Best Natural/Black Hair Co-Wash: Shu Uemura Shusu Sleek Conditioner
Great slip, great smell, great results. Our hair was noticeably softer and more manageable and the shower knots we thought would be nearly impossible to tackle succumbed without a fight. Definitely worth the price tag to save yourself a (literal) headache on wash day.
BUY HERE: Shu Uemera Shusu Sleek Conditioner, $58
SEE ALSO: Lightning Award for Best 2019 Cosmetics
Best Natural/Black Hair No-‘poo Shampoo: Pattern Hydration Shampoo
Yes, there was (and still is) plenty of hype surrounding actress and #hairgoals goddess Tracee Ellis Ross’ debut product line, but we’ve gotta say she’s done good. Because she knows what black hair needs, her new shampoo cleans without stripping and is infused with moisture-boosting goodness like aloe vera leaf juice, coconut oil and honey. You did that, TER.
Best Edge Control: Bumble and Bumble Gel
A good edge control can be the difference between a good day and a truly WTF day. With a high-performing edge control, you’re slicked back and locked into place all day without a care in the world. Bumble and bumble’s Bb. Gel is the key to achieving that level of good hair day with a light and tight formula that never flakes and looks natural.
Best Hair Mask: Aesop Rose Hair & Scalp Moisturising Masque
Even our best intentions for a treat yoself moment can sometimes go awry when products don’t perform the way we thought or take too long to get the job done. Fortunately, none of that is a factor when it comes to Aesop’s luxurious, fast-acting hair and scalp mask that gets to the root of the problem – literally – in record time so that you can feel and see a difference without resorting to sitting in a shower cap for a half hour. The mask’s simple key ingredients list: rose petal, beta-carotene, lavender stem calms and softens hair, making it more pliable and responsive for frizz-free natural styles like twist-outs and flexi sets.
Best Anti-Frizz Hairspray: Davines This Is A Strong Hairspray
Humidity: the mortal enemy of natural hair, weather it’s worn textured, straightened, picked out or in a puff. Davines: the dragon slayer for said natural styles. The brand’s This Is A Strong Hairspray, holds, protects and repels moisture like a champ, all without feeling heavy, sticky, stiff or flaky. Bravo.
Best Holding Hairspray: TREsemme Compressed Micro Mist Curl Hold Hairspray
If we’re being honest, this marvelous little multi-tasker is so much more than just a holding hairspray. Yes, its flexible hold is off the charts, but because it emits a fine, weightless mist and has the most insanely addictive scent, we basically have started to use it as a holding/dry shampoo/finishing spray. Best $5 you’re going to spend. Trust me.
Best Brush/Comb: Pattern Shower Brush
Sorry to that man, but the “cult fave” Wet Brush is basically pointless when it comes to natural hair. So, we were thrilled to see Tracee Ellis Ross’ Pattern introduce a new tool that could adequately handle all. of. this. hair. What makes it so fab is the two-pronged approach to top-notch curl definition: detangle and clump.
Best Shampoo: Shea Moisture Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil Lush Length Shampoo
What we love about this shampoo is that, thanks to the moisturizing properties of hemp seed oil, it’s super-hydrating enough to smooth thick or coarse hair, but lightweight enough to work on fine hair without making it greasy. The subtle citrus scent is unexpected for a hemp product and we love the fresh feeling it brings to a superior shampoo.
Best Conditioner: Eva NYC Mane Magic 10-in-1 Conditioner
We have strong feelings about conditioner. If you’re not using it, you should, but not all conditioners are made for all people. Some can be too heavy for thin hair and others can be too lightweight for dry or textured hair. This one is like the goldilocks of conditioners – it’s just right. It’s even safe for color or chemically-treated hair and will make any locks look healthy and shiny no matter what.
