My product shelf is loaded with hairstyling products, such as shampoos, deep conditioners, styling creams, leave-in conditioners, gels, mousses—you name it. I used to feel bad about it and often wondered if I needed all these products in my regimen. Isn’t a couple enough? Well, according to experts, using multiple hair products could be very beneficial to a great hair day.

Achieving the perfect wash day is often the compilation of many different products. The concept is called “Curly Cocktail,” and there are a few very justifiable reasons for it.

Most products usually serve one or two specific purposes, as most wash days/styling require several elements, so using a variety of different products is often necessary. For example, if you use a mousse, you’ll get body; but if you use an oil, you’ll get shine and flexibility. What’s more, combining products will allow you to maximize your results. Here’s another example, if you need volume at the root, you can control that area by starting with a light clarifying shampoo to remove any prior buildup from previous products, then apply a foam, followed by hairspray to get a better lift to that area. Then apply a styling cream and gel from the mid-lengths down to the ends of your hair to provide definition and hold to your curls.

Now let’s talk about some essential products for building a healthy hair regimen.

Every regimen shares a few essential components, and although your hair type and concerns may alter your hair care routine in some way, there are a few basic steps that every person can benefit from.

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Image Source: @naturallycurly of @lipstickncurls

1. Cleanse

Cleansing is a balance between removing things like dirt, product residue, and dead skin cells without stripping the hair of its natural oils. The skin (including the scalp) renews itself approximately every 28 days by shedding dead skins cells and replacing them with fresh new ones, and this may be noticeable if your hair is not clean.

  • Clarify. Clarifying formulas work to remove buildup from the hair-  it’s like a reset button for your hair. Limit use to approximately once a month.
  • Chelate. Just like you need a clarifying shampoo, a chelating formula goes a step further by adding extra EDTA agents to remove gunk, slime, minerals, and residues that build up on your hair.

2. Condition

Conditioners have numerous benefits. The main one is moisturizing, but others include detangling, and frizz reduction. The main ingredient of a conditioner is called a cationic surfactant. When hair is wet, this sticks to it, coating the strands to replenish the moisture that shampoo may have removed.

  • Leave-in conditioner. This is left on the hair after you apply it and doesn’t need to be washed out. The leave-in formula provides conditioning benefits throughout the day.
  • Deep conditioner. This is designed to be left on hair longer, then rinsed out completely. Heat is often used to ensure the best penetration of moisture, and cuticle adhesion of protein molecules and other cationic substances. Deep conditioners should be used weekly on damaged hair and hair that is just beginning a new healthy hair regimen. Once hair regains its strength, deep conditioning frequency then becomes a matter of personal choice. Those with relatively healthy hair may choose to deep condition weekly or every 2 to 4 weeks as needed.

3. Moisturize

To add further hydration and protection from dryness and breakage to the hair, you may want to use a styling cream that does everything from softening and defining to moisturizing and volumizing.

4. Seal

When it comes to oil, a little goes a long way. Oils can enhance your hair’s natural oils and lock in moisture and strengthens your hair strands.

5. Gel

These provide hold to your hair, from a light hold to a super strong one, depending on the product you use. Gels can also hold in moisture, enhance and define curls and control frizz.

6. Treatments

  • Scalp treatment. An exfoliating scalp treatment can unclog follicles, stimulate circulation and calm issues like itchiness.
  • Protein treatment. Frizzy or damaged hair may need an extra boost from protein. These monthly treatments fill in gaps/holes in the cuticle, strengthening and smoothing strands. Experiment to find the one that works for you.

7. Tips

I know it sounds cliché, but consistency is key.

You’re not going to notice dramatic results overnight — although the effects of masks and certain styling products can be noticed instantly, it takes time for your hair to get used to new products.

When it comes to the frequency of use with products, it’s best to consult a professional. There are no hard rules for how often you should use each product. For example, some people wash their hair three times a week, while others wash only once a week. And some do it even less. When in doubt, ask a professional for personalized advice targeted to the products you use and the needs of your hair.

Your individual hair needs will naturally change over time. There’s a saying that hair changes texture every 7 years. Unlike most of the rumors floating around the internet, this one does have an element of truth behind it. Noticing these changes and responding appropriately can keep your hair looking healthy.

A good rule of thumb is to swap products as the seasons change. As the winter months arrive, you many need to opt for products with extra hydrating properties. In the summer months, you may want to choose more lightweight and anti-frizz formulas to help hair in the face of humidity.

Lastly, it’s worth knowing a few helpful things that apply to any hair texture and concern. Make sure you’re getting the appropriate nutrients in your diet. Your diet can benefit your hair.