The Most Essential Haircare Tools and Products

Updated 05/16/19

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Finding hair tools and products that work with your hair type can be overwhelming. With hundreds of mousses, gels, irons, and other products on the market, how are you supposed to choose the right ones? What you really need boils down to 10 basic tools and products. Here are some of the haircare tools we can't live without. 

Two 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 cheap 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. The mix of bristle materials allow the bristles to flex with your hair, reducing tugging and hair damage.

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. We love this paddle brush from Mason Pearson ($205). It's pricey, but will last a lifetime and frankly, is about what you'd spend on one haircut at a high-end salon. For round brushes, we recommend Spornette ($8), which is extremely affordable. 

Hairstylist Eva Scrivo of the Eva Scrivo Salon in NYC insists that we'd all have much healthier hair and scalps if we brushed our hair 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. Find the best brush for your hair.

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 a shampoo for dry hair, even if it's the only shampoo in the shower. Shampoo 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 people with super dry hair opt to never shampoo their hair, using conditioners instead.

Condition and Mask If You Have Dry, Frizzy Hair

Unless you have baby fine hair that goes limp at the sight of creamy conditioners, try 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. 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, squeeze the water out of your hair 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 or soap up your body, then rinse it out, making sure not to leave any residue, which will weigh hair down.

Dry Shampoo Between Washes

Dry shampoos are miracle workers. There's nothing better for hair that's a bit greasy than a generous spray of dry shampoo.

Dry shampoos work by absorbing oil between washings. 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. Just make sure you go easy on your part and at the hairline. You don't want the powder to be obvious (sometimes the smell of baby powder is a dead giveaway, but the smell is worth not having oily hair). Talcum powder works better on light hair than dark hair.

Our hands-down favorite dry shampoo is Klorane Dry Shampoo With Oat Milk ($20).

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 frizz.

Want volume for your fine hair? Try a volumizing spray. Dry shampoo works to give hair body, too.

If your hair tends to be dry, your battles will be with the frizz and getting hair to settle down.

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 applying the product at the back of the head first where hair is thickest, working the product through to the sides and the top of the head.

Heat Tools

It's good to have both curling irons and flat irons in your beauty tool arsenal. They're good to have 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.

An Ionic Blow Dryer

Never underestimate the power of a good blowdryer. The more powerful your dryer, the better.

A strong, ionic blow dryer, 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.

Sea Salt Spray

If you crave  sexy waves that only come 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.

Multiple brands make sea salt spray, like Bumble and Bumble ($28), but you can also make your own. After all, it's just salt and water.

Hairspray

You can use hairspray to boost hair's volume and to keep your hair in place after styling it. Whether you use hairspray every day or only for special occasions, it's good to have a decent one on hand.

Rollers

Foam rollers are great for giving your hair body, but a lot of women also 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.

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