If you've ever gotten a fabulous cut and watched it deflate the next day, you'll know what we mean when we say it's the hair products—not the scissors—that can make or break your look. So we asked Harry Josh, a celebrity stylist with John Frieda in New York City, to demystify pastes, sprays, and more and give us the bottom line on what hair products really work for you.
Hair Product: Mousse
Hair mousse helps define curls or straighten hair (when used with a hair dryer).
Who should use hair mousse: All hair types.
How much to use: A tennis ball–size puff of hair mousse is best for short hair; use a softball-size one for long strands.
How to use mousse: To straighten your locks, use your fingers to rake this through dry hair from roots to tips. Then flatten out the curl with a big, round brush and high heat. To create soft waves, comb it through wet hair and then diffuse—or simply let your strands air-dry.
Best hair product: Dove Curl and Sculpt Defining Mousse ($3; at drugstores)
Hair Product: Wax
Wax is the best hair product to create rocker-girl texture and pieciness.
Who should use hair wax: Those with choppy cuts, like a pixie or shag.
How much to use: Lightly coat your fingertips with a thin layer of product.
How to use wax: Twist the wax into your ends—and go. (Applying it anywhere else, like your mid-shaft or roots, can make locks turn limp, greasy, and dull.)
Hair Product: Pomade
Pomade is the best hair product to add texture like a wax, but with a touch of shine.
Who should use pomade: Short hair or long layers.
How much pomade should you use: A dime size drop; it's a little oily and can weigh hair down.
How to use pomade: For long hair, pinch it onto your ends. For shorter styles, apply it from back to front to avoid product buildup near your hairline.
Best hair product: Beyond the Zone Pro Formula Wax It Up Texture & Definition Pomade ($5; sallybeauty.com)
Hair Product: Spray Gel
Spray gel is the best hair product for locking in curl and taming frizz. Spray gel is a modern update on traditional gel. This formula distributes evenly without making hair crunchy.
Who should use spray gel: People with kinky, frizzy hair who want well-defined ringlets.
How much spray gel should you use: Enough to douse your curls; the amount will vary from person to person.
How to use spray gel: Spray liberally through sopping wet hair, from roots to tips, then comb through. Air-dry, or run a diffuser over curls to dry them.
Best hair product: Suave Professionals Volumizing Root Lifter Spray Gel ($3; at drugstores)
Hair Product: Volumizer
Volumizer is the best hair product for building height at your roots, where you need it most.
Who should use volumizer: Fine, straight, limp locks or curly hair that tends to fall flat.
How much volumizer should you use: Enough to saturate your roots.
How to use volumizer: Spritz it on wet or dry hair, as close to the scalp as possible. Then, using a hair dryer and a big, round brush to lift locks, aim heat at the roots. (This product needs a blast of heat to work: If it air-dries in your strands, it won't provide lift.)
Hair Product: Texturizer
Texturizer is the best hair product for adding texture and builds allover volume. Hair texturizer is sometimes called salt spray.
Who should use texturizer: People with fine or slightly wavy hair looking to amp up volume or get a relaxed, beachy style.
How much texturizer should you use: Do a few quick sprays, blow-dry or scrunch, and reassess. It can take up to 15 seconds to see the product's full effect; add more to hair as needed.
How to use texturizer: With the container six to 10 inches from scalp, lift hair in medium-size sections and spray onto wet or dry strands, then blow-dry.
Hair Product: Shine Drops
Shine drops are the best hair product to seal the cuticle and create sheen.
Who should use shine drops: Medium to thick strands that lack luster.
How much shine drops should you use: Apply a pea-size drop to wet or dry hair. For those with curly locks, add three to four pumps to sopping wet hair for frizz control.
How to use shine drops: Rub it between your hands and clamp them onto your hair mid-shaft, then smooth down to the ends.
Best hair product: Paul Mitchell Smoothing Gloss Drops ($18; at salons)
Hair Product: Straightening Balm or Serum
Straightening balm or serum is the best product to weigh down curls so you can achieve a slick, straight style.
Who should use straightening balm: Those who blow-dry their curls or waves straight.
How much straightening balm should you use: Start out with a ping-pong ball–size amount; use more if hair is thick.
How to use straightening balm: Smooth onto your strands starting an inch from the roots; applying it any closer will flatten your do.
Hair Product: Hair Lotion
Hair lotion, which is also called styling lotion, offers more hold than a mousse, but isn't as stiff as gel can be.
Who should use hair lotion: Thick, straight or coarse, curly hair.
How much styling lotion should you use: A golf ball– to softball-size blob, depending on hair length.
How to use hair lotion: Warm it in your palms, then work it into wet hair from roots to ends.
Best hair product: John Frieda Root Awakening Strength Restoring Smoothing Lotion ($7; at drugstores)
Hair Product: Hairspray
Hairspray is the best hair product to freeze your style in place.
Who should use hairspray: All hair types.
How much hairspray should you use: Spritz liberally. Hairspray contains alcohol, so it evaporates quickly.
How to use hair spray: Spray onto your hair, holding the container 10 inches from your scalp.