Waxing on about hair wax

Aleks(andra) is an editor in Chicago. When she’s not writing, attending sporting events with her husband, testing recipes, or watching teen-centered dramas, you can find her in the salon haircare aisles of Ulta and Sephora. She’ll be reviewing higher-end products for Hair Thursday.


It’s probably not a stretch to say that most haircuts today involve layers of some sort. Layers –whether wispy, choppy, long, razored, etc. – are designed to make your look like less of a solid mass. But, layers can’t work alone! They need product to live up to their full potential.

At some point, I’ll discuss what to put in your hair before you style. Today I’m covering pomade / wax /crème / paste – a.k.a. that finishing stuff that comes in a jar and requires a very light hand or you’ll look like you haven’t washed your hair in a week.

But, the absolutely wonderful thing about the product I’m about to recommend is that it’s quite difficult to do the latter. It’s a wax that works on nearly any hair type – save really coarse, unruly hair – and is buildable, i.e., you add on more until you achieve the level of definition, texture, hold that you desire. In short, it’s my (current) product holy grail:

Aveda Light Elements Defining Whip

If the customer reviews are any indication, I’m not the only one who loves it. This stuff is almost goof-proof, has a subtle lavender-tinged scent, and is made with certified organic (!) ingredients.

It’s taken the place of Kusco-Murphy Lavender Hair Crème, which had the added allure of having to be tracked down at a covert Chicago beauty supply store, in my product repertoire.

For my layered bob, I start at the ends and pull up through my hair, add a bit to my bangs, then smooth everything down lightly. Voila!

What’s your finishing product holy grail?

  1. Shawna

    October 7, 2008 at 8:03 am

    I have super-fine hair and am not happy with my current wax because it seems that even the smallest amount weighs my hair down. Is the Aveda whip suitable for fine, thin hair?

  2. Aleks

    October 7, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Hi Shawna — yes, I think it could work! I have fine hair (but a lot of it), so I don’t exactly have the same hair type, but if you look at the reviews on Aveda, it looks like many, many people recommend it for fine hair. If you have an Aveda salon in your area, maybe they’ll let you try a sample. Just start with a little bit — dime-sized or so- and see how it goes.

  3. ashley.marie

    October 7, 2008 at 11:18 am

    What about wavy hair – does it for for me, too? :)

    I love hair products thanks to Whoorl!

  4. Chiada

    October 7, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    I recently found Enjoy Texture Spray (http://realbeautyinoc.blogspot.com/2008/07/enjoy-texture-spray.html) which I can’t believe how much I loooooove. It is a light spray wax that can be used in many ways. I like to spray some on my roots when damp, flip my head upside down, and blow dry. This results in some va-va-voom body. I’ve also used it to spray onto my hair in general and then twist sections of hair while the wax sets them. It gives my hair a glossy wavy look.

  5. Teresa

    October 7, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    I have long straight hair, a lot of fine hair – with a neat razor cut with long layers, I wanted a product that would add a little definitio without making my sort of oily prone hair look greasy…I’ve found that Bumble & Bumble’s Brilliantine. Not really a wax, not really a leave-in, it just does exactly what I want it to. As the bottle says, it’s “hard to define.” I use a pea size dollop (my hair is fairly long – hits near my bra strap, and that’s all it takes), and I smooth it on just the ends of my hair while dry. It makes my razor cut have a little bit more “piecey” type of look.

    My other go to’s are less of the wax/pomade variety. I like Kerastase’s Serum Oleo Relax to throw in my hair occasionally before blow drying – especially if the ends are feeling kind of dry. For an added shine boost, sometimes I throw on Kerastase’s Serum Nutri Sculpt. I’ve had this 1 oz bottle for a year and a half now, it’s been very worth the cost.

    I love talking products!

  6. kat

    October 7, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    awesome! i’d love to see pics of your use of it if possible…maybe how much you use. how do you style, etc.

    i think for me, it’s less of what products are people recommending, but how are they using them?

  7. Mina

    October 8, 2008 at 6:24 am

    I havwe it and not sure I’m using it right. My hair is very similar to yours – it’s fine but I have alot of it. Our ahirstyles are also similar but my bangs are mostly grown out. When you say “pull up through my hair” what do you mean? Sorry if I’m just being stupid….


  8. Aleks

    October 8, 2008 at 8:10 am

    I know I was a little confusing about the “how.” Basically I put a little pomade in my hands, rub together, then using both hands, starting at the nape of my neck, comb my fingers up through my hair, as if I were attempting to make it stick up, then smooth it back down with my fingers, or lightly with a brush. When my stylist uses this or B&B wax on my hair, that’s what she does and my chunks of my hair are literally sticking up and out. Then it’s all smoothed down so the definition is there, and it’s slightly piece-y but controlled. Maybe I should attempt a video…

  9. Aleks

    October 8, 2008 at 8:12 am

    Oh, and for my bangs, I just use whatever product is left on my hands and rub the ends of my bangs so they lie in the direction I want them. When I had straight-down bangs (vs. side-swept) I skipped this.

  10. Mina

    October 8, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Got it! Thanks, I can’t wait to try this tomorrow!


  11. Amy in StL

    October 9, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I went to a local Aveda salon and this is the product they recommended for my fine shoulder-length hair. It helps with the frizzies and even when I was stuck for two days at a hotel without a blowdryer (near a lake) it tamed my fine hair once it airdryed without making it look greasy.

  12. Liz

    October 10, 2008 at 10:21 am

    I love Bumble & Bumble Grooming Cream. I have very fine hair (on the thin side) and I’m able to use it on damp hair as well as a little bit for finishing. Layered over their Thickening Spray, it’s my perfect blow out :)

  13. Lindsay

    October 10, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    I’m fairly certain this is a sign that I have a hair product addiction – but your hair is roughly the exact opposite of mine and I’m _still_ interested to read what you have to say (though it won’t be relevant to me personally). :)

  14. Alicia

    October 11, 2008 at 8:07 am

    My hair holy-grail IS Kusco-Murphy’s lavender hair creme, strangely enough. For my coarse-ish, long wavy hair, I rub a dab all over my hands and run the majority through the ends, scrunching all the way through when my hair’s still damp. Anything left over gets used to give my still growing-out fringe layers a bit of a lift. It air dries beautifully.