Damaged, dry locks are the bane of women everywhere. While cutting split ends is key to achieving the smooth and bouncy hair you desire, there are a bevy of products — from serums to shampoos — that can save damaged hair.
For two months I put my own head on the line, testing and trying more than 50 products, from moisturizing shampoos to deep-conditioning treatments to scalp scrubs and beyond.
Nick Arrojo, owner of Arrojo Studio in Manhattan and a stylist on TLC's What Not To Wear, confirms what we all fear: "Other than a cut, there is no out-and-out cure for split ends." Bear in mind that a true end cut, where only the ends of the hair are sheared, can be done effectively while taking as little as a half an inch off your length. Consistency is key, so to keep your 'do healthy, you'll need to cut off dead ends every six to eight weeks.
If you're between cuts, you can combat the unruly, porous quality of split ends by using a good frizz-fighting product. Arrojo recommends his signature Arrojo Defrizz Serum ($15 at www.arrojostudio.com).
Cheap & chic
Arrojo also shared his two favorite hair-saving secrets, one cheap and one pricey. For those looking for a bargain, Arrojo recommends paring a favorite conditioner with a hair net minus water.
"Whenever your hair is feeling dehydrated, deflated, dull, or just plain old frustratingly hard to style, pack your hair net with around four times as much product as you would for a regular application and put the hair net on wet or damp hair for 10 or 15 minutes," he says. "You can remove your hair net but resist any temptation to rinse the product out — so long as the conditioner is lightweight, your hair will be hydrated, soft, smooth and shiny. And best of all, the texture will be easier to manage, shape, and control."
Those with extra dough should head to a professional and book a deep-conditioning salon treatment. "These protein and moisture feasts really do make an incredible difference to the health of your hair, and you'll be getting it applied professionally, meaning you can just sit back and relax while the professionals do their bit," says Arrojo. In Tampa, try the Spa Therapy Conditioning Treatments ($12 to $35) at Kennedy Salon on Howard Avenue North or head to Salon Volo on 54th Avenue North in St. Petersburg and book a Redken Deep Conditioning Treatment ($10 to $15).
During my testing, I found that when it comes to giving good hair, you get what you pay for. I tested each product several times, following Arrojo's advice that most hair treatments take a few applications to manage, style and control. "If the product you're using brings back the look and feel of healthy, lusty, and shiny hair you know you're on your way," he says. "And if your hair also becomes easier to style and control you're definitely onto a winner."
Our list of winners
Best for curls: Ouidad's Curl Quencher Moisturizing Shampoo ($15) and Conditioner ($17) makes curls soft and manageable, not to mention frizz-free. The collection is available at www.ouidad.com.
Best for damaged hair: Arrojo's Moisturizing Shampoo ($13) and Moisturizing Conditioner ($15) are life-savers for damaged and over-processed hair.
Best for dry hair: Ojon's Ultra Hydrating Conditioner ($22 at www.ojon.com) and Ultra Hydrating Shampoo ($18) infuse hair with a daily dose of nourishing Ojon oil while adding weightless body and shine.
Best for colored hair: We now swear by K?rastase's Bain Chroma Riche Shampoo for colored hair ($32 at www.kerastase-usa.com) and Fluide Chroma Riche Softening Serum ($34), a leave-in detangling and styling serum.
Best weekly at-home treatment: Even ultra-dry hair can shine with a once weekly application of Phyto's Phytonectar, a pre-shampoo treatment that revitalizes extremely damaged hair ($30 at Sephora).
Best drugstore brand: Neutrogena's Triple Moisture Cream Lather Shampoo and Daily Deep Conditioner ($6.99 each at Walgreen's).
— Carolyn Brundage is the founder of TampaBayBeauty.com, a guide to all that is hip and happening in local beauty. Need beauty advice? E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.