Back in November, acting on the advice of a curly-haired acquaintance who gave me some very good advice (thank you, Leah!), I changed my entire hair regimen. Basically, I stopped shampooing. That’s not as disgusting as it sounds: I’m still cleaning my hair. I’m just not doing it with conventional detergent-based shampoos anymore. Instead, I’m using alternative products that are designed to cleanse curly and/or dry hair without stripping it of all its natural oils.
Just two or three months ago, every glossy women’s magazine was encouraging us to create “mermaid waves,” “goddess hair,” or “beachy texture” with a salt-based hair-spritz product. Most of the products they recommended were ridiculously overpriced, full of damaging ingredients, or smelled like a piña colada, so I was able to pass…until I came across LUSH’s Sea Spray.
I can’t believe I haven’t already written about Sally Hershberger’s Glam Waves Finishing Cream. It’s been around for a few years, and its packaging was recently given a more sophisticated update, but the product itself hasn’t changed.
Glam Waves Finishing Cream is a dense white cream that’s designed to be used as the final step in a wavy-hair styling routine. My own regimen involves a nickel-sized amount of Ouidad Define & Shine Curl Styling Gel-Cream with a smaller dab of Aveda Be Curly or Anjolie Ayurveda Hair Elixir mixed into it, followed by an overall blow-drying with a diffuser attachment. Then I work a tiny bit—and I do mean tiny—of this finishing cream through the ends and other surface areas.
When I was a teenager and I was first trying to style my curly-wavy hair, there were precious few curl-specific products on the market. I remember going through bottles of neon-bright DEP gel and tubes of an imported French balm-gel called Tenax. (Even then, I oscillated between the high and low ends of the retail spectrum.) Neither option was ideal, but they both offered some control and shine. (Terax was actually excellent. Where did it go?)
Nowadays, the shelves at Duane Reade and Ricky’s and Sephora offer plenty of haircare for curls; the problem is choosing something that’s effective but not too heavy, not too heavily fragranced, or too ridiculously overpriced. See my recent review of Kérastase Oléo-Curl Curl Definition Cream for an example of that last point…
I do most of my shopping for toiletries at Whole Foods and Lifethyme in New York, and I have a weakness for higher-end cosmetics lines that show up at places like Bergdorf and Barneys. On the other hand, some of my favorite basics come from the drugstore. Here are five of my current favorites in the “cheap thrills” department.