I have an updated hair care routine for summer to share today. Since moving to Florida I’ve been struggling for months to find a good shampoo + conditioner combo. The water here is so different from California and even with a filter in the home, many shampoos and conditioners simply don’t rinse or lather the same. I’ve tried a lot of my tried and true favorites alongside probably at least 15 other formulas and it’s been a real challenge to find something that works. Also with the heat, humidity, chlorine and salt my hair behaves differently. It gets dried out easily but the humidity also means sweat and oils surface so it feels like everything is just a hot mess. For a quick recap on my hair – I have long thick frizz-prone hair. It’s never been colored or highlighted (at least not yet). Many of the styling product favorites remain the same. My current favorites right now listed below.
Shampoo, Conditioners and Rinses
Molton Brown Inspiring Basil and Vetiver Shampoo and Conditioner ($30 each for 10 fl oz) is part of a limited-edition collection Molton Brown created for the Seabourn cruise line. This is my current holy grail duo. I’ve tried at least a dozen other brands and formulas over the past months and nothing compares to this duo for a good wash. It cleanses and leaves the hair feeling super soft and naturally shiny. It has a very soothing soft natural scent. I’m a bit upset it’s limited-edition as I’d love to keep repurchasing this for like FOREVER. I’m stocking up so I’ll be able to have this for a while. The entire Molton Brown x Seabourn Collection is amazing. I highly recommend you check it out.
Oribe Cleansing Creme for Moisture Control ($46 for 8.5 oz) isn’t shown because I’ve run out twice since moving to Florida. It was a favorite in California and is still a favorite here in Florida. I use this about 2 to 4x a week switching it out for regular shampoo/conditioner. It’s perfect to restore dry hair to a more natural balanced state.
Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo ($22 to $44) is something I keep in purse occasionally in the smaller size as a refresher. I wash my hair everyday, sometimes twice a day – it’s something I’ve always done and with the summer humidity I think it’s an absolute must. I tend to use dry shampoo as a refresher to absorb oil if I’ve been out for a while and don’t have time to go home to wash it (ie mid-day). There’s really nothing that will fix extreme humidity or wet hair from being rained on, but I find this is a pretty good fix to refresh hair. Back in San Diego there were occasions I did skip a day of washing here and there. This is my go-to for a dry shampoo. It doesn’t have a white cast and as someone with dark hair I really hate any that make my hair look dusty, ashy or grey.
MarulaOil Rare Oil Style Extending Primer ($30 for 130 ml) this is a primer spray that’s designed to extend the life of your hair styling. It smooths and primes the hair for heat styling. On me it works to detangle wet hair. I like the way it smells and it keeps hair looking smooth and frizz free all day even with humidity.
Christophe Robin Hydrating Leave-In Mist with Aloe Vera ($39 for 150 ml) is a light detangling spray with the most amazing natural soothing scent. It really does work well as a detangler. I have a slight preference for this over the MarulaOil one although they have a similar effect.
Oils and Creams
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Blow Dry Beautifier Thermo BB Serum ($39 for 150 ml) is another favorite right now. I reviewed this back in June alongside the BB Cream. Both are really good lightweight primers for heat styling or air drying. They help keep shape but in a natural looking way. If you’re familiar with Shu Uemura Art of Hair these both have a similar effect to the Satin Design Polishing Milk but have a lighter finish/feel. If you’re more of a spray person I’d recommend the Wonder Worker. You really can’t go wrong with any of them – they’ve all performed extremely well for me as multi-tasking preheat or post styling treatments. Right now I like the BB Serum the best.
Moroccanoil Treatment Light ($15 to $44 depending on size) is one of those versatile multi-taskers that great for anything. I can use this as a a styling or finishing product. I love both the regular and light version but for summer I’ve been loving this light one to add a natural shine. I can add it to clean towel-dried hair and just let it air dry. For heat treatment it helps protect the ends and keeps it looking nice and shiny.
Verb Ghost Oil ($14 for 2 oz) is another great lightweight oil. It smells fresh and light and won’t weigh down the hair. It comes with a pump (huge plus for me) and gives the hair a fluid soft sheen.
Ouai Rose Hair and Body Oil (miniature shown from Morning After Kit here and here, full size here) is something I reviewed a few months ago. I still love this for both body and hair. I like this on damp hair or on ends to add a bit of shine with a nice scent.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Hair Mist ($65 for 70 ml) is a beautiful hair perfume. After all these years of hair mists I still haven’t tried many as I’d rather just spray perfume in my hair. This has completely changed my outlook. This one is light and soft and alcohol-free. It’s a soft floral with a bit of citrus and musk and mists the hair in a fine veil of scent. Lasting power is quite good on me – I was able to smell it even in late afternoon.
In terms of styling tools, I still haven’t found a brush that I 100% love for function and looks. Right now I use a CHI Turbo Paddle Brush which I’ve had for years and is pretty worn down. If you have any ones you love let me know in the comments. For blow dryers my go-to’s are in this post and you can also see my hair type there as well.
That wraps up my summer hair care loves! What are your current favorites right now? If you can share your hair type as well that would be super helpful 🙂 If you live in Florida or have traveled here for an extended time I’d love to hear what you’ve used or use while here!
Press samples include the Shu Uemura BB Serum, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Hair Mist, Christophe Robin Volumizing Paste, Christophe Robin Leave-In Mist, Molton Brown Seabourn Collection.
Lately I’ve been obsessed with body oils for the lightweight dry down but moisturizing feel. My long-time favorites were from Nuxe, Caudalie and Moroccanoil. They’re lightly scented but not so heavy that they will interfere with my perfumes. Unfortunately Nuxe is no longer carried in the US and with the warm weather and beautiful beaches here I’ve been on the hunt for other options including wearable shimmers. There are a number of amazing body oils out there but the main requirement I have is that it comes with a pump or spritzer (of course I have made exceptions). To this day I don’t understand why companies make oils with open tops where liquid just pours out everywhere. It’s hard to control how much you apply, not to mention gets so messy. Product oozes down the sides of the jars and it really just seems so wasteful and inconvenient. Scent-wise I prefer ones that aren’t too floral, sweet or strong as they tend to interfere with the perfume of the day.
Up first are my favorites which are the clear options. As you’ll see below I’ve already made two exceptions for my packaging and scent requirements.
From left to right:
NARS Monoi Body Glow II ($59 for 2.5 fl oz/75 ml) is the best summer time oil because it smells like a vacation in a bottle. If this had a spritzer pump it would be perfect. It has Monoi de Tahiti oil with a tiare flower inside. It smells tropical and the scent lingers for quite a long time. The packaging is the only downside but it smells so good I’ve made an exception. It’s one I’ve used up quite a few times.
Moroccanoil Dry Body Oil ($48 for 3.4 fl oz/100 ml) is another favorite and it comes with a spritzer! This has the classic Moroccanoil scent with argan, olive and avocado oils. It’s a dry oil and has a nice dry down after a few minutes. This one has a very raw earthy vibe to it. I like that this one doesn’t have a greasy feel.
Ouai Rose Hair and Body Oil ($32 for 3 fl oz/98.8 ml) is the most fluid lightweight option I’ve tried. The full size is 3 fl oz, but it also comes in a mini 0.85 fl oz version in a set called The Morning After Kit. It has a very soft rose scent but it fades nicely after a few minutes. This one has a nice dry down and won’t interfere with perfume. It leaves the skin feeling very soft without any heavy feel.
