A Celebrity Hairstylist Speaks: Why You MUST Use Hair Products

New York Fashion Week Coverage 2010

With the changing seasons and the changing trends, our hair tends to pay a price. As we fight with it to stay straight through all the humidity, static electricity, and heavy winds that spring blows our way, we seem to torture our strands with more heat tools and more and more styling products (with seemingly worse results). Charles Baker Strahan, an Herbal Essences Celebrity Stylist (who styles the famous locks of Leighton Meester, Kristen Bell, Blake Lively, and Mariah Carey) explains the importance of utilizing products to us -- and he dishes on which ones we should be using.

SC: Do volumizing hair products really work? What's the best way to give our hair body?

Charles Baker Strahan:
Volumizing products work! They provide the guts that are needed to build the style without weight, for volume and longevity. Understanding how to get body is all about proper support; if you have finer hair, choose a product that gives the base fullness without too much weight. For example, Herbal Essences Body Envy mousse used on really wet hair, rubbed in at the scalp, and lightly combed through the ends helps to dry hair more effectively without weight. If you have thick hair, you may need a stronger styler, such as a gel to build volume.

Heat acts to change the shape of hair, while coolness sets it in, so if you're going to use velcro as hot rollers, heat them up and let them completely cool in your hair for the greatest style longevity. Also, a light touch of hairspray can work in your favor, versus too much hairspray which will weigh the hair down and keep it from looking natural.

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SC: How often should we really be getting our hair cut? And what are good things to do to maintain healthy hair in between appointments?

Haircuts are important, and there are a couple rules of thumb for each person. The shorter your hair, the more you'll notice growth and the more it will affect the shape of your cut. Shorter styles usually need a cut every four weeks. Mid-lengths can get away with six to eight weeks, and if you are growing your hair, eight to ten for trimming is doable. Make sure you keep hair healthy with products that hydrate hair in between cuts -- this starts in the shower. I love Herbal Essences Hydralicious shampoos and conditioners -- there are three versions, so you can customize hydration based on hair type. There are also stylers that can help reduce split ends and end damage. Apply a dab of Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Split End Protector to your tips before or after styling to keep them healthy. It's made for people looking to grow their hair long.

SC: It's rumored that mousse and gels can dry out your hair and be just as bad as blow drying. What are good products to use for curling hair that aren't drying or damaging?

Products don't cause damage -- misuse does. Especially with heat styling tools! Apply mousse and gel to well hydrated and wet hair and remember that less is more! People often have way too heavy a hand with product, which can cause hair to get weighed down. As I mentioned before, moisturizing products are great for the health of hair and can help repair and prevent damage from heat styling.

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SC: Should people with curly, course hair really use different shampoos than people with straight hair? Is there a significant difference between ones that are labeled for each?

Shampoos and conditioners are typically designed for the hair's texture. If you have finer hair, you require hydration that won't weigh hair down. Thicker and more dense cuticles requre greater levels of hydration and moisturizing to penetrate and allow greater product performance and protection from heat styling. You may have fine curls, or thick, straight hair, so choose your products based on your hair type. In general, however, curly hair needs to be lightweight and full of movement, so the majority of curl-specific products (such as Totally Twisted) will be geared towards providing a light base of conditioning.

Charles Baker Strahan is the celebrity hair stylist for Herbal Essences and has worked with such stars as Leighton Meester, Jessica Szohr, Kristen Bell, Molly Sims, Becki Newton, and Blake Lively. His work has been featured in numerous magazines such as Glamour, InStyle, Newsweek, Lucky, Nylon, People, Paper, Rolling Stone, W, and WWD and also on the runways of New York Fashion Week.

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