I have my first holiday gift guide of the year today featuring some great discovery gift sets. Birchbox and Sephora each have their own curated box sets with hand-picked items. They’re often grouped and boxed by themes such as dry shampoos, berry lips, nude lips, sunscreen, skincare etc. They’ve basically taken their best sellers and packed them into sampler boxes with minis at a value price. I love these for myself because it allows me to try a lot of items without having to buy the individual full sizes I’m unsure about. Each store has their own exclusive selection which makes them unique.
There are tons of boxes and kits to choose from. Many are pretty affordable and tons at the $25 price point. This year I shopped sets early as I know there’s a good chance the value sets of them will sell out early. My friends this year are all about hair styling and highlighters. It seems like every single female friend I have doesn’t have time to wash and dry their hair on a daily basis. The good thing this year is that there are TONS of dry shampoo sets and holiday styling sets for all hair types. Highlighters are also as popular among my friends as they are on Instagram lol. Sets are great because even though I think I can find the perfect highlighter or dry shampoo for my close friends we all have different tastes and preferences.
Up first are some of the Birchbox Kits. Birchbox is known for their monthly subscription boxes and for the longest time I thought that was all that they offered. Not true. The Birchbox Collection has an entire shop of discovery kits, limited-edition box sets, and much more. If you visit their store you’ll see their products grouped by product type and then brand. An entire wall will be dedicated to suncare and they’ll split it by types of sunscreens. Their value sets are really cute and well put together. You can also buy individual full-sized items as well.
Up first is The Dry Shampoo Starter Kit for $32 ($74 value) you get an amika (Fort)Tress Shower Cap, amika Perk Up Dry-Shampoo, R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo (one of my favorites), Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo, Living proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk.
To date the R+Co had been my favorite but has been replaced with the Oribe Dry Shampoo that just launched a couple months ago. Neither leave my hair looking dusty or matte and there is no white residue. One of my friends swears by the Living Proof one which I tried. It left my hair looking too matte. As this set is a gift I won’t be reviewing the other items but thought you would like a peek at this one.
Next is the one I’m just beyond obsessed with. In my What’s In My Bag post I mentioned this Birchbox + Oribe Styling Kit. It has five minis of Oribe – cute beyond words!! I ordered two of these, one for me, one for a friend. I suspect I will be ordering a few more as you just can’t go wrong with Oribe. It’s priced at $35, each bottle is tiny but if you’ve never tried Oribe before this is a great way to try out the line without having to buy individual bottles which are around $20 each for the minis.
One kit I received as a press sample was the Complete SPF Kit. When I visited the Birchbox Soho Store over the summer I was just blown away by the presentation and display of the store. If you’re in NYC definitely make a stop there. The bottom floor is for men’s grooming and skincare so bring your boyfriend, husband, brother or male friends with you. They can build their own Birchbox too!
This one is priced at $18 – you get mini sample sizes of Supergoop! Advanced SPF 37 Anti-Aging Eye Cream, MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50, Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day SPF 30 UV Sun Fluid, Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50, COOLA Face SPF 30 Unscented, COOLA Daydream SPF 30 Mineral Makeup Primer. I have yet to try all of these but I’ve tried both the Coola ones and find them suitable for my sensitive skin.
Next are the Sephora Favorites. I think one could seriously get carried away with the sets because they have SO MANY good things in them! One of the complaints my friends have about makeup is that the size of some things are just too big and it take them forever to use something up. Minis are popular among friends who like to rotate items frequently because you can use them up faster.
Up first is the Sephora Favorites Scouted by Sephora set which is $24 for five minis. This one features 5 up-and-coming brands at Sephora. I received this one as a gift and haven’t had a chance to try the items yet, but have been really curious about Milk Makeup so I’m eager to try the mascara. It has a Bésame Cosmetics Red Matchbook, GrandeLIPS Hydrating Plumper, Makeup Eraser Mini in Pink, MILK MAKEUP Ubame Mascara, Wander Beauty Lip and Cheek Mini in Pink City.
Next is the Sephora Favorites Glow for It. This one sold out online but I spotted it in store and picked up two. It’s since been restocked online and I can see why it’s been a popular one. For $30 you get minis of Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid in Moonstone, Benefit Watt’s Up, Cover FX Custom Infusion Drops in C+ Lemongrass – Radiance, Hourglass Ambient® Strobe Lighting Powder in Incandescent Strobe Light, MILK MAKEUP Sunshine Oil and a full size Lancôme Glow Subtil Silky Crème Highlighter in Glowing Lights 06. The Lancome blush itself is $30 so the set is a steal.