Darphin The Revitalizing Oil ($ for 1.7 fl oz/50 ml) is one of the heavier body oils I’ve tried. It’s better suited for normal to dry skin or if you want a dewy finish on the skin. It has a very relaxing almost citrus scent to it, it’s not overpowering but definitely noticeable. I like this at night time if my skin feels dry, during the day in the humidity of Florida, this one can feel a bit heavy if I apply it all over. Also because it’s ultra nourishing it doesn’t really have a dry down which isn’t a bad thing – but if you need a lightweight one this may be too rich.
Next up are the shimmers. When it comes to tinted or shimmer options, I really prefer something that won’t stain white clothes so in this case I’ve tried to avoid any bronzer oils. For shimmer I also look for something that has a smooth non-gritty finish. These days I don’t mind extra sparkle but for the most part, I prefer a shimmer that is more subtle and barely there.
Shown above from left to right:
Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil ($98 for 3.4 fl oz/100 ml) this is one I bought when it first launched a year ago and I hated it. Mine was gritty and the shimmer was something I could feel. I gave it another try at my local store this year and it seems the formula has been changed to a completely smooth texture-free finish. I adore the Soleil Blanc perfume so I don’t mind the scented body oil version. This is the most sparkly one I can wear on a daily basis and not feel like it’s too much. The sparkles are noticeable though so if you work in a very conservative environment you may want to stick to the perfume or try the regular body oil version. This one has a super hydrating feel and finish. It has a light moisturizing feel without being greasy but on me it doesn’t dry down 100%.
La Mer Glowing Body Oil ($100 for 3.4 fl oz) is one that is nearly impossible to find. It sold out almost instantly and by the time I decided to splurge it was gone. I found it online when it popped back in stock at Nordstrom. It’s since restocked a few places but sold out again. This is one of the most beautiful body oils with a pretty subtle gold shimmer suspended. It has a very lightweight La Mer scent to it which I adore because the hand cream and body cream are too strong for me. The shimmer finish is very very subtle though – if you need the sparkle, opt for the Tom Ford Soleil Blanc instead even though the scent will be different. The La Mer Oil leaves the skin looking very soft and glowy.
African Botanics Marula Shimmering Gold Oil ($105 for 100 ml) is the best smelling oil I’ve tried that isn’t a perfumed/fragranced one. It’s infused with Marula Oil, Baobab Oil, Moringa Oil, Meadowfoam Oil, Kalahari Melon Seed, Neroli Oil, Gardenia and Magnolia. This one is my husband’s favorite. I walked by him after testing this one and he smelled it instantly and said it smelled amazing. It has a rich finish so doesn’t dry down like a dry oil. The gold shimmer is very subtle and almost disappears on the skin to leave a very fine shimmer.
French Girl Organics is an organic beauty line and the Lumiere Bronzing Oil and Lumiere Moonlight Oil caught my eye. Both have a super fluid texture. These come with dropper applicators and contain sunglower oil, argan oil, coconut oil and meadowfoam oil. The shimmer settles to the bottom so you shake up the bottles to mix it. They both have a very natural scent to them – one of the most natural I’ve ever tried. The pigments and shimmer are so subtle I cannot see anything on the skin, but legs and arms have a luminous glow which I think are mainly from the oil rather than the shimmer. Moonlight is scented with jasmin and neroli but smells identical to the bronzing one. They’re very hydrating and soothing. These are a bit hard to find right now. I ordered them direct from their website as they were sold out everywhere else I looked. You can find the bronze one at Beautyhabit still.
Darphin Soleil Plaisir Sultry Bronzing Oil ($55 for 1.7 fl oz/50 ml) is another beautiful shimmering body oil. I believe this one is new for summer. I picked this up at Bluemercury and fell in love at first swatch. It’s one of the softest white floral oils I’ve tried which is just so pretty. It’s not too strong or powdery like some white florals can get. It has a very hydrating feel like the Revitalizing option but isn’t sticky or greasy. It leaves a smooth veil of moisture on the skin and keeps it hydrated for hours after application. The shimmer is very subtle with a golden copper color so if you’re medium to tan or deep it doesn’t look like traditional gold shimmers.
For Bluemercury, with any $150 purchase and code TRAVEL you get a bag filled with minis
Swatches – note that these blend into the skin to disappear almost completely. The shimmers are very fine – on my medium tan skin, only the Tom Ford really stood out for the sparkles.
A few notes on formulas I tested in store but did not buy:
Bobbi Brown Beach is another amazing scented option. It smells just like a beachy scent would I found this option too strong for me as I really do like my perfumes. This one you could just wear on its own and smell great. It also does not have a spritzer which was a deal breaker for me.
Caudalie Divine Oil is still one I really like, I have a mini but just don’t reach for it as often as I used to.
Clarins has a number of great body oils all in the pour container. These had a more herbal scent to me. I tested all three at the counter and fell in love with the Contour Body Treatment Oil. If this had a different dispenser I would have bought it. However since I had already bought quite a few other formulas decided to pass.
Herbivore Botanicals Jasmine Body Oil was on my radar as I love the line – they have great body products. I was glad I tried this before jumping to splurge. If you love jasmine then you will love this. Since I prefer non-florals for oils I found this one too floral and passed.
L’Occitane Shea Fabulous Oil had all the things I wanted in an oil. It has great packaging and it smells great. I’ve tried this on numerous occasions though and it’s one that is just too heavy for my skin type. I suspect it would be amazing for me during the winter months or for those with dry skin. For me it was too rich and heavy feeling. If they come out with a lighter version I would definitely try it again.
In summary, thoughts and favorites:
My best body oil for summer for lightweight finish is the Ouai Rose Hair and Body Oil
Favorite shimmer options are the Tom Ford Soleil Blanc or Darphin Soleil Plaisir
Best smelling body oils are the NARS Monoi Body Glow, Tom Ford Soleil Blanc and African Botanics
Most hydrating and moisturizing oil is the Darphin Revitalizing Oil
Most natural smelling and naturally glowy oils are the ones from French Girl Organics
If I could only wear one for the rest of the summer, it would be Tom Ford Soleil Blanc
Many of these oils are multi-purpose so you can use a lot of these on the face and hair. I tend to keep things separate, so for the face I really prefer oils designed just for the face and same for the hair. Out of all the ones I tested I found each one left my skin feeling soft and well hydrated, some were just heavier than others in the dry down or finish. If you have any favorites or thoughts please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear what your favorite body oils for summer are!
Many of you have asked how I maintain my hair for that smooth and healthy shine so today I’m sharing some thoughts on hair oils and dryers I’ve put to the test. I’m always trying new things in hair care as I have thick and unruly hair that requires heat styling and product to smooth out the frizz. Over the years I have tried dozens of creams, sprays and oils over the years and my favorite items are the multi-tasking ones. In my experience creams are best for adding a bit more texture and shine, sprays are great to evenly disperse product through the hair and comb through, oils are a good in-between kind of option. Finding the right hair dryer can be tricky and take time. It took me a long time before I was willing to spend over $100 on one but doing so was life changing and worth every single penny. Even though a high price tag can be off putting, I would say don’t let the price tag scare you. There are a number of hair dryers that do make it possible to get a perfect salon quality blowout at home. Today I’ve teamed up with Sephora to share thoughts on three new-to-me hair oils and how they compare to some others I’ve tried. I was also able to put two hair dryers to the test and have a pros and cons list on each.
Up first is a look at some of the oils. Smell is extremely important to me as I have a sensitive nose and usually prefer something that isn’t too strong so it won’t interfere with my perfume of the day. In terms of texture I like oils that have more of a lightweight finish so it won’t weigh down my hair as the day progresses. Moroccanoil Treatment has been a long-time staple because it’s versatile and works every time without fail to help detangle and tame flyaways. I love the argan oil scent and it’s one that I can use without having to worry about it weighing my hair down. Thoughts comparing six different oils below.
