Expert Selected Best Hair Products of 2012
Mane taming has become much easier with this new line of brushes designed expressly for thick hair. Goody's ThickFix brushes feature long, flexible bristles to detangle. None of the brushes contain metal spokes, which can conduct heat from a dryer and burn hair, which makes it a safer alternative for any hair type. "As a colorist, I'm constantly blamed for any damage caused to my clients' hair, when in fact one of the biggest causes of damage is the brush used for blow-drying," says Kyle White, a colorist at New York's Oscar Blandi salon. "I recommend that my clients use one of these brushes at home," he says, "and that they bring it to the salon for use if they're going for a blow-out."
COLOR-SAVING HAIR CARE
After creating a groundbreaking ammonia-free hair color line, L'Oréal Professionnel now launches a companion line to care for color at home. INOAColor Care features argan oil, which replenishes the natural lipids in the outer layer of hair and helps vibrant color last longer. Green tea extract is also included, for its antioxidant power, to prevent the depth and tone of color from turning or fading. "This is one of our favorite products to use in the salon; — it truly conditions hair and leaves it super shiny," raves celebrity colorist Doug Macintosh of John Sahag salon in New York City.
CURLY HAIR STYLER
Curls without crunch are possible with Alterna's new styling cream, which utilizes bamboo and yucca to shape flexible hold. Free of parabens, phthalates, gluten, mineral oil, petrolatum, and PABA, the cream contains certified organic ingredients that are fair-trade compliant and that support the sustainable development of local communities.
Jet Rhys, owner of the Jet Rhys Salon in San Diego, says the cream delivers. "Unlike most curl products, this really did leave my hair touchable and bouncy without getting stiff," she says. And the founder of Grettacole salons, Gretta Monahan, is a believer, she says, "I gave this to a curly-haired friend of mine who said it was the best curly cream she's ever tried!"
In an effort to keep our hair bouncy and fresh, some of us resort to daily cleansing. But frequent washing can actually backfire and weigh strands down, making hair limp and even creating frizz. Pantene's new shampoo contains lightweight moisturizers and none of the silicones that can be the source of hair-flattening film. "This is an ideal approach for tackling fine-hair issues," says Monahan. White agrees, saying, "This product delivers moisture to hair without weighing it down, which will also keep your color from fading and will make your shine last longer."
Cleanse and condition while treating those embarrassing flakes in one step with Jāsön's new all-in-one shampoo, which helps control scalp dermatitis and mild psoriasis. "I'm a fan of this line!" says New York holistic plastic surgeon Shirley M. Madhere, MD. "The shampoo is a medicated product, with sulfur and salicylic acid that will help manage dry scalp conditions while moisturizing," she explains. The treatment also includes olive oil, jojoba, rosemary, and patchouli to help nourish and condition the scalp for healthier hair growth.
DEEP CONDITIONING MASK
For dry, overprocessed, and damaged hair that's extremely delicate, this new intensive mask by L'Oréal Professionnel offers a near-miracle cure. The mask's star ingredient, lactic acid, penetrates the hair shaft to reach the junctions that bond hair layers together to restore and repair them, adding strength and elasticity. "This is a standout from other conditioners I've tried. It left my client's hair feeling soft and as if it was coated in a layer of silk," says Rhys. Celebrity stylist Matt Fugate, of New York's Sally Hershberger salon, agrees. "I worked it into the ends really well," he says, "and found this was absolutely amazing on thick hair."
Suave tops the list of this newly emerging category with a light, dry conditioning spray that renews shine, silkiness, and hydration between washings with sunflower seed extract and shea butter. "I absolutely love this product. The application couldn't be easier, and the resulting whisper-light shine and hydration is amazing," says Monahan. "You can even use this as a solution to the dull and drab results some experience after using traditional dry shampoos," she adds.
Fugate is a fan of the bargain price, and says those with certain hair types should make it a part of their daily routine: "For girls with curly hair or super-blond tresses, this is a great addition that will give you a quick burst of moisture!"
