If there's one person that I can wholeheartedly trust, it's a hairstylist. And not just with my deepest darkest secrets (they're our unofficial therapists, right?) but for a dose of great hair advice. Whether it's recommending a new haircut to suit my face shape, trending hair colour or how I can get my loose curls to last for longer, they always have the answers. After all, hairdressers and hairstylists work with hair day in and day out. They work with multiple hair types and textures and know how to get the best out of our hair, even when it's not playing ball.
"In the salon we use one or more of just six styling products for 99% of our work," says hairstylist Michael Van Clarke. "That’s across our client base of about 6000 clients with a variety of hair types. It's how they are used matters," he says. This is a sentiment shared among many hairdressers, who will often have their tried and trusted products in their kitbags, whether on set or in the salon.
Whenever I'm in the salon chair, I'm a bit nosy and love to know exactly what my hairstylist is using on my hair. It is their expert knowledge of hairstyling products that give professional results. Blow-dries last longer (without falling flat), hair feels healthier and bouncy (dull hair? We don't know her) and nothing quite beats the feeling of walking out of the salon with shiny new hair and letting the compliments roll in.
But how can we ensure every day is a good hair day if we're not lucky enough to have our hair professionally done every day? The answer comes down to have a roster of the best hairstyling products in your arsenal. Hairstyling products will help you level-up your game and help keep bad hair days at bay. So, to find out what hairstyling products the pros recommend, I asked celebrity hairstylists (who are forever prepping hair for the red carpet and shoots) to the most booked and busy hair salons in the UK to share their best hairstyling products picks. I've spilt everything below.
The Best Hairstyling Products
1. L'Oréal Professionnel Pli
I've been lucky enough to have my hair done by Jack Merrick-Thirlwall, creative director of Neville Salon, and he tends to the tresses of Kitty Spencer and Viscountess Emma Weymouth. I always leave his chair with the bounciest blow-dries which also have serious staying power, so I was curious to know what styling products might be behind it. "My go-to product has to be L'Oréal Professionnel Tecni.ART Pli Shaper—it is a great prep spray to use before any styling," he says. "You can also layer this product up without it becoming heavy on the hair, and I love to combine it with different products depending on which style I want to achieve. Whether it be in the salon or backstage, this is a great styling necessity."
2. Larry King Hair Flyaway Kit
Celebrity hairstylist Larry King has tended to the hair of Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevigne and Pixie Lott and recommends his Flyaway Kit, which contains a taming cream ad double-ended brush to achieve many results. "To tame your flyaways, a smudge of A Social Life for Your Hair cream on the brush is all you need to smooth back those baby hairs around the hairline—which bad weather can aggravate," he says. "For the finer details, you can tidy up a sleek ponytail or bun for a super sleek, high-shine finish. You can also use either end of the brush to lay your edges."
3. Nioxin Instant Fullness Dry Shampoo
Jordanna Cobella, Wella craft expert, creative director of Cobella salon and author of The Mindful Hairdresser tends to the hair of London's cool girls and rates dry shampoo for achieving effortless hair—one of which is Nioxin's Instant Fullness Dry Shampoo. "It is essentially a dry shampoo which puffs up the hair, but it can also be used when you're brushing out waves to expand the width of your hair," she says. "It has a really nice fluffy finish which helps the curls stay separate from each other to give the hair volume and width."
4. Sebastian Professional Volupt Spray
Cobella also rates Volupt Spray by Sebastian Professional, which helps to give fine hair oomph. "This is really good for holding a curl and is a great prep spray if you have the type of hair that doesn't hold a style," she says.
5. Cantu Thermal Shield Heat Protectant
You'll find celebrity hairstylist Dionne Smith tending to the hair of celebrities such as Clara Amfo, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Sonequa Martin-Green. "I use this for any heat styling to protect the hair against any damage that may be caused by using heated tools," says Smith.
6. Gummy Styling Wax
Another hairstyling favourite of Smith's is Gummy Professional Styling Wax. "I love it for doing sleek hair-up styling and laying edges," she says. "It has great hold and keeps the hair in shape and moulded for hours."
