RQ: Layering Hair Products

Renewing My Skin, Part 2

Reader Question: Can you do a post on layering products? Between mousse, waxes, texturizers, oils, etc I have no idea what goes together and what does not, or in what order to apply them. I was a teenager in the 80’s so I still basically use mousse and hairspray and need to get out of my rut! -Tammy

I can totally understand how overwhelming hair products can be if you are unfamiliar with them! I have found that a lot of stylists don’t communicate how and why to use certain products as they are finishing a clients’ hair, and that leaves the client (you!) in the dark!

And then they try to encourage you to buy it as you are leaving, but you aren’t exactly sure why you need it!

So, I’ll break down a basic rule of thumb for layering hair products, but since every hair texture is different, it ultimately takes some trial and error on your part to determine what works best for you.

Basic rule: Start with the thinnest/lightest products first, and work your way up to the thicker ones.

layering products

And let me chime in here by telling you that you don’t NEED to use multiple products. But if you do, this is a great way to get them to work effectively.

But if you do layer products,

I’ll run through a few of my favorite combo’s from my time behind the chair.

Naturally curly/wavy hair –> straight : I’d always use Redken Slim Supreme* first, despite it only being labeled for use on “fine hair”. I loved how light but effective this serum was. I’d also use it after the hair was dry and straightened, to seal everything down. After Slim Supreme I’d choose a creamier product to help soften and smooth the hair shaft as I blew it dry. More often than not, I reached for Redken Align. It’s a bit sticky, but it was great for resistant hair.

*as usual, the great products always are discontinued! I’ll try to find a dupe.

Fine or flat hair –> volumized : I would always, no matter what, start with my all-time favorite Aquage Uplifting Foam at the roots. Then I’d either add a non-aerosol spray like Redken Body Full Volume Amplifier or apply L’anza Healing Volume mishaft to ends. I recently tried Kevin Murphy’s Anti Gravity Oil Free Volumiser and I LOVED it. So that could be a good mishaft product to apply for lots of volume all over.

Curly –> curly : More often than not my curly haired clients wanted their hair straightened so it was extremely rare that I styled the hair curly, but a good concoction I’ve learned is serum + cream for the softest, touchable curls. If you need to use a bit of gel for hold, but hate the crunchy gel feel, mix a bit of a creamy product in with your gel to soften it a bit.

Straight hair –> textured, soft waves : I would typically save the bulk of my products for the dry, curled hair so I would keep it simple with a bit of It’s a 10 prior to blow drying. Then, after the hair is dry and curled with an iron, I’d use a texture spray, read this post to see some of my favorites, or even a texture powder at the roots to mess things up a bit. (Read this post if you want to know the difference between texture powder and texture spray)

In general, unless the hair was extremely limp and lifeless, I would always spray a bit of It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In treatment for repair and protection or KMS Free Shape to cut a bit of blow dry time.

So as you can see, there’s a great variety in the products I used depending on the clients’ hair and hair goal. Mixing and matching different products was always fun for me, and I’d recommend trying it if you are bored with your hair. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you come up with! But remember, use the lightest/thinnest products first!


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Kate says · 05.19.15

Excellent recommendations! I’ve done a lot of trial and error myself with my naturally wavy/sorta-curly but very fine hair. Love Redken’s Align for my blow-outs. When I want to stay curly, I really like L’Oreal’s EverCurl Sculpt & Hold Cream Gel – it mixes the cream and the gel in one pump. One less product, one less step! I have a hard time getting any volume, so I’m curious to try some texturizer or another.

Deb says · 05.19.15

Super helpful! My hair is naturally half curl, half frizz, half wave and it can get a bit frustrating sometimes in any attempt to be minimal with how much time I spend on my hair. I’ll have to try some of the products you mentioned. Thanks for taking the time to put this post together.

carissajade says · 05.19.15

Great tips! I’m always needing ways to get more body in my fine hair. Thank you for this!

Liz. says · 05.19.15

Kate, my daughter is nursing her hair back to health after overprocessing (bleaching). Are there any products or methods you would recommend for that specific issue? She has purchased It’s a 10 as well as products recommended by her hairdresser. She has had some taken off the length and is trying not to wash/blow dry it as often. Any other tips? She has the most gorgeous natural hair and is trying to get it healthy again!

