I get a lot of questions about my hair care, both online and in person. Many like the smooth glossy texture, and I usually get comments that I must have really good genes when it comes to hair, but what most people don’t understand is that my hair actually takes a lot of work. I’ve always had super thick unruly hair. Frizz has always been my biggest problem, when I was in high school and early college days, my hair was so thick, fitting a rubber band around it twice to pull it back was always a stretch (I broke quite a few that snapped because my hair was so thick). Color wise, my hair has a natural subtle ombre effect depending on lighting conditions and season (it gets lighter in the summer). It’s basically black but I have natural red highlights are sometimes look really bright, especially on the ends. The lighter color can sometimes make it look dry on the ends even though I’ve never color-treated my hair.
In high school and early college days, my friends told me “you need to try blowdrying your hair, it will change your life.” I went through several hair dryers and straighteners, none of which did anything for me (mainly Conair, T3, and Revlon). I used to be a regular reader on Makeupalley and back in the early 2000’s the message board recommendations and product reviews were a lifesaver.
The second biggest issue I’ve had with hair is sensitive scalp. I don’t have dry scalp issues but many shampoos and conditioners I’ve tried end up drying up my scalp or leave heavy residue which is difficult to rinse out properly.
Over the past decade, thanks to my stylist recommendations, trial and error along with blog recommendations, I’ve discovered quite a few hair products that I’ve fallen in love with. Having longer thick hair means I tend to go through product fairly quickly. I’ve been meaning to do a hair-care loves post for quite some time, but given that I use up items fast and am constantly testing new items, they don’t always last long enough for me to get pictures. I thought a summary of my tried and true might be helpful.
Phyto’s Phytojoba Shampoo (1) is hands down my Number 1 holy grail shampoo. It has the most amazing scent of jojoba with coconut but isn’t overly sweet or overpowering. It’s designed for dry and unruly hair and lathers up into this amazing foam. It’s rich enough for my hair that it treats dryer scalps while moisturizes the hair but doesn’t weigh it down. The only reason why I don’t buy this more frequently is because it has a very fluid texture which is easy to over pour. It is also something I find I go through very quickly (which gets expensive). Performance-wise it’s my all time favorite.
A good everyday shampoo and conditioning duo is Drybar’s Happy Hour Blowout Shampoo and Happy Hour Weightless Conditioner (2). Both have really good scents and give me bouncy shiny hair. The conditioner is one of the few I’ve tried that is truly weightless but still gives the hair that extra conditioning you need. It’s also good to use daily which I find rare with most conditioners.
Kérastase has been on my radar for a long time but they have so many options I found it a bit overwhelming to choose one. I recently ordered the Cristalliste Bain Cristal Shampoo Thick (4), Lait Cristal Conditioner (5) and Volumifique Bain Volumifique Shampoo (6) and have been really impressed. The Cristalliste line is designed for long thick hair, I find both the shampoo and conditioner work really well to give hair a clean smooth look without weighing it down. They clean the hair really well and almost feel like a rebalancing kind of shampoo/conditioner. Both lather nicely and smell amazing as well. The Volumifique Shampoo is designed to give volume and lightness. For me I haven’t seen any volumizing effects but it works wonders in terms of making it feel lightweight and frizz free. With the Kerastase items I’ve tried I can let my hair air dry naturally and not worry about frizz.
Oribe is another favorite line of mine, I’ve tried a number of the sample packets of their hair care and my favorite is the Shine Shampoo and Conditioner (16). When I use Oribe, I tend to use it every 2-3 days, alternating with a different everyday shampoo, mainly because of the high price points, but the items in the line are extremely good and worth every penny. The Shine line gives lush glossy hair with a super smooth finish.
For hair treatments, I usually blow dry and straighten my hair. I like to use treatments that are multi-functional for both pre-heat treating and finishing. A staple in my weekly hair routine is Moroccanoil’s Treatment (14). It gives the hair a smooth texture that helps keep moisture in with blowdrying, it’s also good as a finishing product to smooth ends. A little goes a long way and the bottle will last you a long time. Drybar’s The Chaser (13) shine pomade is a must-have for me in terms of styling/shine products. It’s also good for a pre-heat treatment or post-styling product. There’s nothing like this that gives a lightweight shine that lasts all day without making the hair greasy or heavy looking.
Edward Bess recently launched his Hair Hero (11) on QVC. It’s my do-everything kind of hair product. It smooths the hair, adds texture and adds shine. You can read the full review here.
Dry shampoos have a lot of appeal in terms of time saving properties and styling. I haven’t found one that I could use yet that didn’t leave my hair looking flat, dusty looking or crunchy. Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray (12) is a dry shampoo alternative which I find works the best for adding texture and volume to the roots or absorb oil. I almost always wash my hair everyday, but on mornings when I am rushed and need to skip 1 day, this works wonders as a hair refresher.
Having a good shampoo and conditioner routine (along with a well-balanced diet) should be sufficient to keep your hair healthy and well moisturized but sometimes I do need a weekly mask treatment. The Phytojoba Intense Hydrating Mask (15) is my favorite for dry weather and winter months to give my hair that extra boost it needs.
