Best and Worst New Hair-Care Products

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You’re standing in the middle of the drugstore hair-care aisle or in front of a display at the salon, and it hits you: There are SO many new hair-care products! How do I even begin to decide what to buy? We’re here to help! Below you’ll find our favorites among the best new hair-care products, plus those you should leave on the shelf.

It’s a Jungle Out There!

Despite the fact that there are only so many ingredients capable of cleansing, conditioning, and styling hair, there’s no shortage of products. And, as you’ve likely seen, there’s also no shortage of enticing claims that sound too good to be true, and generally, that’s because they are! Before we list the best new hair-care products, here are a few important points to keep in mind before shopping:

  • Expensive doesn’t mean better! Paying more for a product at the salon is not a guarantee of more beautiful hair. There are good and bad hair-care products, at the salon and at the drugstore.
  • Hair cannot be repaired! Hair is dead; when you get a haircut, it doesn’t hurt. Products claiming to repair damage cannot do that. If they could, you’d only need to use them once, and then, voilá, your hair is repaired! But that’s not the reality.
  • No product can keep hair dye from fading. The two biggest culprits behind color fade are water (yes, just plain water) and UV light. The only way to make your hair color last longer is to not wash your hair, or ever get it wet, and to somehow keep it constantly protected from UV light. Neither option is one that most of us want to keep up!

The Best New Hair-Care Products

There are new hair-care products appearing all the time, and more often than not they’re just the same old, same old, merely in new packaging with newly worded claims. We’re always on the lookout for a hair-care product that raises the bar, and does so for a fair price; plus, it really must work as claimed based on the ingredients it contains. With that in mind, here is a selection of new hair-care products we enthusiastically recommend.

Shampoos

  • Neutrogena Triple Repair Fortifying Shampoo ($6.99) has a gentle formula that leaves all hair types feeling smoother and silkier, and noticeably shinier.
  • Deep Steep Nourishing Volume Shampoo ($12.95) has a rich yet light lather that does wash some fullness into fine, thin hair, and won’t leave a residue. Low amount of fragrance, too.
  • Infusium 23 Miracle Therapy Shampoo ($6.99) isn’t really a miracle; it’s just a good lightly conditioning shampoo for all hair types. The amino acids likely have some benefit when it comes to strengthening the hair.
  • L’Oreal Paris Hair Expertise OleoTherapy Oil Infused Shampoo ($6.99) is a brilliant shampoo for dry, dull hair of any texture except super-fine. We’d put this up against any moisturizing shampoo from the pricey Kerastase line, which, surprise, is owned by L’Oreal!

Conditioners and Treatments

  • Deep Steep Glossy Smoothing Conditioner ($12.95) is a silicone-free conditioner, and even though there’s no reason (beyond personal preference) to avoid silicones in hair-care products, this is a good smoothing option for normal to dry hair of any thickness.
  • Infusium 23 Miracle Therapy Pro Conditioner ($6.99) isn’t really a miracle, it’s just a very good, beautifully formulated lightweight smoothing and detangling conditioner for normal to slightly dry hair that’s normal to fine or thin.
  • Neutrogena Triple Repair Fortifying Leave-In Treatment ($6.99) is a good, moisturizing leave-in product for normal to dry hair that’s normal to thick, curly, or coarse. The claim of this being able to protect hair from 400 degrees of heat is stretching what’s possible.
  • TRESemme Platinum Strength Renewing Deep Conditioning Treatment ($4.99) is reminiscent of Redken’s All Soft conditioners, but for a lot less money. It leaves even highly processed hair soft, smooth, and shiny, and reduces the major fizz that can occur when blow-drying. Note: Essentially, this is just a richer version of TRESemme’s Platinum Strength Conditioner, which is also recommended.

Styling Products

  • Living Proof Full Thickening Mousse ($26). OK, yes, this is expensive for a mousse, but it actually manages to bring something unique to this category of 80’s hair-styling staples. It delivers medium to full hold without heaviness or stickiness, and is perfect for fine to medium hair. The fragrance is another positive because it’s quite subtle.
  • OGX Biotin & Collagen Weightless Healing Oil Mist ($7.99) is a very good, inexpensive silicone-based shine spray for dry, frizzy hair that’s thick or coarse. The collagen won’t do much, but the other conditioning ingredients will! Also sold as an oil for $7.99.
  • Dove Advanced Hair Series Oxygen Moisture Leave In Foam ($6.79) is a very good soft-hold mousse that hydrates and helps keep frizz at bay as it shapes curls and waves. It’s great for fine or thin hair that’s straight (and dry), too, but apply it toward the ends of the hair and then heat-style.
  • L'Oreal Paris Advanced Hairstyle Sleek It Frizz Vanisher Cream ($6.99). Do you have dry, normal to thick-textured unmanageable hair with no shine? Meet your new best friend! For best results, use sparingly until you have a good idea of how much your hair needs to look amazing, not greasy.
  • Pantene Pro-V Truly Natural Hair Defining Curls Styling Custard ($5.49). Finally, a lightweight, non-greasy, yet non-drying smoothing and curl-defining styler for African-American hair! This is particularly good for highly textured hair that’s fine or thin.
  • Sally Hershberger Supreme Lift for Normal to Thin Hair ($12.99) is a non-aerosol spray-on styler that, when used with heat, adds gorgeous fullness to fine or thin hair, without a sticky residue. Great shine, too—and the fragrance isn’t knock-your-socks-off strong.

The Worst New Hair-Care Products

Presented in no particular order, here are a handful of new hair-care products that had us asking “Really?” and, in a few instances, shaking our heads in disbelief at the absurd claims:

  • Clairol Herbal Essences Naked Sheer Shine Mist ($6.99). This shine enhancer doesn’t hold a candle to those that contain oils and/or silicones. It makes hair feel terrible, while also irritating the scalp with a lot of mint oils.
  • Phyto Phytokeratine Repairing Thermal Protectant Spray ($32) contains far more fragrance than anything that can protect the hair from heat damage. Even the best ingredients for that—silicones and wheat protein—can do only so much.
  • Vidal Sassoon Pro Series shampoos ($3.49–$4.99) all contain the drying cleansing agent sodium lauryl sulfate, along with its milder alternative, sodium laureth sulfate, and none of them are the least bit “Pro”fessional. These same core ingredients are present in shampoo after shampoo in this line, despite wildly differing claims.
  • Nexxus Color Assure Pre-Wash Primer ($18.49) is essentially a silicone serum you’re directed to apply prior to shampooing. Silicone can protect hair color from a shampoo, but if you apply too much, no shampoo will work as it should, quickly leading to hair that’s dull, flat, and difficult to style. Don’t waste your time or money on this one! Instead, apply a silicone serum or spray to dry hair before heat-styling.
  • Pantene Pro-V Expert Collection Minoxidil Topical Solution USP, 2% Hair Regrowth Treatment for Women ($43.99) isn’t a really bad product, just a big disappointment. The active ingredient (2% minoxidil) is present in other, less expensive products also sold at drugstores, like Walgreens Minoxidil Hair Regrowth Treatment for Women ($38.99). More than anything, this was a missed opportunity for Pantene to actually do something more cosmetically elegant with a tried-and-true hair-growth ingredient.

There you have it, our latest hair-care favorites! Be sure to check out our other articles about hair care for information on such topics as hair loss, hair-straightening tips, even how to have the best experience at the salon. It’s all part of our mission to keep you looking good—from head to toe!

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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