Celebrity hairstylist Adir Abergel works on all the best girls, from Gwyneth Paltrow to Anne Hathaway. One could say his signature is beautifully textured hair that still moves, but lacks frizz. Who better, we thought, to school us on the overwhelming sea of anti-frizz serums, oils, and finishing creams at the drugstore? Before you even start shopping, Abergel has strong opinions on your post-shower routine: “Use a paper towel to dry your hair,” he says “A lot of people use towels, which create friction—but use paper towels and dry your hair from the bottom up.” Then, he says, you can move on to the product of your choice.
But how to know if that should be a serum, cream, or oil?
A lot depends on what kind of hair you have—heavier oils work best on coarse, curly hair, while fine hair benefits from a lightweight cream. But the way you use the products is as important as their ingredients. “I tend to put oil on wet hair, on the ends, because I feel like it actually acts as a protectant,” Abergel says. “It coats it just a tiny bit so you’re not damaging your hair as much.” He saves the creams for post-styling—even the ones that say apply to damp hair, pre-blow dry.
“The secret is to disperse it through your hands like hand cream,” he says, rubbing it all the way up his wrists and even onto the backs of his hands, “and then I apply it. Most people end up squeezing it into their hand and putting it directly on their head and that’s where you get into trouble.”
By the end, with his hands slicked with oils and creams, Abergel says, “In all honesty these formulas are amazing. They’re not that different from high-end formulas, other than the packaging and the scent—and maybe the amount of conditioning ingredients because the drugstore brands can’t afford those beautiful essential oils—and they work!” But which were his favorites?
“A lot of oils take away frizz, but they also kind of take away any life. This one’s incredibly lightweight and you can layer it on,” Abergel says of Orlando Pita’s Rejuvenating Hair Treatment Oil ($20).
Instead of slathering on products both before and after a blowout, Abergel suggests taking it slowly. Try one on damp hair and then use it on dry next time to see how differently the same formula works. “I’d like to use this more as a finishing cream than before a blowout,” he says of Vidal Sassoon’s Crème Color Gloss ($6). “If you put it on wet hair, it will end up almost too sleek.”
Abergel likes glossing sprays, like Fekkai’s Brilliant Glossing Sheer Shine Mist ($25): “They seal your hair so that when humidity hits, it’s actually protected.” He says to spray first and then walk into the cloud of product instead of spraying directly onto the hair.
Unlike almost every other oil or finishing cream, Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Anti-Humidity Smoothing Milk ($9) encourages you to start the application at the roots, so Abergel gives it a go. “This product is nice and light enough so that there’s still movement in the hair,” he says.
At first glance Umberto Beverly Hills' Roman Oil ($13) looks and feels too heavy in Abergel’s hands, he ends up loving the product. “It looks like hair soaks it up nicely,” he says. “I think this would work really well if you have a lot of texture in your hair, or it’s curly.”
Abergel’s thrilled with Aussie’s Smoothing Serum ($6). “This has a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful silky texture,” he says. Try using a bit at the ends, letting your hair air dry and then, if necessary, add a touch more into the lower half of your waves to keep frizz at bay.
Abergel’s Moroccan, so he’s been using argan oil for years, long before it became the ingredient du jour. He’s not, however, precious about the traditional oil. “Chemicals really do work,” he says, looking at the ingredients of Suave's Moroccan Infusion Styling Oil ($6). “So it’s not just about using the oil—and pure argan oil can be very heavy—it’s about a combination of products that work really well in the hair.”
Though he’s stumped by the tagline, “Are they expecting people not to wash their hair for 72 hours?” Abergel asks, he loves the product. “I would use the oil for pre and the cream for post blow drying,” he says of L’Oreal’s Smooth Intense Frizz Taming Serum ($7) and Smooth Intense Xtreme Straight Crème ($7). Though it calls itself a straightening cream, it turns out to be Abergel’s new favorite way to boost texture.
“I think this is too heavy for dry hair,” Abergel says of Tresemme’s Keratin Infusing Smoothing Serum’s ($5) gel-like formula. “But it’d be great for a beautifully smooth blowout and it’ll actually keep the humidity out.”
At this point, it’s clear Abergel favors the lighter formulas—they’re harder to screw up and easier to layer, making Organix’s Weightless Moroccon Argan Oil ($8) a favorite. “It’s almost as light as Orlando’s, and really does feel weightless.” That it leaves little to no residue on the hands is a bonus.