Once And For All, Here's The Correct Order To Apply Hair Products

July 8, 2015 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

I collect hair products the way some people collect handbags. I like to see them lined up in my closet like trophies–volumizers, serums, leave-in conditioners, frizz-defying creams–the more, the merrier!

The problem with my massive product collection? I was actually kinda clueless when it came to the order in which I should be applying my magic hair potions. Since product order in cosmetics means the difference between walking out the door with flawless skin or showing up at work with foundation dripping down your neck, it stands to reason that the same important rule applies when it comes to hair. That’s why we caught up with Dante Pronio, senior stylist at Mizu New York Salon, who set us straight on the order of operations for our favorite hair products.

1. Shampoo. “A quality shampoo is the start to good hair because applying products to a clean scalp and hair will ensure that you get maximum volume and you keep buildup from weighing your hair down,” Pronio says.  “Focus the shampoo from the scalp to ends getting the roots and scalp free of grease and buildup.”

2. Conditioner. After you’ve shampooed,  it’s time to condition and de-tangle. “Apply conditioner from ends to roots if your hair is thick. If your hair is fine or you have trouble getting volume, skip the roots,” Pronio suggests. “Either way, make sure to thoroughly rinse the conditioner with warm water.”

3. Volumizer. “After the hair is clean, detangled, and towel dried, apply your volumizer, focusing on application at the roots and mid shaft,” Pronio says. “I suggest volumizer first because many of them ‘grab on’ to the hair shaft and plump up the hair. If there are other products in the way they won’t work as well.” Volumizers come in different forms, but you’ll mainly find sprays or foams. Generally, the foams are lighter and don’t weigh down your hair as much. Pronio’s expert picks? Dallas Thickening Spray and Chiffon Styling Mousse both by R+Co. “These two particular volumizers also have built-in thermal protection. For the foam, I suggest using a comb to apply.”

4. Oils/Balms. “If your ends are dry or need nourishing, then after you apply volumizer, you should apply a nourishing oil or balm,” explains Pronio. “Think of this step as adding a clear coat for shine.” He recommends Nourishing Oil by Oribe or Oribe Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray because both also baost thermal protection.

5. Thermal Protectant. “If your volumizer or moisturizing balm doesn’t have heat protection, then now is the time to add a light mist of a ‘thermal protectant’ before blow drying,” Pronio says. “If you use hot tools I suggest added heat protection–there are some options out there that also provide protection and support to your style. Remember: these tools can be over 400 degrees so buffer the heat before you touch your tresses. Aerosol form options should be used sparingly since you already have product blown into your hair at this point and over doing it can work against you and weigh your hair down. Go easy and remember a little steam is good–it’s the product working. You’ll know the smell of burnt hair if it’s not protected.”

For more beauty tips, check out the 5 worst things for blonde hair and 8 hair and makeup tips for when it’s really hot.


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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