Notes on each from left to right. Each brand describes the oils as multi-tasking oils and suitable for all hair types. I do find most of these versatile. Thoughts on each one below:
Ouai Hair Oil ($23 for 1.7 oz) is a lightweight oil designed to control frizz, nourish hair and protect hair from color fading. It is indeed a luxurious rich oil but comes with a floral scent that I’m not a huge fan of. It’s not a deal breaker for me but if it had a different scent I would reach for it more frequently. The best part of the oil is the packaging. It comes in a pretty package and the pump is well designed to dispense just the right amount of product.
Living Proof No Frizz Nourishing Oil ($38 for 3.4 oz) is described as a fast-absorbing oil and is designed for coarse hair. You can scroll down to the bottom of this post to see what my hair looks like with one drop. It’s described as a nourishing oil and for my hair it did add a nice healthy shine. It has that signature fresh scent all living proof hair products have but is light and doesn’t overwhelm you. Texture was easy to work through the hair – Living Proof has something they call OFPMA technology incorporated into this to block frizz and lower surface tension to help formula spread evenly. It does exactly what it claims without making the hair feel heavy. I did need to add one more pump after drying on the ends to help seal and smooth split ends.
Moroccanoil Treatment ($34 for 1.7 oz) is a classic I would say everyone should try, if you have thicker, dry or coarse hair. The only downside is that these do not come with a pump which would make application easier. After using this pre-heat treatment the hair is easier to manage as it acts as a detangler and hair is soft and shiny. It does work to strengthen the hair as well.
Moroccanoil Treatment Light ($34 for 1.7 oz) is similar to the regular one, if you have fine hair or oily hair, this will probably be the better option for you. For my thick hair this works just as well but has a noticeably lighter texture and finish. When I use this hair is light and fluffy but frizz-free. Both the oils cut down drying time with a dryer.
Madame C.J. Walker Beauty Culture Scent and Shine Coconut Oil ($26 for 1.7 oz) is a strongly scented oil that smells of sweet coconut and vanilla. I am normally not a fan of sweet scents for the hair but if you look at the reviews on Sephora there are a lot of other women who love it. This one has a thinner texture and absorbs quickly into the hair. For those with curly hair it’s supposed to maintain your curls but since I style my hair straight I can’t report on that aspect. As a finishing product it makes the hair ends look super healthy. If you like vanilla scents I think you will love this. For me it’s too strong to wear throughout the hair but I can apply it on the ends as a finishing product.
Verb Ghost Oil ($14 for 2 oz or $18 for this duo set) is one I bought a few weeks ago because I was researching hair products online and this looked really interesting to me. It’s a clear restorative oil with a moringa oil blend which is great for dry or damaged hair. It smells amazing – it’s hard to describe but I would describe it as fresh and lightweight. It is one of the best lightweight oils I’ve tried that really almost disappears into the hair as it absorbs quickly and blends nicely into the strands. It does what it claims: removes frizz, smooths hair and adds shine.
Next are three dryers from T3, ghd and Drybar. When it comes to dryers aside from overall performance I’m also concerned about noise level and weight. Since I have thick hair I sometimes dry my hair in sections or layers from the bottom to the top which takes extra time. Finding a dryer that isn’t too heavy is important so it doesn’t weigh down my arm. The noise level is something I take for granted until I use one in a hotel on a trip and realize how loud the motors are.
T3 PROi Professional Hair Dryer ($350) is the most expensive hair dryer I own and I’ve had for over a year now. It was in my top 2 dryers for giving my hair a salon quality blow out. It has a Tourmaline and Ceramic electric ionizer designed to emit negative ions and infrared heat to help seal ends and eliminate frizz. There are two nozzles with a wide and narrow tip that allow you to concentrate air in different ways. It truly does work to give you an amazingly smooth blowout. There are three heat setting options, a cool shot button and two speed settings which is great for those who want more control. The aesthetics and design are amazing. This is the prettiest dryer I own. I’ve tried a number of other T3 dryers and found them just ok but the PROi works a lot better than the rest. Even though it’s on the large side it isn’t too heavy. The noise level is low which makes it pleasant to use.
Two downsides include the size and dry time. This is a full size dryer which means it will take up a lot of counter or drawer space. It also means it’s not travel-friendly. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker but as someone who prefers tools that are more compact this is larger than I would like. Still it performs well and I’ve found space to store it. The other downside is dry time but I will say there is a trick to using this one. Most of the complaints I’ve seen online is that for the price this should cut down dry time but many have reported it does not. It has a powerful motor which does emit a lot of concentrated air but if you blow dry your hair from the time it is completely wet it will take extra time. The trick to cutting down dry time is to make sure your hair is towel dried and to rough the hair first. This may seem like an extra step but it will only take a few minutes and getting it roughly dried to about 80% as they recommend makes a huge difference for the remainder of the drying process. After rough drying divide the hair into sections and dry them with either of the nozzles. I’ve used this a number of ways and will say that I usually don’t mind how long it takes to dry my hair as long as the results are good. This one gives smooth frizz-free full looking hair every time.
ghd Air Professional Performance Hair Dryer ($199) is new to me and quite impressive. It’s smaller and more lightweight than the T3 but is the motor has a smoother quieter sound and yet emits a stronger feeling air stream by comparison. This one truly cuts hair drying time up to 2x faster like it claims. It has ionic technology to keep hair free from frizz and give a smooth finish. There are two heat settings plus a cool option, a cool shot button and two speed settings. The nozzle tips are skinnier which help force air into a more concentrated flow. Dry time is at most 10 minutes but I was able to cut it to down to 7 minutes from towel dried to completely dry. I can’t think of any cons with this one although the nozzles can be a bit hard to remove. Once they are on they are locked in pretty tight – but the upside is that they don’t move around easily if you run your hair through a stiffer brush.
Drybar Baby Buttercup Blow Dryer ($135) is one of the cutest hair tools I’ve seen. My husband actually bought me the full size Buttercup Dryer quite a few years ago and I liked it a lot but it took forever to get my hair dry with it. I’ve mentioned that long dry time isn’t a deal breaker but sometimes having something that gets the job done 2-3 minutes faster makes a huge difference. I was eager to see how the Baby Buttercup compared and think it’s better than the full size. It does have a louder motor compared to the T3 PROi or ghd air professional but it’s not too loud that it bothers me. Since this one is smaller and more compact they’ve combined the heat and speed settings into the same button. It’s a powerful one even though it’s small and dry time is pretty quick with this. I love that it folds into a compact size and comes with it’s own drawstring bag that says “I’m Full of Hot Air” which is perfect for travel. Performance-wise it’s a lot better than the T3 Featherweight Compact Folding Dryer which I bought a couple years ago but I know a lot of others really like that one. The Drybar Baby Buttercup has better drying power, cuts the drying time, doesn’t dry out the hair and gives a nice smooth blowout. The only downside is since it’s small the options for heat and speed are limited but that’s expected with the compact design. It gets the job done and is one I’ll be taking with me on my trip this upcoming week.
Blow out how-to before and after with the Living Proof No Frizz Nourishing Oil and ghd Air Professional Performance Dryer. Total time from towel-dried hair to a completely smooth blowout was around 8 minutes. For oils I usually apply 1 to 2 pumps from ends and work my way up. Note there are a number of ways to blow dry your hair. I often use clips to divide and section my hair but sometimes parting it without clips works too.
