In my experience, hair products either don’t work, work incredibly well for a short period of time, or — most rarely — are immediately effective and continue to be over long-term use. Products in the latter category can be hard to come by, but they’re the ones you buy over and over for years, give as gifts and push on friends with an unnecessary urgency. I can think of mine immediately (Bumble & Bumble Invisible Oil and Prêt-à-Powder, for two, another below), and judging by the number of hair recommendations flying around the office at any given time, I had a feeling the rest of team at Man Repeller would, too. So I asked everyone to pick one and tell me about it, and the results are below: 10 hair products we’ve individually found to be long-haul game-changers. Scroll down to find out what they are and then push yours on us in return!
Recommended by: Haley Nahman (hi), Deputy Editor
How I describe my hair: Incredibly thick, wavy, voluminous and coarse
What I use it for: Since my hair is thick and coarse, I try to go at least three days between shampoos, ideally even more because it takes so long to wash and air dry it. I use a lot of dry shampoo between washes and get buildup on my scalp as a result. I started using Philip Kinglsey to see if I could get my scalp to feel squeaky clean again. It did the trick and more.
Why I love it: I didn’t realize what the regular buildup on my scalp was doing to my whole head of hair until I got rid of it. After I started using this shampoo my hair has felt finer, silkier and fresher. Also thinner — in a good way (thick-haired people will know what I mean; I’ve always wanted slightly “lankier” hair). The buildup is gone too. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but it’s been so dramatic I keep pushing it on people who have similar problems.
Tips: Really work it through. I follow it up post-shower with this Philip Kingsley Flaky Scalp Toner.
Recommended by: Crystal Anderson, Operations Manager
How she describes her hair: 4A naturally curly/kinky African American hair
What she uses it for: My hair is natural and thick as all hell, so I use this cream to soften my curls and make them more manageable. I put this on my hair straight out of the shower when it’s damp and then go about my morning routine. I also use it as a pick-me-up on the days I don’t wash my hair.
Why she started using it: All curly natural girls have about 400 products in their bathroom closets, because finding a product that works for your hair is HARD WORK! I picked this up one day because it smelled awesome and looked like it would be the perfect consistency for my fro.
Why she loves it: It’s soooo easy to use. A little goes a long way and it doesn’t weigh my hair down or make it look or feel oily. Adversely, it also doesn’t make my hair feel crunchy or dry!
Any tips? A little goes a long way! It’s also great as an edge tamer for those baby hairs!
Recommended by: Ashley Hamilton, Social Media Editor
How she describes her hair: Thin and prone to frizz
What she uses it for: I use it every day post-shower while my hair is still damp to maintain my waves and stave off poofiness.
Why she started using it: I picked it up randomly at a Target in high school (the way most Target purchases come about). I’ve ventured into other methods of de-frizzing and used dozens of other products from $3-to-$50 range but somehow this product always makes it back into the rotation.
Why she loves it: Everyone claims to de-frizz but few have truly mastered it. This one’s hits the perfect balance of smoothing hair without flattening it. I almost always leave the house with wet hair and this is a key element of not becoming a poodle around 10:45 a.m.
Recommended by: Emily Zirimis, Visual Manager
How she describes her hair: Wavy, frizzy and thin combination hair (both oily and dry)
What she uses it for: Smoothing my hair after straightening it or blowing it dry
Why she started using it: I got this product after the office got to try out a bunch of samples from an MR event with Dry Bar!
Why she loves it: For years I tried to replicate that after-the-salon-silky-smoothness that I just couldn’t seem to achieve at home no matter how many primers I used without my hair getting greasy, fast. This was the first product that felt lightweight, smelled great and makes my hair ACTUALLY feel like I just left the salon. I don’t straighten my hair very often but when I do, this product feels like a treat.
Any tips? Once I get out of the shower, I use a wet brush to take out any remaining knots, prime with Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Primer (another great product!) before blow drying. Once dry, I straighten my hair, brush it again, then spray the Dry Bar Sparkling Soda onto my tips. I do 4-5 sprays, run my fingers through my hair and then flip it around to get a good bounce.
Recommended by: Jasmin Aujla, Senior Partnerships Strategist
How she describes her hair: Straight, quite thick and smooth, but gets greasy very quickly (like the day after I wash it)
What she uses it for: To keep greasy hair at bay
Why she started using it: Name any dry shampoo and I’ve probably tried it. When I moved to the U.S. someone recommended Klorane and, once I tried it, I was sold. They also sell it in the U.K. now, which is great!
Why she loves it: As someone that has naturally very oily hair, this is one of the very few products that makes it manageable. I don’t like to wash my hair more that three or fours times a week, so I go through a lot of this stuff.
Any tips? My hair always feels greasier after I’ve slept on it so I apply dry shampoo before bed, tie my hair up and then touch up in the morning if necessary.
