I have been trying to figure out how best to work with my hair for, well, ever. Doing so is sort of complicated, but not entirely so (there are worse things in the world), and yet my hair still takes a bit of love to coax it to its best. See, I have super-curly, textured hair, and it's prone to breakage and dryness. So it needs all that hydrating, strengthening, nourishing goodness you usually read about in regard to curly hair. That being said, it's also really fine, and those types of products tend to weigh it down really easily, taking away any volume or lift its natural texture yields.
You can understand my conundrum. I have curly hair, but it's not coarse or thick, and it's certainly not strong. After many, many years of trial and error, I've come to find the perfect product cocktail for my specific hair. Below, find the formulas and the order in which I use them.
I use Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo ($57) each time I wash (I usually give it a double-wash to nix any product buildup or extra grease lingering in there). It's formulated to leave your hair balanced—with both moisture and volume—without stripping your scalp of its natural oils. That and it leaves my hair light, fresh, and bouncy each time I use it. I can't even really understand why the results are so superior to any other shampoo that I've used, but they are. And the scent—it's equally as light, fresh, and bouncy, like just-done laundry and summer flowers.
Next, I use a color-safe conditioner to provide lightweight hydration and shine from my mid-lengths to ends, all the while making sure my painstaking efforts to stay bright blonde are preserved. See, the lipids included in the formula mimic the hair's natural protective coating and insulate the hair cortex from water and other external stress factors. It gives me the moisture and protection I need, but in a way that never weighs down my thin strands.
After stepping out of the shower and giving my hair a quick shake-down with an Aquis Lisse Luxe Hair Turban ($30), I use up to three pumps of this luxurious oil. Also from Shu Uemura (I know, I'm a broken record, but these products rule), Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil ($69) has been my go-to for almost a decade. The difference? It absorbs rapidly and easily into your hair shaft, rather than sitting on top, to rebalance moisture levels, smoothing, softening, and protecting against dryness and UV damage. It's silky, velvety, and made from camellia oil, which provides deep nutrition to the hair fiber, as well as an enveloping, sensual scent. From there, I let my hair air-dry and do its thing.
Once my hair is fully dry, I do two crucial things to add in a bit more bounce and volume. First, I spritz Moroccanoil Dry Shampoo in Light Tones ($26) to the strands surrounding my face and the crown of my head. This immediately adds more lift at the root and texture around the front of my curls. There are two reasons this dry shampoo (IMHO) is better than all the rest. First, it has options that are specifically formulated for light or dark hair tones. For light tones, the product blends subtle violet pigments—similar to the concept of purple shampoo—which helps balance brassiness and bring out the best in light-colored hair. Second, the formula is infused with argan oil to keep hair hydrated and protect from UV rays.
The last step is Bumble and Bumble Thickening Dryspun Finish Volume Spray ($31), a translucent, dry texturizing spray for added fullness and airy texture. It's a godsend—and perfect for those piecey ends I consistently covet but can't always pull off due to (cough) split ends. While I apply dry shampoo to my roots, this stuff is for my mid-lengths and ends. The formula includes raw silk powders with light holding polymers to allow the product to adhere instantly to each strand of hair. The results are weightless, full texture—it won't bog down my hair but allows my curls to stay at the forefront.