Short or long, straight or curly, thick or thin: specific cuts and textures of hair can be enhanced by different styling aids on the market. Serums and gels are two separate hair products that can control hair, produce thickening or voluminous effects, and even protect hair from drying out. Although both products will achieve similar results, each one is better for a specific type of hair.
Serum, also known as smoothing fluid, polish or gloss, is not as popular as its gel counterparts. However, those who use serum tend to be loyal to this styling aid and rely on it to thicken strands, reduce tangles and keep hair soft. This product is typically applied to brittle parts of the hair (at the ends), but a small amount of serum can also be used on top of the head to control stray strands and "flyaways." Serums are appropriate for long and extra dry hair types. Serums are also great for curly hair as this product encourages natural texture and keeps spirals bouncing. People with thin hair should take extra care when applying serum; too much will weigh hair down and make it look greasy.
Gel is a versatile product with "strengths" ranging from light to medium to firm or even extra firm. Gels can help smooth and straighten strands and create volume at the root. Some gels are formulated to block humidity and seal in moisture and may contain ingredients to protect hair, such as vitamins and sunscreen. Hair gel can be used on various hair styles but is ideal for short hair with thick strands.
Applying Serums and Gels
Like other hair styling products, gels and serums should be used conservatively. It is always easier to add more product than to remove it from hair. Start by putting a dime-sized amount of product into your palm and rubbing it in your hands until the consistency is smooth. Then apply the product on damp or towel-dried hair. When it comes to curly locks, gels and serums should be finger-combed into hair. Depending on the desired effect, styling may be followed up with blow drying.
Other Hair Styling Tips
Gel can be reactivated by lightly spritzing hair with water or using an alcohol-free gel spray. Keep hair touching to a minimum. Incessantly styling your hair after gel has set in may break the product's styling hold and cause a flaky residue. To emphasize volume, concentrate on putting gel closer to the root. Serum has the flexibility of being used as a base styling product or a finish. It can also be used on wet shampooed hair to increase shine, or absorbed into towel-dried hair to protect strands from the heat of a flat iron or blow dryer. To create thickness, use serum toward the ends of hair strands.
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Diane Bautista has more than seven years of professional experience writing for a variety of industries including fashion retail, communications technology and nonprofit. She currently works as an advertising copywriter and holds a B.A. in English from Washington State University.