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Tried & Tested: Salon finish locks

Sue Conley finds a salon finish is hard to achieve, so pours balm on troubled locks

I like my hair, but sometimes i can treat it really poorly. Shame on me! I can't be faulted in my shampooing and conditioning, but I can fall down when it comes to proper treatment while blowing it dry. None of this careful use of brush and hair dryer: I tend to just flip my head over and lash at it 'til it's dry. Then I'm surprised when I get a less-than-salon finish. Using the serums, balms and sprays below was an illuminating experience, and a couple of them are now firmly established in the regime.

AUSSIE Dual Personality Anti-Frizz + Conditioning Milk, €6.99 * * * I am a big fan of the Australian brand, but this did not ring my bell. There was a notable absence of frizz, which was gratifying, but it didn't seem to last: flyaways developed throughout the day. This is a good one to use if you're waiting to groom before a night out.

JAMES BROWN Serum, €7.99 * * * This is pretty good, but it took me several tries before I got the correct proportion of serum-to-hair. Once I did, I was happy enough, but couldn't see that much shine imparted to my locks. Plus, I get I Feel Good stuck in my head everytime I look at the name of this brand, which is annoying.

ELVIVE Colour Protect Conditioning Protect Spray, €5.99 * I was not happy with this offering from Elvive, which is a bummer because I am so totally sold on some other products in this line, particularly their shampoo/conditioner combo. It felt dry on contact and was dry after styling.

PHYTO Phytodéfrisant Botanical Hair Relaxing Balm, €25 * * * * * Ooh, I was scared of this product, because it looked so much like liquid hair wax, which is death to my tresses. However, this is brilliant! The teeniest bit works wonders, and I expect to be using this tube of miracle balm for a good long time. Even though it is the priciest item in this week's category, it is an excellent investment.

JOHN FRIEDA Frizz-Ease Hair Serum, €8.49 * * * * * If I was scared of the Phyto balm, I was completely terrified of this. Again, caution proved to be my friend, and the gloss on my hair was as good as any salon treatment I've ever had. It makes my rubbish approach to drying my hair look like I am a professional stylist. It's the result that matters, after all, and this delivers.

All products were tested over the course of four weeks