Bless hair stylists — we go to them with all our frazzled and frizzy hair problems, and expect them to work instant magic. So what are the secret weapons they have that we don’t? Here are the insider must-haves they swear by to help work their wizardry, including a nod to our favorite beauty supply store buys!
Executive Editor Courtney Dunlop knows how to keep her long raven locks in a tidy bun that doesn’t slip out. The secret? While a ballet dancer, she discovered Good Hair Days Magic-Grip Hairpins, $4 per pack, at Sally Beauty Supply, and has relied on their grippy support ever since. “Three of these pins are all I need to keep my waist-length hair in a tight bun,” she says.
Contributor Grace Gold tried in vain to learn teasing technique for years. The learning curve was finally broken on her first try with Cricket’s Amped Up Tease Brush, $4 each. Use the tail to comb out an inch section, hold it up, stroke downward, and the multi-level boar bristles do all the work, making you look like a beauty school grad.
2Two Buck Treatment
A Japanese color brand that fashion designer Rick Owens swears by to keep his signature long tresses jet-black, Bigen has now brought the ancient Asian beauty secret of moisturizing rice water to its Protect & Repair Deep Conditioner packets, $2. “It’s my secret weapon—it revitalizes dull hair and turns it to silk,” says celebrity colorist Erin Bogart of New York’s Sally Hershberger Downtown salon. When the pro applies it at home, she runs hot water over a washcloth and wraps it around her hair to help the conditioner penetrate for soft and shiny results.
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice strands every time you take your hair down from a ponytail, says Rona O’Connor, colorist and co-owner of Lukaro Salon in Beverly Hills. Try Blax Snag-Free Hair Elastics, $4-$6, a seamless yet strong design that glides on and off hair. “Everyone should use them, but they’re a definite must for damaged bleached blondes who want to tie their hair back,” says O’Connor. We love the matchbook style that makes storage and dispensing super easy.
4At-Home Dryer Chair
What separates in-salon treatments from DIY versions is the controlled heat a pros seat provides—and let’s face it, blasting a blow dryer over plastic wrap just isn’t the same. Jet Rhys, co-owner of San Diego’s Jet Rhys salons, instead relies on the Gold N Hot Conditioning Heat Cap, $37. “I love this because the gentle surround heat opens the cuticle, allowing conditioners and glosses to absorb into the shaft more quickly for shinier results,” she says. The cap is remote-controlled with a washable liner and adjustable chinstrap to keep it in place as you multi-task or just relax!
5Volcanic Hair Spray
If you need extra firm hold that doesn’t leave that embarrassing flakey residue, this fast-drying spray contains volcanic ash that fortifies the structure of hair. Framesi Lava Mist Hairspray, $20, is a favorite of hair stylist Davin Testerman, who mists it all over locks set in Velcro rollers for long-lasting beachy waves. “I love that it’s lightweight and comb-able even though it’s high hold,” he says. The formula provides UV protection and is ideal for use with heat styling.
Face-framing highlights look beautiful when they’re fresh, but are notorious for turning brassy and fading quickly. Celebrity hair colorist Sharon Dorram keeps Nuance Salma Hayek Healthy Shine Nourishing Oil, $10, on hand to protect and add radiance to her highlights. A water lover, the oil proves essential in her swim bag. “I apply before doing laps in the pool so that the chemicals don’t penetrate my hair under a swim cap, and it wards away that greenish cast,” says Dorram.
7The 10-Year Hair Dryer
With seemingly every new blow dryer purporting to be a “professional” tool, New York City stylist and salon owner Eva Scrivo says the Turbo Power Twin Turbo 3800 Ceramic Ionic Dryer, $225, is the real industry standard. “It’s used by every top salon in Manhattan. Nothing compares to the distribution of heat, the shine it gives hair and the seven to 10 years it lasts,” she says. After clients repeatedly asked to buy the dryer, Scrivo now sells them, and says that the ergonomic design makes it easy for amateurs to handle, and will cut your typical drying time in half.
Yes, we know that hair stylists are always obsessed with dry shampoo—and for good reason, since it helps us skip washing without looking like yesterday’s lunch. But Judy McGuinness, senior stylist at New York’s Mizu Salon, says Verb Dry Shampoo, $14, is her must-have version because it’s a non-whitening powder with a nozzle that really gets in there to seriously sop up grease. “I use it at night when I know I’m not going to wash in the morning, and it saves me so much time since it absorbs all that extra scalp oil overnight,” she says.
The first step to cutting down on drying and styling time is to make sure your towels are pulling their weight. “I don’t care what kind of hair you have, microfiber towels take out all the extra moisture, zap frizz, and are only a couple bucks each—a total essential that will save you time!” says stylist Angela Zweifel, owner of West Hartford’s Sugar salon. Microfiber also dries quickly, is stain-resistant and won’t shrink in the dryer like cotton does. Try Salon Care Long-Lasting Microfiber towels, $9 for a pack of 5.
10Full Hair Faker
Thirty percent of women experience thinning hair at some point in their lives, and the emotional distress can be traumatizing. Celebrity stylist Betsy Reyes turns to Toppik Hair Building Fibers, $25 each, for her clients at TV shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “Entertainment Tonight.” “I use it to instantly thicken the look of hair, to cover up roots between hair colorings, and as an anti-shine under the glare of bright lights—this stuff saves lives!” she says.
This writer’s aunt has used the product to disguise thinning and gain confidence after breast cancer treatments, too.
11Faster Drying Spray
Whether you blow-dry or air dry your hair, celeb stylist Stephen Salyers swears by White Sands Porosity The Fix, $19, for quicker results. The mist acts like concealer that “fills in” damage on strands, so that the surface appears healthier and shinier, and it dries all around more evenly. “Naturally drying hair can leave it looking frizzy, but this spray allows hair to air dry smooth and silky,” says Salyers. The formula doubles as a detangler and heat protectant, too. OK, we’re totally sold.
Paul Mitchell has long been a salon professional’s brand since its inception in 1980, but the brand debuted a nifty new tool line this past year. Stylist and salon owner Kathleen Firth of New York’s Raika Studio says the Neuro Smooth, $134, is her new favorite flat iron since it both straightens and curls like a gem with beveled titanium plates that prevent demarcation lines. You can program the temperature according to hair type for the least heat needed, and it has an auto shut-off so you don’t have to worry all day that you left it on while picturing your home going up in flames.
13Fast French Twist
This no-fail trick to putting your hair up without a fuss is a favorite of Rhys, who always keeps a DCNL Black Diamond Flamingo Clip, $8, on hand for elegant emergencies. Simply gather your hair like you’re going to make a ponytail, twist it around, and then roll the end upwards to rest against your head. Finally, fasten the clip either horizontally or vertically to hold your hair in place, says Rhys. It’s certainly far more chic than our current plastic claw clip solution!
“Most people don’t realize that hair is [like] fabric, and just like your favorite sweater that is exposed to sun and washing, it’s going to fade,” says Doreen Guarneri, owner of The Look Spa Salon in Greenlawn, New York. The stylist relies on American Culture Pure Blends Hydrating Color Depositing Shampoo, $20 each, which contains high pigment semi-permanent color to replenish the wash-off that is lost while cleansing. The gentle sulfate and sodium chloride free formulas are safe for all kinds of chemically treated hair, and come in a full range of shades.