WHOEVER said “if your hair doesn’t look good, you don’t look good” was so right. As with skincare, we asked our readers for their take on the products/tools/treatments they use to make their mane look its best. Not all hair is created equal, of course, but this summer’s endless rainy days have been challenging to frizz-prone tresses. Most of us manage the wildness with sprays and oils and such; some resort to keratin. Whatever the weather, color, we can agree, is a must, although one of you said she’d have to be drugged to consider dyeing her hair; another recently let her thick, dark hair go silver. When the occasion demands or just because, nothing beats a visit to the hair salon, but in the meantime, we’ll fluff and/or tame with our mousses, conditioners, sprays, brushes and hair dryers. Here’s a look at our particular poisons, er, products.
As for me, I shampoo every few days or so with drugstore brands (e.g., L’Oreal Everpure), although occasionally I’ll splurge on something like Pureology. I use only sulfate-free varieties because they don’t fade color as much. I’m not a big fan of conditioner because no matter how little I apply, it makes my hair fall flat. I do use It’s a 10 Leave-In Product to style my waves, although I’m not sure it helps. And in between color/highlights (about once every six weeks), I use Color Wow, which helps disguise my gray roots. I’m not much on tools, although I do have a curling iron—used about three times in four years. Mostly, I let my hair air-dry. To battle frizz, I blot my wet head with an old T-shirt.
I color my hair every three weeks. It costs a fortune but otherwise it looks horrible. I’m finding more hairs in the drain after I shampoo, which makes me crazy! I don’t want thinning hair, so I am careful what I use and absolutely NO SULFATES. I shampoo every other day. My favorite shampoo is NATU, which happens to be made by two of my college classmates who were in the beauty biz before. It is sold on Amazon and has no chemicals at all and smells wonderful, plus it really cleans your hair and suds without sulfates. I must use conditioner (Humectress by Nexis is good) on my ends every shampoo or my hair is like straw. I also sometimes use the L’Oreal Everpure shampoos and conditioners for colored hair and they are cheap and good from CVS. In this damp weather my hair goes wild, so I need something to tame it. Sometimes I use Pantene mousse, and I splurge on the Kerastase Discipline Anti Frizz Smoothing Spray ($37) in the summer, but it lasts for three months. I like The Wet Hair Brush and have several sizes for general brushing (the mini is great for purses). I use a blow dryer and round brush, but I recently bought a Conair Pro Ceramic Hot Air Brush and have been afraid to try it. Does anyone use one?
LittleBird Nancy McKeon
Jura, I just bought one of those! (it arrived today.) But I got the Infiniti Pro from Conair because it has two brush attachments (two sizes). I’m afraid to use it, too! I guess we’ll both find out.
I use the Keratin by Coppola shampoo and conditioner because I get keratin treatments. I really don’t need any products for after shower with the keratin in my hair. I only shampoo twice a week, and if I have no need to look “fantastic,” I let my hair dry naturally and then use a flat iron. If I really want to look good, I blow dry with a very hot, professional-caliber blow dryer.
To give body to mostly flat, mostly straight, mid-length hair that’s also thinner than it used to be, I swear by Oribe products (Gold Lust shampoo, dry texturizing spray that’s kind of like dry shampoo, Grandiose Mousse (seriously) and Free Styler hair spray. I’m a fan of the Dyson Hair Dryer, which won’t fry your locks.
I basically don’t believe that high price equals better quality with most hair care products anyway, which dovetails nicely with my frugality. I have hopefully tried organics and sulfate-free, but if it’s possible for hair to look groatsy, those do it. Occasionally, I find a 75% off bonanza of Nexus or Redken or other high-end brand, which makes me feel classier but my hair doesn’t look or feel any better for it. Typically, I use up a stockpile of bargain-bin Herbal Essence and am quite happy with it. My hair is thick and willful, so mainly I’m trying to get it to calm the f… down with rich coconut or nut-butter conditioners. If it’s a day for really caring what I look like, I run a few drops of Moroccan Oil through, or a lovely, fragrant, softening leave-in with the over-written name of Herbal Essences The Sleeker The Butter Smooth & Creamy Hair Milk—which seems to have been discontinued, a frequent hazard of shopping closeouts. Maybe a minute or two of blow drying if I need to look especially presentable, but mostly air-dry, and then after catching sight of myself, possibly going back for more Moroccan Oil. Oh, and color: partial highlights two to three times a year, that’s it.