BUY HERE: Eva NYC Mane Magic 10-in-1 Conditioner, $8.99
Best Leave-in Conditioner: Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave-In Conditioning Spray
If you have dry or curly hair, you know just how important leave-in conditioner can be. The problem is, so many of them are heavy and can leave your hair looking wet or, worse, greasy. This innovative conditioner is a spray, which means it’s easy to apply and hard to go overboard with, and is light enough to use on thin or fine hair. The secret is the botanical oils which help tame frizz and moisturize hair quickly.
Best Hair Mask: R+Co Television Perfect Hair Masque
Our favorite thing about this hair mask is that it’s so easy to use you don’t have to cancel plans. Instead of blocking out half an hour like some masks, this one takes only two to five minutes to work wonders. It’s ideal for anyone with hard to manage hair; use it instead of conditioner a few times a week to keep your hair shiny, healthy-looking, and easier to style.
Best Hair Cream: Fellow Styling Cream
More of us are going for longer, more natural-looking hairstyles these days (instead of the shiny, shellacked ‘dos of years past) and to get that look, you need a styling cream. This cream contains shea butter and meadowfoam seed oil to help moisturize your strands for less frizz and better manageability, but still has enough hold to get the texture you want without needing to reapply multiple times a day.
BUY HERE: Fellow Styling Cream, $25
Best Wet Pomade: Maapalim Strong Pomade
For shorter styles that need a little extra elbow grease, this pomade rises above the rest. Maapalim uses naturally-derived ingredients in all their products, which in this case means you get enough hold without worrying about what it’s doing to your hair. It washes out more easily than others we tried, not to mention the scent is a cut above the rest.
Best Matte Pomade: Johnny’s Chop Shop Sports & Social Hair Fibre
This multi-use product is called Sports to Social because it can literally do anything. The matte paste keeps texture and shape through both an intense workout and a long night partying till the sun comes up. The secret is the fibers, which allow you to reshape your hair easily without applying more product.
Best Clay Pomade: Triumph & Disaster Coltrane Clay
Clay is ideal for anyone who wants the superior hold of pomade but doesn’t want the shine. This clay uses naturally derived ingredients like beeswax and kaolin clay to keep your hair exactly where you want it but look like you hardly did anything to it at all.
BUY HERE: Triumph & Disaster Coltrane Clay, $30
Best Cream Pomade: Kelsen Signature Pomade
When you want your hair to look as natural as possible, but still shaped and styled, reach for a cream pomade. This new pomade uses natural ingredients to nourish and control hair and both the product and packaging are microplastic-free. It takes “natural look” to a whole new level.
BUY HERE: Kelsen Signature Pomade, $28.50
Best Hair Gel: Harry’s Sculpting Gel
Seriously, nothing holds like a gel, so if you’re going for a classic side part or a sleek slick-back, you need to use one. This new gel is buildable, so you don’t get helmet-head right off the bat, and dries quickly without the crunch associated with old versions. It can easily become one of the most versatile products in your routine no matter what look you’re going for.
Best Hair Spray: Fatboy Flexible Finish Hairspray
Hairspray is the ultimate secret weapon for any hair style, no matter how long or short. You can even use it without any other product to help keep your hair in the shape you want. This hairspray is flexible, which means you can run your hands through your hair and still not mess it up, and is lightweight enough to prevent crunchy helmet head.
BUY HERE, Fatboy Flexible Finish Hairspray, $28
Best Salt Spray: Fellow Mineral Spray
There’s nothing like salt spray to give natural-looking tousled texture without weighing down hair. The problem is that some sprays leave your hair feeling dry and brittle, particularly if you have curly or dryness-prone hair. Not this one. It contains algae to help give texture yet still keep hair soft and hydrated
BUY HERE, Fellow Mineral Spray, $28
Best Volumizing Spray: Oribe Thickening Treatment Spray
Most volumizing sprays give lots of superficial volume, but you lose it as soon as your hair gets wet or, more often, throughout the day. This innovative spray not only gives an immediate hair plumping effect when sprayed on damp hair, but it also improves hair density with continued use thanks to high tech ingredients. We were skeptical till we actually tried it ourselves.