Michelle says · 05.19.15

Has she tried WEN products? I love this line and it has helped my processed hair. I buy my products thru QVC. http://www.qvc.com/CatalogSearch?langId=-1&storeId=10251&catalogId=10151&keyword=wen

kate says · 05.20.15

I went through that myself, once. Two words: coconut oil. I started doing weekly treatments, also cutting down on the washing/drying and essentially eliminating flat irons. My hair is honest-to-goodness transformed. I would saturate my hair with it, clip it up and just sit around in a shower cap for 20-30 minutes, then wash as usual.

Dee Ann Notch says · 02.13.16

Hi, Liz. I recently discovered a FANTASTIC product in my November Ipsy subscription (hair/makeup/skin care products delivered each month), in case you dont know what Ipsy is.? The product is Briogeo Rosarco Milk – I have naturally curly hair that is very fine – (I have a lot of hair, just baby fine). I used the Rosarco Milk one time – I was such a happy girl after just one use so I ordered a full size bottle from Sephora! It makes my hair unbelievably soft, manageable, no frizz, and no fly-aways! I then apply Its A 10 Leave-In Treatment but also mix into that my Garnier Curl Sculpting Cream Gel – I mix them well & apply. I typically let my hair dry naturally for about 10 minutes then blow dry with a diffuser on low heat. My curls look beautiful! I’ve had so many people compliment my hair since I started my new styling products routine. Regarding the curl sculping gel – I use a small amount, like the size of 2-3 peas. It works for me. I hope I gave you some helpful ideas ?

Robin Karber says · 05.19.15

Oh my word, GREAT post!! I just took a screen shot I’m tempted to frame in my getting ready space. Thanks for the direction!

Kim says · 05.19.15

Great tips! Love seeing this broken out!

http://trendkeeper.me .. Blogger hate?!

Sarah @ Bows and Clothes says · 05.19.15

Hi! Thanks for writing this post. I have a lot of very curly hair with medium thickness. I have been using mousse, but I hate the crunchy feel, so have started to use less of the mousse, but I am still keeping an eye out for any good product. Do you have any serums or creams that are fairly cheap that you recommend? Thanks!


JNJxn says · 05.19.15

Thanks so much for posting this!!

Laura says · 05.19.15

I just want to give Redken Guts 10 a shout out for those of us with fine hair! Great for volumizing and making your roots look thicker. I have a question for Kate about texturizing sprays. I have fine/thin curly/wavy hair. Whenever I use a texturizing spray (like amika) my hair gets frizzy and my curls seem to fall out faster. Any tips? Should I start spraying the texturizing spray before I style? Thanks!

Christine says · 05.19.15

Thank you so much for this post! This is very helpful!

Kristi Craig says · 05.19.15

Great tips! When I wear my hair curly (which I don’t do very often right now), I love the combination of a cream and mousse. I always found that the mousse provided some volume and hold without the crunchiness that a gel would give.


Melanie says · 05.19.15

I have curly/frizzy/wavy hair. I swear by Its a 10 leave in conditioner! I also use some form of an oil.

Sydni Jackson says · 05.19.15

This is so helpful! What would you recommend for Naturally curly/wavy hair –> textured, soft waves?

Tiffany says · 05.19.15

This is super helpful! I love that you shared products you’d use by hair type. I started using Redken Sheer Straight on your recommendation awhile ago on the blog, but it’s been discontinued! This gives me some new things to try out!

Evelina says · 05.19.15

I am totally a mousse & hair-spray kind of girl! But I think I perfected my routine to the point where my hair looks good and not 80s-like hahha!

Evelina says · 05.19.15

I am totally a mousse & hair-spray kind of girl! But I think I perfected my routine to the point where my hair looks good and not 80s-like haha!

Victoria Smith says · 05.19.15

If is to get my hair cut exactly like yours, how would I explain the cut to my hair dresser?

k8shusband says · 05.19.15

How about a picture? ; )

Jessica says · 05.20.15

Love this post! I’m excited to see you talking about hair again – it’s what I need the most help with!

