Back when I first became a hairstylist, I discovered this major thing that professional hairstylists use that the rest of us, well, don't. And not because we don't have access, but because we didn't know there was a difference between the ones we use and the ones they use. Do you know what it is? They're incredibly important for most hairstyling, and if you use them regularly, they're in every corner of your house and your significant other hates them. Bobby pins.
I've talked about why bobby pins are your best friend, and I've even told you which ones are the ones to use, but I've realized that these bobby pins fit into a larger category of professional beauty products of which the masses should definitely be taking advantage. If you want to step up your game, seek out some pro products and get movin'.
Why You Should Use Pro Products
Since professional hairstylists and makeup artists are exactly that — professional, and we make money from what we do — it's important that we have the highest quality tools in our possession to give our clients what they can't give themselves. That's why we have jobs. Now if we're being honest, the products and tools we use are not the thing that differentiates us from the average beauty-lover (obviously we have education, experience, and skill on our sides as well), but they're something that can get you one step closer to better results at home.
True story: It might seem counterintuitive as a professional to want my clients to be more skilled and capable at home — after all, if we're really getting down to it, I make my money from being better than they are at hair & makeup —but it's my mission and desire as a hairstylist and makeup artist to make my clients feel beautiful every day, not just the day they come to see me. So I want you to have what you need to do that.
But will it cost more money to have professional beauty products?
In some cases, yes, and you already know this just from browsing your salon's products or, let's be real, Sephora. And when it comes to hair and makeup, in so many cases, you get what you pay for. However, not all professional beauty products will cost you an arm and a leg. Take, for example, my favorite bobby pins: MetaGrip Premium Bob Pins are $7.99 for 300 pins at Sally Beauty Supply. Completely worth it!
So let's get on with it shall we?
Pro Hair Tools & Products You Need Immediately
Let's just get this first one out of the way, because there's no getting around it, folks: the higher quality your hot tools, the healthier your hair will be. I fully understand the power of a budget, I really do, but the cheaper you go on hot tools, the worse they'll be for your hair. Take my mother for example, who recently fried the crap out of nearly all of her hair using an old, cheap flat iron. [Full disclosure: that old, cheap, flat iron used to be mine, and I gave it to her to save her having to buy one when I was trying to convince her that you can flat-iron fine, straight hair. Sorry Mom!] Lesson learned: don't skimp on the hot tools.
Where curling irons are concerned, this is easy! Hot Tools makes fantastic curling irons, and they're what I use at my station on my clients. They're also easy to get and inexpensive. I recommend the 1-inch curling iron for most hair, which is currently sitting pretty at $29.38 on Amazon.
Flat irons can be a bit trickier, as many "professional quality" flat irons have gone down in quality in order to appeal to the masses (cough — CHI). Just keep this in mind: in most cases, whatever you're paying for it is twice what it's worth unless you know that it's being sold at wholesale price. My favorite flat iron is the Centrix iron which I used all day every day for a solid three years before it crapped out on me. Three years doesn't sound like much, but I flat ironed thousands of clients in that time!
Of course, if you're scanning this post and missed it the first time, I can't recommend enough the MetaGrip Premium Bob Pins from Sally Beauty Supply. We use them at the salon for updos, I use them at home, and they are so much stronger than the little crappers you get at the drugstore. If there's one thing off this list you purchase, let it be these!
Finally, if you are the type of person who needs to get your hair out of your way while you're doing your makeup, styling your hair, etc. (which is most of us), I absolutely adore Colortrak Croc Clips. I use them at work all the time because they adjust to the amount of hair you put in them, so they're great for most hair types. [If you have super-thick, heavy hair, one clip won't quite cut it for you.] At home, I use them to clip my hair up while I'm doing my makeup, and then again to section my hair when I'm flat ironing or curling. They're $8.99 for a pack of four and they come in your basic black, or you can snag them in safari prints if you're that kind of gal!
Of course, I hope it goes without saying that one of the best investments in pro products you can make is to purchase salon-quality shampoos, conditioners, and styling products! They make a world of difference in the health and style of your hair, plus they typically come with stylists' recommendations for your hair type.
Pro Makeup Tools & Products You Need Immediately
I can't say enough about good quality makeup brushes, but you're in luck here: more and more companies are making high-quality brushes for less money! My favorites are Real Techniques and Sigma Beauty No joke, all of my makeup brushes are one or the other.
What will you get from good quality brushes? Easier and better-looking application. Good brushes will streamline your makeup routine without a doubt and will give you more flexibility as to what you can do with your makeup. Starting out, I recommend the Real Techniques Core Collection ($18) and Starter Set ($18); from Sigma, the E25, E30, and E35 eye brushes plus the F82 kabuki (for foundation) and the F15 duo fibre (for blush/bronzer) are fantastic!
Pro makeup artists & beauty YouTubers alike swear by the Z Palette. Instead of having a ton of individual eyeshadows or, worse, a stack of large & inconvenient palettes, you can put all of your favorite colors into one palette. Removing the pans from their packaging can get a little tricky, but it's so nice to have it all together. The Z Palette comes in a variety of colors and sizes.
To remove an eyeshadow from the pan, let it sit on a hot flat iron (with a paper towel between the package & the flat iron plate) for a few minutes to melt the glue that holds the pan in the package; then use a knife to wedge the pan out. Be careful not to force the pan out too early or you'll crumble your shadow! Trust me — I know from experience.
If you use makeup brushes regularly, you should be washing them regularly too! And if you're buying good quality brushes, you'll want them to last a long time. Using regular soap or shampoo on your makeup brushes will only shorten their lifespan, so do yourself a favor and pick up some pro-quality brush cleaner. My favorite is Parian Spirit. It smells heavenly (fresh and citrusy), it does an amazing job at cleaning your brushes, and it's honestly not that expensive! Try starting with the Brush Cleaning System ($23) for the simplest and most convenient clean.
I also love MAC Brush Cleanser ($15), which smells the same as Parian Spirit, and Sephora Master Cleanse Daily Brush Cleanser ($15). Be careful not to soak or fully saturate your brushes in any professional cleanser; they'll absorb it up into the ferrule (the part that holds the bristles together) and dissolve the glue! I had a sad moment early on in my Parian Spirit usage when my Sigma F80 fell apart.
Last up, but certainly not least: the Beauty Blender. I'll admit that this has become more "mainstream" than "professional," but the truth is it costs $20 and a lot of people aren't going to shell that out for a sponge. My recommendation? Shell out $20 for a sponge. Your makeup will look flawless! You can apply foundation with it, you can apply & blend concealer with it, you can blend contours with it, you can apply cream blush with it, and every time you do any of those things your makeup will look seamless. Before you use it, just hold the Beauty Blender under running water and squeeze it a few times as it soaks up the water and gets bigger, then squeeze it out one more time in a towel to get the excess moisture out. Voilá! [And don't forget the blendercleanser!]
Do you have any professional hair or makeup tools that you swear by? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!
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