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The Hair Texture Handbook: Straight Hair Edition


Welcome to The Hair Texture Handbook, Part I. Starting today, we're kicking of a mini series about the basics of hair, because finding the right shampoo is bit more complicated than say, finding the right blush. So we’re going slow! And with as much detail as possible. Of course, it’s no state secret that there are infinite ways to categorize hair (color, length, density, thickness…) and we’re going to get to them all in due time, but for today, ITG is taking on the subject of texture, straight texture, to get specific. Trust us, it’s more complicated than it lets on.

A benefit of any hair texture is that its name does the heavy lifting. Straight hair is...straight. And its uncomplicated shape makes it both an asset and a liability. An example asset: It's easy to detangle. The fact that it doesn’t twist and turn like any other hair texture makes it a whole lot less likely to knot. But as these things go, the grass is not always greener. The same shape that operates like a built-in detangler makes it easier for oil to move around. And volume? Woo boy, better get the hair dryer out.

So here’s how this is going to go down. By now you’ve already identified your hair texture (wavy, curly, coily—you’re coming up in the following weeks), so now you need to think about what you want. Do you want big hair? How about something with more grip and texture? Even if you’re OK with your current state, ITG has an action plan for you. And to think, it’s so easy. If you want…

More volume

Then to start, you’re going to need minimize your grease. The easiest way is just to wash your hair more often, keeping in mind that the shampoo you use is on the gentle side and not drying (such a thing does exist, try this). But daily or a few shampoos a week isn’t for everyone (frequency of hair-washing is truly subjective, despite what the internet may tell you). If you want to shampoo once a week, have at it. Just keep in mind that it will take some time for your scalp to adjust to the less frequent washes. This is OK! That’s what ponytails and dry shampoo are for. And then make sure to condition with a very light formula; forget the masks. Living Proof’s Full Conditioner is a good place to start.

But you’re going to need more than just the right shampoo and conditioner for bunch of volume. Styling products! And tools! Coming in hot. Jon Reyman of Spoke & Weal Salon once taught ITG about the importance of keeping things light if you want a lot of volume. Above all else, this means no creams or oils. Stick to the sprays. A good one is Aveda’s Pure Abundance Style-Prep spray, which goes as a pre-blow-dry treatment, or you can just brush it through if you’re avoiding heat. Either way, it provides dispersed heft to hair, which will temporarily give you some height. Going the blowdry way? Even better—heat tools are better at keeping up the volume. Use a round brush to dry your hair, and, if you can, bend forward and flip your hair as you blow-dry, so you go from root to ends. This too, performs a small role in giving out lift. And if you really want to protect your work, mist your hands with a flexible hairspray, and then run it through your hair.

Less oil

See above! Stop at the styling products part; that’s where things get different. There are actually a lot of ways to keep oil at bay, many of which don’t require styling products at all. You know those silk pillowcases that everyone’s going nuts for? They’re practically a lifeline for curly, textured hair, for sure, but straight hair? Less so. Instead of wicking oil away like a cotton pillowcase, the silk essentially moves that oil around, allowing it to land back in your hair. Related: how often are you touching your hair? Wrapping a few strands around your finger from time to time may not seem like a big deal, but if that finger is lotiony, or greasy from food, then you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Of course, from a product perspective, dry shampoo is your best bet. But like most things in life, moderate use is what you should aim for. Don’t think of it as a shampoo substitute—it is not—instead it’s more like a quick fix backup, from time to time. Living Proof’s is a good one that doesn’t feel like dry shampoo—it’s light, and brushes out easily. Alternatively (and this’ll sound a little bit crazy; bear with us), a few swipes from a couple of blotting papers is handy at soaking up excess oil. If only they made those bigger… (Quick! Someone do this!)

More texture

Which is different than “more volume.” More texture speaks to individual or a cluster of strands, where volume more so considers the hair as a whole. So say you’re going for the beachy look. Sea salt spray’s your guy here. Bumble and Bumble’s is an oldie but a goodie. Just spritz while your hair’s wet, and grab sections and “crunch” it with your hands. Thinking about waves? There’s the grade school hack, where you wet your hair, braid it before bed, and then unbraid it in the morning... or you can get a Beachwaver and call it a day (it’s great, it does all of the curling for you while you just stand there). Really, no matter what you do, just make sure you lock it all in with a flexible hairspray. Nothing lasts forever, especially hair that hasn’t gotten a good amount of holding spritz.

To maintain what you’re working with

You know, not everyone wants to switch up the program—sometimes what you’ve got is just fiiiine. In this case, it’s really a matter of making sure your hair is as healthy as possible. Brush it daily, avoid hair elastics that easily snag. Are you getting your trims? Make it your business every two to three months. And then just relax for a bit. You’ve earned it.

Photo via ITG