BUY HERE, Oribe Thickening Treatment Spray, $76
Best Texturizing Powder: Alder New York Texture Powder
Hair powder isn’t just good at keeping your hair looking fresh between washes or after the gym. It can also help add weightless volume and texture to thin or fine hair. This powder is easy to use (just shake a bit onto your scalp and run your hands through your hair) and doesn’t leave your hair looking chalky or powdery.
BUY HERE, Alder New York Texture Powder, $27
Best Mousse: Leonor Greyl Alcohol Free Styling Mousse
We’re hard pressed to find a product that adds volume as well as a mousse, but so many of them can leave your hair feeling dry and crunchy (particularly if you have texture). This one is the only one that kept our hair full and gorgeous the whole day while still being able to get our hands through it. We finally understand the meaning of “the higher the hair, the closer to god.”
BUY HERE, Leonor Greyl Alcohol Free Styling Mousse, $46
Best Dry Shampoo: Ouidad Clean Sweep Moisturizing Dry Shampoo
We understand the appeal of dry shampoos, but so many of them leave our hair feeling like straw (that’s the price of cleaning on the go). This one, which was specifically formulated for curly hair, is so moisturizing we could barely remember we used it a few minutes later. It doesn’t leave any tell-tale residue either, which is why it’s become a fixture in our gym bags.
BUY HERE: Ouida Clean Sweet Moisturizing Dry Shampoo, $20.80
Best Hair Dryer: T3 Cura Luxe Hair Dryer
So many professional hairstylists we know use the T3 Cura Luxe Hair Dryer religiously and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. Nothing else compares to this small wonder in terms of drying speed or ease of use. The regular size is small enough that our arms didn’t get tired mid-way through drying and we can even pack it in our suitcase without buying a travel dryer.
BUY HERE:T3 Cura Luxe Hair Dryer, $229.99
Best Hair Oil: Prose Custom Hair Oil
Hair oils are one of the most important multi-use products in our arsenal. We use them as a pre-shampoo treatment to help maintain moisture and shine and a styler to help cut down on frizz and keep our hair under control. It could be the fact that this oil was custom mixed just for us, but when it comes to lightweight oils, this one is the best bar none.
BUY HERE:Prose Custom Hair Oil, $48
Best Non-Shampoo Cleanser: IGK Smoke & Mirrors Conditioning Cleansing Oil
Anyone with dry, curly, or textured hair knows the havoc a traditional shampoo can wreak on their locks. The answer is cleansing conditioner, which cleanses hair without stripping it of it’s natural oils. This version is ideal for even thinner hair since it comes out of the can already foamed like a mousse and leaves your hair feeling clean and healthy instead of stripped.
BUY HERE: IGK Smoke & Mirrors Conditioning Cleansing Oil, $25
Best Scalp Scrub: NatureLab Tokyo Perfect Shine Clarifying Scalp Scrub
Someone once told us that “good hair is healthy hair” and to get it, you have to take care of your scalp. Enter scalp scrubs which are like exfoliators for your head: they help remove built-up dead skin cells, debris, dirt, and old product so your hair follicles can flourish. Using this scalp scrub once a week instead of shampoo left our hair shiny, healthy-looking and easier to manage and our scalp feeling great.
BUY HERE: NatureLab Tokyo Perfect Shine Clarifying Scalp Scrub, $16
Best Refresher: TREsemme Between Washes All-in-1 Style Refresh Spray
We’ve all been there: when we look in the mirror at the end of the day and our hair is flat and lifeless. It’s in those times that this spray shines. A few quick spritzes reactive product and help shape hair back in place so it looks like you just came from the hair salon instead of that 4-hour lecture.
BUY HERE, TREsemme Between Washes All-in-1 Style Refresh Spray, $5.99