A haircare routine is no longer defined by a mere shampoo and conditioner – a leave-in treatment if you were lucky. Gone are the days of a simple lather-and-go, haircare can now involve almost as many steps as a skincare routine (read: A LOT). But how do you make ends and tails (and roots) of it all?

Here, superstar colourist and owner of Sydney’s premier salon QUE Colour, Monique McMahon, deciphers those curious products that sit on the hair shelves. Plus, how to use them.

“I love a hair balm for so many reasons; it’s universal in its use. My favourite way to use it is just on the ends, especially on curly hair, to control the frizz,” says McMahon. “It smoothes, hydrates and softens, but also defines curls. Curls, particularly Afro curls, need the management; so many of my curly clients have been using mousse for years, which is full of alcohol and leaves the curl crunchy and dehydrated.” But not all balms were created equal. “A balm, like the Christophe Robin one, has no alcohol in it, so the curl has flexibility and touchability – it’s not crisp. Use it as finishing product – on dry hair to define and nourish. It’s also totally amazing for men as their styling balm.”

Christophe Robin Intense Regenerating balm with rare prickly pear oil, $51. shop now

Is it a shampoo? Is it a mask? “It’s both!” declares McMahon. Christophe Robin’s Cleansing Mask is a shampoo with a superhero cape. “The natural lemon zest will gently cleanse the scalp while the lengths and ends are deeply nourished like a mask.”

Christophe Robin Cleansing Mask with lemon, $61. shop now

“This is a great detoxifying treatment to cleanse the scalp of flakes and oil; it leaves the hair full of volume and cleaner for longer.” says McMahon. But does this souped-up shampoo replace your normal shampoo? “No,” she declares. “The Hair Scrub replaces your normal shampoo once a week, and use your everyday shampoo alternately. It sits beside your ordinary shampoo.” Full of pure rock salts, “you will feel a gentle exfoliation on the scalp as it detoxifies the scalp of product build-up, dry shampoo, oiliness, dryness and dead skin.” And according to McMahon, it’s perfect for this time of year (read: ice cold). “My clients adore this shampoo in the change of season and winter months, as it manages any little flakes we all seem to get in the winter and when the season changes.” Like a shampoo, but even more hard-working.

Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt, $67. shop now