Wet hair and work oil from ends all the way throughout hair
Rough dry everything from the ends
Move the dryer to the roots and rough dry some more for a more textured layered look
Run a brush and dry in sections, I use a vent brush as most round brushes cause my hair to become static or frizzy
Use the cool shot to blow through everything to set
Finished blow out look, ends still need a bit of product to smooth but I wanted to show you how my hair looks right after drying with the blow dryer with a little bit of brushing
In terms of the three dryers I featured it’s hard to pick a favorite as they each have their own benefits. The T3 PROi performs well and gives amazing results but dry time can be longer than what you may want. The ghd Air Professional is one of the most powerful yet compact dryers I’ve tried and truly cuts down dry time while giving smooth looking hair. The Drybar Baby Buttercup is great for those who don’t need a lot of options for heat/speed and want something compact or travel a lot. If I could only have 1, I would say the ghd is what I’d gravitate towards for dry time although I really like the larger size of the T3 nozzles.
For oils I think finding the right one depends on your hair density, hair length and whether or not you color your hair. My personal favorites are still the Moroccanoil regular and light, but I’ve been really impressed with the ones from Living Proof and Verb.
I hope you found this review helpful! For haircare junkies there’s nothing quite that feeling of finding a great new styling tool. Having great looking hair can do wonders in confidence boosting and there are lots of products that can help. My hair when air dried is a disaster and most people think I have naturally good hair – it’s not the case. With the help of product and good heat styling tools my hair looks smooth and shiny. There are tons of options to choose from at Sephora and for the holiday there are lots of great value sets which will allow you to test things out at a more affordable price. If you have a favorite hair oil or dryer let me know in the comments. To this day I’m still trying to find the perfect brush for blow drying. If you have a favorite please let me know in the comments 🙂
This post was sponsored by Sephora. As always all opinions my own.
The holidays are approaching and if you’ve started to look for gifts I have a roundup of some super cute beauty gifts under $50. There are tons of great gift sets and minis at Nordstrom and I’ve teamed up with them to share some of my favorites. I like their site because it’s easy to shop their gift section and filter by pretty much any category like him, her, kids, home and also by price point.
Up first are some cute lip sets which I actually want to keep for myself. I love the minis because they’re a great way to try tons of colors, you can use them up quickly or you can split them up for stocking stuffers or little gift bags. Three that caught my eye include: the Clinique Tiny Temptations which as 20 minis of their Chubby Stick in the most adorable pink tin, Fresh Sugar Lip Charmers which has 4 mini lip balms, and the Fresh Sugar Bliss Cracker. There are tons of options from both brands under the $50 price point so I’ll link them below.
Kiehl’s always has the best skincare sets for both men and women. It’s one line my husband loves and he got into the line when I bought him a starter set a few years ago. Since then I’ve bought quite a few for him, my brother and my brother-in-law. This year they have great eye-catching packaging. I picked up the Jeremyville Healthy Skin For Him (it’s only $26) and also the Must-Haves Mini Masque Set. (I’m keeping the mask trio for me!) Sometimes finding universally appealing gifts are challenging. If you’re the type who wants to get multiples of the same sets for all your loved ones to make things easy, I really don’t think you can go wrong with Kiehl’s.
A closer look at the masks – have you tried these? I cannot wait to test them out!
Rounding up some more gift sets, all still under $50 although there are more options online at higher price points if you want to splurge 🙂
For the hair lover, two favorites are the Drybar and Moroccanoil. They have great minis and this year the Drybar has the Four-Pack with the Money Maker Hairspray, Sparkling Soda Shine Mist, Detox Dry Shampoo and Tripe Sec Spray. You can buy the minis separately (most of them start at $13 each) but the set gives you a price break with some savings. Moroccanoil has a cute mini Moroccanoil Ornament for $15. There are also some nice value gift sets this holiday. It’s my husband’s favorite line and one of mine as well. He likes it so much he uses the hydrating shampoo and conditioner to wash our dogs so they smell good (yes I’m horrified he does this!).
Jo Malone, Laura Mercier and Bobbi Brown all have great beauty gifts to choose from as well. Jo Malone always created the most elegant splurge gifts. Most are on the spendy side but there are a few options under $50, one is the Christmas Cracker Set which has a mini Mimosa and Cardamom Body Cream, Basil and Neroli Cologne, Blackberry and Bay Body Wash. For the vanilla or sweet scent lover, Laura Mercier has the Hand and Body Creme Collection for $32. This year’s set has Almond Coconut Milk Hand & Body Crème, Ambre Vanillé Hand & Body Crème, Crème Brûlée Hand & Body Crème and Tarte au Citron Hand & Body Crème. For the mascara lover Bobbi Brown Party All Night Duo has the No Smudge and Eye Opening Mascara. I love the Eye Opening one and wanted to buy it anyways to stock up so I picked up the duo to try the other one.
Last but not least MAC and Nordstrom have an exclusive Nutcracker Sweet Nude Mineralize Kit. It has a mini mineralize skinfinish, full size mineralize lipstick and lipgloss in a bright zipped makeup bag. My friends love MAC and a handful ask for something MAC-related every year for Christmas. There are tons of great options in makeup, sets, minis and brushes. This one is one of my favorites but if you’re a nude pink lip lover be sure to check out the Nutcracker Sweet Nude Lip Kit too.
That wraps up my Nordstrom Beauty Holiday Gift Picks for sets and minis under $50. If you’re shopping online don’t forget to check their Gift With Purchase page as it gets updated frequently. If you have any recommendations please let me know in the comments. Please note that I’m working to get the comment section up and working – my site is going through some updates this week and there are areas I’m working to get fixed. If you have issues – shoot me an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what errors if any you’re seeing.
Many thanks to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post!
As the weather shifts my skin has been in need of an extra hydration boost. The air is dry and I can definitely feel it as my arms and legs tend to get a little itchy when skin is dry. My skint ype is pretty much normal combination but I do have super sensitive skin – I’ve mentioned a number of times that I’m allergic to a number of things so I always patch test items before applying them all over. However as a beauty blogger it is my duty to try and test things to be able to see first hand how they work so I don’t mind an occasional reaction here and there. Many of you liked the Spring Skincare Favorites for Sensitive Skin so today I have a roundup of Beauty Look Book sensitive-skin approved products that will help with dry skin and add that extra boost of moisture for winter months.
Up first are some lip products I’ve been loving right now for dry lips. You can see a more detailed comprehensive Winter Roundup from 2015 if you want more options. The Armani Him/Her Lip Care are also great options for tinted unscented options.
Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfectors (c/o, all shades swatched here) and Instant Light Lip Comfort Oils (c/o, also reviewed here) are among my favorite for hydration and smooth coverage. They are scented though so if you’re super sensitive to fragrance you may want to smell first before buying – I am semi-sensitive to scent in lip products but love both. There are a number of holiday sets out so be sure to check them out (there’s also a few cute GWP options going on at Clarins). The Sweet Kisses Set has 3 lip oils at a value price, Clarins Kisses has minis of both formulas, XOXO, Clarins! has 3 full size Lip Perfectors at a good deal as well.
The Dior Addict Lip Glow Pomade has been a staple for hydration and smoothing lips. It gives instant relief for dry lips and really does work to help improve texture and look of the lips. I have two tubes because I want one at my desk and one to carry in my purse when I’m out and about.
The Lanolips 101 Fruities Duo in Strawberry and Peach are a Net-A-Porter exclusive and I cannot rave about them enough. They’re a thick but very smooth balm that feels incredible on the lips. I’ve never tried any other lip product that gives such a comforting hydrating feel like these do. The Strawberry option is also available at Ulta Beauty.
