The Best and Worst of Products for Blondes

This is my first year alive on earth of being a platinum blonde. The learning curve is steep after years of black dye, which required essentially no maintenance besides root touch up every 3-4 weeks. But now, I’m up to my ears in products that are intended to repair damage, or to tone my hair to keep the brassiness at bay. Here’s my short list of a product that really works, and one that misses the mark.

Best: Shiny Silver Ultra Conditioning Shampoo. I’ve tried many a purple and blue shampoo since bayalaging my hair, but this shampoo is the only one that’s caused me to do a double take in the mirror after my hair’s dried. It really works! It looked as though I had just re-toned it. Not only that, but the toned, silvery-blonde color actually persisted for the next few days after use, instead of reverting back to brassy by the end of the day.

Of course, the reason this product works so well is because it is super-concentrated. Despite the fact you wash this product out after 2-3 minutes, it still takes a toll on your hair — it may feel a bit rough and dry, not unlike the results of a regular toner, although to a much lesser extent (it’s recommended to keep shampooing to a minimum anyways when you bleach your hair). Another thing I don’t love about this product is that isopropyl and benzyl alcohol both make an appearance, which may also contribute to the drying effect.

Still, if you feel like your hair is in a healthy enough state and you’re ready to stamp out some brassiness without completely re-toning, I absolutely recommend this $10 buy.

Worst: It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in for Blondes. This smells nice, but does it work? Only if you love crunchy hair! Even if are a light-handed spritzer, and you comb this through your hair in hopes of distributing evenly, this will cause your hair to clump up. A leave-in conditioner should be a little bit lighter, and less waxy than this one is.

I also didn’t experience that this product neutralized any brassiness at all, of any color. In fact, I think it almost enhanced the areas where a bit of yellow was coming through, which is an issue since my end goal is white-blonde. And, since this leave-in causes so much build-up and sticks around even after you try to wash it out, it seems like this wrecks the white-blonde color long term, or at least until you tone again.

I think this might only be beneficial to users who are trying to maintain yellow blonde, and perhaps have healthier hair that allows the leave-in to permeate the hair shaft more evenly, instead of clumping up. Otherwise, I’d skip this $14 leave-in. Weirdly, though, I still stan the original non-blonde version of It’s a 10 leave-in… ~A

One N’ Only Shiny Silver Ultra Conditioning Shampoo

One N’ Only is a brand I usually skip over at Sally’s due to the weird 80s/90s style branding of their product. C’mon, you can’t tell me this doesn’t look a little dated:

But I’ve been using quite a few of their products lately, and they’re pretty darn good. In another post, I am going to go into extreme detail about their ColorFix product. But for now, let’s focus on this purple shampoo.

While I had bayalage, I tried about six different blue/purple shampoos/conditioners, and Shiny Silver was the clear winner in the shampoo realm. For $10, you get 12.5 fl. oz of product, which is in the cheaper range for blue shampoos — and, considering that you won’t need to use it every day, it will certainly last awhile.

The consistency of this shampoo is just runny enough to easily get the product out of the bottle, but consistent enough to get a good lather out of it. It will make you feel as though you’ve sufficiently applied enough to your hair (which Joico and Pravana don’t do — those two always made me feel like I had to dump out half the bottle to get a good amount of product). After 2-3 minutes of letting this soak into your hair, you can wash your hair out and hop out of the shower without feeling much of a residue.

Now, unfortunately, that “no residue” feeling is likely due to the inclusion of sulfates, so if you’re looking for a sulfate-free shampoo, this ain’t it. Also, the dreaded isopropyl alcohol rears it’s ugly head in the 4th line down on the ingredient listing. For me, isopropyl alcohol usually ensures that dryness will eventually occur, so I try my best to avoid it in skincare and shampoos. But, hey — all in the name of experimentation, right?

Despite the aforementioned quasi-nefarious ingredients, I didn’t feel like my hair was SUPER dry, by any means. I mean, there was already bleach in it to begin with, so the damage had already been done. But this shampoo didn’t make it worse.

I loved this product because the color payout on the highlights was pretty significant. Even though the effects weren’t super long lasting (maybe two days, at most), they were pretty darn noticeable. All the red/copper/orange tones were temporarily cancelled out, and I was able to achieve a more white-silver blonde highlight look, as opposed to yellow-blonde. Which was exactly what I was going for.

