Warning: Long, rambly post coming up ahead!
It wasn’t until recently in the past year that I started to seriously invest in hair care. Although I became slightly interested in skincare during high school due to acne and then makeup later in college, I never thought much of spending money on quality hair products for some reason. For most of my life, I just used cheap drugstore shampoos and conditioners like Pantene and Dove- basically whatever my parents bought in bulk from Costco. I also tried the occasional leave-in conditioner and hair mask, but nothing really worked, and I was mostly resigned to having dry hair with oily roots. It was a revelation when I discovered dry shampoo and no longer had to wash my hair every other day, but my hair’s condition didn’t really improve by much, even with less washing.
Last year, after ages of lusting over the balayage ombré hair trend, I finally decided to make the jump when I found a hair stylist in my area whose work I really loved on Instagram. The price and the awful thought of exacerbating my hair’s dryness had deterred me before, but I finally decided to go for it. (Probably due to a particularly long session of scrolling through pretty pictures of pastel hair on Instagram. The recent bonus from work also helped…) I initially just scheduled a simple hair cut with the stylist, but after meeting and liking her a lot, I decided to book a second appointment for the balayage. I had to wait almost five months as that was the earliest time she was available on a weekend, but I was in no rush.
Sadly, the first session fell short of my expectations. My hair was yellower than what I had requested (I wanted an ashy brown), although the blending was gorgeous so in the end I didn’t mind. If I remember correctly, the total was close to $400 (including tip). The other unfortunate thing was that the bleach really fried my hair. Because it was my first time dyeing my hair, my stylist recommended not adding on Olaplex. I don’t know how much it would have helped, but my hair was pretty damaged from the bleach. My hair got even drier and more brittle, and I noticed that I had a lot of breakage and increased split ends. It also got ridiculously tangled very easily.
I had purchased color-safe hair care products prior to my balayage appointment, the Hydrating Shampoo, Conditioner, and the Leave-In Mist from Verb at Sephora, mostly because I felt for some silly reason that I needed to buy something higher-end. I got the Hydrate Kit ($32) which is no longer available, although you can still buy the products separately. Unfortunately, these didn’t do anything for me at all in terms of hydrating my hair and were basically a waste of money.
In a panic, I emailed my stylist for help and she responded with some recommendations. I ended up purchasing several of her suggestions and found a few products that I really liked. My hair got slightly better after a while and felt less like straw, and… then I fried it again, 5 months later, as I was still in love with the pastel hair color trend. But look! The ashy lavender purple I got was so pretty! My stylist took a lovely picture (below) after we finished. I opted for a something subtle since I work in a more conservative office environment and this fit the bill perfectly. (So perfectly, in fact, that barely anyone even noticed my hair was purple.) The second time around, I did get Fanola FiberFix added (the salon stopped using Olaplex) but it didn’t seem to make a huge difference.
Unfortunately, the purple toner lasted a very short time, as my stylist had warned me it would. After one wash, my hair was barely purple and just kind of grey. After two washes, it was completely gone and I was left with an ashy brown, which was still very pretty, but left me feeling sad that the purple faded so quickly. Well, that was the downside to getting a color so subtle.
Fast forward to today- my last appointment was in October, so it’s been around six months since I had my hair done. Although I miss the purple and my hair has grown out a bit, it still looks really great! (Seriously, my stylist’s blending skills are amazing.) I was originally planning to schedule another appointment for this month, but I think my hair needs a longer break so I’m putting it off for now. Using purple shampoo in between (I use Fanola’s) is also drying for my hair and slows down any progress I make, unfortunately.
Anyway, I went on for far too long about the history of my hair, but what I really wanted to talk about was my current hair care routine! My hair is still really dry, fragile, and prone to breakage, but I’ve made some significant improvements with the products I’ll talk about below. Generally, I wash my hair every four days and very rarely style with heat (I just air dry because I’m lazy). I will usually need to use dry shampoo two days after washing my hair.
