The Panel: Mane ideas
For all the time we spend peering at our faces and bodies, looking for signs of wear and tear, our hair can get overlooked.
We rely on just a shampoo and conditioner during our daily shower to cancel out sun damage, heat-styling and colouring, and hope that an intense treatment at our occasional hairdresser appointments will sort out anything more serious. There is more we could do at home, however, with the help of hair products aimed at our manes' more urgent needs. As a nation, we may be prone to frizz, kinks and hair that's untidily neither straight nor curly, but that's no reason to settle for anything less than smooth.
Our five favourite tress tamers tackled some of the more common hair complaints, with all panellists pleasantly surprised that any change was possible. Here is the best of what we tested.
Joico Color Endure Violet Shampoo and Conditioner, both €13.90, for stockists tel: (045) 856-490
The deep purple of these products works to eliminate the complementary yellow and brassy tones that are the bane of all blondes, either natural or dyed. Furthermore, they will work on grey hair, too, to heighten the white and increase glossiness. "The brightest parts of my hair are a much whiter, cleaner colour since using this," a bottle-blonde panellist said, "and the conditioner is incredible, the best I've ever used. And, thankfully, the scary purple shade doesn't dye your hands or shower, as you might fear."
Best for Light Lengths
Aussie Mega Shampoo and Aussie Mega Instant Conditioner, both €4.35, available nationwide
According to the manufacturer, it's the Kangaroo Paw flower, a little, furry Australian blossom, that makes these products the daily weightless wonders we found them to be. "I have switched to these as my regulars," said a panellist with long, curly hair and a very sensitive scalp. "Very light and easy to wash out. My hair feels clean, fresh and shiny afterwards and it smells divine. After daily use, my hair was left glossy and clean and after daily use it did not become weighed down or dull."
Best for Mature Manes
Kerastase Age Premium Bain Substantif shampoo, €19, and Lait Substantif conditioner, €24.30, Kerastase salons nationwide, for stockists, tel: (01) 604-5935
With calcium, ceramides and vitamins E and F, this range is specifically designed for the manes of the more mature, which, even if coloured, can be more coarse, wiry and lacking gloss. "My grey hair tends to be rough and dull," said one panellist, who has just turned 60, "but after using this, it is soft, shiny and transformed. I'd buy it again."
Best for Thick Tresses
L'Oreal Professionel Mythic Oil, €15.20, L'Oreal Professionel salons nationwide, tel: (01) 604-5910
Including avocado and grapeseed oils, with smoothing silicones, this sensuous-smelling serum promises to transform all kinds of hair. Fine hair can tolerate it on wet locks, pre-blow dry, or apply to thicker tresses when dry, for taming without a grease attack. "At home, it gave my frazzled barnet a healthy sheen, and that rarely happens," said a panellist with very thick hair. "I insisted that the hairdresser use it and she remarked on how much easier it made the job."
Best Quick Mask
Elvive Full Restore 5 60-Second Saviour, €7.79, available nationwide
With pro-keratin and ceramide, this conditioning mask is aimed at weak, limp and damaged hair, but, in fact, it works for anyone who needs a bit of fast maintenance. As a mask, it works well, but the real beauty is that you can apply it in the shower and then leave it on for only one minute. "Love that you don't have to towel dry and leave it for ages," said a panellist with post-baby, stressed hair. "Masks are aspirational products for me, but I'll actually use this one."
Pictured, from left: Kerastase Age Premium Bain Substantif Shampoo and Lait Substantif Conditioner; L'Oreal Professionel Mythic Oil; Joico Color Endure Violet Conditioner and Shampoo; Aussie Mega Instant Conditioner and Aussie Mega Shampoo; Elvive Full Restore 5 60-Second Saviour