I already have 3 of the items in the full size (Hourglass Strobe Powders swatched here) but almost want one for myself.
Another one is the Sephora Favorites Hair Rescue Masks on the Go ($25). This one is listed as being an $85 value. It has quite a lot of product to sample – to date I’ve tried three of the items from Ouai, Phyto and Christophe Robin and all three are great. This one has Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Balm-to-Oil Pre-Shampoo Masque, Phyto Phytokératine Extrême Exceptional Mask, Gloss Moderne High-Gloss Masque, Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask with Rare Prickly Pear Seed Oil
, Living Proof Perfect Hair Day® Night Cap Overnight Perfector, Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!™ Deep Conditioning Mask, Ouai Treatment Masque, VERB Hydrating Mask, and two packet sets of Rita Hazan Weekly Remedy Treatment For Deep Hydration & Superior Shine Treatment Step 1 & 2.
I wish I had this set last year when I was traveling for a month. It would have been perfect as it has packets small enough to pack in a carry on. One of my friends is obsessed with masks – skincare and haircare. She is going to freak out when she gets this one.
Last but not least is the Sephora Favorites Ready, Set, Style! This one was a bit pricier at $29 but the sizes of each spray was pretty impressive. You get five sprays for hair refreshers, volumizers and texturizers. It includes Bumble and Bumble Thickening Dryspun Finish, Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo, IGK Down and Out Dirty Spray, Ouai Texturizing Hair Spray, Living Proof Flex Shaping Hairspray.
That wraps up my first holiday gift guide. I hope these give you a better idea of what the sets look like compared to stock photos although I do think that both Birchbox and Sephora do a really good job at giving us accurate stock images on their websites.
The Sephora VIB Rouge 20% off sale starts tomorrow November 4th and runs through November 7th. If you’re shopping online use code 20ROUGE. I received an early code from a Sephora employee so was able to shop the sale early. I’ll have my Sephora shopping recommendations roundup up later this afternoon for those who are trying to research early.
For now I hope this sets post give you some ideas for affordable gift options. The ones I featured are all very reasonable in price ranging from $18 to $35 which won’t break the bank if you buy multiples. They’re great for holiday gifts or to treat yourself. I’m seriously tempted to keep a few of these for myself – I may order one or two more once the Sephora sale starts.
The Birchbox Complete SPF Kit and Scouted By Sephora Set gifted as press samples. Remainder featured purchased by me.
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.
Many of you have asked for an update on my current hair care routine along with favorites. I have a two part post planned. Part 1 goes live today with a roundup of shampoo and conditioners. Part 2 will go live next week with a list of what I use for styling and treatments. I did an hair care loves roundup earlier this year and have done a few review posts but some of you prefer routine types of posts. For hair care, I wash my hair daily most of the time. There are occasions where I skip 1 day in between washes but those are rare, especially in the summer. On days I work out, I wash my hair twice in the same day. I have thick hair prone to frizz, I heat treat with a blow dryer or flat iron frequently, it’s never been dyed. When it comes to shampoos and conditioners, I love trying new formulas and brands – smell is probably the most important factor for me. If it doesn’t pass the smell test then I won’t even try it (no matter how many raves it has).
For shampoos and conditioners, I like to rotate frequently and often times I have more than 2 sets in the shower which drives my husband nuts because of the space it takes up. He has his 1 go to, often times it’s a 2 in 1 kind of product for hair and body (his favorite is Jack Black Turbo Wash). I on the other hand find that I do need different kinds. There’s the everyday kind of wash, the weekly cleansing or clarifying wash and then the wash for days you need extra moisture. Not to mention the masks or leave in products. (Please tell me I am not the only one who is high maintenance with their hair.)
Today I have a roundup of 7 brands of shampoo and conditioner I’ve put to the test with thoughts on each one. I will say up front that when it comes to shampoo I’m the type who will keep one around even if it’s not mind blowing or amazing. As long as it smells ok, cleans the hair well and doesn’t make it fall out or dry, I just can’t bring myself to throw out a partially used bottle.