FINE-HAIR FRIZZ FIGHTER
The John Frieda name is synonymous with frizz-fighting innovation, thanks to the iconic Frizz-Ease serum, which debuted more than 20 years ago. This new take on the technology, with a dual-phase formula, is made expressly for fine to medium hair. One half is a lightweight serum; the other half is a water solution. When combined, the fluid nourishes hair with light moisture.
White put it to the test and was impressed with its performance on fine-haired clients. "The serum fills holes in the hair cuticle, smoothing the outer layer of hair, and the solution infuses moisture in the hair shaft," he explains. "It essentially attacks frizz in two ways, and the formula is perfect for damaged fine hair that can otherwise be so easily weighed down."
Eliminate the frizz from a woman's hair and you've made her day — if not her week. This serum makes the feat possible, with avocado oil and mango butter to seal out frizz and smooth locks, with a big gulp of hydration. The budget-friendly find was a hit with our experts. "I say yes to this!" says Fugate, adding, "It's yummy and easy to use, and it spreads without residue on my hands, which is a great sign."
Monahan even thinks it's the best of the best. "This is one of my favorite products of all time. The results are amazing, the scent is lovely, and I rely on it daily," she says. Says Macintosh, "This was a big hit at the salon. We loved it because it really killed the frizz without adding weight."
Hair oils have overrun store shelves lately, but Pureology's version stands out as the Swiss Army knife of treatments. The oil is a multitasker — it has multiple uses as a preshampoo treatment, a leave-in conditioner, an anti-frizz serum, a detangling elixir, a curl revitalizer, and more. Pureology Precious Oil rebuilds lipid content, which in turn enables hair to repel water and maintain color. Enriched with coconut, sunflower seed, olive, and jojoba seed oils, the formula is the first hair oil to receive the Green Seal, meaning it's biodegradable, free of silicones and parabens and has minimal environmental impact.
"My hair became light reflective, and the color looked magically refreshed!" cheered Rhys, who is a platinum blond. Monahan found that the oil worked for different hair types, and she instructs, "People with normal hair should apply from mid-shaft down; those with curly or coarse hair can use it all over to restore luster."
This spray accomplishes the superwoman task of pairing heat protection with volume-building body. The power derives from a complex blend of elastic polymers and nutrient-rich marine collagen. "My favorite aspect of this product is how the uniquely shaped bottle is so easy to hold in my hand," says Rhys of the grip-ready design. "The fine mist left my clients' hair voluminous and flexible, not tacky or gummy like other blow-dry products." Fugate enjoyed the spray, too. "If you're blowing your hair out daily," he says, "the type of thermal protection you get in this product is a must!"
OILY SCALP CARE
The excess sebum that plagues oily scalps can smother hair follicles, slowing growth and fueling the production of more oil, which weighs hair down, making it feel "dirty" quickly. René Furterer offers relief with a two-in-one shampoo and scalp mask. A powerful regulator of sebum production, Curbicia (squash seed) extract combines with rhassoul hectorite, a mineral clay, to draw out impurities and leave hair with clean, bouncy volume. Essential oils of thyme, rosemary, and clove provide antibacterial benefits and further balance the scalp.
Our experts were completely besotted by the shampoo. "Genius and innovative — I loved the use of clay to keep strands free of buildup!" says Monahan. And, according to Rhys, "The lovely, thick texture works through hair easily, and one of my clients said the fresh lemon scent made shampooing feel like a spa experience."
Flat-iron aficionados and those who are dye-dependent can rejoice: Restore Recovery Regimen from Living Proof can provide immediate emergency help as either a conditioner for wet hair or a leave-in treatment for dry hair. "It provides measured doses of the brand's famed polyfluoroester [hydrolyzed wheat protein and amino acids], which creates a smooth layer on strands to lock down the cuticle," explains cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson, vice president of Research and Innovation at Englewood Lab in New Jersey. "The polyfluoroester repels water and oils so the film lasts longer than any other on the market, and each new dose reinforces the previous layer to leave hair looking stronger."
