The Panel: So smooth
Back when stand-up comedy was the new rock 'n' roll, Navan comic Dylan Moran made material out of Irish people's ability to spot each other abroad. It wasn't just about overhearing accents or familiar clothes, he insisted, but all about Irish hair.
Without fail, this observation elicited much laughter, as there are few enough of us who are not blighted with Irish hair. We are a fundamentally frizzy people, and the condition is not just limited to those with thick or curly hair.
Even fine Irish hair tends towards the flyaway -- neither fully straight nor curly -- and add a shower of rain to the situation, and we're a sight to behold.
Any glance at pre-Nineties family photos will show that anti-frizz hair products seemed not to exist back then.
Since those days, smoothing products have come a long way.
But taming the mane can still be tricky if you're to avoid looking Brylcreemed, or overloading the hair with ravaging chemicals.
Our trial found some surprising hits, with salon products proving very successful on our frizz, and these are the best of what we tried.
Kerastase Oleo-Relax Nuit, €35.50, salons nationwide, tel: (01) 604-5935
Politely omitting the word "frizzy" in favour of "rebellious", this mask combines "controlling" silicone and camelina oil and promises 72 hours of smooth hair. You leave it in overnight to work its magic, and rinse out in the morning. Testers were sceptical, but the results spoke for themselves, right across the spectrum of hair types. "The 'leave in overnight' thing is more convenient than it sounds," said a panellist. "It took a lot of the static out of my hair, leaving me with lovely, soft, shiny hair."
Best Leave-In for Thick Hair
Moroccanoil Oil Treatment, €38, see www.morrocanoil.com A hit product of 2010, this one is strictly for those with thicker hair. With argan oil -- something Moroccan women regard as a miracle worker -- as its base, this claims to make styling easier and will tame flyaways when applied minimally to dry hair. "I was a bit dubious at how greasy this felt, but I was pleasantly surprised," a panellist said. "Often these things work for a while and then leave hair more brittle than when you started, but not in this case."
Best for Fine Hair
John Frieda Frizz-Ease Hair Serum Thermal Protection Formula for Fine Hair, €6.89, nationwide
The problem for fine hair is that most silicone-based smoothers either weigh the hair down immediately, or seem fantastic at first, and then build up to render hair dull -- and, bizarrely, still frizzy. Frieda's anti-frizz products are deserved market leaders, and their fine-hair serum is second to none, and works effectively. "My hair was smoother, shinier and easier to style," said a panellist. "Goodbye, Irish hair."
Best Smoothing Wash for Thick Hair
Redken Smooth Down Shampoo, €16, and Conditioner, €18, salons nationwide, tel: (01) 604-5935
This shampoo and conditioner scored well with those who describe their hair as "wiry" and "impossible". No one had a bad word for this pair, and even the price seemed fair when a little product went such a long way. "My hair felt so clean that I presumed the shampoo was a clarifying type, but then my hair was so soft, too," said a panellist. "The true test was when I let my hair dry naturally and it dried far nicer than normal."
Best Smoothing Wash for fine Hair
Pureology SuperSmooth Shampoo, €18.25, and Conditioner, €21.75, salons nationwide, tel: (01) 604-5935
This duo managed to leave the hair softer but not loaded with residue, which is exactly what fine hair requires. Further, there is no unpleasant, disappointing build-up with continued use. "My hair was noticeably smoother and not as flyaway as normal," a panellist said. "I used no post-wash serum, but it left no slimy residue, and survived a day of being rained on. I'm impressed."