Up next are some hand cream favorites. I’m obsessed with hand creams of all kinds – I do prefer a smaller compact tube so it’s easy to carry with me and also because they take up less space whether it’s on my nightstand, clutch, purse or drawer. Molton Brown is always a good option for me as I love the lightweight feel and they absorb quickly. Coco and Sandalwood (c/o) and Pink Pepperpod (c/o) are my favorites but I’ve tried them all and they are ALL amazing options. (I buy the Fiery Pink Pepper Cracker set every year.)
For holiday Neiman Marcus and Kiehl’s have an exclusive trio with the Limited-Edition Scented Hand Cream Trio and it’s only $16 (they are 1 oz each). They also have the regular unscented version in a the Limited-Edition Ultimate Strength Hand Salve Trio they have every year in the full size. The scented ones are just as hydrating with a slightly creamier feel. I love the scents which are Grapefruit, Coriander and Lavender. It’s great and I highly recommend it as these are the best I’ve tried for super dry hands.
Face Oils and Serums are something I’ve never been into historically – I’ve only really gotten into them in the past couple of years as I’m more of a lotions and cream kind of person. Quite a few of you asked about the La Mer Renewal Oil and I’ve been able to acquire a few minis from gift with purchases. Out of all the oils it has the thickest feel upon application but actually absorbs the best for the least emollient finish which is rare for oils. It’s very hydrating but also scented. The scent doesn’t bother me and it did not irritate my skin. Once I use up my others I will most likely buy it – it hydrates, balances the skin and reduces redness.
The Darphin Intral Soothing Serum does just what the name implies. It helps reduce redness from itchy dry skin and works wonders to calm down flare ups. If you’ve tried this and found it didn’t do much for you it’s probably because in most cases serums are meant to be used in conjunction with a moisturizer on top. Serums alone have a unique texture that doesn’t always work well with your makeup, but when you layer them with your moisturizer they help keep the skin balanced and hydrated. This is on the lighter side so if you have super dry skin it probably won’t have enough moisture, but if you’re normal and sensitive this is a good one.
The L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil has been a favorite for a long long time. I’m pretty much finished with this bottle but kept it for this story as it’s a good one. L’Occitane skincare in general is underrated and it’s among the most gentle and natural that I’ve tried. It smooths the skin, makes it glow, plumps up the surface. You can use it alone or with moisturizer. I like to use it at night too and I wake up with glowing smooth skin. This is a great one for winter time.
Another favorite is the Kate Somerville Dilo Oil Restorative Treatment and I tried this thanks to a number of recommendations from my readers who commented on previous posts. This oil is everything. If I were forced to use one oil the rest of my life this would be it. My friend tried it as well and she couldn’t stop repeating “my skin feels sooo amazing.” It really does everything it claims: smooths skin, strengthen, replenish and restore elasticity, maintain suppleness and helps improve skin evenness. It has the most amazing scent which is hard to describe but it’s not irritating.
Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate is one that is well-loved by many and for good reason. It’s another oil you can use daily but has an energizing/reviving aspect to invigorate the skin. The description for this says it has “antioxidant protection with a powerful blend of naturally-derived oils, including Ginger Root, Sunflower and Tamanu, to help skin feel fresh and look energized morning to night.” I was nervous to try this but have been hooked every since I tried it.
Next up are lotions and creams. Note this looks like a lot and it is, but quite a few of these are empties that I’ve used up. First Aid Beauty is the best affordable mid-end skincare line I’ve tried and one of the best for truly sensitive skin. One of my best friends is in her mid 30’s and loves their line and my younger brother is in his early 20’s and it’s one of the two skincare lines he asks me to stock him up on (Kate Somerville being the other).
Many of the First Aid Beauty items contain colloidal oatmeal to help soothe dry itchy skin. I’ve tried their Ultra Repair line and also the Purifying line with Red Clay (best for summer/oily skin) and everything is gentle but effective. The Ultra Repair Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer is a great basic no-fuss lightweight moisturizer for normal sensitive skin. It contains, “meadowfoam seed oil and avocado oil soften and hydrate while shea butter and ceramides help protect the skin’s barrier function. The best in the line is the Ultra Repair Cream and if you’ve been reading recent posts, you know they just launched the Ultra Repair Cream in Vanilla Citron (c/o) which is amazing. I bought the Ultra Repair Cream Minis set and feel almost like a broken record talking about it, but it’s GREAT. I still prefer the unscented version because even though there’s no scent it has a soothing undertone in the formula. They always have great value sets so be sure to browse those if you’re new to the line.
If you need something natural but not heavy, the Chanel La Solution 10 de Chanel (c/o) is something I just started using on a more regular basis and it’s a great one for something simple but effective. The Chanel is a great in between option if you need something that acts
somewhere in between a lotion and cream. It helps calm down flare ups
and is great for sensitive skin. This year they added a larger 1.7 oz
version (the smaller 1.0 oz version is shown below).
If you have very dry sensitive skin, I’d recommend the Tatcha Indigo Soothing Triple Recovery Cream or Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturizing Cream (I have the older original version but have tried both and the new one is just as good). If you read customer reviews on both their sites you’ll find an overwhelming number of others who love both. The Tatcha is on the expensive side so if you’re unsure of splurging $100+ be sure to check out their Travel Size Shop. They have all their items in minis and also in sets that are great to try out.
A few more notes on the La Mer Moisturizing Soft Lotion. I featured it in this post here to compare it to the Soft Cream and I prefer the lotion because of the pump packaging and texture. It’s quite the splurge and I do think it’s amazing. I have no regrets buying it but the others in this roundup are also great at more affordable price points.
Last but not least, for the body three things I’m loving right now are the Moroccanoil Dry Body Oil Spray, Kate Somerville Dry Skin Saver and also the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream as a body treatment. They offer instant relief from itchy dryness and I’m obsessed with the way the Moroccanoil Dry Body Oil smells. The Kate Somerville Dry Skin Saver is one I’ve bought multiple tubes of now for friends. I get texts a lot from my girl friends that say “help my skin is freaking out, what do I need?” I either tell them First Aid Beauty or this one. I love that First Aid Beauty made their Ultra Repair Cream in different sizes and packaging options for travel, full size and value size.
Two other body products that deserve a mention but I just used up and didn’t keep the empties include the Tatcha Indigo Body Butter and L’Occitane Shea Butter Extra Gentle Lotion for Hands and Body. Both are extremely good for super sensitive skin. The Tatcha is the most hydrating one I’ve tried and is on the thick side since it’s a cream but feels amazing. I like to use it at night. I love the formula but it’s a bit too rich for my skintype for day time – I would absolutely die if they made this in a lotion form. The L’Occitane has been featured a number of times before as well. It’s the best lightweight gentle lotion that gives relief without feeling sticky or heavy. It absorbs well and anytime my skin feels itchy or irritated this is my go-to to help with relief. I need to go buy another one soon.
I hope this roundup give you some ideas on what to try if you’re suffering from dry itchy skin or flare ups. Recommendations as always depend on your specific skin type, age, formula preference and scent preferences. I turned 35 this year and my skin has finally seemed to rebalance itself and I attribute this in part to finding good skincare.
As I transitioned from my late 20’s to my early 30’s my life went through a lot of stress and my skin suffered. I have always been able to manage a lot of things in life but in my early 30’s the stress of life, career, balancing a full-time corporate job, a part-time job, this blog along with other things in my personal life took it’s toll on my skin and it suffered. I experienced breakouts on the chin even though I never had any acne issues growing up. I had pretty bad texture issues on all areas of my face. Red spots from scars were pretty bad as well. Finding balance in life, learning to say no to some things, taking time to take care of myself and worry less have helped my skin as I’ve worked to improve things from the inside out. Many of you have asked about work/life balance and I’ll have more on that when I publish my get to know me post.
