Lately I've found myself morphing from a texturising spray fanatic to someone a little more accepting of the hair I've been blessed with. Initially inspired on a sub-conscious level by the sleek, minimalistic hairstyles increasingly spotted on the catwalk at fashion weeks, combined with a desire to find myself an effective, failsafe, minimal-effort-required haircare and styling routine...
To me, straight hair has always been an 'unstyled' hairstyle, undoubtedly because it's the hair I've woken up with every morning of my life - no tools/products/effort required. In my teen years I was vaguely glad that [unlike my peers] I didn't have to rise before dark and do battle with a hair straightener, but when poker-straight hair lost its trend appeal, I began to fight my own battles with curling tongs and texturising sprays in attempt to incite the same shape and texture into my locks that my friends sported so [seemingly] effortlessly. Successes were few and far between - as anyone with a similar hair type to mine will know, the price we pay for texture and curl is frizz, because a style that lasts undoubtedly requires some form of backcombing/salt spray combo [great for adding texture, but a surefire way to diminish the lustre that keeps such a style from looking overly scruffy].
The benefit of working with and enhancing one's natural hair type is that it doesn't look drastically [if at all] different at the end of the day, barely showing the effects of time or environment, it requires little to no effort, and is pretty hard to mess up. To truly add a finesse and a sleek sophistication to the look however [that goes beyond a quick brush morning and night], the reality of perfectly smooth, sleek, straight hair does require some work [much like 'no-makeup makeup'], and I've finally compiled the perfect routine for doing so.
You'll notice that [products-wise] this post leans heavily upon the Bumble & bumble altar; my go-to brand when I want to be certain of a product's efficacy. Not cheap, granted, but I've yet to be let down by a Bumble product [the Surf Spray and Surf Infusion Oil are the only products that can hold a wave in my hair] and once again they've come out on form.
It begins in the shower, because lets not forget that in the current day and age we're hard-pressed to find a shampoo that is just a shampoo. I'm not complaining - the fact that the shelves of Boots offer cleansing products catered to every hair type/goal imaginable is a commendable testament to swift advancements in beauty technology [something I will always be excited by]. Typically those shampoos and conditioners catered towards inciting/improving straight hair will be packed with keratin [a heat-activated ingredient naturally found in hair, which serves to smooth out the follicles] and will also be sulphate-free [sulphates strip the keratin from hair].
BUMBLE & BUMBLE Straight Shampoo* offers a mild cleanse and helps to reduce frizz and flyaways, smoothing and softening with the brand's patented Concen-straight Technology, and loosening hair's natural waves [an effect that becomes more and more noticeable with consistent use]. Paired with the BUMBLE & BUMBLE Straight Conditioner*, the result is smooth, straight hair with a sleek sheen and weightless texture that defines each individual strand, causing my hair to run through my fingers with an almost liquid sensation. The conditioner in particular excels in adding shine and encouraging an airy, silky movement. What's more, the formula is beautifully light, so doesn't weigh down hair or cause the roots to look flat, and both products have a light scent that leave my hair smelling pleasantly clean and sweet.
Last year I chopped my near waist-length hair into a neat bob and consequently stowed away my hairdryer for a good few months. Recently however, with my fast-growing hair already creeping towards my elbows, it's made an appearance again [and for the sake of my thick, slow-drying locks is once again in regular use]. Far from virtuous behaviour, but given that I typically only wash my hair once or twice a week [the above shampoo really is that good] I'm not beating myself up too much over this. The third step in my routine involves BUMBLE & BUMBLE Straight Blow Dry*, a leave-in treatment without any of the slippery stickiness I generally loathe in such products. I use a generous squirt and run it through the lengths of my hair when damp [after an initial comb and quick blow-dry]; I also smooth any excess through my roots [although this is a step you might want to bypass if you're prone to oiliness in that department]. Packed with the same straightening, smoothing technology as the above; blow-dried in, it leaves my hair bouncy, smooth, and feather-soft, without completely quelling volume. This product also does double duty as a heat-protectant and manages to put those pesky flyaways [that unfortunately come commonplace with heat-styling] on lockdown.
When blow-drying I've learnt that a flat paddle brush best serves a straight look. I'm currently using the TRESEMMÉ Ceramic Paddle Brush [purchased after reading rave reviews] and am suitably impressed. This product proves that a hairbrush is far from just a tool for easing out knots and tangles, and demonstrates the massive difference that can be made with use of the right shape, size, and composition of brush. By all means use a Tangle Teezer to brush out the initial knots [as I do] or reach for a round brush if you want to add lift to the roots or shape to the ends, but if you're aiming for a straight and sleek style, don't be tempted to think that your brush of choice won't make a difference, because it will.
For obvious reasons a straightener has never been a requirement of mine, and in truth is far from an essential addition to this routine. It does make a big difference however as far as perfecting the finesse of the look goes. Recently I've been using the TONI & GUY Fluid Metal Styler* to straighten out the slight waves that do tend to set into the very ends of my hair, as well as to counteract any waves or kinks that occur [usually on account of rain or if I've worn my hair in a bun]. I've also taken to running this through my hair after blow-drying in a final offensive against any hint of a wave. The wide blades and even heat source mean that in a matter of seconds my entire head of hair can be super smooth, sleek, straight, and frizz-free. I typically supplement this straightening routine with a spritz of SACHAJUAN Straight and Shine Spray* - part heat-protectant and part shine-infuser, a quick mist provides long-lasting shine without weighing down hair, and also infuses my locks with Sachajuan's clean and crisp signature scent.
The finishing touch and the product that really adds the star-factor to the look, bringing a sleek, perfected finesse to a straight style, is the BUMBLE & BUMBLE Hairdresser's Invisible Oil*. This keeps my hair happily balanced and helps a straight style to last longer - it also works as a stellar rescue remedy when my hair gets caught out in the Manchester rain [which usually incites both waves and frizz], adds airiness without weighing down hair, prevents tangles, and helpfully provides a boost of softness. Most hair oils leave my locks weighed down with a thick, filmy sensation that causes my hair to look greasy within hours of application; this however, is less an oil in the traditional sense, and more of a gel-like serum that just so happens to contain a potent blend of some of the best-in-the-business essential oils [including coconut, almond, argan, and macadamia]. A little goes a long way, and despite having a head of very long, very thick hair, 1-2 drops is almost always enough [any more and things can look a little too shiny on top]. A fuss-free, inconspicious daily addition to my routine that removes static and flyaways, but also gives my hair incredible shine and softness, amplifying the effects of previously applied products, and resurrecting them with just as much success on every consequent day of use. This is hair finesse in a bottle, and even when I'm in a rush to leave the house, it takes no time at all to run a couple of drops through my hair as I leave. What I love most about this product is that despite daily use, it doesn't cause buildup or call for a vigorous washing procedure.
I must also throw in a good word for the CHARLES WORTHINGTON Straight & Smooth Shampoo* and CHARLES WORTHINGTON Straight & Smooth Conditioner*. Although this duo haven't been in my possession for quite so long as Bumble's pair have, I'm suitably impressed, and have had every bit as much success when switching these into play. An affordable alternative that may not have quite the same degree of prowess, but would be a commendable option for those of you who do wash your hair on a regular basis and go through shampoo at a faster rate than I.
N.B. Admittedly this line-up may not demonstrate quite such a level of success for those of you with hair that leans towards the curlier end of the spectrum, but if your hair is moderately wavy or naturally straight then I would urge you to join me in setting aside your texturising sprays and curling tongs, and embrace straight!
What are your favourite products for styling straight hair?