My first impression of Paul Mitchell came when I decided to go to beauty school. The name itself represented an elitist standard; it epitomized what it meant to be a good hairdresser, and I had wished so badly for the opportunity to attend one of their schools. I wanted to learn from the best, and Paul Mitchell was one of the best, in my mind.
My maternal grandfather, who was also a hairdresser, worked among what are now legendary brands at big hair shows back in his day, when he was trying to sell his own shampoo formulation out of the trunk of his car, and he used to tell me stories about the beginnings of these brands. The Paul Mitchell story was one that always stuck with me: With only $700 to their names, business partners Paul Mitchell and John Paul DeJoria launched the John Paul Mitchell Systems. Their first line, Paul Mitchell, kicked off the brand's success with three revolutionary products: Shampoo One, Shampoo Two, and The Conditioner. It was one of the first professional haircare companies to take a stand against animal testing, and have remained cruelty-free since its inception in 1980. Since then, the John Paul Mitchell Systems have branched out into various lines of products, tools, and of course, prestigious schools for soon-to-be hairdressers all over the world.
Founded: Paul Mitchell and John Paul DeJoria, in 1980
Based In: Santa Clarita, CA
Best Known For: Providing hairdressers with the best products and education
Most Popular Products: Awapuhi Shampoo, The Conditioner, Extra Body Finishing Spray
Fun Fact: Back in 1980, it was the first professional haircare company to be cruelty-free.
Other Brands You’ll Love: Redken, Wella, Aveda
"At Paul Mitchell, our goal has always been to provide hairdressers with the best products, education, and resources," notes JPMS CEO Michaeline DeJoria. "By using the highest-quality ingredients and the latest technologies," she tells Byrdie, "every one of our innovative contributions is made with both hairdresser and client in mind, working to best complement their needs." What I've personally always loved about Paul Mitchell is that it doesn't just claim to be salon-quality. It is the epitome of exactly that, and it begins at the roots of the hairdresser. They train us as professionals and educate us to know and understand the ins and outs of what's important in caring for our clients. Even though I never got to experience the Paul Mitchell schooling firsthand, many of my mentors did, and their teachings still impact me to this day.
With time, the John Paul Mitchell Systems have evolved its thinking toward a cleaner, more sustainable footprint for its brands, and we know that's one of the key contributors to its lasting legacy—it is constantly evolving and meeting needs that are relevant not just to the professional but to consumers worldwide. "Our goal is to make the planet better in whatever small and big ways that we can," DeJoria tells us. "Less plastic use, less trash to landfills, cleaner oceans, healthier people and animals...where there's a way to help, we're trying."
Paul Mitchell's continued commitment to giving back and supporting a wide range of philanthropic causes both domestically and internationally is not only one of the company's best qualities, but something that really makes it stand out against other haircare lines. "As a celebration of our heritage and our pledge to remain cruelty-free, we're reaffirming our commitment to no animal testing with our Global Ambassador and proud pet parent, Winnie Harlow, in our latest Peace Love & Cruelty Free Campaign," DeJoria says. And as if that weren't enough, DeJoria goes on to tell us that the brand partnered with Best Friends Animal Society, a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025.
Keep reading for a comprehensive list of our favorite Paul Mitchell products.
One of the very first products to launch from the original Paul Mitchell line, this is still one of its best-selling products. "It's a versatile conditioner that also smoothes hair, reduces static, and prevents dryness," explains DeJoria. With a refreshing herbal scent of rosemary and lavender, The Conditioner contains noteworthy Hawaiian Awapuhi, which helps to balance moisture and improve the texture of the hair. Plus, it can also be used as a moisturizer for dry skin. It's no wonder this product has been a fan favorite for decades.
The brand's signature Hawaiian Awapuhi is at the center of this cult-favorite product. "Awapuhi is known for its natural conditioning extract, and its ability to balance moisture for shiny, manageable, and healthy-looking hair," DeJoria tells Byrdie. This is a color-safe shampoo that works especially well on hair that is fine and prone to static. "It thoroughly cleanses any hair type and brightens the hair by removing buildup," which it turns out can be the culprit for dull-looking strands. This versatile, all-star shampoo, with a refreshing cucumber melon scent, can also do double-duty as body wash.
Extra-Body Finishing Spray
A flexible hold hairspray is a must-have in our books, because it can help hold shape in the hair without leaving strands stiff and flakey. Flexible hold sprays don't lock us into a single look, but keep our hair more manageable, and that's exactly what we have next up on our list. The Paul Mitchell Extra-Body Finishing Spray is a flexible hold hairspray that's fast-drying and volumizing. Um, yes please! "It's humidity-resistant, fights frizz, and adds shine without any flaking or stickiness," says DeJoria, who informs us that panthenol and wheat protein are the key ingredients responsible for giving hair that added volume. These body-building agents "help the hair to look and feel thicker," she explains. So there you have it: a single can that can hold shape without stiffness, add volume and thickness, fight frizz, add shine, and dry quick. What's not to love?
Super Skinny Serum
The Super Skinny Serum is a personal favorite, and if you're looking for a frizz-fighting product, this serum will instantly become one of your personal favorites, too. A single pump of this apple scented product is all it takes to apply to damp strands of any hair type for a successful air-dry-and-go situation. This best-selling product is also an excellent blow-drying primer that will help speed up dry time and provide smooth results when applied before heat. "The humidity-resistant formula contains lightweight silicones that condition and seal the cuticle, leaving hair frizz-free in any weather." And if blow-drying or air-drying isn't a primary concern of yours, this serum also makes for a great styling assistant when creating those super-snatched, clean, chic styles.
Flexible Style Sculpting Foam
Attention, curly hair types: The Paul Mitchell line has created the mousse of your dreams. Deemed by Byrdie's editors as one of the best drugstore products for curly hair, the Flexible Style Sculpting Foam is both styling and conditioning. When it comes to finding a mousse to hold the bounce and shape of your curls, a moisturizing product is important, and that's exactly why we consider this one of the best in the Paul Mitchell line. It will control frizz and flyaways, but it won't leave your hair stiff or crunchy. "Whether you want to create gorgeous, defined, crunch-free curls or set hair straight with silky, static-free style, this versatile hairstyling mousse enhances texture with long-lasting memory that controls frizz and flyaways while adding shine and balancing moisture," says DeJoria.
Extra Body Root Volumizing Spray
Paul Mitchell's Extra-Body Boost Volumizing Spray will effortlessly kiss your flat-hair woes goodbye. This wet spray is made to be applied to damp hair, near the scalp where desired volume is most needed. "It contains panthenol to add volume and thickness, while its precision nozzle delivers lift at the roots, providing that extra oomph." By blow-drying this product into the hair with your favorite round brush or hot brush, you'll be left with a most luxurious, swoon-worthy mane, and you'll never look back.
Invisiblewear Undone Texture Spray
Every good hair line has a texture spray, but not all of them are as rewarding as this one. The Invisiblewear Undone Texture Hairspray adds natural movement with a touchable hold, perfect for taking that hairstyle into a lasting two- or three-day stint. "The super-light formula is infused with velvet flower to soften strands for added manageability," and "instantly adds sexy, undone texture and body to the hair." Whether you want a little bit of that effortless bedhead look to your beach waves or are merely trying to show off some new layers or a shag haircut, this spray will give you the piece-y perfection you've been looking for.