Once in a blue moon, hairstyling trends suit Irish hair and, this season, we aren't doing badly. There are smooth hairdos aplenty, with shiny, side-swept partings and clean, tidy ponytails. But there are also styles with loads of root lift that look like you've been backcombing; soft, wavy, long-hair looks, and lightly tousled up-dos that are achievable for most of us, with the right styling products. The right styling products will enhance the natural body of your hair, but lend it the polish that curly hair often lacks.
Everyone wants different hair to the locks they have. The poker-straight brigade want body, the curly crew want smooth and flat, and most Irish people would happily settle for one or the other, thanks. As a people, we tend to have hair that lies somewhere between curly and straight, and we spend a lot of time fighting with it.
Take a break from the war for a bit this season, however, and sample a style and styling product that makes a positive of your hair's split personality. Our top five perform well in working straight-curly hair into up-to-date looks that have volume and body, but also gloss.
L'Oreal Elnett Satin Heat Styling Spray, ¿8.99, available nationwide
There are three varieties -- Volume, Curls and Straight -- in this range of pre-blow-dry products, from the people who make what is considered the Holy Grail of hairspray. They are all good, but the Volume variety is very good, lending great root lift with minimal effort or hairdryer know-how. "The bottle promises that the effect will last three days," said one panellist, "and even though I really need to wash my hair every day, I was impressed that the lift lasted all day, and even into late night, in some cases."
Aveda Be Curly Curl Controller, ¿22.50, Brown Thomas; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16; selected spas and salons nationwide
Beachy hair is desired by most of us -- and beyond the reach of almost all of us -- but this wills waves into hair types ranging from lightly bodied to tightly curly. It's a thin lotion that banishes flyaways and frizz, and gives good volume to even very long lengths. "This does a good job of making hair smooth and soft, but not lifeless or lank," said one panellist.
Best Bigger Hair
Aveda Pure Abundance Hair Potion, ¿27, Brown Thomas; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16; selected spas and salons nationwide
With kaolin clay and acacia gum -- both of which add bulk to the hair shaft -- you shake this powder lightly into the roots of the hair and then muss it through. The result is a matt, tousled effect and it's only at the roots, so you can still do a smooth, stylish ponytail. "I don't know how my hair manages to be wavy and limp at the same time, but it does," said a panellist. "This wipes out the limp bit. A miracle."
Redken Curvaceous Full Swirl, ¿23, Redken salons nationwide
This is a good product for those who want to harness their hair into something more like 'Gisele Bundchen at the beach' than a head full of frizz. The swirls in the bottle are a "controlling serum and a smoothing cream", which is to say that one fixes the shape, while the other gives gloss. The result, they promise, is a longer, looser curl. "This product offered me a great break from trying to make my mostly curly hair straight," one panellist said. "I could be wavy, but still well-groomed."
Best Textured Tresses
Ojon Full Detox Rub-Out Dry Cleansing Spray, ¿20, Arnotts
Soap bark extract, rice powder and potato starch all work as oil-absorbers in this product and help it to operate as a hair freshener between shampoos. It also functions as a styling product, in that it increases volume and creates texture. It doesn't make hair white, but the hair is matt-looking, without seeming matted. "Easy-peasy to use: you just spray and then smooth it through, and the lift you get looks like you've put way more effort into it than you have," a panellist said.