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Does a New Zip Code Mean New Hair Products?

By Amalah

Hello! Here goes my confused question.
I have issues with my hair. (Great opener, right?) I grew up in the northeast, and had the flattest hair imaginable. It’s as if while everyone else who came here got frizzhead from the humidity, my hair grew straight like sticks…and never did anything. No curl, no nothing. Then I moved to the glorious west. The place where my skin was clear and my hair had body. It was still very straight, but it would style a little bit. I’ve never been big into products, but it was out west that I discovered Victoria’s Secret Shine Serum. It smelled great, felt great, and I only needed a tiny dab to get the job done. Life was bliss.
And then I had a baby and half my hair fell out.
And then I moved back east.
Phew. So now I have thin super straight hair that doesn’t respond to my favorite product anymore.
So I guess my question(s) is/are the following:
How does VS weigh in against brands created by companies that only do hair products? Is it a fluke that I liked this stuff?
Why doesn’t it work as well out east, and what can I get that does what I need it to do? (i.e. create soft, full hair that does the “naturally messy” look I love so much)
Thanks for your advice,

Firstly, yes, sometimes a change in location/geography DOES mean you’ll need to change your products — hair, face, body, sometimes all three. You’re using different water, exposed to different air, temperatures, pollution and humidity levels and it ALL makes a difference.
Secondly, Victoria’s Secret hair products. Yeeeeah. I’ve never tried them. I’ve tried a lot of their Body products (lotions and body washes and such) and don’t like them — too much focus on pretty colors and (artificial) scents and not enough focus on products that actually DO anything besides look pretty and make you smell like you overdid your perfume. A lot like Bath & Body Works and other places you go to buy gifts for people you don’t know that well. “Here! I once heard you say you like raspberries. Now you can smell like one.” (It’s telling, when I did some Googling to find more info on the VS line, that pretty much every positive user review raves about the smell with no real mention of how well the product actually works.) I’m sure it’s the perfect product for someone out there, though, and for awhile that was you. A fluke? Eh, maybe, but there’s no need to quibble over it. What works, works.
But it doesn’t work for you anymore, and that’s not too surprising. The same can happen with any product after a big move. Speaking of which…have you bought a new bottle since you’ve been back on the East Coast? While the change in location is PROBABLY the culprit, it is possible that your serum simply went bad during the move. Stored at too high or low of a temperature, maybe? Damaged nozzle letting too much air in? Shaken to the point of no return?
Possible, but probably a longshot, since you said you suffered from flat, stringy hair before. So it’s probably time to check out some new products. If you’re not using a volumizing shampoo and conditioner already, it’s time to start. Victoria’s Secret even makes one! I like Pureology (sooo expensive though, and yet I’ve never found anything that works so well garrrrsmash) and Wella, but you could totally just start out with Pantene or something while you’re experimenting with new products. (Although I do justify my occasional Pureology purchase these days with the fact that I can use that and be done with the volumizing products for the day — it works that well for my hair.)
Shine serums and smoothing creams are great for taming fly-aways, moderate frizz and for adding a touch of texture — they do NOT add body or volume. I’ve had problems with a lot of them making my hair kind of greasy looking — perhaps my own bit of East Coast woe? — so I go with Bed Head’s Headrush instead when I just need a little finishing *something.* The spray is easier (for me) to avoid overdoing it or isolated patches of Too Much Product, and I’ve always sworn that it makes my hair just a touch fuller, even though that’s not the primary point of the product. If and when you find the perfect kickass volumizing shampoo, switching to a spray shine might be all you need for a little tousled style without weighing your hair down.
But if your hair remains stubbornly thin and flat, another option that might work well is BedHead Small Talk. I keep trying and trying all kinds of volumizing products and then coming back to this one, and then wondering why the hell I felt the need to try anything else. It’s a thick, goopy, creamy paste-like product, requires just the tiniest dab on your hand, rub your fingers lightly together and then smooth it through your ends. I won’t use it on my roots (I let my shampoo and hair dryer do all the work there these days, since I just don’t have the time or energy to deal with root lifters/mousses anymore), but it makes my hair seem thick and full and it’s VERY good at the natural/messy/tousled-wave look, since a quick scrunching after you apply it will make your hair nice and bendy. My only complaint: it will leave a bit of product-y feel to your hair if you apply too much or use it on dry hair without combing it through (which is when the scrunching style works best). Perhaps following up with the remains of your shine serum on your ends will give you back the softness you want, if that happens.
Oh, and it smells like grape bubble gum. Heh.