My all time favorite that I can use daily is the Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo and Conditioner. I stock up on this during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale because they either have larger sizes or value sets. (This year’s set shown in this haul post.) This formula lathers well, moisturizes, strengthens, cleans the scalp well and leaves the hair shiny and healthy. Full ingredients list of the shampoo here and conditioner here. A huge part of me wants to try out all the shampoos from the brand but as some say, when you find something you love, you stick with it. In this case I’ve stuck with this formula.
Next best everyday is the Kerastase Cristalliste line which is designed for those with long hair. There have been a few formulas for fine or thick hair, I’ve tried the one for fine hair and it worked perfectly for my thick hair. It’s a great everyday option and I use both the shampoo and conditioner together. It cleanses the hair and and gets the roots clean too. It’s got a lightweight feel that leaves the hair feeling clean and bouncy with a super soft feel. I gave a few partially used bottles to a friend with long fine hair because she was curious about it but didn’t want to splurge without trying. She loved it too.
One line I had high hopes for is Ouai created by Jen Atkin. I started out testing a few styling products from Birchbox which included the Ouai Dry Shampoo and Wave Spray. I adore both and think they are worth trying out. More on both of these in my upcoming styling post. Since I had such a great experience with a couple of the styling products, I bought the Treatment Masque (pack of 8), Volume Shampoo and Volume Conditioner from Space NK. The Treatment Mask is great but the packaging isn’t the easiest to use. Both the Volume Shampoo and Conditioner were just ok for me – perhaps my expectations were just too high. They are both described as containing “Smart technology” to replenish moisture and lift strands. I found neither added volume. That being said I have yet to find a volumizing shampoo that will actually add volume to my thick hair (I’ve tried formulas from Living Proof, Phyto, Drybar – all lines I like, but the volumizing shampoos just don’t work for me). I’ve read a lot of reviews that this does work for those with fine hair. For me the Volume formula does a good job at cleansing daily – I do need to use both the shampoo + conditioner because the shampoo alone can be a bit drying on my hair type. I won’t be repurchasing but it’s one I can’t bring myself to throw out. (If you have any Ouai on your list there are still a few more days of the SpaceNK Explore Online Promotion, enter code BEAUTYNOW at checkout to save $20 off orders $100 or more until Aug 2nd.)
Bumble and Bumble is a line I’m always keen on trying out. Some of the shampoos and conditioners are heavily fragranced though and too strong so I’ve often tried minis or sets, used them up, but never repurchase. Two that I started using are the Surf Foam Wash Shampoo and Creme Rinse Conditioner and WOW these get a huge thumbs up from me. Based on what I’ve read from other reviews it seemed to be best suited for those with thicker hair. I have thick hair and love this. It doesn’t necessarily add volume but it gives my hair that smooth fluffy beachy look. The scent is mild enough that I don’t notice it after rinsing. I can air dry my hair after using this duo and it gives a natural slightly beachy look.
Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo in the Gentle Radiance formula for Normal Hair and Scalp. I previously reviewed the Shampoo and tried it by itself. The shampoo by itself is good once in a while as a clarifying shampoo, but for everyday I found it a bit drying. I used up a few bottles entirely and since I didn’t use it daily, they lasted a long time. I was just sent a sample of the Cleansing Oil Conditioner which is another rinse out product and was completely blown away with the combination of the two. The Shampoo by itself was good but not great. Add the Conditioner to the mix and my hair and scalp are left super smooth, tangle free, naturally shiny and also gives it the ability to air dry without any frizz. Most of the time I have to blow dry or add some kind of oil or cream to tame the frizz. I don’t use conditioners everyday even if I do wash the hair daily – I find most of the time I just don’t feel like I need it. This Cleansing Oil Conditioner is really a good one. I will definitely be repurchasing it once it’s used up.
Oribe Cleansing Creme for Moisture and Control is a favorite I’ve repurchased multiple times. Unfortunately it’s sold out online at Space NK so you can’t buy it to take advantage of the promo going on right now, but you can find it at places like Birchbox or Neiman Marcus. It could almost go into the treatment category for me, I don’t use it daily because I just don’t need that much added moisture, but it helps rebalance and rehydrate the hair and scalp. It tames frizz, adds shine and leaves hair feeling super soft.
