Thursday 19 January 2017

The beauty panel: Groom to Improve

Do you lack the time or money for a salon blow-dry? No problem, says our expert, sleek hair can still be yours

Sarah Caden

Published 25/04/2016 | 02:30

Pictured, from left, Redken Pillow Proof Blow Dry Express Treatment Primer; Shu Uemura Art of Hair Straightforward Time-Saving Blow Dry Oil; Tigi Bed Head Motor Mouth; Kerastase Discipline Mousse Curl Ideal; Joico Hair Shaker Liquid-to-Powder Finishing Texturiser. Photo: Kip Carroll.
Pictured, from left, Redken Pillow Proof Blow Dry Express Treatment Primer; Shu Uemura Art of Hair Straightforward Time-Saving Blow Dry Oil; Tigi Bed Head Motor Mouth; Kerastase Discipline Mousse Curl Ideal; Joico Hair Shaker Liquid-to-Powder Finishing Texturiser. Photo: Kip Carroll.

Oh, the Noughties were a high time for Irish hair. Women who had grown up in the high-frizz 1980s suddenly discovered the salon blow-dry and also had the cash to enjoy one regularly. In fact, more women than would care to admit rarely washed and blow-dried their own hair at all. And then, come the bust, the blow-drys were the first cuts to many household budgets. Now that relatively happy days are here again, there are some who are back to their salon-blow-dry habit. However, given the advances made in at-home styling products, it's now nearly as easy to get sleek, bouncy hair at home as it is at the hairdresser.

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Frizz is the chief hair complaint of most Irish people. We have a national tendency to not-curly-not-straight tresses, with an extra order of fuzziness. Fifteen years ago, with good reason, we fell in love with the cuticle-flattening powers of the GHD. We went a bit mad on it, as family photos will testify, but at least it improved our at-home styling skills. With heat, however, products are necessary to avoid damaged and dried-out hair. Luckily, products have come a long way and made that achievable. We still like the magazines and the sit-down at the salon - but not every week.

Best overall

Redken Pillow Proof Blow Dry Express Treatment Primer, €23, selected salons nationwide

Redken already sells a Pillow Proof Blow Dry Express Primer Spray, but this new cream product is a more nourishing number that does essentially the same job. It boasts seven benefits, among them heat protection, style-setting and slashing your blow-dry time by half. We found it did all of the above, while the cream texture also gave finer hair a bit more volume. That said, it worked well on all hair types. "Bounce was the biggest benefit I got from this," said one panellist. "Using this made it look like I'm a whizz at whirling the hairbrush while using the hairdryer."

Best Time-Saver

Shu Uemura Art of Hair Straightforward Time-Saving Blow Dry Oil, €27, selected salons nationwide, tel: (01) 604-5912

The idea of using oil as a blow-dry assistant might seem all wrong, but this stuff works. It's for thick hair, though, and it will be too rich for finer hair. The oil element comes from the same ingredients used to help make-up glide over the skin. It bestows smoothness and shine, while other ingredients speed up the drying process. "Usually, I have to use a straightener after I blow-dry," said a panellist, "but this meant I could skip that step. No frizz, and a lovely shine."

Best High Shine

Tigi Bed Head Motor Mouth, €17.50, selected salons nationwide, or see cloud10beauty.com

This is a new take on Tigi's well-loved Small Talk, with added UV gloss, which promises to look amazing under bright lights or flashbulbs. Even if neither are your thing, this lends great gloss, along with the original formulation's ability to add thickness to your hair, without tackiness. "This pumps out very thick and sticky, which made me wary," said a panellist, "but if you make sure to blow-dry and brush it through properly, the finish is impressively glossy, with great root-lift."

Best Curl Care

Kerastase Discipline Mousse Curl Ideal, €24, selected salons nationwide

Mousse is the favoured styling product for curly hair, given its ability to define shape and reduce frizz. The downside of mousse, however, is its crunchiness. This mousse is part of a range of products designed to shape your curls, but with soft bounce. Unusually, it works well for fine-haired curls. "Curly hair can look very dull, but I got great shine with this product," said one panellist. "And my hair was unusually silky to the touch."

Best Quick Volume

Joico Hair Shaker Liquid-to-Powder Finishing Texturiser, €22.45, for stockists see xpertpro.ie

This liquid-to-powder sounds like something slippery but dusty that couldn't possibly do anything good, but it's worth a go. How it works is that when you shake the bottle, a stainless-steel ball within mixes together the powder and liquid to a product that you then spray on in a fine mist. The trick is vigorous shaking, possibly repeatedly, as you apply it to your roots. "The root lift is immediately obvious," a panellist said. "Then, you can muss it up with your fingers, for added volume and texture."

Email thepanel@independent.ie

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