Recommended by: Leandra Medine, Founder
How she describes her hair: Intellectually curious, emotionally unstable
What she uses it for: To chill my curls the fuck out. I know some women endeavor to do the opposite, and I am a member of this category occasionally, but mostly I prefer when my hair looks wavy. Not just wavy, though, messy wavy. But not messy wavy in that contrived way you get when you go to a hair salon and ask for bed head — hairdressers tend to use products that make your hair really greasy or stringy to achieve this look and I prefer when my hair looks soft but like, you know, “I woke up like this.” (Literally, though.) Bb. Straight helps me get there. YOU KNOW?
Why she started using it: I frosted my tips in 2012 (back then we were calling it “ombre”) and the hair stylist at Bumble and bumble who did it to me used the Bb. She put it in my hair before blow drying it and said it made hair straightening much easier. I asked for a bottle, she gave me one, and after the next time I showered (so about three weeks later), I ran one squeeze worth through my hair anticipating that I would blow dry it shortly thereafter but got distracted and never did. When it dried I was like, “Holy cacao! My hair is wavy, not curly. Is this a symptom of the product I just applied?” Fast forward six years and we are still in a serious relationship.
Why she loves it: I think it is the only thing I have used so consistently for such an extended period of time, and it has never disappointed me.
Any tips? If you have curly hair that is relatively soft, prefer when the curls look more brushed out and don’t know how to get this look without first straightening your hair and then adding a shit ton of product, I recommend washing your hair before bed, ringing it out with a dry towel, applying a squeeze’s worth of the product, brushing it out, executing your desired hair part and tying it back really tightly into a cinna-bun. Once this is all done, sleep on that, literally and figuratively.
Recommended by: Nikki Bent
How she describes her hair: Thick, curly, dry
What she uses it for: I’ve been working on simplifying my morning routine and love using this product because it washes, detangles and conditions my hair. I can use it everyday and not worry about drying out my hair and scalp.
Why she started using it: I overheard some of my curly-haired teammates gushing over how much they love New Wash and how their hair looks good even just after it’s air-dried. Since I exclusively let my hair air-dry, I started to research it and was surprised to find out New Wash contains no detergent or synthetic compounds. It’s meant to replace traditional shampoos and conditioners which, according to the creators of the product, are drying everyone’s hair out. Between the testimonials and the new approach, I had to give it try!
Why she loves it: New Wash conditions my hair so well that if I’m in a rush, I can leave the house without putting additional product in and my hair doesn’t get crazy frizzy or dry. Added bonus: it smells great!
Any tips? While I’ve heard from others that the bottle goes quickly (the instructions suggest you apply it root-to-tip), I prefer to use it mostly on my ends, so haven’t had that experience.
Recommended by: Harling Ross, Fashion Editor
How she decribes her hair: Dry, curly and voluminous
What she uses it for: I use it as a hair mask after shampooing.
Why she started using it: I read an article in InStyle with the headline “This Mayonnaise-Inspired Conditioner Makes for Glorious Hair” and was immediately intrigued. When I looked for it online it was sold out almost everywhere, which made me even more intrigued. I ended up calling in a press sample with the intention of trying it and potentially writing about it, which I did. Afterward, I kept using it weekly because I loved it so much.
Why she loves it: It makes my (dry, frizzy, curly) hair feel SO much healthier. Oh, and it smells better than any smell I’ve ever smelled.
Any tips? Leave it in for about 10 minutes and then rinse well.
Recommended by: Amelia Diamond, Head of Creative
How she describes her hair: Long, wavy on a good day, oily-out-of-nowhere and dry from my earlobes down (although it’s seriously gotten so much better thanks to this product).
What she uses it for: I get regular balayage, which dries out the ends. Last year, you literally could not get a brush through my hair without getting the brush caught up in a snarl of tangles, so Paul Fox, who cuts my hair, “prescribed” this mask.
Why she loves it: It works. I leave it on my ends once a week (after shampooing and regular-conditioning, which I have brought down to about three times a week) and it’s helped to repair all the bleach-related damage. It’s expensive, $66 a bottle, so I use as little as possible, but it’s worth it — I have tried enough home remedies (like the time I used avocado toast to fix my split ends; the time I made an apple cider vinegar rinse; the time I unnecessarily poured oat milk on my hair) to feel good about my investment in a product dedicated to repairing bleach damage. Plus, it smells SO INCREDIBLE — and the smell lasts — that this could count as your perfume for the day, too.
Recommended by: Nora Taylor, Managing Editor
How she describes her hair:
3C naturally curly
What she uses it for: I use it as a co-wash in between shampoos and deep conditioners.
Why she started using it: I got my first Deva cut at this new spot when I lived in Chicago (I went in because my friend told me they had beer, could cut curly hair and had dogs running around) and left feeling like the whole Deva curl thing was worth the hype. Earlier this year I upgraded from the regular conditioner (also good!) to the Decadence and never looked back.
Why she loves it: It smells amazing, has great slip so it’s perfect for detangling, and it makes my hair super soft.
Any tips? Buy the gigantic bottle! It’s a better deal and you’re not running out to grab conditioner every three weeks.
Collages by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.