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Bust Out of Your Beauty Rut

See how a few simple changeups helped four readers rehab their routines and get prettier results.
Elchim 2001 hair dryer Get Low-Maintenance Hair

"My hairstyling collection is pricey. With a new baby, I need to save money and time."
-- Jennifer Horovitz, 37

Pretty Plan: Jennifer met with Charles Baker Strahan, an Herbal Essences stylist in New York City, to cut some corners.

Lesson 1: Read Labels
"Pricey salon products smooth my hair while leaving it bouncy," Jennifer says. Less expensive options can do the same thing if they contain silicones (ingredients ending in -cone), Strahan says. Two that do: Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly Finishing Touch Cream ($5.49, drugstores) and Dove Curl & Sculpt Defining Mousse ($2.98, drugstores). Mix equal dollops of each, apply to damp hair, and use a round brush to blow-dry.

Lesson 2: Update Your Tools
Jennifer's hair dryer, too weak for her long hair, increased her drying time. "She needs 1,700 watts or higher," says Strahan, who recommended the Elchim 2001 ($98, blissworld.com). In addition, her curling iron didn't get hot enough to bend her coarse-textured hair. The one-inch barrel of Hot Tools Gold Curling Iron ($35.99, ulta.com), ideal for loose waves, curls in three seconds flat.

Lesson 3: Style While You Sleep
When crunched for time, Jennifer should wash her hair at night, infusing strands with a hydrating product like Sexy Hair Curly Moisturizing Conditioner ($13.95, sexyhair.com for locations), which will help nix frizz. Strahan suggested creating two low braids and sleeping on them after air-drying for 15 minutes. "Unravel in the morning for natural waves and body."