My Favorite Hair Products

March 7, 2019 | |

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My favorite hair productsFun fact: I’ve been obsessed with hair for as long as I can remember. My hair, other people’s hair, bobs, waist-length locks…I’m deeply fascinated by hair and the endless ways you can style it. As a kid, my mom used to blow-dry my hair on the reg because I loved it so much—she was definitely a hair stylist in a past life—and in high school and college, I used to put my hair in hot rollers multiple times a week. (It would have obviously been a lot easier to use a curling iron, but I liked the rollers. The process was relaxing, and I’ve always been a little bit “extra.”)

My hair has had quite the journey over the past three decades. I’ve had long hair and short hair. Side parts, and middle parts, and bangs. Keratin treatments (back when no one was worried about the toxicity). A particularly atrocious Winona Ryder pixie cut and extensions. Last year, I went from brunette to blonde, which has been quite the adventure.

Given my fondness for hair, I do my best to take the best possible care of mine. I’ve tested endless great and not-so-great products over the years, so I thought I would share some of my all-time favorites—from shampoo to hairspray—that keep my hair in its happiest, healthiest state.

Here’s to more good hair days, friends!

My Favorite Hair Products:

1. Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance ShampooThis shampoo is one of three products in the at-home Olaplex “system,” which strengthens hair by repairing broken bonds. As someone with colored hair who is also naturally prone to frizz, I’m particularly concerned about breakage. I want my hair to be smooth and shiny, dammit! My colorist does the Olaplex No. 1 and 2 treatments in the salon, which begins the process of repairing hair/preventing damage by rebuilding any broken bonds, and then I use the Olaplex shampoo and No. 3 treatment (discussed below) at home. I typically wash my hair twice a week with this shampoo (and once with the Shu Uemura Cleansing Milk below), and it keeps my hair strong and moisturized.

Note: You don’t NEED the in-salon treatments to use Olaplex products at home, but the shampoo, conditioner, and No. 3 treatment are supposedly more effective if you do have No. 1 and 2.

2. Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Nourishing Cleansing MilkThis cleansing milk doesn’t foam, which is weird at first, but I’ve gotten used to it. It’s described as a “cleansing conditioner,” so I simply work it into my hair from root to tip, and then rinse it out. No additional conditioner necessary, and my hair feels positively SILKY afterward. Like I said, I use this between washes with my Olaplex shampoo—it’s best on semi-dirty hair, not super greasy strands.

3. Shu Uemera Silk Bloom Restorative Treatment Mask for Damaged HairThis product may be billed as a hair mask, and while I occasionally use it as such, I also use it as my regular conditioner. I use an amount similar to what I would with any other conditioner (about ¼ as much as I would use if I was “masking), leave it in for a minute or two (versus 15-20), then rinse it clean. After testing several conditioners, I’ve found that using this product keeps my hair in the best condition.

*Some of you may be wondering why I don’t use the Olaplex No. 5 Conditioner given that I use the shampoo and No. 3 treatment. It simply wasn’t hydrating enough for my hair and left it feeling a little crunchy. 

4. Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3This bond strengthening treatment is a weekly ritual for me, and I notice a significant change in my hair’s texture/shine for the worse when I don’t use it. I wet my hair, apply a generous amount from root to tip, leave it for at least 20 minutes (since I have the luxury of working from home, I’ll sometimes leave it in for a full 24 hours), then shampoo and condition my hair as usual.

Note: This is NOT a moisturizing mask or a replacement for one—it’s a strengthening/anti-breakage treatment. I still use a weekly moisturizing mask as well.

5. Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning MaskBless Instagram targeted advertising for bringing this mask into my life. I’ve been doing it once a week for the past few months, and it’s given my hair a big boost in the softness and shine departments. I rake a generous amount through my hair and leave it in for about 10 minutes before rinsing. When I’m feeling like a super diva, I’ll apply it, twist my hair into a bun, put on a face mask, and then take a bath before rinsing it out….

6. Aquis Lisse Luxe Hair TurbanI’ve been using the regular Lisse Luxe long hair towel for years, but I recently switched over to the turban, and it’s delightful. It’s lightweight (wrapping a regular bath towel around my head hurts my neck #firstworldproblems), stays perfectly in place, and absorbs so much water from my hair that it requires significantly less blow-drying. It also prevents breakage that can be caused by vigorously rubbing your wet hair with a towel. HALLELUJAH. I Highly recommend snagging one for yourself, if for no other reason than to feel glamorous while rocking an artfully twisted towel turban. 

7. Wet BrushThis detangling brush has been a game changer for me. I don’t know what kind of fancy technology it employs, but it doesn’t pull my hair out and for that, I am very grateful. 

8. DRYBAR The Wrap Party Styling WandI’ve been curling/waving my hair for almost 20 years (eek?), and no other iron or wand has ever given me better tousled waves. It’s thinner at the base rather than at the tip so you can get closer to the root, and it just works. (If you’re interested, I did a hair waving tutorial on Instagram Stories that’s saved in my highlights.) I’m tempted to go full Kanye here and say that this is the best curling iron of ALL TIME. 

9. The Ouai Texturizing Hair SprayWhen it comes to everyday hairspray, this stuff is my go-to. It’s medium hold and gives me the perfect amount of extra volume and texture to rough up my waves and make them feel “artfully undone,” if you will. It also happens to double as a mild dry shampoo on days when I’m not quite greasy but could still use some freshening.

*Vital Proteins Collagen PeptidesWhile this may not be considered a traditional “hair product,” I felt the need to mention it, as my regular collagen habit has noticeably thickened my hair over the past couple of years. For all the groovy details on collagen, check out this blog post.

As always, I shall leave you with my favorite DISCLAIMER: Haircare, like skincare, is extremely personal. I have fine, slightly wavy, colored hair that’s prone to frizziness. Your hair is extraordinarily unlikely to be exactly like my hair, and things that work for me may not work for you. (Sad, but true.) I always recommend purchasing products via Sephora or Blue Mercury, which have awesome return policies, should you decide to experiment with something and not love it. xox, Captain Obvious

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  1. betsyh on July 8, 2020 at 6:06 am

    love my wet brush! I honestly use it more than my mason pearsons. I have been on the fence about Olaplex but now have got it in my Sephora cart!!

    • Serena Wolf on July 8, 2020 at 6:07 am

      Right? I love MP, especially for blow-drying, but wet brush has my heart when it comes to detangling prowess. Fingers crossed for Olaplex success!

  2. Ally on July 8, 2020 at 5:44 am

    Wet Brush! I never thought I would like a grocery store brush, but while on vacation in the mountains, the boy knocked my Mason Pearson in the toilet, and in his attempt to assuage what could have been very bad, ran out and brought back the Wet Brush. The Wet Brush saved our vacation, and maybe relationship, and now I doubt I will go back to the previous!

    • Serena Wolf on July 8, 2020 at 6:06 am

      Ahhh this is simultaneously the saddest and happiest story ever!! Bless the boy.

    • betsyh on July 8, 2020 at 6:07 am

      omg your poor MP!!!

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