Rhys tested the cream on clients and reports, "I love that the thick texture is easy to apply to hair without dripping, and hair was left feeling restructured after rinsing." White also sings the treatment's praises, suggesting that "this regimen is great for high-lift blonds and heavily processed hair."
Gray roots can seem to sprout like laundry piles — didn't you just do them? Yet the plethora of gray root "markers" and other quick fixes on store shelves offer only a fleeting solution, lasting until your next shampoo. With Root Erase, Revlon marries the idea of a quick root touch-up with permanent hair color. The precision-tip applicator bottle offers precise control of color application to the roots only, whether in narrow or wide sections, thanks to an oval-shaped head.
The ammonia-free formula takes 10 minutes, from start to finish, to process, and there are a dozen 100 percent gray-coverage color options, which span blond, brown, red, and black hair colors. "The applicator is goof-proof, and the quick process time is ideal for addressing visible roots — I know my clients love getting more time between full-color appointments!" says Monahan.
Frizz, fly-aways, and split ends have one root cause: hair that is dry and damaged. Dove addresses all three styling grievances with a moisturizing serum that nourishes the outer shell of hair's cuticle layer and adds shine. "'Wow!' was our reaction in the salon!" Macintosh says. "It's very lightweight and gave hair tons of shine, which I think is also due to the mica and titanium dioxide in the formula."
Meanwhile, Rhys was impressed by the way the product performed on thin strands. "On fine hair, this creamy serum was lightweight and soft, without getting greasy, like most serums do on this hair type." And Wilson described it as a home run for your pocketbook: "What this product offers is value — it uses the same ingredients as the most expensive salon brands, for under $5!"
SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER
Natural honey extract is the main ingredient employed by these products to supply the density-rich protein necessary to reinforce hair. The formula works by coating each strand in a protective shield that mimics the natural F-layer of hair. This layer is a water-repelling surface that acts like a raincoat to keep the inner core of hair safely insulated from damage. However, color processing and styling with high heat can abrade the F-layer, leaving hair frizzy and easily breakable.
Says White, "These products are great to use to restore the silky feeling of hair, and I like that honey is used as the main source of moisture and protein."
If you'd like to enjoy hair-smoothing benefits without getting a professional salon smoothing treatment, Ojon's shampoo may be your answer. The formula features the blue mineral known as azurite, which has enjoyed a rich history as a mythical healing element since the days of the ancient Maya. Today, however, the mineral interacts seemingly magically with hot tools. "Azurite acts as a conduit for heat transfer from blow-dryers and flat irons, and it straightens hair," explains White.
In addition, a sulfate-free plant keratin formula seals in moisture and forms a barrier against humidity. "It's also loaded with ingredients derived from coconut," adds White, "which is one of my favorite ingredients for healthy hair."
If you don't have the patience for keratin treatments that need to sit in order to process properly, Sally Hershberger's new serum provides a quick hit of the renowned restorative ingredient. With no alcohol, silicones, or greasy oils, the pure keratin barrier the serum creates repels frizz and revitalizes strands to give hair a younger look and feel. The serum can be applied to wet or dry hair for smooth polish, and it doubles as a heat protectant as well.
Our experts were thrilled with the results after experimenting with multiple uses. "The serum cut down on frizz like a champ!" says Monahan. Says Rhys, "I used it as a thermal protector before blow-drying, and I thought it was genius." And Macintosh raves, "We tried it in all the different ways it was recommended on the box and loved it. What a smart traveling product, too, with multiple uses in one product!"
