Hair is more complicated than makeup. I tried to get away from the “What Not to Wear” crew, but every review said Nick Arrojo's book, Great Hairwas hands-down the best, and having read it, I now agree. His main argument is that you must work with the hair you have instead of spending hours and hundreds of dollars going against it to get someone else's look.
So, first you must know your hair texture—-fine, thick, or medium smooth. Fine hair is delicate, fragile, and seems ready to break. You can usually see the scalp on someone with fine hair both at the part and beyond. Fine hair lays flat against your scalp. Thick hair has a wider shaft and feels a touch coarse or wiry when running your fingers through it. It tends to take a long time to air-dry (an hour or more) and puffs up and out. Medium Smooth hair is everybody in between. Then, you must know your hair shape—straight, wavy, or curly. Hair shape can change on the same head of hair. Many women have more wave below the crown.
Once you know your hair texture and hair shape, you can start to choose a haircut that works with your hair, requiring less styling. I don't really have room or time to discuss all the best haircuts for each hair type, but his book does a pretty good job. Unfortunately, it doesn’t list a whole lot of shoulder-length or longer cuts (maybe because they're all pretty much the same). Fine, thick, and curly heads are the least flexible in terms of styling, so a cut that works is more important. If you have medium-smooth, straight, or wavy hair, you can do most anything, which means, you can focus on framing your face. Bangs are a huge help at this. Short hair that comes to your chin can also do this quite dramatically.
Finally, I learned quite a bit about products and was quite heartened to learn that most hair problems can be solved with the right products and proper technique. He has a chart of products that is very helpful if you don’t know what kind of products would help you style your hair. I had never heard of “Thermal Protector” or “Blow Dry Setting Spray” (both turn out to be crucial for a frizz-free blow-dry). Did you know you are never supposed to rub your hair? It creates frizz. Most all products should be worked into your hair from just below the roots down. Allure Magazine puts out a Best of Beauty Hall of Fame for useful products that have been winners year after year. Feel free to add yours in the comments section:
Sunsilk ThermaShine Conditioner
John Frieda Frizz-Ease Hair Serum (try the Thermal Protection Formula)
Phytodefrisant Botanical Hair Relaxing Balm
Conair Infiniti Tourmaline Hair Designer (I recently tried this, and was amazed at how fast it dried my hair. It was also much straighter than usual, but not smooth & shiny right away)
Wella Liquid Hair Brilliant Spray Gel
All in all, it is a book well worth checking out of the library. I have yet to find the styling regimen that leaves my hair looking great in 20 minutes a day or less, but I no longer believe it is because my hair is impossible--rather, I expect I just need to learn how to style it well (and get bangs!).