Long-term, this shampoo isn’t going to either help or hinder your hair health. It does what it says it will, which is make your highlights brighter and cancel out the copper-tones. And while it’s not the most moisturizing of shampoos (particularly since it has sulfates, which strip out the natural oils), it’s also not going to damage it beyond repair even after a few weeks of sporadic use. All in all, not a bad buy! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Joico Color Balance Blue Conditioner

Now we all know that bleaching your hair isn’t really great for hair health, but you think perhaps a conditioner would help, at minimum, albeit temporarily, soften it up a bit. This blue conditioner by Joico… well, isn’t the one to do that.

For $15 you get 10oz of this lightly-scented conditioner. As you could probably guess by the name, it’s a blue conditioner, and the liqui-cream is colored blue. Get ready for random flecks of the conditioner to stain your tub! (don’t worry, you can still scrub it out). A lot of reviews online complain that this leaves a residue, but I didn’t at all find this to be the case. In fact, I felt that it washed out far too easily, and felt like I hadn’t really applied anything to my hair.

The way blue and purple shampoos and conditioners work is that, a few times a week, you would apply the shampoo and conditioner to your hair to lift the lighter color a bit, and cancel out the brassiness. You leave it on your hair for a few minutes, then wash it out. When it dries, ideally, some of the yellow/orange/red hues of the bleached portions would be less noticeable.

Now, to be fair to the conditioner, usually it’s the blue/purple shampoos that do the bulk of the heavy lifting — hair color lifting, that is ūüėČ — but I’ve used other blue conditioners as stand alone products, and found that they did a better job of removing the brass than Joico did. I really didn’t notice much of a change in my hair at all.

To make matters worse, every time I used this product I felt that my hair was a bit drier that day. It misses that whole “conditioning” bit of being a conditioner, where within the first hour of two of hopping out of the shower you feel like your hair is silky smooth. That never happens with this product — instead, my hair felt itchy and wiry to touch, and I sense that this promoted breakage.

There’s a lot of chemicals in this that I am unfamiliar with that could have caused that kind of outcome with my hair. I also neglected to notice the isopropyl alcohol creeping in the third to last line of the ingredient listing, which has never been good for me personally in either skin or hair products. All in all though, this is pass from me — there are better blue and purple conditioners out there. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Now this is a sulfate-shampoo to invest in! This product is marketed toward curly or textured hair, but I think that it would benefit anyone looking for a more natural approach to their shampoo. This retails around $9 per bottle, and you can buy it just about anywhere including Ulta and Target.

The product description cites that this product is paraben free, alcohol free and sulfate free. In fact, this shampoo has one of those ingredient lists that I can actually guess what at least 80% of the input actually is, which is a good start: there are a lot of coconut-based ingredients, and a lot of flower extracts as well. I did end up googling phenoxyethanol, though: today I learned, that it is a glycol ether, not an alcohol. So based on this almost all-natural ingredient listing, my expectations of this product to put moisture back in my hair were high.

This comes out as a clear liquid that’s not as easy to lather as most shampoos, so you may need a little more product than usual based on your hair length. Like several sulfate free or “natural” shampoos I’ve used, it may seem like it’s more difficult to wash out the shampoo completely, to the point where you may wonder if you were ever washing it out at all, but hang in there. The smell of this shampoo is, as the title states, very vanilla-y. Not my favorite scent — but that’s just personal preference. When you step out of the shower and comb through your hair, you’ll notice your hair is pretty darn soft, almost as though you’ve sprayed a detangler or a leave-in through it already.

When my hair is dry, I’ve definitely noticed an increase in how shiny it is. I wouldn’t say this persists through the entire day, but it is very evident the first couple hours of jumping out of the shower. Overall, I felt that my hair has been healthier since using it.

There are a few drawbacks to using extract-based shampoos. Like I mentioned before, you won’t experience a “clarifying” effect, particularly since there are no sulfates. You aren’t going to get a head full of hairspray out easily with this, unless you take a 45 minute shower and scrub really hard. And of course this isn’t going to deliver any miracles if your hair is already damaged — but that would be the case with any shampoo.

Last but not least, my personal jury is still out on the concept of sulfate-free shampoos as a whole. I still feel that I am dyeing my hair at the same frequency that I was before — it seems to become dull at the same rate if I weren’t using a sulfate-free shampoo.

But overall, I really love this shampoo: this is going to be my go-to response whenever someone asks me “What shampoo do you use?” I think it’s best for everyone to try to move toward a more natural-ingredient approach, regardless of hair type. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

L’Oreal Ever Pure Sulfate Free Volume Shampoo

My first haircare post! Now, haircare definitely isn’t my strong point. My hair is naturally straight, and I can’t really get it to do much other than just lay flat and be straight. But frequent dyeing puts it in the category of “damaged” several times a year, so I’ve been on the hunt for something that won’t damage it more, or wipe out the color as quickly.