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Bliz

    April 24, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    If you’re looking for an inexpensive volumizing shampoo, I recommend the Sunsilk Hairapy version (in a yellow bottle). I found that it really makes my hair softer and more weightless.
    (Also, I’ve always lived on the East Coast but have found that the water quality in different cities has made a big difference in how my hair behaves!)

  • Anonymous

    April 24, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    THANKS! I will definitely try some of those products. I’ve always liked the Bed Head line, too. And my son might enjoy the grape bubblegum thing…I think that VS might be a thing of the past- and interestingly enough- I DID actually drop the bottle in the toilet at one point right before moving. And then justified rinsing it off and reusing it…because I loved it…maybe that was the cause of the demise? (The toilet only contained water…but still…probably TMI.)
    Thanks again for my new plan of attack!

  • Kimmers

    April 24, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Ok, so after reading you obsessively (um. all of your sites.) forevvvvvvver, I finnnnnnally tried Pureology, and honestly? It’s great, I love it, but… I like Bedhead even better. I use the volumizing shampoo and conditioner (I think it’s called Superstar – comes in a bright pink bottle). And it smells (weirdly enough) like strawberry Bubblicious. YUM. It’s light and clean and it makes a noticeable difference in the look and feel and stylability of my hair, which is naturally super thick but pin straight and generally *extremely* flat. I have a lot of hair but it’s very, very fine and I get greasy easily if I’m not careful about the products I use. The Bedhead also rinses clean fast… for some reason Pureology always wants to linger in my hair.
    Regular priced, Bedhead is not THAT much cheaper than Pureology, BUT almost every time I go to the salon it’s available in these special 2-packs (shampoo + conditioner, both regular size) for $25. Normally each bottle is $25 so if you can find that 2-pack it’s an awesome deal.
    I also use the Bedhead volumizing spray on my roots on the days I actually dry my hair properly and attempt to style it, and I think it makes a big difference in my volume.

  • glittergirley

    April 25, 2009 at 2:46 am

    Omg, you MUST try bumble and bumble volumizing spray… its light but it kind of texturizes your roots so that it makes even thin hair seem more voluminous!! I got their smallest bottle which was like 18 bucks (omg ouch, i know) but it went a LONG way!! Just spritz a little on damp hair before you blow dry and voila, gorgeous.

  • Chataine

    April 27, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Another volumizing product rec is Pureology (yes, because of reading this site) Blowdry Amplifier. I got it at Ulta, and was a little afraid to commit to a huge, expensive bottle after only having it used on my hair once at a salon, because let’s be honest, wasn’t my great hair that day more due to all the OTHER products my stylist used? But they had a bunch of trial sizes, and I think the Blowdry Amplifier was $7. Which is still pricey in the cost-per-ounce arena, but since you use SO LITTLE of it (it’s kind of serum-like), and I use it maybe once or twice a week, it ended up being a great deal. I actually mix it in my hands with my shine/smoothing/anti-frizz serum, which works much better for me than just applying it on its own. I’ve even found that my hair is smoother and softer when using this combo than when using just the smoothing stuff – amazing! I am a convert.

  • Amy in StL

    April 27, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Okay, I’ve been addicted to Pureology; but it is soooo expensive. Even for a salon product junkie like myself, it was the most money I’ve spent on a shampoo. (Especially after frying my hair with super white highlights; the nanoworks really helped bring it back from the brink) BUT; I just found Loreal makes a Pure line which is sulfate free and seems to work as well. And it’s only $8 at the drugstore. The volumizing works great and it smells nice and did I mention it’s less than half the price of Pureology?

  • Darcey

    April 28, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I’m going to 2nd Amy in StL’s recommendation of the L’Oreal Pure line. I was using the moisturizing version of it through the last parts of winter down here in Atlanta (dry, static-y hair!), and it helped keep my hair soft and static-free. I’ve since switched to the Volumizing version, as the Spring/Summer is starting to creep in and the extra humidity will lend itself to keeping my fine hair flat and blah.
    I love the feel of it, the fact that it doesn’t weigh down my hair, but provides enough moisture that my bangs don’t go all wonky on me.
    Also, I know I’ve said this before, but instead of a serum for shine/smoothing, I’ve been using Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship leave-in conditioner after I’ve gotten the excess moisture out of the hair, and that helps with the smoothness and my stylist even commented on how much healthier my hair has been looking!