A fresh cut is a good place to start. But that alone won’t guarantee a great style. If your hair days are mostly so-so, your current routine is probably missing a product (or two). Find the look you like, then follow our simple plan.

By Victoria Kirby
Updated August 22, 2019
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One of the best things about getting a new fresh new cut and hair color is leaving the salon feeling like a million bucks (and then heading to a concert or dinner with friends to show off your new 'do). But we'd be lying if we didn't admit to being irked by one all-too-common scenario: Not being able to replicate that fresh-from-the salon style your hairdresser gave you. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that—your stylist is the expert, after all (which is why you should probably have a good sense of what to tip for beauty services!). But with the right hair products and tools, along with our expert care steps, you can walk out the door each morning looking like you've just come from the salon.

We break down how to give curls definition, tousle a cropped cut, add blowout-style volume, and perfect beachy waves in a simple-to-follow format. Plus, we'll clue you in on the products you actually need and how to use them best.

How to Define Natural Curls

Want to keep your natural curls bouncy and frizz-free? Lock in moisture at every step, starting in the shower when your hair is still wet, says hairstylist Dickey, who has styled Rihanna’s and Michelle Obama’s hair.

1. Condition Coarse Hair

After using a suds-free shampoo or co-washing (cleansing with conditioner), work a quarter-size dollop of a leave-in conditioner designed for coarse texture from roots to ends. On short or fine curls, use a dime-size drop. Try The Good Stuff Intensive Nourishment Cream ($8, Target).

2. Apply a Serum and Curl Cream

Use the same roots-to-tips move with a lightweight serum, such as Moroccanoil Treatment ($44, Nordstrom). Then apply a curl cream for textured hair. Try Hair Rules Curly Whip ($35.99, Hair Rules).

3. Avoid Towel Drying

Gently squeeze water out of the ends of the hair with a paper towel or old T-shirt. (Towel-drying creates frizz, Dickey says.) From there, you can either air-dry, blow-dry with a diffuser, or place your hair under a hooded dryer attachment, commonly sold at beauty supply stores.

How to Get a Perfectly Tousled Crop

For these short cuts, you want the longer layers in the front to be textured and a little messy. “If it’s too smooth and flat, it can look a bit helmet-like,” says hairstylist Teddi Cranford, owner of the White Rose Collective salon in New York City.

1. Thicken Up Your Locks

Your strands can benefit from some plumping action, especially if they're fine. Spritz a thickening spray throughout clean, damp hair. Try Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Milk & White Jasmine Beachy Texture Sea Salt Spritz ($7, Target).

2. Blow-Dry for Volume

Blow-dry your hair while tousling the front with your fingers (from front to back and side to side). Lift the hair at your crown as you blow-dry to add volume.

3. Use a Round Brush

When your hair is 90 percent dry, use a round brush to finish drying it, twisting sections into corkscrews with the brush to create a piecey effect.

4. Texturize Strands

Once your hair is dry, finish with a dry texturizing spray. These formulas deliver volume and separation to help you get that cool undone finish. Try Not Your Mother’s Double Take Dry Finish Texture Spray ($7, Ulta). If your hair starts to look limp later in the day, run a wide-tooth comb through it to reactivate the product, then part your hair on the opposite side. You’ll instantly get back shape and fullness. Try the Conair Shower Comb ($3.16, Target).

How to Get a Bouncy Blowout

Straight hair can have volume. “Super-sleek hair may look cool on the red carpet, but most women who wear their hair straight want it to have nice bounce and body,” Cranford says.

1. Use Mousse As a Base

Massage a mousse such as Herbal Essences Body Envy Volumizing Mousse ($2.97, Walmart) into damp roots, then aim your blow-dryer there while lifting the hair with your fingers.

2. Blow-Dry With the Right Tool

Blow-dry the rest of your hair until it’s mostly dry while tossing it around with your hands, then finish with a mixed-bristle round brush like the Conair Blow Dry Round Brush ($12.99, Ulta).

3. Move Hair Away from Your Face

While blowdrying the hair around your face, work with small sections and pull the brush back away from your face to create body. “For the top of your head, lift the hair straight up toward the ceiling with the brush behind the hair, then roll the brush back to your scalp,” Cranford says.

4. Pin Up Some Curls

After unwinding each section of hair from the round brush, roll the hair up into a pin curl, clipping the ends against your scalp with duck clips. Try Kristin Ess Sectioning Clips ($6, Target). Let hair set for 5 minutes, then remove clips and brush out with a paddle brush. “This move adds amazing volume from your roots all the way through to the ends,” Dickey says.

5. Tame Frizz and Flyaways

Don't skip this frizz-taming step. Finish your look by rubbing antifrizz cream onto your hands. Apply to your ends, then pat along the outer layer of your hair to calm flyaways. Try Nunzio Saviano The Cream ($28, Nunzio Saviano).

How to Get Beach Waves

The trick to natural-looking volume and bend is to layer a few products before you ever touch a hot tool.

1. Thicken Your Roots

Start by working a drop of thickening cream into roots only. Try Garnier Fructis Mega Full Thickening Lotion Spray ($3.05 Walmart).

2. Use a Beachy Salt Spray

Mist the length of your hair with a salt spray such as Beachwaver Co. Shubie Surf Beach Spray ($18, Beachwaver), then comb it through. “The thickening cream creates lift at the roots, the sea salt spray injects fullness into the length of hair,” Dickey says.

3. Keep Waves All Day With Mousse

A squirt of mousse raked through hair is what gives waves all-day hold, says Herbal Essences celebrity hairstylist Bridget Brager. We like Pantene Body Boosting Mousse ($4.78, Walmart).

4. Give Hair Some Curl

Air-dry or blow-dry your hair with a diffuser. Once it’s dry, wrap 1-inch strands around a curling iron. “Leave the bottom inch of hair sticking out of the iron, and when you release it from the barrel, gently tug on the ends to straighten them. This gives you those pretty, natural-looking S-shape waves,” Brager says. Check out how you can also get beach waves using a flat iron.


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