Back to the skincare – I’m always asked if I could only pick one in each category what would it be. I like options, I always have. It’s really hard to pick just one favorite because I have many and preferences change. Right now I will say that:
My favorite face oil is a three-way tie between Kate Somerville Dilo, Kiehl’s Reparative Treatment and L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil
My favorite body treatment is the Kate Somerville Dry Skin Saver
My favorite face moisturizer is a three-way tie between La Mer Moisturizing Soft Lotion, Kate Somerville anything, First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
Most gentle items for sensitive skin are the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, La Solution 10 de Chanel and Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation Cream
Best lip balm of the moment is Lanolips
Favorite hand cream Molton Brown Coco and Sandalwood or the Kiehl’s Scented Hand Cream Trio
As always if you have sensitive skin, dry skin issues or eczema – please chime in on what your favorites are!
Press samples indicated with c/o. All other items purchased by me.
As the weather has started to shift to cooler and dryer temperatures I’ve felt the need for some extra skincare boosts when it comes to body care. I have extremely sensitive skin so I usually stick to a few select brands for body lotions, scrubs and shower gels. There are some lines that cause an allergic reaction for me (scent or fragrance isn’t always the issue) so I always try to do a patch test first. Today I’ve teamed up with Nordstrom to share some tried-and-true body care staples I use to keep my skin smooth, itch-free, and hydrated.
I usually prefer light weight lotions or dry oils because I don’t like things that feel thick or heavy. Three I swear by include the L’Occitane Shea Butter Extra-Gentle Lotion for Hands and Body, Kate Somerville Dry Skin Saver, and L’Occitane Foot Cream. You can click on the icons in the images below to shop the products directly from Nordstrom.
My most repurchased lotion is the L’Occitane Shea Butter Extra-Gentle Lotion for Hands and Body because it’s truly gentle but still effective. I love the Shea Butter line from L’Occitane for the soft soothing scent it has that’s truly comforting. It absorbs into the skin well, leaves skin feeling soft, and I can wear this at night while I sleep without sticking to my sheets or blankets.
Kate Somerville previously had their Eczema Cream which has been renamed Dry Skin Saver. This has a slightly thicker texture compared to the L’Occitane Lotion but is unscented and helps give instant relief for dry skin. It’s suitable for face, body and lips. I gave one of these to my brother who is in his early 20’s, has dry skin that is probably more sensitive than mine and he really likes this one.
I tend to neglect my feet as I find that my 2x a month pedicures are usually enough to keep them looking decent. There are a number of foot creams I’ve tried but they usually feel greasy or smell horrible. I tried the L’Occitane Shea Butter Foot Cream from a small travel size I received from a gift with purchase years ago and was immediately hooked because it’s not thick, it absorbs quickly, instantly soothes any dry spots and has a slight lavender oil scent which is really relaxing.
Next are a few bath products and scrubs. I almost could say that I’m one who lives for bubble baths. There are few things that I enjoy as much as a long bath. It really does help melt away stress and helps me relax.
Fresh Bath and Shower Gels are one of the few shower gels where the scent actually lasts bath the shower or bath. There are a wide range of options and my current favorite is the Fresh Life which is a bright sweet citrus kind of scent. It lathers up really well with a wash cloth or loofa and leaves the skin clean.
In one of my previous shower gel posts a few of you told me to try the Le Labo Santal 33 Shower Gel. I’m all for trying new luxury products but the $50 price tag prevented me from buying for a long time. I eventually did and was instantly hooked. This is a truly luxurious splurge – but I’m one who loves sandalwood scents that aren’t too woody or earthy and this one is just perfect. I’m on my third bottle and the price is indeed very steep so I will be using this sparingly.
For scrubs, my favorite body scrub formulas have all been discontinued (from Clinique, Estee Lauder, Kiehl’s). They’ve either brought new formulas out or discontinued the items completely which has made me very sad. The one favorite that I’ve found hasn’t changed is the Aesop Geranium Leaf Body Scrub which leaves the skin revitalized and super smooth. It has an emollient base which makes it easy to move over areas of the body in the shower but doesn’t leave the skin with a greasy film.
Bath and shower oils are items I try every now and then. I know many of my readers love them because they leave the skin feeling super hydrated and soft. I’m still more of a shower gel kind of person but the ones from Jo Malone are very good. They come in a number of scent options and they have both bath oils and shower oil options. I bought the Blackberry and Bay Bath Oil and it’s amazing. It also comes in the smaller travel size and also the shower gel format.
One more shower gel that deserves a mention is the Diptyque Revitalizing Shower Gel for Body and Hair. This is probably my favorite one of all time but I go through it so quickly I’ve tried to find cheaper alternatives because it gets spendy. I have yet to find one I like as much as I like this one though.
Last but not least two items I think we usually associate with summer beauty routines but I still find suitable for year round use.
The Soleil de La Mer Face and Body Gradual Tan Lotion is the only one I’ve liked enough to use on a regular basis. The formula is gentle so it doesn’t cause an allergic reaction on my skin (many other formulas do). The scent is pleasant and doesn’t have that strong chemical odor you find in self tanners. It also doesn’t turn my skin orangey or yellow which is a huge plus. I see a tan start to develop by the second day of use. There’s no streaking or transfer to clothing. It’s expensive but worth the splurge.
I alternate between body oils and find I gravitate towards different ones depending on season. The Moroccanoil Dry Body Oil is one I found too heavy during the summer but I love it for right now. It has that signature Moroccanoil scent which I find natural, earthy and soothing all at the same time. I love that this comes with a spray dispenser – I think all body oils should come with one. It absorbs quickly into the skin. The scent has a warm and cozy feel which was probably why I didn’t really use it a lot over the summer time but now that it’s cooler, it’s perfect.
For those who like body care products I hope you found this post helpful in case you’re looking for items to soothe dry skin that are also suitable for sensitive skin (and noses). As always I’d love to hear your favorites! Many of you have asked for a roundup on face moisturizers and serums I use since I have sensitive skin. I’m in the process of testing a few brands but will have a post up in the next few weeks.
Many thanks to Nordstrom for partnering to sponsor this post. As always all opinions my own.
When it comes to hair care creams, serums or oils I have to say that I’m just simply overwhelmed with all the options on the market. However there are so many different hair types and there is so much you can do with styling it does make sense why there are so many options. I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to styling my hair. I either blow dry and straighten or just let it air dry. For me I like to keep my hair on the medium to long side because it’s easiest for me to manage and also tie up in a pony tail or bun. I have medium to thick hair that is prone to frizz. It’s never been color treated although I have always been curious about the process and have been wanting to try it for a long time. My friends who have usually tell me not to though. They say once you start it’s a process you can’t really just say you’ll take a break from and that it requires a lot of maintenance.
Back to the styling. My hair is usually heat treated with a blow dryer and often a flat iron. My two favorites are the T3 PROi (c/o) and HAI Convertible Ceramic Flat Iron. I don’t mind air drying my hair on days where I’m not in a rush but I really don’t like having wet hair for an extended period of time and in the past air drying usually meant it would dry to an unflattering frizz. I would say that my main concerns for styling are controlling the frizz and flyaways without having something that will weigh down the hair or look greasy as the day progresses. Since I heat treat it frequently, finding something to protect or smooth it is also important.
Quick repost from previous articles on what my hair looks like, it varies in length depending how long it’s been in between cuts.
I’ve had a few go-to’s I would call staples but this year I’ve acquired a number of new to me products, some press samples for review and some based on recommendations from people who said “this product is simply the best.” This post has been months in the making. I’ve split the styling products by category and if you’re looking for something new or have been interested in any of these I hope this post helps you. Sometimes I’ll be in a Sephora store standing in front of the hair care section like a deer in headlights. This is going to be a long one and if you’re wondering what I plan on doing with all of these, I’m passing a good portion along to friends.
