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How To Figure Out What Kind Of Products Your Hair Actually Needs

photo of woman brushing her hair

We all know the feeling of walking into a beauty supply store and becoming absolutely overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. Shopping for hair products can be seriously stressful when you don’t know what you’re looking for—but it doesn’t have to be.

We spoke with Michelle Lindsay, L'Oréal Professionnel brand ambassador and artist, who explained to us exactly what you need to learn about your hair before you purchase any hair products, what products are good for every hair type, and why.

Do you know enough about your hair?

Before you spend any money on hair products, you need to figure out your hair type, needs, and goals. Lindsay says a great place to start is to think about your hair history. Has your hair ever been colored, highlighted, permed, or relaxed? Do you color your hair often?

Next, you want to pay attention to how your hair looks and how your scalp feels. Is your scalp oily or dry? Do your strands feel moisturized or parched?

If you aren’t sure what your hair needs just by touching and looking at it, Lindsay has a simple at home test you can perform to help you get a better understanding of your hair.

Something to keep in mind: Any actual hair analysis will require the attention of a trained hair professional.

Lastly, you’ll need to decide what you’d like the products to help you achieve. Are you just trying to create a style, or are you looking for products that will help your hair look and feel its best?

Have realistic expectations for your hair products.

After you’ve thought about your hair history, type, needs, and goals it’s time to start shopping. While products can often make your hair look and feel better than ever, Lindsay says it is important to be realistic about what they can actually do for your hair.

“Products aren’t going to permanently change the characteristics of the hair you were born with. If you’ve always had fine, thin hair, products aren’t going to give you mass amounts of hair, but products can make the hair look and feel fuller,” Lindsay explains. “Modern technology allows us to correct a myriad of problems in the hair—such as strengthen hair and add body and shine that doesn’t come naturally or that has diminished with age.”

“Products are designed to target a specific problem in your hair, and they will work when used correctly,” the stylist continues. “Products will do what they’re designed to do when chosen correctly and used as directed. During a consultation with your stylist, you can identify specific issues you want to address in your hair and come up with a plan together to fix those things.”

Now that you’ve been armed with all of this haircare knowledge, you’re ready to hit the store! If you’re still a little unsure of what products your hair actually needs, don’t fret. Lindsay has tons of L'Oréal Professionnel product recommendations and she’s broken them down by hair type.

If you have fine, straight hair:

Volumizing products are great for fine hair. I recommend the Serie Expert Volumetry line for clients who want to feel more ‘substance’ in their hair.”

If you have fine, straight hair and often deal with breakage, Lindsay recommends the the Serie Expert Inforcer line (formulated with vitamin B6 and biotin) for noticeable reduction of breakage.

“For styling products, someone with fine, straight hair needs volumizing products,” she explains. “Densité Thickening primer, Volume Envy Extra mousse, and Liss & Pump Up Dual Styler by Tecni.Art are my go-to products for this texture of hair.”

If you have fine, curly hair:

“For this type of hair, I like the Mythic Oil For Normal To Fine Hair Shampoo and Conditioner, and for styling I recommend Hollywood Waves, Sweetheart Curls, and Siren Waves. In my opinion, for best [styling] results, use the cream first (Siren Waves), and then follow with the spray (Sweetheart Curls).”

If you have thick, straight hair:

“I recommend Mythic Oil For Thick Hair Shampoo and Conditioner or the Pro Fiber Recover line. For styling products, I recommend Next Day Hair, Hollywood Waves, Waves Fatales, and Infinium 4 to create some waves. Sleek & Swing Dual Styler is perfect for moveable hair, whether worn straight or wavy.”

If you have thick, curly hair:

“For thick, curly hair, I recommend Liss Unlimited Shampoo, Masque, and Blow Dry Cream or Mythic Oil for Thick Hair Shampoo and Masque. To style, use Hollywood Waves Spiral Queen—the creamy, non-heavy formula promotes natural movement on medium to thick hair.”

If you have dry, curly hair:

“Most people that have curly hair tend to be dry; their hair is thirsty and requires lots of moisture. I recommend using the Mythic Oil Shampoo, Conditioner, and Masque for thick or fine hair based on the hair texture. For styling products, I recommend the Hollywood Waves product chosen for their texture. There is a product to help curls of every texture.”

If you have dry, straight hair:

“I recommend the Nutrifier Shampoo and either the Cleansing Conditioner or Masque, depending on hair texture. I would also recommend the Mythic Oil Huile Initiale Pre-Shampoo if needed. The Tecni.Art Dual Stylers, chosen based on the desired style, can also add extra shine and support for the finished look.”

If you have oily, straight hair:

Volumetry Shampoo, Conditioner and Anti-Gravity Effect Root Spray are a great choice for someone with oily, straight hair. For styling, Next Day Hair and True Grip are perfect for maximizing volume.”