So surfactants are the things that are in soap that makes you feel as though all the grime and the build up have gone away. Sulfate is a surfactant. So inherently sulfates aren’t bad if you need a clarifying shampoo. For me personally, although I do use a clarifying shampoo from time to time, I don’t want to strip the oils away too often in order to retain some of the color. For that reason I wanted to add a sulfate-free shampoo to my shower caddy.

But… this shampoo has a few ingredients that would dry your hair and scalp out otherwise, namely benzyl alcohol and peppermint extract. There’s a whole lot of other chemicals in here that I, admittedly, know very little about, but I can’t imagine that it’s good for long term hair health. Still, for the peppermint and benzyl alcohol alone: if I wouldn’t put it on my regular skin, I probably wouldn’t want to put it on my scalp, either.

And it shows. After jumping in the shower and using this, your hair won’t be particularly voluminous. It won’t even feel healthy, in fact, it might even feel a bit brittle. Sure, the peppermint smell is nice, and sure, you get quite a bit of product for $5. But this is just another run-of-the-mill, doesn’t deliver on it’s promises shampoo. Despite claiming to be sulfate free, you will still feel that your hair has been stripped of it’s natural oils, and it will feel dry.

Don’t lose hope for sulfate free shampoos — I’ve reserved one that actually works for my next post! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

Items to Trash, Volume 2

I’ve been dying to throw these guys out. I’ve been using them for a little bit, desperate to make them work somehow since they have cult status at most of the hair salons I go to. But I guess even hair stylists have to push products to make some commission, right?

Redken¬†Frizz¬†Dismiss¬†Shampoo,¬†Conditioner,¬†Leave-In¬†Spray¬†– ANY salon I go to in my town, I swear, they push this line as hard as they can. It’s so bizarre to me, why is it every single salon? I digress. All of these products contain isopropyl alcohol or benzyl alcohol. These ingredients can cause the never ending cycle of needing more of the product to regain the supposed “moisture” it’s putting into your hair.

The shampoo and conditioner I never thought were stand-out to begin with. The shampoo is just, meh: Just another shampoo. The conditioner wasn’t particularly hydrating and made my hair more greasy feeling than soft. But the leave-in is actually pretty decent, at first. It smells phenomenal. It makes my hair soft for the first few hours. But by the end of the day I would notice my hair was incredibly dry.

What’s interesting is that the original Frizz Dismiss line is being clearanced so that they can release the sulfate-free version in February. But guess what still has alcohol in it! You got it, the re-released version still has it.

Garnier¬†Hair¬†Mask¬†–¬†all¬†of¬†them¬†–¬†just skip them. The softness of your hair will be short lived before your hair inevitably feels dried out. Also, another culprit of adding benzyl alcohol. Shame because I don’t hate the smell of any of these, I’m particularly fond of the avocado mask. ~A

Items to Trash, Volume 1

Usually I post on Tuesdays and Saturday, but I thought I’d mix things up a little and throw in a Thursday post! This post is going to be about the stuff I’m throwing/giving away (or, I¬†think¬†I’m throwing away — sometimes I get cold feet and end up hanging onto them anyway). Some of these items I’ve reviewed in the past — others, I may do a review for in the future.

CosRX Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence РI want to love CosRX products  because their business model is extremely honest and I appreciate that about them! But none of their products have worked for me (besides the master patches, of course!). This niacinamide product makes my skin extremely congested. If you still want to try, click here: https://amzn.to/2SI2dQY

The Ordinary Zinc + Niacinamide – I have decided that 30 minutes of perfect, glassy skin is not worth the six hours of pills rolling down my face This is still a huge The Ordinary fan-favorite, though. If you still want to try, click here: https://amzn.to/2REEYdi

Mario Badescu – Cucumber/Green Tea Facial Spray – Too drying for me ūüė¶ It wasn’t for me, but might be good for others! https://amzn.to/2SUB7WA

Skindinavia Oil Control Finishing Spray – ELF does just as good a job, possibly even better, than this spray. For $20 cheaper. Without alcohol denat as the second ingredient. Or literally any other alcohol. BYE

Rimmel Scandal Eyes Eye Shadow Stick – I don’t know why you were in my purse for six months. I think I was holding out hope you would somehow produce color if I just carried you around or…. something.

L’Oreal Everpure Volume Shampoo – I know, this is a shampoo, so this isn’t in my usual line of business. But I was searching far and wide for a sulfate-free shampoo that wouldn’t wipe out the color in my hair in 40 seconds, nor dry it out. The more natural the better, and my quest to stay away from bad alcohols is beginning to extend to shampoos as well. ::excuses self to hide hairsprays:: This has benzyl alcohol in it. ~A