Finding the ‘do for you

Hair care has come a long way since my mom was a 20-something and there was only shampoo and cream rinse.

Now there are five different types of conditioners, shampoo for colored hair, dry hair and fine hair – not to mention all the different products to spike, tease, curl and straighten. With all the brands ranging in price, color and consistency, it’s hard to determine which one is fitting for your follicles.

Nick Berardi, owner and stylist at the Richard Nicholas Hair Studio at 1716 Sansom St., said that experimentation is most important in choosing hair products. Never think that just because a product is expensive that it’s necessarily the right fit for your hair.

Berardi tends to think of hair as fabrics: wool, cotton and silk.

“Wool” hair is thick and coarse in texture. “Cotton” hair is usually dubbed as “normal” hair. And “silk” hair tends to be a bit more on the fine side.

When choosing shampoos and conditioners, people with “wool” hair should look for a mild shampoo that won’t strip the hair’s natural oils. Choose something that moisturizes and finish with a deep conditioner that will saturate the hair.

Cotton hair tends to do well with any type of shampoo for normal hair and a light conditioner will suffice.

Silk hair has the highest moisture content
of all three types of hair, so shampooing everyday is acceptable and a light leave-in conditioner will add softness without weighing the hair down or making it greasy.
When it comes to products, Berardi recommends both inexpensive ones and, depending on the effect, some on the pricier side. For men, Beradi recommends Keune products which are carried at the Richard Nicholas salon.

Its pomade products are both water-based and petroleum-based, which works best for men with thicker hair. A cheap product carried at drug stores and beauty supply stores is American Crew – a men’s hair care line with such products as shampoos, pomades, gels and texture creams.

Here’s where it gets a little complicated:
Why do products work well for a while, then all of a sudden they aren’t as effective anymore?

According to Berardi, Pennsylvania is the problem. The region we live in has such contrasting climates that it affects our hair. Because of our unfortunate locale, Berardi recommends “cocktailing” or mixing products to counteract changes in the weather.

For volume, the Davines line works very well.

“I highly recommend their leave-in conditioner. It’s so light and works great for fine hair,” Berardi said.

An inexpensive line that he recommends for both fine hair and to straighten hair is the Redken product line. The Keune line also works wonders to straighten hair because it actually protects the hair when using flat irons.

The most surprising recommendation was for an inexpensive product for curly hair. Berardi recommends L.A. Looks gel – the same gel that has been around since the 80s and has yet to change its 80s packaging.

“It’s a very strong holding gel which is what you need for curly hair so that the curl stays intact and won’t frizz.” Berardi said.

He also recommends the Davines’ Finest Oil No-Oil line, which is a gel that feels oil-based, but has no actual oil in it. It won’t give your curls that crunchy feel, which can happen sometimes with gels and mousses.

It’s true that hair has come a long way since back in the day, but even with all these products, it’s still possible not to have the hair that you actually want. But through trial and error and a little “cocktailing,” you can reach your greatest hair potential.

Caitlin Murphy can be reached at

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