New to me is Gloss Moderne which I’ve seen at Space NK quite a few times. In terms of shine shampoos, I find a lot are great as a 1 to 2x per week use kind of product otherwise they get heavy-feeling and weigh down my hair. The R+Co Moonshine Shampoo and Conditioner were both at the top of my list in terms of scent, shine and performance. I’ve used up a few bottles of both but haven’t repurchased for a while. The Gloss Moderne High-Gloss Shampoo and High-Gloss Conditioner have a similar effect but they both have a lush vanilla scent. I have to say that I had low expectations on this one before trying because the reviews are so mixed. I was beyond impressed with how this performed on my long thick hair – it restored shine and left the hair looking healthy and super glossy. Even though my hair is not color treated, the summer sun and heat has turned it into a reddish color about 2-3 shades lighter than it normally is. The heat from the sun also leaves the ends of my hair looking dry so they need a little something extra to get it back to it’s normal state. I really liked how the High-Gloss Shampoo and Conditioner added shine without weighing it down. I was able to use it three days in a row without it feeling heavy or without giving the hair the weighed down look. I will use these up to the end and I do really like these. Although for the shine and gloss effect, I think a styling product could provide the same result.
If you’re looking for a good shine/gloss finish shampoo, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the Gloss Moderne Shampoo and Conditioners – some may feel they are overpriced but I do think they are solid performers. I’ve totally been in that place where I really like a product but don’t repurchase because of the price. It doesn’t mean something is bad – just that there are other alternatives I’d rather spend my money on. I hope this won’t deter you though – the Gloss Moderne line is really quite good.
If you’re looking for good travel-sized or trial-sized sets, I find that some brands will occasionally have a good travel set to try items out. Birchbox has sets of minis by product type with a mix of brands for you to test out multiple formulas which is nice. They’re $18-$28 each, some options include the Frizz Fighters Kit, Wavy Curly Hair Kit, Coily Curly Hair Kit and Beachy Keen Hair Kit.
In terms of finding a good volumizing shampoo and conditioner for my thick hair, I’m still looking for one that has that wow factor. I think many work well for fine hair but hair type does make a huge difference in performance. Some may feel that if you have thick hair you don’t really need a volume boost, I sometimes do need it and that’s where styling products come into play.
Don’t forget there are still a few more days for the Space NK Explore Promotion (US online only). Details in this post here but you can enter code BEAUTYNOW at checkout to save $20 off orders $100 or more. A few of you mentioned the code did not work for you – the issues have been fixed and it should work as long as you have non-sale items in your cart. The Space NK team did tell me if it still does not work you should be able to call their customer service and they will be able to help you. Brands they carry featured in this post include Oribe, Ouai, Bumble and Bumble, Gloss Moderne.
What are your favorite shampoos and conditioners for the summer? Do you
change things up when the seasons change or do you stick to your go-tos
Press samples featured include items from the Ouai (styling products only), Shu Uemura Art of Hair, and Gloss Moderne.
There are two new Oribe travel trios that just launched from Birchbox. I’ve been a lover of all things Oribe for a long time but if you’re like me you probably try items from the line piece by piece due to the splurgy prices. The two sets contain travel sizes of some styling products. One is called the Volume Set ($58) and the other is the Surf Set ($55). I die for minis so I think these two sets are just perfect. Both come in a compact clear zip case to hold for travel. All have that signature soft Oribe scent which is hard to describe but smells very distinct and heavenly.
First up is the Volume Set ($58, valued at $66) which contains three styling products for volume. I’m pretty low maintenance on my hair when it comes to volumizing because I have thick hair to begin with. Sometimes I like to use a texturizing product on the ends to add a bit of oomph to the hair, but I’m big on having soft touchable hair. Lots of volumizing products are great at adding volume but make the hair crunchy. Oribe manages to add volume but keep the hair still relatively soft.
In this set are purse-sized minis of:
Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse (2.5 oz) – This is a shake and dispense kind of foamy product that you apply to damp hair before styling. I use this before blow drying my hair and it adds volume throughout like nothing else I’ve tried. Hair is full and voluminous after using this one. My hair was left with some texture but still soft. On my hair the volume lasted all day long when I tried this in the morning. It really gives the hair a boost at the roots (which is what I look for when I do look for added volume).