7. Color Wow Extra Mist-Ical Shine Spray
I'm always keeping tabs on Chris Appleton's Instagram (AKA the hairstylist behind J.Lo and Kim Kardashian's hair) and he often mentions this product when he's creating high-shine looks. It gives hair a mirror-like sheen that instantly makes it look like you've just had an expensive blow-dry.
8. Color Wow Raise The Root Thicken & Lift Spray
This is another of Color Wow's products that I see pop up on his Instagram profile time and time again. Simply spray at the roots and blow-dry into the hair for instant weightless lift and volume.
9. L'Oréal Professionnel Tecni.Art Constructor Thermo-Active Spray
Molly Marie Mcilhatton, stylist at Trevor Sorbie Manchester for L’Oréal Professionnel has one product that she uses on everyone. "I use the L’Oréal Professionnel Tecni.Art Constructor on every single guest in the salon," she says. "There isn’t anyone I wouldn’t use it on. To use it, I apply it to dry or wet hair before a heat styling tool like a soft curl tong to produce gorgeous waves or curls. The most important time I use it is once I blow dry; I spray this evenly from a distance to put a veil over the hair before waving, it really makes those waves last," she says. "You can’t even notice that it’s on the hair but it gives a beautiful effect plus thermal protection from the heat."
10. Virtue Flourish Volumizing Styler
Celebrity hairstylist Lona Vigi (who does Reese Whetherspoon's hair) rates Virtue's volumising mousse to get weightless volume with movement. "If you have hair that's prone to flyaways, this tames the flyaways and new growth but still leaves hair soft. You can run your fingers through it, too," she says. "Use a golf ball size portion and apply to the scalp. Massage in all over and don’t miss a single root. Then, work your way to the ends. It’s like magic, and not only gives you lift, but it also makes the style and texture last for a really long time.”
11. L'Oréal Professionnel Pli
Marney Lian at Gritt London for L’Oréal Professionnel is also a fan L’Oréal Professionnel Tecni.Art Pli. "My love for L’Oréal Professionnel Tecni.Art Pli is due to the fact that it is one of the most reliable and most importantly effective products," says Lian. "It’s always in my kit bag (with a spare), as it's such a must-have. It’s always in reach in the salon too—especially when used as a cutting agent to aid precision cutting, or a secret weapon to the unlimited voluminous blow-dry, or undone natural waves."
12. 3 More Inches Lifesaver UV Leave-In Styling Treatment
Hairstylist Michael Van Clarke swears by 3 More Inches Lifesaver UV Leave-In Styling Treatment. "Pile this onto dry, frizzy hair and 15 minutes later you can enjoy soft beachy waves. The results astonish people" he says, advising to use a little on wet hair before styling to eliminate frizz, give body, and make your style last for longer. "This product was discovered last year by the Dyson Airwrap Fan Group on Facebook and it dominated the site chat to such an extent they created a separate FaceBook fan page just for our products. It has nearly 5000 followers now," he says.
Eleanor Vousden is the beauty editor of Who What Wear UK. She was previously deputy editor at Hairdressers Journal, health writer at Woman & Home and junior beauty editor at beauty website Powder. She has also contributed to Wallpaper and Elle Collections with written and styling work.
Working as a beauty journalist since 2015 after graduating in fashion journalism at the London College of Fashion, she has been highly commended at the BSME Talent Awards and also contributed to Powder, winning Website of the Year at the PPA Awards for her work in beauty journalism.
Eleanor’s journalistic focus is to provide readers with honest and helpful beauty content. Through words, video and live broadcast, she has interviewed several celebrity makeup artists, hairstylists and top dermatologists throughout her career. She has a particular interest in finding solutions for acne and eczema, which she has experienced firsthand. She has also amassed a large collection of fragrances and can never say no to a new candle.
When she’s not writing or testing the latest beauty product or treatments, she’s on the seafront in her hometown of Brighton and Hove, where she lives with her partner.