As with everything in life, if you want to be the best, you have to master the basics. It makes sense that when it comes to your hairstyle, you’ve got to start small before you create Pinterest-worthy looks. For a complete education on styling your own hair, you’re going to want to get your hands on The Art of Hair ($12) by New York hairdresser Rubi Jones. This gorgeous book covers everything from how to stock your product drawer to how to create 40 different types of ponytails, buns, braids, twists and curls. We chatted with Rubi about the building blocks of a great coif — figuring out what products, tools and styles work for your hair type.

The Art of Hair Cover

Find the Right Products for Your Hair

Anyone who’s used the complimentary toiletries at a hotel knows that products are so not one-size-fits-all. “I would always invest in shampoo, conditioner, a flat iron, at least one good brush and a professional blow dryer,” Rubi suggests. “My favorite styling products vary in price range, and my favorite curling irons are only $30, but skimping on the products and tools above makes a huge difference in your hair.” To determine what products are best for you, Rubi says you need to pay attention to what works with your natural texture instead of fighting against it. For some, the other “must-have” tools might be a large detangling comb, a Mason Pearson brush and a blow dryer — but for you, it may just be coconut oil on your own two hands.


Learn How to Blow out Your Own Hair

We know what you’re thinking: I can never blow out my hair as well as my hairdresser can! True, it’s tricky, but Rubi swears you can get very close to a salon-quality blowout by following two essential rules: 1. Get yourself a good blow dryer and hang on to the included nozzle. 2. Pre-dry your hair. “Pre-drying is essentially doing most of the drying without a brush — and no, it doesn’t involve flipping your head upside down! You use the brush to smooth and finish or to add a wave.”

Rubi Jones

Take the Time to Find an Exceptional Stylist

One of the other essential investments you need to make is in a good cut and color. “A good haircut is the foundation for good hair,” Rubi attests. “You could be doing everything else right, but if your cut isn’t the best, it will show. Finding a good hairstylist is like dating — invest the time in finding the best person for you and your hair.” We all know how hard it is to find The One, so we’re following Rubi’s helpful tips on finding the stylist of your dreams.

Protect Your Locks With Prep + Braids

There are 11 unique braid tutorials in The Art of Hair, so it’s not a surprise to hear that Rubi loves braiding her hair. She says it’s a great way to give your hair a break from all that styling or get it through the growing-out phase — she’ll leave a braid in for days! But if your hair woes include breakage and brittle ends from too much heat styling, it might be because of how you’re doing your hair, not how often you’re breaking out the flat iron. “The problem is usually not using any product before styling to protect your hair from the heat,” Rubi tells us. “You want to layer product into your hair at every styling step, instead of using them to lacquer your hair into place at the end. It will result in less heat to achieve your style and more long-lasting looks.”


Don’t be Afraid to Experiment

Mastering The Art of Hair may sound a little serious, but Rubi emphasizes that hair is meant to be FUN, and she loves that people are trying new looks these days. In line with her advice about products that work with your hair, she’s noticed that more and more people are embracing their natural hair. “I like that most people have put down the flat iron. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good flat iron, but the super flat ‘00s hair kind of became a crutch for a lot of people with frizz or curls.” As a bonus, Rubi shared with us her steps for getting an incredible, retro blowout.

Art of Hair Baltimore Blowout

Whether you’re rocking those natural curls or are looking for ways to add va-va-voom height to your fine hair, be sure to pick up The Art of Hair and get styling!

What hairstyle would you love to master? Tell us your faves in the comments!

(Photos via Agnes Thor and Alpha Smoot. Illustrations via Samantha Hahn.)