As a haircare junky I enjoyed this book very much, the problem with the reviews is that they become out dated very quick.
And I don't agree with Paula on everything she writes.
I know everyone has different hair, but I just do not think drugstore products are as good as salon products. I have used Goldwell and Redken products my entire life and they are wonderful. I could not imagine buying a $3 bottle of suave and getting the same results. I have short hair that is colored every six weeks by a stylist. Sorry Paula I have to disagree with this book!
If you hate Paula's cosmetics book, you'll hate this one even more. For one thing, hair type: Yes, she does describe six or seven different hair types. But determining your own hair type from reading this book is way too confusing. She needs illustrated examples of each, because your idea of "slightly dry hair" or "normal to fine hair that is dry to very dry" may very well differ from Paula's. And there are products that work for me, yet are recommended for different hair types. In other words, I fit more than one of her hair descriptions. She also states that some styling products are heavy, yet I've tried some of them and they're not heavy even in the slightest.
She also seems to swear by the idea that high end and low end hair care products have little difference in terms of quality. In my opinion, it depends what hair type you have. If you have low maintenance hair that rarely ever frizzes up, lucky you! But personally, I have wavy hair that gets frizzy very easily (AKA: problem hair), and I can count on one hand the number of drugstore products that have performed well for me according to HER recommendations. Even throughout this book, there are very few drugstore shampoos and conditioners that are labeled for my hair type, but a million useful options in Paula's salon product reviews, which in a way contradicts her statement about similarities between drugstore and salon products. For hair like mine, some of us NEED to venture outside the drugstore. It's not about prestige, it's about finding hair care that works.
And even within the recommendations that are touted as good for me to use, I still have to weed out products because some will just not have any effect on my hair, and then there's some that well but give me extreme grease buildup at my roots.
Another thing: Paula says not to go cheap on your haircuts (along with the hair board), stating that very few women look good with 20-dollar haircuts, and that you should pay more for a skilled stylist. I know that she doesn't mean go out and get a $700 hair cut, but I think she mentioned $50 being reasonable. I strongly disagree with this. For one, I get my hair trimmed about every six weeks. I'm not paying fifty dollars for just a half-inch trim, unless you want to pay my salon bill for me! For a new look, I'll go to and spend that much for the initial cut to make sure the stylist knows what they're doing, but for maintenance I find that good old Supercuts works just fine. And no, I've never run home crying afterward! In fact, I've had spendier trims where the stylist left me a bit lopsided!
As far as irritants: Again, some things irritate me and others don't. It's a very individual thing. See my review of her cosmetics book.
She also states that you don't have to use a product with it's matching shampoo or conditioner, since that doesn't matter to your hair. I've been following this advice for years, and I still haven't found something that I'm totally happy with. And even if something worked for me at first, it's stopped working for me by now. Ie: Pantene conditioners. I used to swear by them after reading this book, but they always work like this for me: They'll work great at first, then my hair gets used to them and I'm a big frizzy mess, no matter how often I clarify. I think from now on, I'm going to start using matching products together rather than separately.
I would say take this with a huge grain of salt, but this book isn't even good for that. Don't even bother purchasing this one! continued >>
There is far more general information in here than in her cosmetics book, information that is interesting to read. There is a lot of information on hair structure, some interesting tidbits on company histories and explanations of types of hair care ingredients and what they do. The problem is that it’s often difficult to tell where the facts end and her skewed opinions begin. So while the hair book doesn’t SEEM as bad as the cosmetic book, it’s actually worse because you can’t tell facts from advice that will make your hair fall out.
Comrade Begoun thinks we should avoid salons at almost any cost, use cheap hair care products , and once again she is the only thing standing between me and big bad corporations. Using a salon brand is for purposes of prestige only, since she rates them on ingredients alone rather than results. Former residents of the Soviet Union will find themselves waxing nostalgic for the days of standing in line for toilet paper and bread as they read through this 700 page infomercial for Pantene, L’Oreal drugstore products and Exxon. The insanity of rating products on ingredients alone continues in this book. Just because L’Oreal owns Kerastase doesn’t mean that their drugstore product is as good as their salon product. She totally lost me when she claimed that the effects of Joico K-Pak Deep Penetrating Reconstructor can be reproduced by mixing mineral oil with your regular conditioner. I mean, where does she come up with this stuff? Is there a monkey pulling random ideas out of a hat for her to use?
The way she talks about waiting between perming and coloring is irresponsible. Of course double processing will damage your hair, but the reason for waiting is for the chemicals from the first procedure to dissipate, for less damage and perhaps avoiding a disaster. People will read this and run with it, perming and coloring on the same day & possibly end up with green, straw-like hair, or even bald. She encourages people to do their coloring at home, and I am all for a do it yourself job that comes out great. But the fact is that most home jobs do not turn out well due to a lack of skill, and then people end up at the salon anyway. Encouraging people to mix hair colors at home is reckless considering most of the people who take her advice have no experience doing it.
