Get The Gloss' beauty director, SJ writes a love letter to L’Oréal Pli - the most unknown yet iconic hair product in existence and gets top stylists to share why they love it so much too.

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When I started reporting backstage at fashion shows over 15 years ago there was one product that I would find on every hairstylist’s workstation: L’Oréal Professionnel Pli, £13.50. This may not sound that remarkable, a bit like saying that back then every makeup artist only used Mac Face And Body Foundation, £24 which was very much true. But there is something that sets Pli apart from a lot of other products out there; even when there has been so much development in styling formulations, textures and capabilities, Pli has remained completely unchanged (apart from some pretty unnoticeable packaging tweaks) and is still as sought after as ever by the pros. 

It's a heat-protector, style holder, smoother, hair reviver all in one. If you blow-dry your hair, you need this. Adam Reed, hairdresser to celebs such as Ellie Goulding and Madonna says of Pli: “It is my ‘go to’ kit bag favourite for creating red carpet looks – it sets the foundation for great hair. A hairstyle without Pli is like a house with no walls, it’s just not going to work. I spray it into damp hair generously before blow-drying and it gives shape and memory to the hair to hold any look. Think of it as a primer for hair.”

“Pli is a very universal product and that’s why it’s used by every stylist,” adds celebrity hairstylist, Luke Benson. “To the point where I’ve known stylists that aren’t meant to use Pli (because they are being paid by another hair brand to use their products) and they will tape up their bottle so it’s unrecognisable and use it at fashion shows or events!” Such is the reliability and versatility of Pli.

But there’s a high chance you’ve never seen it, tried it or even know what I’m talking about. And this also adds to its slight allure I think. This is a product that was very much created for professionals and designed to be used solely in the professional arena. It has managed to maintain quite an underground, but at the same time, mass following - for those in the know. And that’s something that I’ve always personally loved about Pli. 

More now than ever where we all know too much about everything and are constantly being bombarded with more newness that’s being tipped as being better than anything out there. Pli silently sits there, being brilliant without shouting about it. It is - let’s be honest - a fairly dull-looking product. It doesn’t have a whizz-bang advertising campaign, there’s no celebrity face but it’s so good that I’ve heard it cited by stylists as being their ultimate desert island product. But hardly anyone uses it at home.

Why is this? Back in the day, it was definitely because, as a ‘normal human being’ you simply couldn’t get your hands on it. Not through lack of supply but more because it was only stocked by professional trade shops. I only managed to buy my first bottle back in the early 2000s by trekking to a hair warehouse in Watford with a hairdresser friend with me. I may have even had to pretend that I was too a hairdresser to get some, my memory is sketchy on that part.

Fast forward to today and our shopping habits have changed and the world has opened up, L’Oréal Professionnel Pli is now available everywhere and it sits in a very crowded and saturated market. There are products that are similar to Pli. It is, essentially, a blow-drying and styling spray - nothing new there - and there are lots that have far sexier packaging, designer scents infused in the formula and huge commercial spends put behind them. But L’Oreal Pli stands strong because nobody can copy it exactly. The formulation is owned by the L’Oreal group and this is one of the times that they truly put out the best version of a product from the get-go. No updates or software improvements required (if only Apple could take note) because you can’t improve on what is already deemed by the professionals, as perfect.

Can you use L’Oreal Pli on dry hair?

Sort of, yes. You can spray it onto dry hair, but you would want to use heat to activate it otherwise your hair will be left feeling quite sticky and crunchy. But if you spray it on two or three-day-old hair and then blow-dry, you will give your hair shape again.


How do you use L’Oreal Pli: by the experts

Quite simply, spray it on damp hair and then blow-dry away as you would do normally. It contains polymers that are heat-activated so you have to blow-dry your hair to get it to work properly. The polymers then mould onto the hair providing heat protection but also creating ‘style memory’ so as you style your hair it will stay in the position you put it in. There is also de-frizzing and static ingredients in there so hair looks smoother.

Here is how and why some of our favourite hairstylists use it.

Celebrity hair stylist, Lewis Pallett who tends to the hair of Emma Thompson and Hannah Wadingham says: “I started out in a very small salon where I did a lot of shampoo and sets on more mature ladies and Pli was my go-to product for that look because it’s amazing for keeping a style in place so as well as being a product I have in my kit now, I will always have a huge feeling of nostalgia for it. It’s one of the few products that I’ve continued to use throughout my career and I use it on a lot of my celebrity clients and for photoshoots because it is so reliable. It’s the perfect product for when you want to create that full-on, polished blow-dry look or as a styling spray before tonging hair. It holds the hair in place without feeling sticky or crunchy and I love the smell of it too.”

Luke Benson has tended to the hair of people like Carey Mulligan and Liam Payne. He says of Pli: “it can be used for anything. A light mist on someone with finer hair before blow-drying or you can apply a more generous amount on normal to thick hair. You can even saturate the hair, hold it with clips and let it set to provide an amazing wet look but solid structure. The trigger nozzle is also a game-changer! Pli does it’s job and it’s perfect.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Buy  L’Oréal Professionnel Pli now