The 12 Best Hairstyling Products for Curly, Straight, Fine, and Natural Textures

by Martha Adams

It doesn’t take long to know if you are impressed or underwhelmed by a hairstyling product. One spritz of a dry shampoo or texturizing spray and you have a good idea of the smell and effect. In testing for this year's SELF Healthy Beauty Awards , I discovered that love at first style goes for hot tools as well. I had several testers come back to me after one day, raving about a curling wand that bends and a blow-dryer that automatically shuts off when you put it down. Then, the same question again and again: "Do I get to keep this?"

Our at-home testers put these spritzes, sprays, and stylers to work on all different hair types—and as part of a multistep morning process or a quickie refresher. All the products ahead were instantly impressive, and we were still talking about them by the end of the testing period (one favorite can of dry shampoo made the rounds after a staff meeting). There’s something for everyone on this list.

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Best Curl Definer for Wavy and Curly Hair: Sexy Hair Fresh Hair Air-dry Mousse

“I have very fine, curly hair. So, I feel like I’m constantly on the hunt for a product that will kill flyaways but give me volume (which is kind of an conundrum, because how can a product smooth and tease at the same time?). This mousse added a nice amount of volume and minimized the frizz that my loose waves usually get as soon as I step outside. I liked the smell too! It’s a fruity scent that I didn’t mind smelling on my curls all day.” — Stephanie Strauss, social video producer and editor

Buy it: $18,

Best Dry Texturizer for Fine Hair: Kristin Ess Sea Salt Air Dry Spray

“I loved how this made my hair look! My hair is super straight , and I’m always dying to get more texture. Most of the sprays I tried did absolutely nothing or made my hair look like a tangled mess. This one gave my hair great texture and held a slight wave all day. I applied it to my damp hair right out of the towel, and it smelled amazing going on.” — Cheryl Carlin, senior web producer

Buy it: $10,

Best Styling Cream for Natural Hair: Mielle Organics Pomegranate and Honey Twisting Butter

“With my Afro hair, I usually bypass anything that says mousse or whipped or custard. Even if it says it’s for curls or coarse hair, those products aren’t gonna cut it. (Cue Destiny’s Child ‘Bootylicious’...‘I don’t think they can handle this.’) Instead, I go straight for the heavy-duty creams and butters. This twisting butter is made specifically for type 4 hair like mine . It smells like a juicy fruit smoothie or pomegranate bubble gum. I put it on my wet hair and did two-strand twists. The result after it dried was crisp curls with a shine—an effect that’s hard to get on Afro hair. The kicker was when my style lasted a full week with day-one definition.” — Jessica Cruel, senior beauty & style editor

Buy it: $13,

Best Frizz Tamer: Living Proof No Frizz Instant De-frizzer

“Game changer. Full disclosure: My hair was looking a bit wild before I tried this, sort of like I'd been maimed by several feral animals. I put this product on my air-dried hair, and it tamed the beast. The fragrance also eliminated all of the subway and NYC smells that built up from my morning commute . My hair felt supersoft, and I was able to leave it down for the day. (Usually I have the urge to throw up my waist-length hair after lunch.) OH! And I used my fingertips to ‘smooth it in’ and it didn't leave any residue on my hands. It was like witnessing real-world magic. #potterverse” — Vara Reese, video producer

Buy it: $29,

Best Heat Protectant: Color Wow DreamCoat

“I was a little hesitant when I first saw this product. I mean anything called ‘Wow’ is bound to disappoint, and the directions said to use a lot of product, which usually means a gross residue. After following the instructions I was actually wowed. I have naturally straight and shiny hair but my hair was like liquid gloss. I have never seen it so shiny with no flyaways. I had a friend over at the time, and when I came out of the bathroom, she looked shocked, like, 'How on earth did you achieve those results?!' My hair felt light and airy with a high shine and no residue. It also didn't have a strong odor. Overall, it was a great product and one that I would happily buy for myself during humid months. I will say that a downside is that it made my hair so smooth, it was difficult to curl, add texture, or basically do anything other than a strict blowout .” — Stephanie Indajro, former senior designer