Up first are some items I am always happy to test out and try which includes blow dry treatments, primers and smoothers. I really believe adding a treatment before heat helps tremendously in detangling the hair and giving a good smooth finish.
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer (c/o, available at Space NK) is a pre-heat styler to condition, smooth and protect hair from heat breakage. I’ve used this one for years in the minis that you find with GWPs. It’s one of the best heat primers and smoothers I’ve used. It spritzes product evenly through the hair and doesn’t weigh it down. It is on the sweet smelling side like a mix of fruit and vanilla which is very strong when you spray it. The good thing is it does fade after your blow dry is finished. Leaves hair feeling silky, smooth and healthy looking.
Moroccanoil Blow Dry Concentrate (c/o, available at Morocccanoil and Nordstrom) is a new concentrate that can be used pre and post heat styling. For me it had a similar consistency and texture to the regular Moroccanoil but this new one comes with a pump dispenser which is genius. It comes in a glass bottle and works to smooth hair and add shine. As a huge fan of Moroccanoil I give this one a thumbs up.
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Wonder Worker Air Dry/Blow Dry Perfector (available at Shu Uemura Art of Hair and Barneys New York) has had so many rave reviews and I had to try it out. It was a bit hard for me to find in stores near me so I ordered it online. It works to prevent frizz and smooth hair. It is scented almost like a Byredo Gypsy Water kind of vibe but a lot lighter and sheerer. Their website claims that it instantly hydrates, detangles, smoothes, conditions, boosts radiance, tames frizz, and add silkiness. It does all of them. For my hair I still need to add a finishing product on ends for shine. Other than that it’s awesome.
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Satin Design Polishing Milk (available at Shu Uemura Art of Hair and Barneys New York) is another one that many love. I was torn between Satin Design and Wonder Worker so I ordered both to see what the difference. The Satin Design can also be used as a blow dry pre-treatment. Main difference is texture and consistency. This one is more like a fluid cream versus spray. It’s easy to work through the hair. Leaves hair feeling soft. Doesn’t leave hair greasy and holds up well in hot weather but it is thicker in consistency compared to the spray of Wonder Worker.
R+Co Park Ave Blow Out Balm (available at Birchbox) is amazing. I bought this in store at Space NK but it’s not listed on their website anymore. I love the way this smells and R+Co packaging is always so creative. It has a smooth fluid texture with a bit of thickness like a smooth cream.
What do you do when all the blow-dry products you’ve tried are amazing and have limited bathroom and storage space? Since I blow dry my hair very frequently and go through product fast, I can justify keeping all of these. I would say my recommendation for you would be based on your preference for consistency and packaging – do you like a spray, cream, pump or tube? If I were forced to pick one I would say kill me now. Just kidding – I have to give it a three way tie between the Shu Uemura Wonder Worker, Moroccanoil Blow Dry Concentrate and Bumble and Bumble Invisible Oil Primer.
Next are beachy wave sprays or what some call surf sprays. I never thought beachy wave sprays were any good because some I’ve tried in the past left my hair crunchy feeling. I do know the point of a beachy spray is to give it that tousled slightly messy undone beach look, but having hair that feels soft is still essential for me.
Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray (c/o, available at Space NK) is the best surf spray I’ve tried. I love the entire Surf Line and this spray gives that sea salt beachy kind of look with texture and volume. With heat treatment it does give that windswept look like it claims. I love the way the line smells which is rare for me when it comes to beach/salt sprays. It smells lightweight fresh and what I’d think of as soft and beachy.
Oribe Apres Beach Spray (available at Birchbox and Space NK) has been my go-to beach spray for years. I spray it on my hair and let it air dry and hair dries to a soft natural wave without any frizz. The only downside is the price – Oribe is very pricey and with aerosols I feel like you get less bang for your buck. This one gets used up quickly by me, but I know the point of product is to be used.
Ouai Wave Spray (c/o, available at Birchbox and Space NK) is a decent spray similar to the others in the sense it’s a mist that adds texture and a natural wave. It does hold the hair in place to give it that undone look. It also has the same floral scent as the Finishing Creme, which I’ll say again isn’t bad, just something I’m not a huge fan of. Performance wise it works. Scent wise, I prefer the Oribe or Bumble products. This one has a slightly heavier feel on my hair.
Bumble and Bumble Surf Infusion (c/o, available at Space NK) is now tied with the Oribe Apres Beach spray for me. I love that you shake it up to mix contents of oil and salt. It gives a softer feel to the hair compared to the Surf Spray which I really really love. The oil adds a very natural sheen. A little can go a long way. I hands down recommend this. Works well to air dry the hair to a natural finish and look.
Top two favorites are the Bumble and Bumble Surf Infusion and Oribe Apres Beach Spray.
Up next are hair oils and serums. Most of these can be multi-use products to use as a pre-heat treatment and also finishing product. I usually don’t like oils because I find they are easy to overdo and once you apply too much, it’s not like a blush that you can tone down. For me if there’s too much oil I simply just have to rewash my hair or put it up in a pony tail and hope that it helps cover a bad hair look.
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil (c/o, available at Space NK) is described as a lightweight oil to add shine. Reviews are mixed and I’m in the batch that finds this too heavy and greasy looking. I will say that a little goes a very long way so the quick fix is to simply use less. If you have very dry hair or have days your hair just looks like it’s had too much heat styling this is a great fix. For me it’s best as a once in a while treatment because it is very rich. For everyday it’s too much for me and easy to overdo. If you can manage how much you dispense and apply it’s very good to restore the hair’s shine and gives it a heathly look.
Ouai Hair Oil (c/o, available at Space NK) is a lightweight oil to tame frizz and seal ends. If the scent of most Ouai products didn’t have that floral scent I think I would be more inclined to use them more frequently. It’s a great lightweight oil so if you’re one who has been wanting an oil that is truly lightweight but adds shine, this performs well. I like the packaging and the dispenser works well. The bottle is sized perfectly to fit easily into my hand and for that I give the line a huge thumbs up on all their styling products.
Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil (c/o, available at Shu Uemura Art of Hair) is in my top two for hair oils because of the lightweight texture and almost-camellia like scent. I can use this as a finishing product after styling and sometimes put it on at night as an overnight treatment. Lots of love for this one and no complaints. The one I have is part of a limited-edition collaboration hence the packaging, but you can buy it in the regular clear packaging.
Moroccanoil Moroccanoil (available at Nordstrom) is the other oil in my top two. It’s a classic and I am beyond obsessed with the way it smells. I’ve gifted lots to friends and family and they all love this regardless of hair type.
Kerastase Elixir Ultime (available at Kerastase) has high ratings and raves which is why I ordered it. For me it’s excellent but also has a slight floral powdery scent that actually fades after a few minutes so it’s not a huge problem. For me it was not life changing but it’s a solid oil you can use before styling, on wet or dry hair, after styling. It’s multi-purpose and comes in a sturdy glass jar with a pump. People who’ve bought it seem to really love it. I have no complaints about it, it’s just on my favorites list.
Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil (available at Space NK) is another long-time love. I feel like this is a good oil to add natural shine and make the hair look healthy. It comes in close third behind Moroccanoil and Shu Uemura. I’ve never been let down by anything Oribe and think it’s very good.
Finishing creams and serums can perform similar to the oils listed above in the sense they add shine, give texture or smooth the hair.