Nothing can completely rid hair of split ends except a trim, but this serum is the closest you'll get to a fix. Silk peptides fuse split ends together, while botanical keratin, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and pomegranate extract work to reconstruct, nourish, and strengthen holes in the hair. Monahan extols the silicone-free formula, saying, "This is a truly effective product that's great for maintaining healthy-looking strands between cuts." Fugate found it worked exceptionally well. "This is a genius serum that applies like a cream," he says, "so warm it up in your hands so you don't shellac it on, and go for the ends first."
This new tool by Sarah Potempa makes a polished updo possible — for women of all styling abilities. You put your hair in a ponytail, slide the end of your hair in the Wrap-Up, roll it forward, and bend the ends together to secure it. Celebrity stylist Potempa designed the outer casing of the wrap to be plush and soft to prevent hair tugging and damage. "I gave it to a client and watched her do it herself for the first time," says Rhys. "The result was a tidy and secure topknot in a snap! She instantly e-mailed her friends about it on her phone. I predict this is going to sell out quickly."
White is just as smitten with the tool: "It was so simple, even for me — a colorist who is so inept at styling hair that I can't even hold a blow-dryer and a brush at the same time!"
Beach wave sprays are crowding the product aisles these days, but their formulas often leave a salty stiffness in hair. Oribe turns hair sumptuously soft with a beach wave complex of hydrolyzed wheat protein, provitamin B5, a "unique" copolymer, and amber extract that swell the hair shaft and give it a wavy texture. "Curls and waves are dull by nature," says White, "since they don't reflect light as much as straight locks do — so combining a wave spray with a shine enhancer is innovative and genius."
He tried the spray on both wet and dry hair with equal success and says, "Oribe's products are arguably the most luxe available. From the packaging to the ingredients, no expense is spared, and this spray is no exception." Monahan discovered an alternate use for the spray: "I found that it reactivated waves and curls with incredible shine."
It can take six months to a year for results to show when you try to grow more hair with the help of medication or supplements. Nioxin's thickening treatment offers instant gratification to anyone facing thinning hair by increasing the diameter of existing hairs. Four ingredients in the formula effect the change: caffeine improves follicle hydration for a healthier scalp, panthenol penetrates to the cortex of hair to strengthen strands, niacinamide improves the moisture barrier function to yield more robust body, and dimethicone acts as a protective polymer to thinly coat and volumize strands.
Rhys says the results were clear when she tried it on clients: "Unlike some thickening treatments, there was no heavy residue, and the hair maintained swingy movement throughout."
TWO-IN-ONE SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER
The beauty giant's first launch of a two-in-one cleansing shampoo for the mass market is a sulfate-free, low-lathering formulation that's ideal for thick, curly, or very dry hair. It was inspired by the prestige hair trend of using conditioning shampoos for healthier and more hydrated hair. Free of heavy waxes that can coat and weigh strands down, the EverCréme conditioner instead contains camelina, apricot, and grape seed oils, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, to purify hair while moisturizing it. "I love how this product is so innovative in not requiring two steps to cleanse," says Rhys. "It was easy to apply and left my hair feeling very moisturized." Our other experts see its potential to fit certain styling needs and lifestyles. "This is a good, safe option for Brazilian blow-outs and keratin-straightened hair," says White. And Fugate says, "This is great for workout-aholics who need a shampoo they can use daily."
WAVY HAIR SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER
For big, bad waves, Toronto-based stylist Marc Anthony introduces a shampoo and conditioner with conditioning polymers that coax more shape from waves and add body and bounce while blocking out humidity for a reliably longer-lasting style. Hydrolyzed silk and provitamin B5 are added for deep hydration that produces glassy shine. Nutrient-rich sunflower seed oil, soothing aloe, and a lavish amount of shea butter are included to condition waves for a smooth texture that doesn't look dry or crunchy.
"In addition to the styling ingredients," says Monahan, "I love the inclusion of UV protectors in the formula!"
Whether you're fighting frizz, flatness, or fading color, these expert-tested products offer solutions for every hair problem. Click through the slideshow above to find out the products that will make every day a good hair day.
Photo Credit: Daily Glow