Leili’s Must-Have Hair Products

By Leili, Hair Care Contributor

Leili is a 19-year old New Yorker who is obsessed with beauty, chocolate, and celebrity of the trashiest kind. Her drawers look like the stockroom of a hair salon! She’s currently enrolled in her second year of college but still trying to decide on her major. When she’s not worrying about that, she’s either at home with a good book, baking scrumptious goodies for her family, or exploring new restaurants with her friends. Check out her blog, Materialistic Musings!


Leili’s Must-Have Hair Products for Oily Hair

Asking me to pick my must-have hair items is a bit like Sophie’s Choice for product junkies like me, but I finally succeeded in narrowing my list down to my absolute Holy Grail products. Just about everything here is tried and true—things that I have been repurchasing for ages and have stood the test of time. In some small way, they’re almost taken for granted because I use them so consistently that I no longer get excited over the results, but without them, my hair would be a mess of epic proportions.

Batiste Blush Dry Shampoo ($7.99) | I, like so many people, have come to be extremely reliant on dry shampoo—no wonder this stuff’s been around since the ‘70s. I don’t think I’ve gone a week without spraying a bit into my roots since I’ve started using this product. As someone with almost unbelievably oily hair, I use a quick blast of this between shampoos to freshen up, or to add some volume when my crown looks particularly flat. These days, with midterms basically robbing me of any showering time, I rely on dry shampoo more than usual so people won’t know I’m not exactly clean. (And let’s fact it, showering is really something you do for other people!) I’ve tried (and am still trying) all sorts of dry shampoos, but this is the one I always come back to. The only other one that might match the Batiste is the famous Klorane with Oat Milk. But although Klorane’s powder is slightly, slightly finer, I prefer how the Batiste ones are scented—Blush is the prettiest almost perfume-like floral. Besides, considering how often I use dry shampoo, Batiste is $10 cheaper.

Alterna Anti-Aging Caviar Working Hair Spray ($28.00) | As much as I love perfectly styled hair, I have bizarre issues with how it feels and hate the stiffness any product with real hold creates. I’ve tried a lot of hairsprays and while I liked the L’Oreal Elnett for a while, even that was crunchy and didn’t quite “disappear at the stroke of a brush.”  A hair stylist used this on me a couple of years ago to set my curly prom up-do, and two days later my curls looked only mildly rumpled and were smooth and soft to the touch. Not only is a can of this absolutely huge, the product itself is a lovely dry mist that never leaves your hair feeling sticky or clumped together—I’ve never used anything like it. The aerosol spray in particular has also been really thoughtfully designed because you get a nice wide range of spray that comes out in a very fine mist. (This might be a bit of a problem for anyone wanting to spray a narrow area, but works fantastically for larger sections or over the entire ‘do). It is very definitely a workable, flexible spray perfect for maintaining a style worn over a few days or just for anyone who doesn’t like stiff hair. Best of all, this hairspray is paraben, gluten, synthetic color, DEA, TEA, mineral oil, PABA, paraffin and animal testing free! What’s not to love?

Check out more of Leili’s must-haves! 

Bumble and Bumble Straight Blow Dry ($28.00) | Bumble and Bumble launched this product along with their “straight” shampoo and conditioner, and although I haven’t used this as long as the other items, it’s earned itself a firmly established place in my everyday hair routine. My natural hair is wavy and frizzy, so I like to blow dry it with a round brush to smooth out the kinks but still leave some movement and a bit of wave. I’ve tried a lot of blow drying and styling creams, but nothing turned my frizzy mess into smooth locks as quickly as this does. This also cut down on my drying time overall, not only getting the styling done faster, but it helped to get rid of the moisture in my hair very quickly. Usually it takes me almost half an hour to do my DIY blowout, section by section, but when I use this it barely takes 20 minutes. But what really earned this product a spot on my list is how well it holds the straight style. By day two of my blowout, normally the waves and frizzes start popping up, but something in this product maintains the look remarkably well—as though it’s laced with hairspray or whatever chemical John Frieda 3-Day Straight uses. This cream would be especially helpful to people with very curly hair looking to smooth it as much as they can with a hair dryer before the deadly flat irons come out. And for people with finer or straighter hair, with this and a paddle brush, it’s a cinch to get hair that looks like you’ve straightened it without even having to plug in the GHD!

Bed Head Ego Boost Split End Mender ($15.50) | The ends of your hair are always the driest and most damaged, and for anyone trying to grow their mane out, it’s very important that they stay healthy. I’ve been using this product for over 3 years now and have yet to find anything that could take its place. Not quite hydrating enough to be a leave-in conditioner, this mender is a sort of gel that locks in moisture for my ends. I actually think the name of this product is quite misleading as it doesn’t actually mend split ends, but it does add a great dose of moisture to those fragile tips. This is actually my preventative hair product to help prolong the health of my hair and avoid split ends, more than anything else. Comparatively, Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship is heavy and tacky feeling and Joico K-Pak’s Split End Mender is really to help split hairs look healthy without actually making them so. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to take better care of your hair, a few pumps of this out of the shower really adds a look of health to those parched ends and can even help delay trims at the salon!

Redken All Soft Conditioner ($15.99) | Ever since I discovered this conditioner, I’ve done disgraceful things to keep a tub of it in my shower at all times, even in my very poorest of poor college student days. I’ve never seen a conditioner as gloriously thick as this one is—the product comes out a paste and could honestly rival some deep conditioning masks. It feels absolutely sinfully luxurious and such a treat for dry or damaged locks every time I slather it on. Just like its name would suggest, it leaves my hair unbelievably soft and incredibly shiny, giving my usually lackluster mane this fantastic look of health. This is absolutely one of those use-it-and-you-won’t-be-able-to-stop-touching-your-hair products, and short of people with fine hair, there isn’t anyone I wouldn’t recommend this to. I’ve never liked the chemical, slightly noxious smell, but hair care products could smell worse (Ojon!), and for the results I get, I would put up with a far worse scent.

Now you might have noticed that my short list of must-haves doesn’t contain a deep treatment mask, leave-in oils/creams or volumizing mousses. I test these types of products out all the time and have handfuls of each category that I certainly like and use, but none of them in particular stands out and therefore cannot qualify as a must-have. Of course, if anyone would like me to, I’d be happy to write a post on the masks, oils/creams or mousses that I like but can’t really rank or discern significant differences between.