Super Stylers: Make the best of your hair with these
It's hard to be happy with the hair you've been given, says Sarah Caden, but our top picks will make the best of it
Hair is one of those things we're never happy with. I don't mean the body hair latterly known as 'unwanted' either, of which women have less and less of, and about which we should talk more and more. Instead, our focus today is on that which grows on your head and, most likely, grows in a manner that displeases you. If it's curly, you'll wish it curled more controllably or with more charm. If it's straight, you likely regard it as streelish and oh-so boring. And, if it's a bit of both - well, hello, you're Irish.
By summer's end, hair has become particularly unhelpful, however. Sunshine, home and away, takes its toll on our tresses, as do chlorinated swimming pools and the salty sea. It's time, if not for a back-to-school haircut, then for a salon-postponing style saviour and, with this in mind, here is something for every hair quality, cut and character.
We have products to work with what you have, and make a feature of your hair bugbear, but we also understand the wish to make it other than what it is. All we can advise is that you use these products to urge it in a new direction, rather than continuing to bully it into style submission.
Aveda Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight, €24, Brown Thomas; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16; Arnotts
Irish hair is indecisive. It's not straight, but it's not properly curly, either, and it's frizzy when it rains. This cream, composed of plant-derived fibres and cassava root, coats the hair to seal it and stop any humidity from causing frizz. It's designed for thick and curly hair, and promises to last up to three washes after five consecutive applications, but we found it smoothed fine hair too. "I got a salon-like blow-dry from this and I definitely noticed a cumulative effect," said a panellist. "It's now my go-to hair product."
Best Happy-Holiday Hair
L'Oreal Professionel Beach Waves, €17.85, salons nationwide
Whether we have curls or poker-straight hair, almost all of us harbour aspirations to look like Gisele on the beach, rather than Monica on the Friends trip to Barbados. We think that our all-year unruliness could be made to work for us on holiday and, usually, we're wrong. There are a lot of salt-water products on the market, which work to bulk out and sort of rough-up the hair, but this is one of the best we've tried. "Not sticky, not gluey - just right," one panellist said. "I got slightly messy volume, but not a dragged-through-a-hedge effect."
Best Curls From Nowhere
Ego Twist Curling Wand, €89.95, selected salons nationwide, tel: (045) 856-490, or see xpertpro.ie
People with curls will never understand why straight-haired people want them and why they will buy any amount of tools to achieve them. The problem with a lot of tools, however, is that they're great in the hands of a professional, but impossible to use at home without acquiring third-degree burns. This weird-looking wand is a bit of a marvel, though. "The bobbles hold my hair in place better than any other wand I've used," said one panellist, "and the well-sealed curls last better as a result."
Best Bigger Bounce
John Frieda Frizz Ease Go Curlier Heat Activated Spray, €8.99, available nationwide
Thanks to its obedient, lying-down cuticles, straight hair catches the light and shines. The opposite is the case with curly hair, and also with hair that is neither one nor the other. If you want to glossily ramp up your curls, try this. "You spray it on wet hair and then use a hairdryer to 'activate' it," said a panellist. "I hadn't used a dryer in years, but this is foolproof, with none of the crunchiness of mousses or creams."
Best Better Blonde
Redken Blonde Idol Custom Tone Daily Treatment, €24, salons nationwide
Summer is no friend of the bottle blonde, whose hair is dulled and tarnished by sun and swimming. Available in two options - for cool or platinum blondes; and for warm or golden blondes - this treatment will do a double job of prevention and cure. You turn up the "dial" according to how long it is since you had your colour done, and thus increase the dose of colour-correcting lactic acid and violet-leaf extract. "I've used purple-y shampoos that have helped my colour, but harmed the condition of my hair," a panellist said. "This helped both."