Thick Dry Finishing Spray (2.2 oz) – This is a product designed to add a boost to your hair if your hair is prone to getting limp after a blow dry. Out of all the Oribe products I’ve tried this is one of the few that didn’t really do much for my hair – but there is a chance I’m not using this correctly. I’ve tried this a number of ways – after a blow dry, as a refresher, as a touch up product, before going out. It doesn’t really add volume or oomph. It does act like a hair refresher if it’s a tiny bit shiny at the scalp area. If you’ve used this please let me know how you use it! Based on reviews I’ve read, if you have fine hair you will see results. For those with thicker hair like mine, you might not see much of a difference.
Dry Texturizing Spray (2.2 oz) – This is one of my favorite hair texturizing products EVER. It’s part dry shampoo and part texturizer – I wash my hair daily but sometimes when it gets a bit oily this is the best oil absorber that doesn’t turn my hair white/grey/dusty looking. I know all dry shampoos say to brush out the product and that the white will disappear. Not all dry shampoos are the same and many make my hair look dusty and grey. The one from Oribe just works. It adds texture and volume and smells incredible.
Next is the Surf Set ($55) which I really adore. This one has items that are good for creating that slightly undone beachy kind of hair look. My hair has a slight natural wave – when I air dry it, it often gets very big and frizzy. Two of these are miracle workers.
In this set you get:
Surfcomber Tousled Texture Mousse (2.5 oz) – This is a mousse product that feels on the sticky side on the hands. I find this one best used on wet or damp hair and it will give your hair the perfect piecey-beachy kind of textured hair. I found it easy to overdo so I recommend using as little as possible. You do have to give it a good shake before you dispense. I love the results when using this either blow dried or air dried. Hair is left soft but still feels like there’s some texture in it. For me this is more on the high maintenance side so I probably wouldn’t use this on a regular basis.
Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray (2.1 oz) – Is a product that is similar to the Surfcomber in the sense it gives your hair that beachy tousled look, but gives the hair a bit of natural shine. The Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray is my favorite beach-hair kind of styling product. I apply it to the hair after washing and towel drying. I let the hair air dry and the result is a natural wavy frizz-free textured kind of look. I really love this one.
Supershine Moisturizing Cream (1.7 fl oz) – This is just as the name implies. It adds shine and moisture to the hair making it look healthy. It adds shine without getting too heavy or greasy looking (even by late afternoon or evening). It helps tame flyaways and reduces frizz. I find it helps a lot when my ends get dry looking or feeling. It’s like magic in a tube. I use it as a styling/finishing product best, but it also works as a pre-blowout kind of product to work through damp hair.
Both sets are winners in my opinion. I’ve rarely been let down by anything I’ve tried from Oribe. The only item I’m not 100% in love with is the Thick Dry Finishing Spray – but I need to consult one of my friends on how to use it as I’m pretty sure I’m not using it correctly. I would buy the full size of all other items (I have multiples in the mini sizes).
You can find the Surf Set ($55) and Volume Set ($58) online at Birchbox. You can buy most of the items in the travel size separately, but you do get a bit of a price break by buying the sets. There’s also the Purse Collection ($72) online which has minis of the Superfine Hair Spray, Dry Texturizing Spray, Apres beach Spray and Anti-Humidity Spray.
I highly recommend both sets, they each focus on achieving different looks for the hair, but you can’t go wrong with either. I love the travel sizes in general because they’re really cute. Even is something is phenomenal and comes with high ratings, I still like to try smaller sizes first.
Do you have any Oribe favorites? Please let me know! I die for the Cleansing Creme.
Both Oribe sets sent courtesy of Birchbox for review consideration.
I love testing new things in hair care and playing with different kinds of shampoos, oils and tools. Since the summer, my go-to daily shampoo and conditioner has been the Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo and Conditioner, but I’ve been experimenting with some new items and discovered some new favorites. For a bit My hair is thick and has a slight natural wave to it and extremely prone to frizz without any product or heat treatment. My hair color is natural – it’s never been colored or highlighted (at least not yet). I like to switch shampoos up and alternate frequently – I wash my hair daily, so sometimes I feel like it needs more moisture, other times it needs a clarifying rinse. The two lines of shampoos/conditioners I used up recently are the Moroccanoil and R+Co Moon Shine. If you have any favorites/recommendations please let me know what you think I should try next!
