products are very thick in viscosity and tend to have the consistency of cold margarine or butter. They can be used for all styles seeking high definition, control and shine. remember that less is more with pomades, and make sure to emulsify the product in the hands before using. Pomades are especially good for African-American hair because they add moisture, control and shine.
A liquid based styling product that is great for taming curly hair. The liquid consistency allows the product to penetrate into the hair. They tend to have light to medium hold and can be used for setting hair, finger waving, braiding, scrunching and plaiting. Many African-American consumers find these products to be a lifesaver for taming flyaways and detangling.
A mica-or silicone-based spray product that adds shine. They tend to have no holding properties. They are best used as the last step. Apply hair spray, all it to dry, then mist on the shine spray. Don't touch your hair for the rest of the day. For curlyheads, look for a silicone-based spray because these aid in frizz control.
Smoothing gels or balms
Clear to translucent gels that come in a variety of viscosities. They tend to have little to no hold, but soften curl, balance moisture level and fight frizz. They can be added while styling to control flyaway and frizz or apply and use with a blow dryer and tension to smooth and straighten the hair. After you wash your hair, the curl will return. Always apply a smoothing balm first to the ends of the hair and work it up the hair shaft to the root. Silicone-based products will straighten hair, add shine and help to block outside humidity.
These products are like a styling gel, but in a different delivery system. They come in a variety of holds and were designed for people who do not want to get product on their hands. People with curly hair will find a spray gel very beneficial. the spray application helps to ensure a more even application without adding weight. these products are fantastic for adding before and during the drying process when people scrunch their hair. Spray, scrunch and let air dry or use a blow-dryer with a diffuser attachment.
Generally a lighter version of a straightening gel or balm. They are best for straightening fine hair or for providing light frizz control to medium and coarse hair.
A styling creme tends to offer pliable style support. They are opaque to translucent and come in a variety of holds and shine factors. These cremes tend to be best for adding definition to curls and texture for shorter styles. Just add a little bit at the fingertips and piece out individual curls. A medium to light hold creme is best for curly hair. these products also are a must for up-do work. Many times, these are two-in-one proudcts that condition as well as style.