What on earth is a hair foundation?

Foam conditioner, sugar spray and foundation for your hair – Elle Turner investigates the brand-new hair products hitting the market

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By Elle Turner on

Hair is having a moment in the beauty industry. The thinking is our scalps are an extension of the skin on our faces, so they need to be treated accordingly (which is why hair serums, oils, scrubs and masks are taking off). But, more than that, where skincare and make-up have been a focus of constant innovation for years, the hair products on offer haven’t received the same attention. Now, though, the top brands have been busy developing new ingredients, formats and formulas, branching away from the traditional shampoos, conditioners and sprays of yore. But if, like the rest of us, you have no idea what a hair foundation, sugar scrub or hair sheet mask actually does – and whether they’re actually any good – here’s a rundown of everything you need to know.

The Foam Conditioner

If you haven’t already noticed, foam is everywhere in haircare. The reason you’ll see it replacing traditional, creamier textures is down to its skill at creating volume in hair without weighing it down, thanks to its lightweight, airy texture. Recently, Pantene, Herbal Essences and Aussie have all brought out foam conditioners that aim to moisturise hair without making it heavy. I’ve been trying Aussie’s Airlight Foam Conditioner, which is excellent. Spray a golf-ball-sized amount of mousse into your hands and run it through lengths and ends. You can even add it to roots (normally the death knell for volume) because it’s so lightweight. It provides less in the way of detangling because the texture is much finer, but if you like a lot of volume and find that conditioner normally makes your hair droop, it’s definitely worth a try.


The Hair Foundation

"What is hair foundation?" I hear you ask. Well, just like foundation for your face, Mr Smith’s The Foundation provides a base on which to apply the rest of your products, improving their effectiveness and giving them something to grip on to. While it offers heat protection and shine, its real strength is its ability to make any subsequent styling last longer. After using this, my curls stayed in place for a few days, rather than wilting by the end of day one. While it's definitely not an essential, if you do style your hair regularly it will help you save time overall, given that it takes less than a minute to apply (while curls take a good 10 minutes to create). Massage a 1p-sized amount from roots to tips. Follow with your usual styling products or go straight to drying. At the moment, it’s not widely available in the UK, but if you happen to be in London’s Soho, it’s stocked at Salon 64. No doubt it will be the inspiration for more “base” products for hair in the future.


The Hair Cleanser

I’ll be honest, this is a fancier way of saying "shampoo", but “cream cleansers”, like L’Oréal’s Series Expert Vitamino Color Soft Cleanser, tend to have a thicker consistency than regular shampoo, which means you’ll need to use half the amount you would normally. If you have tangly demon hair, like I do, it’ll make whizzing through knots much, much easier. Plus, it’ll give your hair a very thorough clean. This one smells lovely and relaxing, like lavender.


The Hair Sheet Mask

The equivalent of a sheet mask for your face, the aim of Redken’s innovative All Soft Mega Sheet Mask is to flood hair with moisture to make it really soft. And, just like a face mask, you apply it directly to your hair and allow the nourishing formula to sink in. The difference is, instead of a fabric face mask, you’ll be wearing a tin-foil goo-filled hat instead. The application process is a bit of a faff, which requires you to shampoo your hair before applying the mask, leave it for five to 10 minutes, then remove, rinse and condition. That said, it left my hair smoother, sleeker and shinier than I’ve ever achieved outside of the hairdresser’s. If you have dry hair or need some TLC, I’d suggest using this in the bath. That way you could stay put, keep warm and lie back and relax while it does its thing.


The Self-Cleaning Dry Shampoo

Unlike regular dry shampoo, which, despite mopping up greasy hair (yay), tends to leave roots feeling dusty, chalky and dry, Living Proof's state-of-the-art Perfect Hair Day dry shampoo leaves no product build-up. Rather than simply making your hair look clean, it makes it feel clean, too. It contains triple-action cleaning technology, which expands like a popcorn shell to mop up any grease and then lifts it away, leaving behind clean, comfortable, powder-free roots that also smell lovely and fresh. Everyone should own one.


The Sugar Spray

The new answer to salt spray, the function of sugar spray is to give beachy, undone hairstyles the way a salt spray would, without the crunchy, drying finish of salt. It does deliver but, in place of crispiness, it does feel very sticky when applied to wet hair. This goes away as your hair dries, though. Spritz a light misting over hair, scrunch, then leave it to air-dry or blow-dry in for textured, slightly messy waves, without the stringiness.



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