First up is the T3 PROi Professional Hair Dryer ($350, c/o). In terms of hair dryers, I’ve been a long time fan of Solano tools. In my experience they have been the best for my hair – they dry quickly, leave the hair shiny, smooth, glossy and frizz-free. I decided to give several other brands a try and nothing has given me the same results until I tried the T3 PROi. My beauty friend Rae raved about it and her hair always looks amazing everytime I see her – so I was thrilled to be able to try this. The PROi Hair Dryer comes with a mega hefty price tag but it does not disappoint. It far exceeded my expectations and allowed me to create a salon-quality results unlike anything I’ve tried before. My heart still belongs to Solano but this new one from T3 just might replace it’s spot as my new favorite. (For reference, the last one I bought was the Super Solano 3600 Ion.) The T3 PROicomes with 2 detachable nozzles, three different heat settings, a cool-shot option and two different intensities/speeds. It’s fairly lightweight for a full power full size dryer and easy to maneuver. The description says it’s supposed to cut the dry time – if you blow dry with completely wet hair, it will not (but you’ll still get amazing results). If you towel dry and then spend a couple minutes doing a rough dry first, the overall time to completely dry the hair is shortened compared to other dryers.
There are several different brushes that T3 launched. I decided to order the Freeflow Vent Brush ($17) first to try – it’s a good medium size brush and allows air to flow through the hair allowing for faster dry time. I like the design – it’s simple but aesthetically pleasing and seems very sturdy and well made. I’ve ordered a few more to try – I’ll do a more detailed review once I receive them. Good hair brushes are something I feel like I’m always searching for. I have good basic tools, but most of them look meh.
Next are three shampoos/cleansers. I’m a traditional liquid shampoo and conditioner kind of girl, but there are some really interesting products on the market that I would have never thought to use that surprised me. Maybe I’m late to the party, but I would have never thought to use scrubs or oils to clean the hair.
Above from left to right:
Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt ($52 for 250 ml, c/o) is something that is relatively new to the US. Christophe Robin is a colorist from France and launched his own salon and line of products. Net-A-Porter sent his new Cleansing Purifying Scrub for me to try a few months ago and so when I had the opportunity to meet him in person while he was in LA, I jumped at the chance. I will have a dedicated feature on more of his products soon, but in the meantime you can read about his story here. It was so great to learn about his story and the background behind the creation of his line. The Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt is an amazing clarifying product. It is a grained-paste product that you rub into your scalp. It rebalances the hair and rinses out completely without any residue left behind. It removes impurities and leaves the hair feeling squeaky clean. If you have normal to dry hair, you may need to follow with a moisture mask. For me this is a game changer. You can find his line at Net-A-Porter, Sephora and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo Gentle Radiance Cleanser x Maison Kitsune ($57 for 400 ml, c/o) has been on my radar for a while but the concept of using an oil to wash my hair just didn’t seem appealing to me. Still the Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo has cult-status and rightfully so. There are several formulas of the Cleansing Oil, the one I tried is the Limited-Edition Maison Kitsune in the Gentle Radiance Formula. It foams up into a really nice lather and cleans the hair really well. For me this is best used as once a week a clarifying treatment (alternating with the Christophe Robin) – at most 2x per week or on days after I work out. I do think it’s absolutely necessary to follow with some kind of rinse out conditioner if you use this one as it can be stripping if you skip. Some shampoos I don’t feel the need to use conditioner after, but this one you do.
Oribe Cleansing Crème for Moisture and Control ($44 for 8.5 oz/250 ml) is the most amazing cleansing creme I’ve tried. My local salon always uses some kind of cleansing creme to wash my hair before a cut but I’m particularly sensitive to scented hair products so I never end up purchasing what they use even though the results are amazing. I love all things Oribe although the line is fairly spendy so I feel like I have to keep this brand at arm’s length or it can get very expensive at the rate that I go through hair products. This one moisturizes perfectly and leaves the scalp feeling well nourished but clean. Hair is perfect afterwards – tangle free, smooth and left light and bouncy with a bit of natural shine. I don’t need to search for any other cleansing cremes as I have found THE ONE with the Oribe.
Last but not least are some hair treatments and finishing products. I’m always trying minis of hair oils, sprays, creams and what not. It takes me forever to use up anything because I have so much in rotation. Scent is a big deal to me. If a hair product smells too floral, too vanilla, too perfumey or strong, I simply won’t use it – no matter how good it is.
