June 4th 2021
Who, What, Hair
12 of the best hair products I’ve tried during my 7 years writing for GTG
March 22nd 2019 / 0 comment
Photography by Matt Monfred
From hair wipes to curlers that look like medieval torture devices, I’ve tried some strange things in the name of ‘Who, What, Hair’. It’s been worth it though, and in my final column for GTG (*cries uncontrollably*), I’m counting down my favourites
A quick look inside my beauty cupboard at home the other night made one thing abundantly clear - I’ve tried a hell of a lot of products over the years. A point also demonstrated by the speed at which I tried to close its doors to stop a long-overdue bottle avalanche from happening (I failed - it hurt).
Now, I realise that my storage situ may make me a prime candidate for Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, but in terms of research for this feature, it was actually pretty useful. Since joining GTG as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed intern in 2012, I’ve been fortunate enough to try the latest launches from a wide range of brands - especially for my Who, What, Hair column. So it seemed fitting that for my last feature (sob), I provide you with a list of the products that have worked wonders for the health and condition of my hair. Dryness and damage from too much heat and hair colour rank high on my list of priorities, and if you’re in the same boat, I really hope these help you as much as they’ve helped me.
Thank you for joining me for the ride and, without getting too mushy, I hope that you’ve picked up some useful advice from my beauty and wellness articles - or at the very least, I hope that they’ve brought a smile to your face.
Hope to see you all soon.
The hair products I couldn’t do without - and why
Texture in a bottle: Sam McKnight Cool Girl Barely There Texturising Mist, £10 for 50ml
What I particularly love about this texturising spray is its lightness, it doesn’t feel heavy or make hair stiff. It makes achieving Sam McKnight’s signature ‘done, undone’ look supremely simple - all you have to do is spritz it in and mess hair up a little with your fingertips to achieve laid-back tousled coolness with minimal effort (make sure that you don't brush it through though). What’s more, renowned perfumer Lyn Harris is behind its botanical scent - a mixture of green leaf, frankincense, cedar and juniper wood - that’ll have you subtly sniffing your hair at random times of the day.
The gentle detangler: Manta Hairbrush, £25
Breakage-prone? Brush with this. Its ergonomic shape gives you greater control while its super flexible bristles gently loosen tangles. Better than its design though, is its backstory. Tim Binnington, the professional hairdresser behind it, originally created it for his wife after she lost her hair after a life-threatening illness. As it grew back, she wanted to treat it as delicately as possible to reduce the risk of breakage and so he set about creating an alternative for her that felt as gentle as combing her hair with her fingers. Mission accomplished.
The scalp massager: The Body Shop Paddle Brush, £8
I’m also a huge fan of this bamboo handled brush too. It doesn’t rip or pull hair, leaves my mid-lengths soft and smooth, and also gently massages my scalp to make my brushing experience all the more blissful. It’s tough on tangles without tearing your hair out - a weirdly hard thing to find these days. If you have long hair like mine, I'd start at the bottom and work your way up to reduce your risk of snapage even more.
The über-hydrating hair mask: Coco & Eve Like a Virgin Coconut Mask, £34.90 for 212ml
I have to hide this stuff in my house. It’s that good. Its combo of conditioning ingredients such as raw virgin coconut, fig essence, argan oil and shea butter, is just the match for my dry, dyed and damaged ends, making them softer and instantly less frazzled. It comes with a two-tiered tangle tamer, but I actually prefer to be more hands-on, gently massaging it in and leaving it for 10 minutes before rinsing it out.
The clean team: OGX Renewing Argan Oil Shampoo, £6.99 (385ml), Color Wow Color Security Shampoo, £17.50 (250ml), and Biogeo Be Gentle Be Kind Shampoo, £24 (369ml)
To avoid drying out my hair and scalp and to prolong the vibrancy of my hair colour in between appointments, I opt for hydrating or sulphate-free shampoos.
I usually use one of the following, as determined by how much money I have to hand that month! OGX does a great range for a wide variety of hair types - their Renewing Argan Oil Shampoo is particularly well suited for my needs; Color Wow's Color Security Shampoo provides great post-shower 'swish,' and Briogeo Be Gentle Be Kind, lathers well and has a list of delicious-sounding ingredients - apple, spinach, cucumber…(anyone else drooling). I also love their silicone-free conditioner too which leaves dry ends hydrated but not heavy. Pricey, but they last me ages.
The leave-in treatment: Kevin Murphy Young Again, £33
Just before I blowdry my hair, I apply a pump of this hydrating treatment oil to my mid-lengths and ends and boy, do I notice its effects. It adds much-needed silkiness, levels of which have slowly been depleted over the years, without weighing my hair down - the perfect balance. It’s also a great multitasker - its antioxidant-rich formula not only conditions but provides a welcome dose of heat protection. If your hair’s dry, brittle or damaged like mine, your strands will drink it up.
The best dry shampoos: Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, £18 for 198ml, and Batiste Dry Shampoo Blush, £2.99 for 200ml
For speed and volume, Batiste is still my go-to, despite the surge of dry shampoos that have hit the market over the last few years. It continues to give its successors a run for their money, only coming in at under £3.
If I have a little more time and money to spare though, Living Proof’s dry shampoo has proven to be a bit of a game-changer. Rather than leaving the kind of chalky residue that many of its counterparts can, it provides a harder-working refresh that actually feels like it’s cleaning your hair. Simply shake and then spray it in sweeping motions to the areas of greatest dirt and oil build-up. Wait for 30 seconds, massage in and brush it out and you’ll notice that not only is your hair less greasy, but also feels lighter and smells great too.
The hair tool innovation: ghd Platinum+ Styler, £175
Not only does this ‘smart’ straightener cut down your styling time, but it boosts shine and, thanks to some impressive tech, reduces the risk of deep-frying your hair. It does this by monitoring its heat output 250 times per second (I kid you not) to ensure its temperature doesn’t go beyond 185°C, and adjusts its power according to your hair type and styling speed. I find that I only need to glide it through each section just once to achieve a glossy and sleek finish. Its heat-up time is also ridiculously fast - around 20 seconds - it’s the Usain Bolt of straighteners.
The bounce-boosting pre-treatment: Philip Kingsley Elasticiser, £18.50 for 75ml
Originally created for Audrey Hepburn to help restore her hair back to its pre-movie set state, this cult ‘pre-poo’ is still to be bettered in my opinion. Packed with goodies such as castor oil, hydrolysed elastin and glycerin, it makes a world of difference to the bounce and manageability of my hair when I use it.
The original is fragrance-free, but if you want something a little more multi-sensory, try the Coconut Breeze version. It’s as essential a part of my night out prep as pre-drinks.