Joico K-Pak Color Therapy Shampoo & Conditioner, 10.1 oz or 1 L/33.8 oz
I bought these off my stylist’s recommendation and have repurchased already! The shampoo is nice- it cleans well and isn’t drying. I only use it to wash my roots to avoid making my ends drier. However, the conditioner is the real standout for me. It very noticeably makes my hair softer and helps detangle. I’m interested in Joico’s other hair care lines as well but haven’t made the jump yet!
It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Product, 4 oz
Another recommendation from my stylist. This is hands down my favorite leave-in treatment that I have ever used. This also makes my hair softer and helps detangle. I believe you’re only supposed to spritz this a couple times on hair, but I can use a lot (e.g. 10 – 15 sprays) and my dry hair still drinks it all in. I also really like this because it doesn’t weigh my hair down. I’ve repurchased this already too and am halfway through my second bottle.
Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil, 3.4 oz
This is the only item I regret buying off my stylist’s recommendation. It is really luxurious to use and it smells amazing just like all of Oribe’s products, but just doesn’t provide enough hydration for my ends. I still think it’s a good product as the oil never leaves your hair greasy and absorbs quickly, but for something at this price point, I expect something close to a miracle. Honestly, if this worked better for me, I wouldn’t mind shelling out as it lasts a really long time (I’m around halfway through the bottle and I’ve had this for 8 months). But I won’t be repurchasing this. I think my hair just needs something a lot more heavy duty. This is probably fine for most hair types.
Olaplex No. 3, 3.3 oz
Alongside the Joico and It’s a 10, this has done a lot of work in improving my hair. (If you’re not familiar with Olaplex, please check out Lab Muffin’s awesome article for an explanation of how it works.) So Olaplex No. 3 is a take-home treatment, whereas No. 1 and 2 are used in the salon during the coloring process. It looks and feels pretty much like a thinner conditioner. My stylist actually recommended skipping conditioner and then using this as a leave-in treatment, but sadly this method didn’t work for me. I now use it as per the directions on the official Olaplex site, which I find is much more effective. I believe they explicitly say that you’re not supposed to use it as a leave-in treatment, and it should be washed out. I put a generous amount on the bottom half of my hair and leave it there for at least 30 minutes, then wash it out and proceed with shampoo/conditioner/other products as usual.
Olaplex has noticeably improved the condition of my hair after three uses (using the official method) and I am really excited to continue using it. My hair gets tangled a lot less often and seems a little less dry. I have already repurchased this.
Batiste Dry Shampoo, 6.73 oz
I love this dry shampoo to death. Yes, I buy them in bulk. It’s one of the few products I can really say is an HG for me. Since I have oily roots, this makes it so that I don’t have to wash my hair every other day. I haven’t found that it ever gives my dark hair a white cast. It not only removes oil well, but also gives volume. The only con I can think of is that your hair will have some buildup if you use this multiple days in a row, but I imagine that should be expected of any dry shampoo. Some of the scents Batiste has are also kind of strong and could be off-putting, but they fade quickly.
At this price point, I can use this dry shampoo frequently without guilt! I’ve repurchased the Batiste too many times to count by now. I’ve also tried numerous other higher end ones from brands like Oribe, Klorane, and Amika, and I still prefer Batiste. I did like Amika’s dry shampoo a lot as well but it’s more than triple the price of Batiste at $22, so…
I purchased this from Amazon for ~$7. It’s also available on a lot of other beauty/drugstore sites for around the same price or slightly more.
Okay, that was a really long-winded post! If you read the entire thing, props to you for sticking around. 🙂
What are your favorite hair care products? I’d especially love to hear about recommendations for hair oils/masks and semipermanent dyes! (I’m currently using diluted Manic Panic to fulfill my pastel hair dreams but I find it washes out way too quickly and stains my towels.) All suggestions are welcome, although I am especially interested in Asian hair products as I’ve never tried any before!