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OK, it’s been awhile since I did some product reviews, so here we go.

I love the changing seasons here in the Northwest, but the rain does a number on my hair.  I joke that my hair is a human barometer…a little humidity or drizzle outside and POOF.  Frizz. 

Hair is emotional for a lot of us.  Let’s face it, we wear our hair everyday so it’s always on display and out there. If I’m having a bad hair day it ruins my mood.  I’m sure I’m the only one who notices, but still.

Back in the 1980s when big hair ruled, I was right there.  Mousse, curling irons, hair spray – I did it all.  And my “helmet hair” looked pretty damn good even if it didn’t move much.  Neither did anyone else’s!  Some of our sorority pictures from the late 1980s have resurfaced in Facebook Land thanks to scanners.  Damn that was a LOT of big hair!  We pretty much worshipped Paul Mitchell products…or Aqua Net as a super cheap (but super stinky) alternative.

Hair trends change (that’s a good thing, plus it makes for funny memories looking back).  Somewhere into the early 1990s big hair went away.  Ah, now I remember. It was the Jennifer Aniston shag cut (from the Friends TV show) that pretty much launched a new era of hair style.  Long, choppy layers…and straight, not curly.

Hard to believe that was over 15 years ago!  But hair is still worn much more loose and natural, not in the stiff, shellac’d and crunchy curled 1980s way.  And that’s fine by me…I haven’t used hair spray in years and my bangs are no longer 2″ above my head.  I still have a curling iron but it’s slept dormant in a bathroom drawer for eons.  My profile pic is pretty accurate, save for the bangs which I’ve grown out a little longer (full on bangs are too high maintenance for me I discovered in a brief interlude c. 2009.  But they did hide the forehead crinkles which was nice).

All these cool, long layered styles are fabulous, but for me a problem.  My hair is pretty thick and wavy…if left to dry on its own without a hair dryer it morphs into wildly-varying forms of waves and curls.  A tad freakish.  It’s funny how back in the big hair days I spent so much time every morning getting my hair all curled and sprayed.  Now fast forward a couple decades and I spend time daily…smoothing it out.  Which is a chore.  And every day it behaves a little differently.

So in all this rambling you can probably guess I’ve tried tons of products out there to keep my hair smooth.  Not to get it poker straight, but straight enough…and it’s got to stay that way all day which is the problem.  Yeah, there are things out there like Brazilian blowouts and other semi-permanent straightenings but they scare me.  I stick with getting my highlights touched up and don’t really want to add any more chemicals into my hair, even if they say those treatments are OK for color-treated hair. 

After going through several flat irons – frustrated – I discovered the GHD Styler thanks to some nice online discussion/enabling and raving about it.  Gulp…$240??  That’s what I plunked down for it a few years ago (I see it’s come down in price slightly in that link).  But you know what?  4 years of near daily use and this thing is a champ.  It heats up super quickly, shuts itself off, and has curved edges so you can do waves or even curls with it too (it comes with a DVD to show you how).  And it doesn’t dry out or damage my hair…it just smooths it out and makes it look nice and shiny!

And speaking of shiny…this hair journey wouldn’t be complete without talking about some of my favorite shampoos, conditioners and styling products.  Step into my shower and you’ll find a good 6 or 7 shampoos, conditioners and a couple of cleansers and body washes.  Yeah, I have no brand loyalty in this department either (just like makeup) and love rotating products daily.  Even the smell of shampoo is wonderful to savor in a hot shower, and helps me wake up and get energized.

I tend to be a hair product snob.  I’m pretty good at mixing cheaper makeup products in with the spendier ones, but with shampoo and conditioner I’ve always gone more high end.  Brands like Kerastase, Alterna and Arbonne.  No shame here in plunking down $25-$30 for a bottle of shampoo.  After all, it’s fabulous quality, smells amazing and lasts a long time.  And it’s for HAIR!  There used to be a fantastic beauty supply store right on my commute home which was like kryptonite or crack to me.  Maybe it’s a good thing it’s closed down.  But then that cool thing called the internet?  With items marked down and/or free shipping?  I’m a sucker…sign me up.

Then one day in the grocery store I passed by the shampoo aisle and they had some tiny samples of Garnier’s Sleek & Shine shampoo and conditioner.  I thought hell, for $1 each, why not?  I opened the bottle and wow…a very happy green apple fragrance too.  Sold.  If I didn’t like it, no worries, I’m just out $2.

I am truly, truly impressed with these Garnier products.  And now the proud owner of two large bottles of shampoo and conditioner.  Each was around $5 apiece, a fraction of what I usually pay.  And this stuff WORKS.  And it does what it says it will do.  I am amazed how great my hair looks…no midday poofing or curling.  We have not had a lot of rainstorms here – yet – so that will be the true test.  I bet it’s going to work out wonderfully.

Garnier also has a cream in a tube to use on towel-dried hair prior to blow drying.  Got it at the grocery store for all of $3 and it is amazing.  So long to my pricier Tigi after she’s used up.

OK, now I have also fallen in love with a pricier brand, so this journey is still hard on my wallet.  Moroccan Oil.  There is a small group of shops and restaurants a short walk from my office building, and there is a salon on the main floor.  I stopped in once on my way to grab lunch and had a great chat with the girls there.  They had a Moroccan Oil product display and I asked if any of it would work on my hair.  They suggested a bottle of the treatment oil – it comes in a formula for light colored hair too!  I dab a little on my ends occasionally to keep them weighed down.  Love it!  I also am now a huge fan of their shampoo, conditioner and glimmer spray.  The spray just adds a little shine, not hold like a hair spray.

So between Garnier and Moroccan Oil I’m smiling big through the season that normally wreacks havoc on my hair.

And, major gear shifting here…next week I am going to start the first of a 4-part review of a book I’ve recently purchased and have just started to read.  Just putting that out there to keep myself accountable.  Wish me luck!