Buy it: $28,

Best Detangler: DevaCurl Wash-Day Wonder Pre-Cleanse Slip Detangler

“It takes me forever to detangle my Afro hair (think 30 to 45 minutes). Recently, I’ve been trying to give up the comb and finger detangle because it helps prevent breakage. I was not successful until I tried this detangler. You apply it before shampoo in order to get out tangles and single-strand knots. With this product my hair has so much slip and it keeps shampoo from drying out my hair as well. Even though I rinse it away, my natural curls are super defined after using it!” — Jessica Cruel

Buy it: $28,

Best Dry Shampoo: The One by Frederic Fekkai One More Day Dry Shampoo

“This is my new favorite dry shampoo —and I use dry shampoo at least once a day. It made my hair look and feel clean, not sticky at all, I almost didn't wash my hair the next day—and that was AFTER a second workout. Unfortunately, I had to break out the shampoo because I didn’t want my hair to smell, but it looked good still. This never happens to me.” — Amy Marturana, senior fitness editor

Buy it: $26,

Best Hairspray: Tresemme Compressed Micro-Mist Hair Spray

“I loved this hairspray. My hair is stick-straight , which means it’s practically impossible to hold a curl. Usually when I use a holding spray, I get this crunchy finish that I want to wash out immediately. This kept my hair in place and my flyaways stayed down all day. It did all this without making my hair sticky, which is rare for a hairspray.” — Cheryl Carlin

Buy it: $5,

Best Hair Serum: Klorane Keratin Strength Fortifying Spray

“After testing more complicated serums that required sectioning the hair, using eyedroppers, and spritzing 16 times (?!), this felt like the more low-key maintenance version. You only have to spray this two or three times all over your towel-dried hair. That I can do. This spray smells wonderful, like flowers plus a sort of earthy muskiness. I also love (after reading more about it) that it's free of sulfates and parabens. This spray also had a great smoothing effect: I let my hair air-dry after application, and I didn’t get the frizziness or flyaways I typically get.” — Amy Eisinger, special projects director

Buy it: $32,

Best Blowdryer: T3 Cura Luxe

“Some blow-dryers are so hot and blow so hard that I feel nauseous using them, but this one was nice. You can customize the heat level and the air speed. It made my fine hair silky, not frizzy. The feature that turns it off when you put it down is really neat, although it turned off while I was drying a couple of times if I held the dryer horizontally. After weeks of using it, I’ve learned that you just have to keep your hand on the handle .” — Christine Byrne, food features editor

Buy it: $230,

Best Curling Iron or Wand: Neuro Angle Cone

“I've been using a flatiron for years to curl my hair , and honestly I never thought I would find a product that could replace it—but I did. First, I love the digital display that tells you it's heating up. The temperature is totally customizable. The wand allows you to work at a variety of angles, including completely straight (like a typical curling wand) and 90 degrees, which really helps you get ALL the angles around your hair. This iron is for beginners, experts, and everyone in between looking for easy salon-looking waves. And my curls lasted until the end of the day!” — Leslie Green, social media manager

Buy it: $135,

Best Flatiron: GHD Gold Styler

"As a woman with natural hair, finding a flatiron that can get as close as possible to my edges without sizzling my hair and scalp is key. I love how close I was able to get to my scalp with the GHD iron. The beveled edges allowed me to touch up those fine hairs around my hairline without burning my forehead. Using this tool is a no-brainer since it has a built-in automatic heat setting, plus it was able to easily glide through my hair without the threat of a snag." —Tiffany Dodson, assistant market editor

Buy it: $199,

Photographer: Chelsea Cavanaugh . Prop stylist: Rachel Stickley with Bernstein & Andriulli .

Leave a Comment