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The beauty panel: Hair essentials – the perfect products

The only absolute truth when it comes to hair is that everyone wants what they don’t have. The curly team wants it straight, the straight and the thin crowd want full-bodied, bouncy tresses. We know that a complete transformation can never be achieved correctly, and yet we try and try. And if you don’t believe me, take a look at a family photo album for evidence of this nation’s troubled history with the GHD and the perm.

Of course, what we really should be doing is familiarizing ourselves with what we have and making the most of it. Easier said than done, of course, both psychologically and practically. Our heads are hard to convince, and holy grail hair products for specific hair types are hard to come by. Or, more precisely, there is so much of it, for all kinds of hair, that you could chase it away forever.

The right product can transform the way your hair behaves and the way you feel – damn it, you might even be happy with what you have. And then, cruelly, thanks to time and age, your hair might pick up and change on you, just when you’ve nailed your perfect products. But that’s a story for another day.

Best overall

Kerastase Discipline Cleansing Conditioner Curl Ideal, € 26, Kerastase salons across the country

If you have curly hair, you are probably familiar with the phenomenon of co-washing, hair cleansers that are more conditioning than shampoos. This is a great example, intended for curly hair that is brittle and lacks bounce. The absence of sulfates means you don’t get much lather, but that’s kind of the point. It is the foam that damages your curls. “My hair is washed well despite the lack of bubbles,” said one panelist. “When my shoulder-length, curly, unmanageable hair was wet, I could brush it without difficulty, and the dry curls are light and tame.”

Best raw and ready

Redken Beach Envy Volume Texturizing Shampoo, € 17, Redken salons nationwide

Tousled, wavy and textured hair isn’t quite what most of us get after a day at the beach. Missed and loose hair is more like it, but we know what people mean when they say beach hair, and we want it. This shampoo, combined with a conditioner (€ 19.30) and a styling product (€ 22.50) provides volume and waves, with minerals and polymers that coat the hair without sticking it. “I got great volume with this product, but no gloss – just blow-dried volume,” one panelist said. “It’s sexier and grosser, which I liked.”

Best gorgeous gray

Alfaparf That’s It Gray Pride Shampoo, € 12.95, Alfaparf salons nationwide

When our hair goes gray, it’s not just about changing color. The texture also changes, and that can be the real issue, besides establishing your gray as a clean, bright color, as opposed to just having no color. This shampoo and its companion conditioner (€ 14.95) act on the smoothing of the hair follicle, while eliminating dull or yellow tones. A silver star. “Gray hair is often coarse and dull,” said one panelist. “With this product, I have found my hair to be sleek and shiny and the gray to be more appealing, without a hint of the blue rinse brigade.”

Best color rescue

Pureology Color Fantatic Instant Conditioning Mask, € 30, Pureology salons nationwide

Apparently there are 21 hair benefits to this mask. They range from color enhancement and combating dryness to preventing split ends. In a nutshell, if you come back from vacation with a messy nest of dull hair, this might help. It’s a real quick fix, restoring the shine that makes your living room color worth it. “Three minutes and my hair is back to normal after a week of chlorine and sunshine,” one panelist said.

Best dry darling

Klorane oat milk tinted dry shampoo, € 11.49, selection of boots nationwide

This brand left Ireland many years ago, and it’s something people buy in drugstores during the holidays. Well, now it’s back, and this dry shampoo with a tint is a bestseller. If you have thin hair and can’t skip the daily wash, and find other dry shampoos a bit ashy, give it a try. “Some dry shampoos leave my hair sticky or powdery,” one panelist said. “It was invisibly restorative.”

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