For tools, I’ve been a loyal to Solano Hair Dryers for years. I went through two over the past 13 years and when I needed to a replacement, I decided to try the Drybar Buttercup Blow Dryer (3). My husband bought this for me while we were at Sephora because he thought the packaging was fun (lol). After having such good experiences with the Drybar salons and products, I decided to give it a try. This has an extremely powerful motor but is still very gentle. It’s more lightweight compared to Solanos and more gentle. It comes with two different nozzles, three temperatures and two settings. Most hairdryers I’ve tried come with a switch for cool-air that you have to hold down to keep the cool air flowing. This one has a turn on/off switch for the cool hair which keeps your fingers free. It dries hair fairly quickly and doesn’t overheat or dry out the hair. I can’t say it’s better than Solano, but rather just different. Solano has more heavy duty dryers that are the best I’ve tried. Drybar’s is also excellent and I have no complaints, it’s gentler on the hair and takes slightly longer for me to dry hair, but if you have sensitive scalps or weaker hair, this one is very gentle and easy to use but still effective.
Last but not least, my favorite hair straightening tool is the HAI Ceramic Convertible Flat Iron (10). I’ve tried several, and this is the one I keep going back to (I’m on my second one). It leaves the hair with a super sleek smooth straight look that doesn’t fry the ends or dry out the hair.
I hope this summary helps give you some ideas on hair care items to try. This is by no means a list of all the items I’ve tried, there are many other items from Phyto, Malin + Goetz, Neutrogena, Kiehl’s etc. that I’ve tried (among my favorite brands for hair), but what I’ve listed includes my absolute favorites.
What kind of hair do you have and what are your favorites?
Hair care is one area I don’t like to splurge on, but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find good products that are reasonably priced from the drugstore. If you have any holy grails please share your successes with me, I’m always open to trying new bath and shower products 🙂
The 411 on my hair: I have thick dark black-brown hair with natural red highlights. It’s not exactly straight but not perfectly wavy either. Without a blowdryer and/or flat iron it dries to a huge poofy mess. I usually keep it around just below the shoulder for length. I would like it longer, but it just takes me a really long time to grow it out.
My hair care routine:
Daily: shampoo, leave in conditioner treatment and blow dry
Weekly: condition and straighten with a flat iron
Monthly: hair mask treatment
Misc: Hair cuts once every 3 to 4 months
Never: Color or highlight
Brands I’ve used repeatedly in the past include Aveda, Frederick Fekkai, Goldwell, Phyto, Redken, Neutrogena, and Crew for Men (yes, I use my hubby’s shampoo sometimes). As much as I love Aveda, I find the scents to usually be too earthy and herbal. Frederick Fekkai has been reformulating his shampoos so I haven’t used his line for a long time.
Right now my staples include, left to right:
Phytojoba Shampoo, Phyto7, Phytokarité, HAI Ceramic Iron, Supersolano 3600 Micro
Supersolano 3600 Micro Hair Dryer – This is my second Solano in the past 8 years. I really love this brand. After I decided to retire my first one, I tried a number of other always-raved-in-magazines type brands and was thoroughly disappointed by *all* of them (especially T3). None gave my hair that soft glossy shine or smooth blowout like my Solano. I’m not exactly sure what it is about the Solano, but it’s just amazing. I got mine at Ball Beauty Online on both occasions and they seem to have really good prices.
HAI Convertible Ceramic Straightening Iron – Another fabulous birthday present from my sister 🙂 I’ve had this one for about 5 years. I’m not sure where she purchased this one from, but it’s also available online at Ball Beauty. Again, I’m not sure what technology this one has that makes it so great, but it makes my hair shine and ends look pretty.
Phytojoba Shampoo – It’s meant for dry hair (even though my hair isn’t super dry) but I still love this. Has a delicious subtle pineapple-coconut scent, gets a rich lather, leaves the hair and scalp feeling good. My only 2 rants are the price for the size you get (I go through it really fast) and the fact that there is no pump (which makes it hard not to spill too much into my palm sometimes).
Phyto7 & PhytoSpecific Integral Hair Care – Phyto7 is a hydrating cream I apply before blowdrying. A little goes a long way and I’m on my second tube right now (the first tube lasted me a year). I’ve written about PhytoSpecific here before but recently ran out so I don’t have it available to photograph. It’s a HG for me and allows my hair to airdry nicely like no other product.
Phytokarité Ultra Nourishing Hair Mask – I recently had a 45 minute Phyto Hair Treatment at my local salon and the Phyto specialist used this on my hair. It was incredible and gave me baby soft hair. They gave me tons of sample packets of this conditioner to try out (since I got the regular Phytojoba Conditioner in a set). One packet has enough product for 2 uses. I’ve gone through 3 packets already (six weeks worth) and am definitely going back for this once my current conditioner is used up.
What is your hair type and what are your favorites? Do you have any special treatments you like to indulge in?