Parade November 18, 2013

Amy Abramite of Maxine Salon featured in Parade.comParade

Monday November 18, 2013

Confusion in Aisle Three? Here's a Hair Product Cheat-Sheet

Ever stroll through the hair-care aisle and feel completely and utterly befuddled? Yeah, me too. There are so many products out there to stiffen, smooth, boost, shine, and hold your hair, no wonder the confusion. Here, I asked some of the county’s top hair experts to define and demystify seven of the most popular products: What are they designed to do, and how should you choose the best ones? Here’s the ultimate heads-up.


1. Root lifters give your hair volume and fullness by boosting your roots. They come in many forms like sprays, gels, and serums.

Try: Kerastase Lift Vertige ($36, “A fairly new product from Kerastase, it is a root-lifting gel that provides volume and adds shine,” says Nunzio Saviano, owner of the Nunzio Saviano Salon in NYC. I rarely use gel to blow out hair, but this gives the entire hair a lot of body and lift at the root.

Tip: You can use it all over your hair to prep before you blowout your hair. The result is smooth, frizz-free hair. It also helps set the hair, making your blowout last longer. This product works well on all hair types, but especially on people with thin, fine hair because it adds volume.

2. Sculpting sprays are working sprays used to create texture, shape, and volume in the hair. Doreen Guarneri, owner of The Look Spa Salon in Greenlawn New York and founder of American Culture brands. Sculpting sprays can be used to build body with any hairstyle that needs definition or wave.

Try: Pure NV BKT Humidity Defense Styling Spray ($25, is a keratin-infused, lightweight, non-flaking formula with flexible hold for wet or dry styling.

Tip: Try squeezing a sculpting spray into damp hair to promote a beach-y wave. To build shape in hairstyles, spray lightly onto dry hair using a large barrel iron for movement and texture.

3. Leave-in treatment is like taking a B-12 shot to increase immunity, says Eden Sassoon of Eden by Eden Sassoon Finishing Studio in Los Angeles. These treatments offer an instant jolt of hydration to the hair beyond using your daily conditioner.

Try: VOCE Leave-In Conditioner ($26,

Tip: Towel-dry hair after shampooing and then apply conditioner. This is great for detangling, hydration, heat protection and can be used on multiple hair types. For thicker coarse hair, it will add hydration and help tame the unruly frizz. For finer hair you can replace your conditioner with this as it is very light and will not weigh your hair down.

4. Hair gel is a great multi-purpose, go-to product for many stylists because you can create many shapes from curly to straight with only a dime-sized amount of this product, explains Alan Papaleo, owner of Papaleo Art and Soul in Los Angeles.

Try: PRAVANA CURVES Curl Enhancer ($18, covers all ends of the hair spectrum. It is strong enough for textured hair yet weightless for finer, straight hair adding natural volume.

Tip: Blow-drying gel into the hair creates a more natural matte finish, while allowing it to dry in the hair naturally gives a more polished and shiny finish. Scrunch into curls or lift hair at the roots for volume; braid layered hair or finger wave into classic shapes; gel can be the most versatile addition to any stylist’s bag of tricks. I prefer a water-soluble gel since it is easy to shampoo out but can also be reactivated with a little spritz of water for second-day hair.

5. Pomade is a lightweight clear waxy styling product that’s usually packaged in a squeeze tube or tub, says Amy Abramite, Creative Director & Stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. It’s applied by dispensing into the palm of the hands, and then rubbed together to warm up and melt with the heat and friction of the skin which makes for easy distribution.

Try: Kerastase Short Mania ($35,

Tip: Once it’s spread evenly onto the palms and fingers, it’s ready to be applied to the hair. On long hair, it’s best used to tame flyaway hairs after a blow dry and to add additional smoothness and shine with minimal hold. On shorter styles, like a pixie cut, it can be used a few different ways. It can slick hair down with shine and a gentle hold, or can be used to define and separate short layers into pieces in a bed-head manner.

6. Shine serums smooth frizz and flyaways, and add intense shine, says Lisa Abbey, Style Director at Salon Blue in Mineola, NY. They’re a great way to smooth coarse or frizzy hair types, or help with flyaways and static cling.

Try: Arrojo’s Shine Luxe Serum ($26,; it’s lightweight, gives amazing shine, and isn’t greasy.

Tip: Use on damp hair before blow-drying to help speed up your blowout & achieve a better result. Apply 3-5 drops to palms, rub together to spread product evenly, and massage through hair starting 1 inch from scalp to ends. Blow dry as usual.

7. Finishing sprays are—as the name suggests—meant to be the final product you use to set your your hair.

Try: “I recommend Sebastian Re-shaper Finishing Spray ($18.99,,” says Bridget Lionetti, a senior stylist at LifeSpa Crosstown in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. It is a medium-to-strong hold spray, and what’s magical is that it benefits all hair types. Re-shaper holds the shape all day without looking stiff.

Tip: Use lightly and spray in a sweeping motion four inches away from hair. The sweeping motion is key to avoid getting it too thick and sticky.