It took me nearly 30 years to figure out my hair. It’s not that my hair is unruly, nor is it too thick or too thin or even too curly or straight. It’s somewhere in the middle of all of these things – medium fullness and wavy, but it looks terrible when left to its own devices. If I let my hair air-dry after a shower, I look downright homeless. Parts are curlier than others, parts are stuck flat to my head, yet other areas stick up and look like I’ve been electrocuted. It’s not cute.
After decades of trying hundreds of products, styling tips, and fads, I have settled into a routine that seems to work for me. I recently I realized that I haven’t had a bad hair day in about a year. Holy crap. In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of the “no-poo” supporters, in that I think washing your hair every day is making your hair hate you and revolt against you. Unlike the people who have ditched shampoo altogether, I use it a couple times a week instead of every day. I always thought I had crazy oily hair, and I shampooed it every day for most of my life. Turns out I was just aggravating my scalp, and actually drying it out, which made my scalp work to overcompensate it by producing more oil. Cutting back on shampoo really sucked at first, and just rinsing my hair with conditioner on the off days sounds like it would be disgusting, but after a few weeks my hair started just feeling… better. Fuller, less oily, shinier, smoother. I doubt that it’s good for everyone, but I know many people with different hair types who follow a similar routine with success.
Now that you are familiar with my special needs hair, I present to you my absolute favorite hair products, without which I would look like a hot mess every day, keeping the hair struggle alive.
1. John Frieda Full Repair Full Body Shampoo & Conditioner – $5.99 – For the latest in News That Will Shock No One, the shampoo and conditioner that you use is really important. I had a long love affair with Nexxus that I am still recovering from, but it ended when I tried John Frieda’s Full Repair line. My sister gushed about how great it is for months before I finally took the plunge. She has finer hair than I do, so I wasn’t sure it was going to be for me. From the first time I used this shampoo/conditioner combo, I started having great hair days. It’s the perfect combination of smoothing and volumizing, without drying or weighing hair down. The conditioner rinses clean and makes my hair so soft and full. I have also noticed that I have needed fewer hair cuts and my hair has been growing a bit faster since I started using it. Is it in my mind? Maybe, but I don’t have nearly as many fly aways or split ends! This also comes in giant pump bottles for $12.99 at Ulta.
2. Nexxus Mousse Plus Volumizing Foam – $9.99 – This is the best volumizing mousse for the price point, hands down. You don’t need much, and it makes your hair really nice without looking like there’s product in it or weighing it down. I’ve been using this mousse for about 4 years, and I absolutely love it. Every once in a while I will try another mousse that comes in a subscription box or I hear great things about, and none of them has ever held a candle to what the Nexxus mousse does for me.
3. Conair 2″ Wet·Dry Tourmaline Ceramic Straightener with Straightening Pins – $46.99 – I have been straightening my hair every day since high school. I’ve gone through a lot of straighteners, and I’ve tried many brands and price points of straightening irons, and what I have realized is this: brand means nothing in the world of straightening irons. I got this iron as a gift a few years back, and I loved it until the minute I accidentally dropped it in a hotel toilet while it was plugged in. I replaced it with a very expensive Chi, which proved to be useless on my hair. Back to my tried and true Conair. The wider the straightener, the faster it will straighten. I think this 2″ straightener is the widest one I’ve ever seen. I’ve tried little 1″ plate straighteners, and I had to go over my hair repeatedly until it was straight. This particular straightener also has pins in the plate, which combs your hair while you straighten it.
4. Curve body powder – $6.95 (I only buy it on Amazon so I have no idea what the actual price is) – I think I have tried every dry shampoo produced in the past 20 years, but never has one refreshed my locks better than just sprinkling some baby powder on my hair on the days I am just too lazy to shower (I mean, it happens). Unfortunately, the smell of baby powder makes me want to vomit. When I discovered that Liz Claiborne is still making Curve body powder (which is basically baby powder for adults), I was 1. shocked that my middle school scent of choice was still hanging in there, and 2. thrilled that maybe I could put it on my head. Seriously, screw dry shampoo, this stuff is the bomb-dot-com. I just sprinkle some on my hands and then lightly brush it through my hair, and it looks like I’m not nearly the lazy unshowered disgusting monster that I am. And I don’t smell like a baby’s ass all day.
5. Bumble & Bumble Cityswept Finishing Spray – $30 – This stuff is amaaaaaaaaazing! When I put beach waves in my hair (with The Beachwaver, which would have made the list if I had the time to use it more often), they would fall out immediately if I didn’t use some sort of hair spray after. A close runner up would be Oribe’s superfine hairspray, but nothing comes close to the soft texture that Cityswept gives me. It requires an EXTREMELY light mist, so the bottle lasts forever and my waves stay all day (and night). 10 thumbs up on this one.
6. Lollies hair ties – $8 for 3 – I love subscription boxes for many reasons, one being that every so often I discover a new product to fall in love with that I probably would never have heard of otherwise. These puppies came in a PopSugar box a few months back, and I already plan on buying more whenever I lose/break one. They are strong, tight, and super cute. I hadn’t gotten a compliment on a hair tie since my scrunchies days, but now people actually comment on how cute these are.
So there you have it, folks – this is what makes my hair tick. I think if I had one conclusive point to make, it would be that swanky salon-tier products are great, but there’s no reason to spend so much when there are solid options available for half the price.