Gloss Moderne High-Gloss Serum (c/o, available at Sephora) is one I received from SpaceNK but it’s no longer listed on their website. Out of all the products I tested this is one of the few where my reaction was “I don’t like it.” The words “gloss” and “serum” made me think this would be a clear product. It’s a beige cream. It’s also very sweet smelling like a vanilla cake which I’m not a fan of. Texture was thick and felt sticky. It did work well to add shine and once on the hair it did not leave my hair feeling sticky. Scent is important to me and this one I just did not like. If you’re a vanilla fan though you will probably like it.
Oribe Supershine Moisturizing Cream (available at Birchbox and Space NK) was previously in my Top 2 shine creams tied with Drybar’s Chaser. I still love this one for soft shine and moisture. If you have super dry hair or ends that need some love this is a great one. I love the way it smells. It adds shine and makes hair look soft and healthy with a sheen. Doesn’t get greasy or feel heavy.
Oribe Creme for Style (c/o, available at Space NK) is new to me but not a new product. This has replaced the Supershine Cream as my favorite cream. I like this one because it adds more texture and has a softer looking finish. If you like shine stick with the Supershine. If you feel like you want a softer yet textured look, the Creme for Style is it.
Drybar The Chaser (available at Sephora) has been such a long-time favorite I’ve lost count of how many tubes I’ve gone through. I’ve used this pre-heat styling and post styling. My husband has taken several of my tubes and claimed them as his own putting them in his drawers on his side of the bathroom. It adds just the right amount of shine while taming flyaways. LOVE.
Ouai Finishing Creme (c/o, available at Birchbox and Space NK) is a lightweight finishing cream to give what they call a “lived-in” look. It does exactly what it claims. I prefer something that looks a bit more polished so this one isn’t really for me. It also has a floral scent that is super feminine. I’m not a huge fan of the scent but it isn’t unpleasant.
Bottom line is I stand my point of view that everyone needs a little Oribe in their life, although the Drybar Chaser has never let me down.
These aren’t really styling products but more treatment masks.
Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt (c/o, available at Net-A-Porter and Sephora) is something I tried late last year. I’ve gone through two tubs already. Earlier this year I had the privilege of meeting Christophe Robin in person to learn more about his line and hair care philosophy. It was a joy to meet him and chat with him about hair care. I’ll say up front the Cleansing Salt is probably best suited for those with thick hair like me. I use it once a week as a purifying treatment to rebalance and cleanse the scalp and hair. I use in place of shampoo on the days I use it. For color-treated hair it helps to soothe scalp irritation caused from chemicals. Leaves the hair and scalp feeling squeaky clean. He did suggest after a look at my hair that I follow with a rinse out conditioner since I have normal hair. I do follow occasionally with a conditioner on the ends.
Christophe Robin Cleansing Mask with Lemon (c/o, available at Net-A-Porter and Sephora) is another cleansing mask. It’s softer in finish and a bit less stripping than salt scrub. It has lemon and is suitable for color-treated hair. The trick to using this is for me to apply on dry hair/scalp. Let it sit for a few minutes and slowly add water to emulsify into a foam. Rinse and hair is left clean and soft and moisturized. I’m almost done with a tub and need to replace very soon.
Ouai Treatment Masque (available at Space NK) is one I reviewed before in my shampoo/conditioner post. I didn’t really like the packaging design of these but after using them more frequently I have found I can look past it because this is one of the best restoring masks for the hair I’ve tried.
Last but not least, for texture and volume:
Edward Bess Black Sea Hair Hero (c/o, available at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and QVC) is the best all around do-it-all hair product for me. I use it pre-heat stying or after to add shine and texture to ends. It’s the best smelling hair product I’ve ever tried which is hard to describe but fresh. My brother helped me shoot this a couple years ago (time flies!) and to this day it’s still a go-to. The bottle is huge and a little goes a long way.
Ouai Dry Shampoo (c/o available at Birchbox and Space NK) I rarely use dry shampoo. I’ve tried a number of brands and at the end of the day I think the concept is a bit gross. I wash my hair daily and I know some do not have the time to wash and dry it daily or find it is too stripping for the hair, but for me washing daily is a must. Still there are occasions where I’m just dead tired or didn’t wake up early enough to wash and dry my hair. The Ouai Dry Shampoo is the best one I’ve tried. It doesn’t leave a white film or cast on the hair and absorbs oil.
Bumble and Bumble Surf Foam Spray (c/o, available at Space NK) is the best volumizing product I’ve tried. I’ve mentioned before even though I have thick hair, finding a product that will actually add volume has been almost impossible for me. Most just don’t add any volume. This one adds noticeable volume. It’s a blow dry mousse and works. Leaves the hair thick and volumized all the way through.
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray (available at Birchbox and Space NK) is hands down one of the best texturizers I’ve tried. I love the way it smells and adds volume. I use it as a dry shampoo occasionally to give a lift to roots.
Shu Uemura Ample Angora Volumizing Light Foam (available at Shu Uemura Art of Hair) is another winner for the volumizing category. Perhaps it’s really only the foam kinds of products that work on thicker hair to really add volume. It’s a bit more lightweight compared to the Bumble and Bumble product so there’s a bit less volume with the Shu Uemura one. It smells great, volumizes, combs through hair easily and isn’t sticky.
Christophe Robin Instant Volumizing Hair Mist with Rose Water (c/o, available at Net-A-Porter and Sephora) is one of the best smelling hair sprays I’ve tried. I’ve mentioned I do not like the florals from Ouai, this Christophe Robin has rosewater so it smells like roses but it’s the good kind of rose. On my thick hair it doesn’t add a ton of volume but it smooths everything out and leaves the hair looking and smelling amazing.
In sum, I tested about 30 hair styling products. With the exception of the tried and true favorites like the Drybar Chaser, Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray and Edward Bess Hair Hero, the remaining new to me items have been tested for several months. Summer humidity is relatively mild in Southern California so I can’t comment on how these hold up in extremely hot or humid weather. While traveling last summer through Europe and also earlier this year in New York, I barely used any styling product – it was so hot my hair air dried very quickly and it felt too hot to wear any serums or creams. After extensive testing, my top picks would include the following:
Best finishing product: Oribe Creme for Style and Edward Bess Hair Hero
Best oil: Moroccanoil and Shu Uemura Essence Absolue
Best heat pre-treatments for blow drying: Shu Uemura Wonder Worker, Moroccanoil Blow Dry Concentrate and Bumble and Bumble Invisible Oil Primer
Best volumizer: Bumble and Bumble Surf Foam Spray and Shu Uemura Art of Hair Ample Angora
Best beachy spray or air-dry sprays: Oribe Apres Beach Spray and Bumble and Bumble Surf Infusion
Best lightweight shine products: Oribe Supershine and Moroccanoil
Note if you have fine, color treated or even thicker or curly hair, some of the ones that worked for me may not work for you. As always I’d love to hear about your favorites regardless of hair type! Please share in the comments 🙂 I’m pretty stocked up on hair care for the moment but it’s something I tend to use up relatively fast.
Don’t forget that Space NK is having their Autumn Beauty Edit (huge GWP with any $250+ purchase), Barneys New York Love Yourself is going on (GWP bag with any $200+ purchase) and also next week Bergdorf Goodman will have their Rewarding Beauty event so if you have things on your list you may want to group your purchases to take advantage of the events this month. Also not on sale or part of any events, but Net-A-Porter has a Christophe Robin Essentials Travel Size Set which is nice if you want to try out items before splurging on the full size.
If you have any questions let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. I’m not an expert with styling in any sense and I know some of you are probably better versed when it comes to hair care. For those who are like me I hope this post helps from the perspective of a beauty junkie who really doesn’t know much about hair care products.