Her disdain for salons and professional stylists is very apparent in spite of her claims that she loves them and the services they provide. Always call the professionals, folks. If you call Comrade Begoun after you’ve dunked your head in mineral oil and botched your home color job, all you’re going to get is a re-direct to her websites and HER OWN LINE OF HAIR CARE PRODUCTS. Granted, she has only two choices for hair, but in the People’s Republic of Follicular Equality, what did you expect? She says hairstylists can’t be relied on for accurate information because they are trained by hair care companies, and because they don’t do complicated analyses of product ingredients. I don’t know about HER stylist, but mine was trained at a beauty school. Second, it’s true—they don’t do detailed ingredient analyses—because they don’t HAVE to. They are **familiar** with ingredients, but they also USE the products EVERY DAY on all kinds of hair, including their own. My stylist knows what shampoo will fade my hair and what won’t, the best protection for heat styling, the hair spray with the best hold, and what treatment will really help prevent split ends and breakage.
If I took everything she said seriously, I’d be huddled in a corner thinking my hair will fall out if I move or touch it. I can’t blow-dry it, towel-dry it, brush it, heat style it, wash it, perm it, color it— the tone of the book is enough to make you want to shave you head and forget about it. Everything, even good personal hygiene, damages hair. While much of this is true to an extent, the book makes it sound like your hair will fall out if you look at it funny. She makes it sound like taking vitamins for hair is an exercise in futility, that internal factors have nothing to do with the condition of your hair, but contradicts herself later in the book. After a point the contradictions and absurd statements will make you go cross-eyed.
I will say that the chapter on African hair was interesting, and I don’t think it was at all racist. When she said, “the natural state of black hair is currently not an acceptable fashion statement for women of color,” I think she meant that it’s society in general that for whatever reason finds it unacceptable. The statement needed clarification, and I blame the editors for not catching this. If nothing else, she has sparked an interest in me to learn more about African hair, but it’s not enough to save this book from becoming another complete waste of time for any purpose other than entertainment. Keep it on your fiction shelf, and get hair advice from someone who has actual credentials.
This is a very informative book. Like her other books, it is well-researched and exposes many hair myths. It covers the following topics:
- scalp facts
- effect of the sun, humidity and other conditions on hair
- damaged hair
- hair growth
- hair transplants
- hair colouring
- the different types of shampoos and conditioners
- scalp problems including dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, seborrhea, psoriasis
- perms and relaxers
- thermal hair straightening
- hair styling
Paula also reviews many brands and lists about 15 or so of best products in each of the categories for the various hair types, categorised into two price categories.
I took one lippie off since I disagree with many of her reviews (I have tried many of the hair care products she has recommended and found that they are not very good and thought some of the products she did not rate highly were effective).
I bought the 3rd edition when it first came out, so the reviews weren't outdated like they are now. It was worth purchasing because I learned some important things about haircare formulations. For example, it is good to avoid drying surfactants (such as many of the sulfates) in shampoo. Since I have fine hair, I also avoid things that might build up and weigh down my hair, such as silicones and film-formers (e.g. acrylates, etc.) in shampoos. I've also learned to avoid two particular ingredients: ammonium xylenesulfonate (a very drying solvent, which is particularly prevalent in drugstore products) and sodium polystyrene sulfonate (which is very drying and can even strip hair color). And I learned that after swimming, I should use a product with disodium EDTA or tetrasodium EDTA to remove minerals. Now that Paula has taught me to read ingredients lists, I don't find her reviews to be a necessity, except that it's nice to know how much hold a particular styling product actually has (since labels are not at all accurate or consistent).
I don't always agree with Paula, however. For example, she seems to see no reason to purchase salon products instead of drugstore ones, but I cannot find a decent shampoo or leave-in conditioner at the drugstore. Paula also sings the praises of silicones, but these cause nothing but limp trouble on my fine straight hair, and I know many curly-haired people on the MUA haircare board also dislike silicones. Overall, this book was worth purchasing once, but if she comes out with a 4th edition, I doubt I'll purchase it.
My hairdresser recently introduced me to this hot/cold hair treatment that first steam your hair with hot oil and then freeze them up. Expensive. And after reading this book? I know I am not going to do it again. Goodbye to expensive shampoo also!
This book is an interesting read. I am amazed that companies keep putting harsh ingredients in hair care products. I recommend that everyone read this book and take the information with a grain of salt. I might a bit dated, but it's still an interesting read.
As a hairdresser this is a fun book to read. Quite a lot of info in this book, but the cosmetic book is better...She say that most schampoos are all the same,cheap or expensice (if you read the INCI-list maybe)and work the same, but most of us know that it isnīt true. We have all tested hairproducts that dont work and work... The best in the book is that she says what schampoos that can cause buildups...Fun to read but thatīs it...
I don't know why I love to read this book. The truth is that I disagree with practically everything she says. Paula basically dislikes any products that are expensive. Although I wish I didn't need to spend a lot on hair care products, and I do admit to being a bit of a product junkie, I am a firm believer that drug store brands in general do not make my hair look as good as salon brands. I also think it is important to try different products to determine what works for you. That said, I bought this book and still refer to it constantly! But all in all, I feel that MUA is THE best source for beauty product advice. It has never steered me wrong and has introduced me to many products that I never would have tried on my own.