Hair Me Out
A collage with a red-haired woman smiling and four top-tier hair care products
Besties, Your Hair Deserves Every One Of These Nourishing, Top-Tier Hair Care Products

Bad hair day? You don't know her.

Originally Published: 
Lucas Ottone/Stocksy
Elite Daily 2021 Glow Beauty Awards
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

It’s been a long, strange, difficult year for hair and hair care. As your impromptu, lopsided bangs grow out and your impulsive temporary colors fade away for good, it’s time for hair care to retake center stage. Spending the next several weeks nursing your hair back to health will ensure you emerge in the fall free of damage and full of hydrated, voluminous hair ready to take on whatever you throw at it next. (But please, leave the bleach to the pros.) For Elite Daily’s 2021 Glow Beauty Awards, we searched, sifted, and tested high and low for the best new hair care products to help you do just that.

Trust, our group of astute hair care testers — consisting of beauty enthusiasts with straight, wavy, curly, and coily hair types — pored over everything, from the best hair mask that works across hair textures to the strongest hair protectants to the best dry shampoo for those days when you just can’t even. The search turned up far more than just a nice shampoo. We learned the best new conditioner is tucked away on the shelves of your favorite drugstore, right next to a winning L’Oreal hair product that lived up to its hype. The best new curly hair product will quickly become your new holy grail. And the best hair styling product might just convince you to retire your beloved blow dryer.

The gag? None of these products will cost you more than $35. Below, find the ideal curation for your new hair care routine, because, besties, it’s only good hair days from here on out.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Elite Daily's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.


Best New Shampoo:

Sienna Naturals H.A.P.I. Shampoo
H.A.P.I. Shampoo
Sienna Naturals

Do not sleep on Sienna Naturals. The brand pleasantly surprised testers in a number of hair care categories, but the praise for the H.A.P.I. Shampoo ($18, Sienna Naturals), from the smell to the packaging, was impossible to ignore. “Sienna Naturals has one of the cutest bottles, but the shampoo itself is spectacular — it's smooth, rich, and smells amazing,” notes one tester. “Having curly hair is not easy, but Sienna Naturals makes it feel like it is. My hair not only smelled good, but felt smooth, moisturized, and clean.”


Best New Conditioner:

Pantene Sulfate-Free Hydrating Glow Conditioner
Pantene Sulfate-Free Hydrating Glow Conditioner

Considering our testers and I blew through our Pantene Hydrating Glow Conditioners ($6.99, Target) and instantly wanted more, I’d say this formula is the real deal. Part of the brand’s new Nutrient Blends collection, the Hydrating Glow Conditioner is the rain your dry, damaged hair needs, delivering the silky, smooth feeling you love without weighing your hair down.


Best New Hair Mask:

Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Cooling Hydration Scalp Mask

Best New Hair Oil:

Cantu Beauty Jamaican Black Castor Oil Finishing Spray with Coconut Oil
Cantu Beauty Jamaican Black Castor Oil Finishing Spray with Coconut Oil

The category was lightweight moisture, yet noticeable shine, and Cantu Beauty understood the assignment loud and clear. Emerging as the winner for our testers (and trust, the competition was steep), the brand’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Finishing Spray ($5.97, Walmart) is a triple threat, working as a leave-in conditioner, curl cream, and hair oil all in one. A prime pick for wavy, curly, and coily hair types alike, the spray delivers a measured dose of hydration to keep hair healthy, reviving shine and definition in the process.


Best New Dry Shampoo:

Odele Dry Shampoo
Odele Dry Shampoo

You’ve probably seen Odele start filling the drugstore hair aisles, and if you’ve yet to try this brand, consider this your sign. The plant-based, nutrient-rich Dry Shampoo ($11.99, Target) comes in an easily dispensable powder form as opposed to an aerosol-based spray that can clog hair follicles or even make hair appear wetter. The powder quickly absorbs excess oil and boosts hair’s texture and volume to breathe new life into your second- or third-day (or fourth- or fifth-day) hair. Take it from one tester, who found a lot to love: “I found that [with the Odele Dry Shampoo] my hair looked cleaner longer than the other products I tried,” they said. “And I love that it's not super scented. It has a light, fresh scent, but it's not at all overwhelming — exactly what I look for in a dry shampoo.”


Best New Hair Toner:

L'Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Anti-Brass Purple Mask Treatment

Best New Curly Hair Product:

Urban Hydration Jamaican Castor Oil Curl Cream
Urban Hydration Jamaican Castor Oil Curl Cream
Bed, Bath & Beyond

If your curls or coils have felt drier, frizzier, or less defined than usual, Urban Hydration’s Jamaican Castor Oil Curl Cream ($9.99, Bed, Bath & Beyond) might become your new go-to. The supremely affordable product uses a blend of moisturizing oils and butters to help curls feel smooth and flexible, while still holding their curl pattern. Post-application, Jamaican castor oil and avocado oil keep curls feeling strong, soft, and less prone to breakage.



Best New Hair Protectant:

Nexxus Weightless Style Prep & Protect Leave-in Spray with Hyaluronic Acid
Nexxus Weightless Style Prep & Protect Leave-in Spray with Hyaluronic Acid

What we’re not going to do is apply any heat to our hair without protecting it first. The Nexxus Prep & Protect Leave-in Spray ($9.99, Target) uses the brand’s proprietary PROTEIN LOCK system to form a barrier around the hair strand and protect its natural lipids. While this protects your hair from heat, the hyaluronic acid in the formula ensures your hair retains moisture over time. IRL, this spray left our testers’ hair “smelling so good and feeling so soft.”



Best New Hair Styling Product:

R+Co COOL WIND pH Perfect Air-Dry Creme
COOL WIND pH Perfect Air-Dry Creme

If you’ve relied on your blow dryer or straightener for soft, frizz-free hair, R+Co’s Air Dry Creme ($29, R+Co) might change your tune — it did with our testers. Infused with hydrating watermelon extract, mango butter, and cold-sealing polymer, a dollop of this formula provides you with the same smoothness and shine of a fresh blowout, but with absolutely none of the potential heat damage.



Best New Scalp Scrub:

Neutrogena Healthy Scalp Hydro Boost Scalp Scrub with Hyaluronic Acid
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Scalp Scrub with Hyaluronic Acid

No, you’re not losing it: scalp products have multiplied exponentially, but for good reason. Most often, a healthy scalp will lead to healthy hair. Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Scalp Scrub ($8.74, Walmart) has proven to be a top-tier option for our testers when it comes to texture, smell, and feel. Even better, it’s both affordable and produces near-instant results. This gentle scrub works well to rid your scalp of any buildup clogging your hair follicles while coating your head with a surge of hydration. The result: a bouncy, voluminous head of hair that’s not weighed down by excess oils.


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