Katy says · 05.20.15

Thanks for this post and your blog – I learn something new at least once a week! Like a few of the other posters I have wavy/curly/frizzy hair that I blow dry straight. I’d love to achieve soft waves but it’s never been possible. Do you recommend drying straight first? Stylists I’ve been too always tend to try and dry with a diffuser.. disaster! Frizzy, limp mess. Boo!

Lynn says · 05.20.15

LOVED this post! LOVED….from another child from the 80s…

Brandi says · 05.20.15

Love this post! Thanks for all the tips and product recommendations! There are SO many out there, it is always helpful to get ideas from a pro!

Thanks for all you do! I love all your blog!

Debbie says · 05.25.15

Would you use a leave-in conditioner first and then any other product. My hair is fine and on the thin side and gets frizzy when I dry it or when it’s humid out. It’s like my scalp is oily the ends of my hair are dry. I would like to use a leave-in but also a root volumizer or I used a hair thickening lotion or cream.

Kris says · 05.27.15

I echo comments from the thick hair/curly/wavy/frizzy club (especially comments from Deb, Sarah, and Melanie). I keep struggling with how to wear my hair in the D.C. humidity because it gets too hot to blow dry and am open to recommendations. Right now, after I shower I used “Its a 10” and then wrap my hair in one of those cotton twist towels. When its damp, this is where I struggle because I am not sure what to do next. I have to commute into work and most days I will put some more “Its a 10” maybe some Fekkai glossing cream or spray some beach waves product (not your mother’s beach waves) and pull it back so that it does not frizz out during commute. Some days by the time I get into work I can pull out my hair tie and I have decent waves that are not too pouffy but some days its frizzy and just a hot mess. Any tips?

Elizabeth says · 05.31.15

I have a quick ?
My daughter is biracial her hair is a mix of 3c and 4a curly . When it comes time to cut it (just to even it up a bit) should I find a hair dresser that specializes in curly hair?

Thanks so much 🙂

Amy says · 07.29.15

Hi Kate! Just wanted to let you know that for those followers who are nervous about investing in the Aquage Uplifting Foam before trying it, Sally Beauty has a replica of it in their Generic Value Products line. I’ve been using it for a few weeks and LOVE it and it’s $9 price tag.

Sheri says · 08.13.15

Which L’anza Healing Volume product is it you recommend for fine or flat hair? The Zero Weight Gel, Root Effects, Final Effects, Thickening Treatment Spray, Dry Texture Spray…there are SO many!

Tiana Moore says · 10.13.16

Thank you for such a wonderful article dear and from my side I want to say that i am using frizz free curls hair products from long for my hairs and its really effective. SheaMoisture’s Coconut & Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse is formulated with Coconut Oil which deeply moisturizes and protects dry, brittle hair from breakage and Neem Oil which controls frizz while adding a brilliant shine to your curls and coils.

Gabriella Garcia says · 12.09.16

Thanks for all the tips and product recommendations . We love when y’all help out!

Leisa Mckendree says · 01.19.17

Do you still have the video of rolling your hair when it was shorter without actual rollers?


Denise Holloway says · 02.21.17

Get best idea about healthier and shiner curly hair as long as you need it.
The best hair stylish product in Australia . Thank you so much for give me such a fruitful ideas

Jeanine Burkhardt says · 02.25.17

Hellooo Kate…
LoVe… LoVe… LoVe… ALL your Hair Tips!!!
I have long thin/fine hair like you. The Aquage UpLifting Foam & Kenra 25 Hair Spray work great! I also use ORIBE Dry Texturizing Spray (but find that so expensive!!!)
QUESTION: Have you tried the New Aquage Sea Extend Volumizing Fix Hair Spray??? I watched Aquage’s Video – It was Amazing!!! I would love your feedback!

Thanks for your time!

Cleanse DTX Review says · 04.28.17

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Keep up the great work! You know, lots of persons are hunting round for this
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Tina says · 10.04.17

Can you provide a up to date list of hair products used please. Thanks. 🙂