Above from left to right:
Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil ($49 for 100 ml, also in this travel set) is one of my favorite hair finishing oils. The full size is very expensive but you only need a little bit to coat the ends of the hair so it lasts a long time. It adds the perfect amount of shine to the hair, especially when the ends start to look or feel dry. It is fairly strongly scented but I love the way everything from Oribe smells.
Drybar The Chaser Shine Cream ($29 for 100 ml) this has made an appearance on my blog many times. I like it because it adds shine and also helps as a pre-heat treatment. It maintains and controls frizz and leaves the hair feeling ultra soft. My husband likes to use this one too.
Shu Uemura x Maison Kitsune Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil ($69 for 150 ml, c/o) smells amazing and has notes of camellia, grapefruit, white essence, musk and heliotrope. This is a multi-purpose oil. The directions say you can apply it on the hair pre-shampoo or afterwards as a leave-in product. I prefer to use it after shampoo either on slightly damp hair before I blow dry or just simply as a leave in product as my hair air dries. It’s nourishing but very lightweight and won’t weigh down the hair or make it look greasy. Hair absorbs it quickly so there’s no residue left afterwards if you touch your hair. One pump is more than enough to cover my hair (it’s a little past the shoulder length). I will definitely be repurchasing this once it is used up.
Kiehl’s Heat-Protective Silk Straightening Cream ($17 for 150 ml) this is something I bought in store a while ago. I needed something as an add on to qualify for an in store promo so I decided to try this. I had used the Creme with Silk Groom when I was in college and liked it but it can be very heavy and easy to overdo. The girl at the store recommended I try this since I heat treat my hair regularly. I really like it to help straighten the hair and keep it smooth looking. I found it makes a noticeable difference in the way the hair looks in terms of helping give a more straightened look.
Edward Bess Black Sea Hair Hero ($44 for c/o) is my favorite texturizing hair product. It helps add volume, smooths hair, adds texture. Full review in this post here. The bottle is huge and even with regular use it’s lasted me for like forever.
Original and Mineral Know Knott Detangling Spray ($26 for 250 ml) is the best detangling product I’ve tried. Some days my hair just feels extra tangled and there are knots in my hair even after shampoo + conditioner. A few sprays of this one makes any comb or brush glide through the hair easily without any tugging or pulling. I tried this at my salon in a mini first and loved it so much I bought the full size.
That wraps it up for new hair discoveries along with favorites I consider staples. Have you tried anything from any of these lines before? If yes please let me know what you recommend. If not, I’m open to other suggestions on what you’ve tried and love 🙂 Do you have any hair products you consider game changers? I’m in the market for a new liquid shampoo and conditioner – what should I try next?
Some items featured indicated with a “c/o” beside the product name were sent free of charge for review consideration. Other items purchased by me.
I picked up the T3 Compact Styling Set ($150, limited-edition set) from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. It’s a two-piece value set that comes with the Featherweight Compact Folding Dryer (retails separately for $150) and SinglePass Compact Flat Iron (retails separately for $79). I’ve had the compact dryer on my wishlist for a while and the sale helped me pull the trigger. Both are very compact and perfect for travel or if you have limited space in your bathroom. I’ve been testing both for a few days and have comparisons to other styling hair tools that I currently own.
The T3 Featherweight Compact Dryer is really well designed. It comes in a simple sleek black design with a removable nozzle. I like that it’s lightweight but still has a lot of power. The noise level is minimal, it’s designed with a quiet motor which you can still hear but it’s not as loud as others that I’ve tried. The handle absorbs vibration from the motor which is nice so it’s not bothersome if you have to dry your hair for an extended amount of time. It comes with 2 speeds and 2 heat settings along with a cool shot option. I have thick hair that gets frizzy without any hair treatment (product or styling tool) so it takes a long time for me to dry my hair. Dry time with this one was fairly quick – about 15 to 20 minutes when dried in sections.
I photographed the dryer in my hands so you could get a sense of the size. It’s small and compact but not too small. I like that it has a folding option which makes it nice for travel or storage. (On the nails is Chanel Le Vernis in Chataigne, new for fall.)
I now own three hair dryers with this purchase: T3 Featherweight Compact Folding Dryer, Drybar Buttercup Blow Dryer and a mini from Original & Mineral. The best ones I’ve owned were from Solano, in particular the Supersolano which is hands down well worth the price – it makes the hair ultra sleek and shiny and doesn’t overheat the hair. I went through two and after my second one died (after about 6 years) I decided to try new things. I wish I hadn’t because they are just so good.