MyLittleBird’s Mary Carpenter:
I get low lights two times a year and all-over color every two months or so. In between I use Everpure Color Care (L’Oreal) conditioner, and for leave in: Moroccan Oil, and a tiny bit of It’s A 10 Leave-in. For shampoo, about once every 6 days or so: Aveeda Color Care or just L’Oreal shampoo. If I don’t use conditioner every time my hair gets wet, it feels crackly. I don’t brush or comb my hair. When things look terrible, I use hot rollers but only if the weather is guaranteed to be dry—so only in the dead of winter—because once rolled, if it gets damp, it’s a disaster.
So, I have invested a ton in hair products, and find that they all seem kind of the same. When my hairdresser sold me Oribe, I bought it. When the salon changed to R+Co, well, I changed, too. That said, I have found the expensive products work as well as those I buy at Target, which is to say, not that well at all. With my almost shoulder-length, thin, colored hair, I spend way too much time trying to thicken, de-frizz, straighten or wave it. It looks great after a blowout, but then I can never seem to come close to being satisfied when I try to make it perform.
I use Kevin Murphy cream rinse/conditioner when I get it – at the hairdresser. I use a drop(s) of Rusk Thick on my hair prior to drying – also purchased from hairdresser—but even with my very thick hair it helps to smooth it. I also use Goldwell Kerasilk Anti Frizz and the Smoothing Lusterizer by TIGI prior to drying. I have keratin on my hair from spring through summer—try to avoid in winter–just because –but could use it now again. I use all these products year-round. I’m not thrilled with Sake Bomb shampoo from DryBar and won’t get it again. I do use Drybar’s 100 Proof after drying, also to keep the frizz at bay.
Compared to my face routine, my hair care is spartan. Not to say I don’t use stuff, just not nearly as much. I have very thick, very wavy hair, but it doesn’t wave nicely. Therefore, under my bathroom sink are two of those organizer baskets full of defrizzers, straighteners, masks, etc., almost none of which really work. I also let my hair go gray two years ago, so I have leftover root cover up stuff, too. My current go-tos are a moisturizing shampoo, currently a Pureology liter which is also for color care. My conditioner is something I ran into at Ulta and found on sale: AG Hair Care Sterling Silver Conditioner. This is a beautiful lapis blue, which I leave on for a good three minutes while I wash the rest of me, to make sure the gray/silver doesn’t turn yellow. I just wring out most of the wet, then section and smooth in Moroccan Oil while my hair is still wet. I read somewhere that putting product on while hair is still pretty wet prevents using too much, and also works itself in better. After that I wrap my hair in one of those Aqua towel turbans until ready to blow dry. Since I’ve never mastered the hair dryer and brush at the same time thing, I blow it dry using my fingers to straighten as much as possible. If I don’t need to look professional right away, I’ll wrap it in a bun or braid it for a few hours and it comes out OK. Otherwise, once dried all the way I’ll use my Harry Josh flat iron— the best of my collection. I bought it for half price during a Dermstore sale. My hairbrush is an old Mason Pearson, which is still great and I love. As for other tools, because I have a frizz/wave problem, I ordered one of those new heat brushes which are supposed to straighten while you dry. It was awful and was sent back. A flat iron is the only thing that works for me at home. Otherwise, when there’s something important, like a wedding, I pay for a wonderful blowout. Nothing like having someone else wash your hair and blow it out.
I’m too cheap and impatient for salons—to the extent that I cut my own below-shoulder-length hair and only go in for an annual pruning (no blow-dry; I can’t sit still that long). Forget coloring, I’d have to be drugged. And I don’t like roots, so no permanent stuff. My hair is about 30% gray, coming in rather well I think, streaking up my basic brown. But it’s a little dull with nothing. John Frieda has a line of shampoos and conditioners called Visibly Deeper, which I get in brown. This gives the grays and the browns a hit of color, like highlights. Unfortunately, it’s been harder and harder to find. I add argan oil to tame it and then more if it’s continuing to misbehave. And coconut oil mashed in if I’m desperate. If all fails, I put it up. I haven’t brushed it in years, so I don’t have split ends. Gave my fancy Mason Pearson brush to my daughter, with some of my hair so she can have me cloned if need be.