OK, first thing’s first: I’ve definitely said many times on this site and elsewhere that I don’t use leave-ins. It’s not that I was lying, exactly, it’s just that I don’t rely on leave-ins to get my hair looking and feeling the way I want. I’m not attached to them. I can take them or leave them, pretty much. That was my refrain, until I realized that I actually do use leave-ins. Like, every day.
It all started when the seasons changed and I started using a hairdryer more often. Always one to cut corners when it comes to hair drying, I thought using a product might shorten the time it takes to get my hair looking just so. Which is why, one day a couple of months ago, I was rifling through the cabinet where I store my extra products, and found a bottle of gel.
Gel, eh? I thought. Who uses gel? The answer, it turns out, is moi.
As you can see from above, the product is Max Green Alchemy Styling Gel. I. Love. This. Product. I’ve actually mentioned it in the past; the bottle has been lying around for a while, and I’ve used it on occasion to airdry my waves during summer months, or smooth my ends. It works great for that, but I like it even better on straight styling, with a dryer.
A word about the gel thing. I’m not picking bones here, but I wouldn’t really call it that. Yes, it has a gel-like consistency but it doesn’t dry crunchy, or wet-looking, and it doesn’t provide much hold, at least on my head of heavy hair. What it does is smooth the shaft so that drying is at least a third quicker than it normally is, making sleek straight styles really pretty effortless. My hair looks shiny, has nice volume at the roots, and movement, but isn’t weighed down at all. No residue. No stickiness. And the stuff washes out with one shampoo, so no build-up, either.
Finally, it also doesn’t smell much like anything, which is good because I’m still obsessed with the smell of my shampoo and conditioner, and might have an issue with a product that competes with that.
Ingredients: Herbal Infusion [Purified Water (Aqua), (Glycyrrhiza Glabra* (licorice) Root, Tussilago Farfara+ (coltsfoot) Leaf, Achillea Millefolium* (yarrow), Salix Alba+ (willow), Tabebuia Impetiginosa+ (pau díarco), Arctium Lappa* (burdock) Root, Berberis Aquifolium (mahonia), Calendula Officinalis* (calendula), Equisetum Arvense* (horsetail), Urtica Dioica* (nettle)], dehydroxanthan gum (plant derived styling agent), Hydrolysed Soy Protein, Aloe Barbadensis* (aloe vera) Leaf, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Anisate, Panthenol (pro vitamin B5), Leptospermum Petersonii (lemon tea tree), Melaleuca Alternifolia* (tea tree), Lavandula Angustifolia* (lavender), Pelargonium Graveolens* (geranium), Rosemarinus officinalis* (rosemary).*Organic +Wildcrafted
Have you ever tried it? Got another leave in you like? Stay tuned, by the way…. There are two other leave-ins I love just as much.
Let the covers of women’s magazines tell it and you’d think seasonal change only means one thing: getting your body beach-ready (do people really do this?). But for me, it’s always meant getting my hair right.
I’m a huge fan of letting my mane do its thing during warmer months (see last year’s fun summer-hair challenge, for proof), but after a long winter of daily heat styling and dry air, my hair has seen better days. I suspect I am not alone in this! And so I want to help.
The most important aspects of any hairdo are, of course, healthy hair and a good cut. I love my hairdresser, and if he weren’t gay I might want to marry him, but I’m trying to let my hair get longer, so I’m spacing out my visits. HOWEVER! The waves I so love when I air-dry are, well, limp now.
In order to get things looking better as it grows out, I’ve tried LOTS of products and even—gasp—one dirty one. I won’t tell you about that one because it gave me a rash and I only used it once, but I will share five clean products I tried and loved. And if you don’t like these, or want to save your cash, there’s always coconut oil. And avocados.
1. Argan Oil (prices vary)
Arganoilarganoilarganoil. I’m a broken record, I know (there’s nothing like the zeal of a convert, right?). I’ve slept with Kahina Giving Beauty and Amal argan oils in my hair many times, and the next day, after a light shampoo, my hair always looks and feels and smells amazing, with no greasy buildup. I do it extremely rarely for a simple reason: It’s just too “rich” for my stupid hair. Not rich like heavy, rich like expensive. For the price I pay—and I believe it’s worth every cent—it means my face gets to use it, not my split ends.
2. Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue Styling Gel ($12.99)
I’m wild about this gel. I put it on my ends wet or dry and it holds nicely. I also sometimes use a pea-sized amount on the hairs around my face, when the hair is still wet. It’s not a typical gel—the texture reminds me a little of aloe—there’s no crunchiness or wet look, obviously, and the ingredients are squeaky clean. It’s nongreasy and smells light and fresh in a unisex kind of way, which gives you full license to throw out your boyfriend’s Dippity Do when he’s not looking.
3. Rare E’lements EL Treatment ($44)
This serum-like treatment is delightful. We both love it and use it with some frequency as an overnight treatment or a leave-in for day on our ends. It smells incredible. Like, “Ooooo! What perfume are you wearing?” incredible, thanks to the ylang ylang and other scented oils. I might go so far as to say that, with frequent use, my ends actually look markedly better than they did. I try to avoid overpromising, but this product really is a winner, and it seems to be more of a winner the more I use it. A dab will do ya, and even with several-times-a-week use, I have a long way to go before I’ll have to repurchase.
4. Whatever is left on my hands after I apply body oil ($0)
Oil-rich body lotions or body oils contain a lot of the same ingredients as natural hair treatments, so if your lotion pour was on the generous side, use the leftovers on your wet hair before drying. I do this probably two or three times a week instead of using a hair product, and it works well. Plus, it saves money and encourages the kind of ingredient savvy and multitasking we’re fond on.
To prove how clean this product is, Horst made me drink it when I met him. Little did I know it would become the only go-to hair product I would use and reuse for almost two years straight. A word about the name: Maybe it’s because my hair is heavy to begin with, but I’ve never understood why this product is called a volumizer. That said, we both absolutely love it as a leave-in, and have been using it and repurchasing it religiously since we discovered it while writing the book. (Other ladies: Please weigh in if you have tried it and found it gave you a boost at the roots! Is this a volumizer for you?) One bottle lasts several months to half a year, it smells incredible, and it helps smooth wild ends and flyaways. It also makes heat styling much easier.
OK your turn. What have you tried as a hair treatment? And do you do the beach-body thing? (Just kidding!)
Vintage hairdryers via