Onto the ones I own. I’ve had the Drybar Buttercup Blow Dryer for quite some time and really like it. It dries the hair nicely, it’s large but not heavy, noise level isn’t too loud and it comes in a fun bright yellow color. Since it’s a larger dryer there is more room for options. It has three temperature settings, two speeds and self-lock cool shot so you don’t have to hold it down with your thumb.
I bought the Original & Mineral one that came in a Net-A-Porter set which is super cute and compact. It has a lot of power for something that tiny, but unfortunately the design is very simplistic and the handle doesn’t absorb any vibrations so you can feel it in your hand. It does a good job at drying the hair quickly though which is nice.
The T3 Compact Dryer has less power compared to the Drybar, but more power than the O&M. I’ve brought the Drybar one with me on trips although it does take up a lot of space. The T3 is much more travel-friendly. It’s also dual voltage 125V/250V for worldwide use while the Drybar option is 100V/120V and requires a step-down converter + adapter.
Close ups of the options:
The T3 SinglePass Compact Flat Iron is basically a free add-on with the Nordstrom Anniversary Set. I purchased the SinglePass Straightening Iron (full size) a number of years ago and hated it. It left my hair frizzy and made it look fried. Based on the number of rave reviews on the compact version, I decided to give it a try since the set came at a really good price. The SinglePass Compact Flat Iron performs much better than the Full Size (maybe I had a dud), but I would say for me it doesn’t really live up to the name “single pass.” It takes at least two passes per section for my super thick hair but it does leave the hair shiny, sleek and smooth. I could probably section off smaller amounts of hair but it would take 3 times longer to straighten everything. The iron is really well designed and comes with a cap which I wish all flat irons came with.
Comparisons to two other flat irons I own. GHD Bird of Paradise is a full-size flat iron that measures 26.5 cm long with plates that are 2.4 cm x 9 cm. I’ve had this since December of last year and really like it although out of all the flat irons I’ve owned, the HAI Ceramic Convertible Iron is hands down the best one I’ve tried (mine died after I dropped it on a hard surface, but it lasted 4 years before it stopped working).
The CHI Smart Titanium Ceramic Travel Iron is fairly new to me. I received this one at a QVC event a few weeks ago and really like it. I can’t find the temperature listing anywhere but I was told it heats up to 390 degrees. This one measures 22 cm long with plates that are 2 cm x 7.5 cm. For my hair it does a better job at straightening with a single stroke but it is very small so it takes longer to straighten my hair.
The T3 SinglePass Compact Flat Iron by comparison heats up to 410 degrees. It’s similar in size to the CHI. The T3 Compact Iron is 22 cm long with plates that are 2 cm wide x 7.8 cm long.
I’m overall really pleased with the set. I had the Compact Dryer on my wishlist and the Flat Iron with this set was an added bonus. I really like the Dryer – it performs well, it’s compact and well designed. It will be my travel dryer for all my upcoming trips.
For the flat iron I have mixed feelings. With any travel sized flat iron I think it should be expected that it won’t work the same as a full sized flat iron for my super thick hair. The T3 SinglePass Compact Flat Iron works well but it takes more time for me to straighten my hair compared to ones from GHD and HAI. Out of the two travel flat irons I featured, I have a slight preference for the CHI, although the two are very close in performance. The T3 has a more visually pleasing design and the cap is an added bonus for me (even though many brands have an extra storage or carrying case for travel).
That being said I have close friends who are die-hard loyal fans of T3 and swear by the line. Since I don’t need two travel flat irons, I will probably be regifting this one to a friend.
The T3 Compact Styling Set retails for $150 and is currently a Nordstrom Anniversary Beauty Exclusive (it’s a $229 value). In case you miss out on the sale this month, you can purchase the Featherweight Compact Dryer and SinglePass Compact Flat Iron individually. I give the compact dryer a huge thumbs up and the compact flat iron a semi-thumbs up mainly because I am super picky about flat irons in general, but it’s great for the size and travel purposes.
Did you check out the T3 Styling Set from the sale? Do you have any T3 favorites? If not what are your favorite styling tools?
The CHI flat iron was gifted as a press sample. All other items purchased by me.
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?