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April 12, 2010

Quick Style Fixes for Every Hair Type

Customize your primping routine with these pro tips tailored to your hair type.

woman with curly short blond hair and woman with long blond hair

Photo Credit: Ben Goldstein

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"For years, women have abused their hair by choosing products based on their desired final look— not their natural hair type," says Jeni Thomas, Ph.D. and senior scientist for Pantene. This means your strands get only a fraction of the attention (and ingredients) they need. From fine and straight to coarse and curly, each texture is so structurally varied that it requires its own products and stylers. Guided by Thomas — and based on her vast research — Pantene recently overhauled its entire line to address specific follicular concerns. Here, we grill a score of top stylists on how to best work with the hair you have.


THE WASH: "Product buildup means greasier scalps and eventually limper hair," notes Thomas. Wash away residue daily with a deep-cleansing shampoo and repair split ends with a light conditioner.

THE STYLERS: Choose mousses and gels with vitamins that will strengthen weaker fibers. Avoid rich, silicone-heavy serums and maintain staying power with a flexible-hold hairspray.

THE TOOLS: For instant volume, dial back abrasive back-combing and do the bulk of your styling with hot tools. "You can fake natural waves by using two differently sized curling irons," notes NYC-based hair guru Ric Pipino, who styles Naomi Watts and Diane Kruger. Finger-tousling is best for delicate strands, but a metal barrel brush heats up quickly when blowdrying to give hair more body.

THE CUT: "Go for '70s glamour with a chic Anne Hathaway shoulder-length style," recommends Pantene stylist Danilo, who counts the Alice in Wonderland star and Gwen Stefani as regular clients. Most important for shorter coifs: regular trims to prevent limp layers.


THE WASH: "Humidity isn't the only culprit behind frizzy hair. Entering and exiting humid environments also causes hard-to-handle volume and wispies," says Danilo. Jump-start your fight on frizz with moisturizing shampoos and conditioners — this type of hair absorbs nutrients most efficiently when wet.

THE STYLERS: On the flip side, medium and thick hair is also most fragile when waterlogged. Protect weak cuticles — which make up the scale-like outermost layer of the hair shaft — from heat-styling with heavy smoothing creams containing ingredients like amino acids that help weigh down flyaways.

THE TOOLS: "Paddle brushes do wonders for unruly hair," notes Pipino. Look for an ionic flatiron with ceramic plates to bond broken cuticles back near the hair shaft.

THE CUT: Opt for long layers to get even fullness, but avoid thinning shears. "Most stylists use these improperly and splice split ends, causing more frizz," warns Pipino.


THE WASH: "Chemically treated hair doesn't grab onto conditioners like regular hair because it loses more than 70 percent of its outer-ingredient-absorbing layer during processing," says Thomas. Cleanse and condition with vitamin- and mineral-fortified products that will repair this barrier and prevent color fading.

THE STYLERS: "A recent study just found that the eye is drawn to the shiniest spot on a person's hair. This is bad news for women with dull, dyed hair," says Danilo. Use heat-protective styling products daily — environmental stresses, like the sun, also fry fibers. Light serums offer a quick fix for strands lacking shine.

THE TOOLS: "Tourmaline blowdryers are much kinder to your hair because they drastically reduce drying time," notes Danilo. Protect roots by holding the dryer six inches from the scalp.

THE CUT: "Thanks to Lady Gaga, geometric cuts are making a big comeback," says Pipino. "These chic bobs work well on stressed-out hair that's in need of a trim."

Up next: How-tos for curly and coarse hair types.

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