Picture it: You just landed in a new city (let's pretend you're on a work trip or an exciting vacation) and your checked suitcase is suddenly MIA. Or perhaps you were lucky enough to escape the curse of missing luggage, but your cosmetics bag arrives looking more like product soup than a collection of tiny, luxe toiletries that you saved all your
Sephora points to secure. Or, fine, maybe you're just at home on a budget. Whatever the reason may be to hit the drugstore for a few foolproof hair products, we have your back.
The challenge we gave top hair pros was simple: Create a streamlined drugstore hair wardrobe for every texture. That means a shampoo, conditioner, and a styling product or two that will not only get you through your trip or broke AF month, but will make your hair look like you spent way more than you did.
Forget about your hotel's travel size duds or stealing your roommate's dry shampoo), because these cheapies are apro-approved
and won't break the bank.
Shampoo Celeb hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein works with January Jones and Mindy Kaling and has discovered tons of drugstore gems through her career. "The name is what got me, but this baby delivers!" she told us about this bargain shampoo. "It’s a staple for me at home and on set." Not Your Mother's Plump For Joy Thickening Shampoo, $5.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Conditioner Celeb hairstylist Nikki Providence may work with Jenny Slate and Leona Lewis, but she's not above scouring Amazon reviews to discover the best of the best. "This formula smells great, helps keep your hair silky, and doesn’t weigh it down," she says. "If your hair is extra dry, use it from roots to ends, as it’s light enough that it won’t weigh it down. If you don’t need much detangling, or your hair is super fine, just put a tiny bit in the ends to help detangle." Herbal Essences Body Envy Volumizing Shampoo, $2.99, available at Herbal Essences.
Styler Providence swears by this cult classic styler. "I’ve been using this for as long as I can remember," she says. "It comes in all sorts of formulas for light or dark hair and different scents, too. It’s great if you want to go another day without washing your hair, or to help build up a little extra bulk. Section your hair and spray at the roots. It’s also great for giving your hair volume or texture. Even if you just want to put it in a ponytail, it’s still nice to have a little extra bulk at the base. You can also use it in the lengths of your hair to give your ponytail or braid extra texture." Batiste Dry Shampoo, $7.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Shampoo "I found this formula trolling Amazon in the middle of the night, I couldn’t believe how great the reviews were," Providence says about this hydrating shampoo. "It’s so gentle, you might not need conditioner." L'Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Extraordinary Oil Nourishing Shampoo, $5.99, available at Target.
Conditioner Scotty Cunha, hairstylist to Kylie Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, and Lucy Hale, swears by this deeply hydrating conditioner. "It's really conditioning, but not too heavy, so it won't weigh down hair," he told us. He notes that it's great for taming frizz and is safe on color-treated hair, too. Pro tip: If you have fine hair, stick to the bottom half of your strands. Burt's Bees Hair Repair Shea & Grapefruit Deep Conditioner, $8.00, available at Burt's Bees.
Styler "This formula smells amazing, helps your hair find its waves, and creates volume," Providence says. "Spray it in your hair when it’s damp, use your fingers to comb it through and define waves, then let it air dry. This is another one I’ve used for years. It was discontinued for a while, so I was so excited when I found it again." John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves Salt Spray, $9.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Shampoo "You want to be extra careful not to just use whatever hotel shampoo you can find if you have color-treated hair because there’s a good chance you’re going to need a toner when you get back from your trip if you do!" Providence warns. "Believe it or not, a model told me about this one when I noticed how shiny her hair was." Pantene Expert Intense Color Care Shampoo, $4.99, available at Target.
Conditioner Providence suggests opting for your new shampoo's counterpart, too. "It leaves hair so silky," she says — but don't go crazy because it's rich. "Keep it away from your roots if your hair is fine or thin and just put it on the ends, starting six inches away from your scalp. If you really want smooth, shiny, detangled hair, comb it all the way through." Pantene Expert Intense Color Care Conditioner, $4.99, available at Target.
Styler "Just a tiny bit makes your hair totally frizz-free and helps maintain pretty, shiny, smooth hair," Providence says about this leave-in. She offers up this application tip: "Think of it as hand lotion for your hair. Take a small amount, rub it into your hands, and then run it over the surface of your hair — a little goes a long way!" John Frieda Secret Weapon Touch-Up Crème, $6.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Shampoo "This product is great for a lot of different types of curls, from fine and wavy, to thick and coarse," Providence told us. She also notes that it's incredibly gentle. "It smells fantastic and is super moisturizing, but it’s not super cleansing, so if you use a ton of products, you might want to alternate with something more clarifying once in a while." Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo, $10.99, available at Shea Moisture.
Conditioner While it's not necessary to use shampoo and conditioner duos, it's a foolproof bet in this case. "It smells amazing and leaves hair super soft and hydrated," Providence says, so don't hold back. "Use plenty of conditioner! If hair is delicate or tangled, it’s great to comb through it while the conditioner is in it. Rinse thoroughly if your hair gets weighed down, or try leaving a little in — some people find it helps define their curls." Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner, $11.99, available at Shea Moisture.
Styler Air-drying your curls just got a whole lot easier. "Spray this into hair when it’s still damp and use fingers to twist and define curls," Providence says. You can style as usual, she notes, whether you air-dry or diffuse, then simply "touch up with a wand or an iron" once hair is dry. One thing to note: "It can take a little trial-and-error to get the right amount. Too little and it doesn’t do enough; too much and it can get crunchy. If you overdo it, use your hands to squeeze and break up the crunch — nothing worse than crunchy curls!" John Frieda Frizz Ease Dream Curls Curl-Perfecting Spray, $6.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Shampoo & Conditioner "This is my new favorite line," says Lacy Redway, a celebrity hairstylist who works with Alicia Keys, Olivia Palermo, and Lupita Nyong'o. "It's amazingly priced, still looks chic in your shower, and performs just as well as all of the salon grade products." She notes that the signature line is great for medium to thick hair. Kristin Ess The One Signature Shampoo & Conditioner, $10 each, available at Target.
Styler Prefer not to lather up? "The Dove spray is fantastic and powerful with some serious base to it! Peace out, greasy hair!" Rubenstein says. Dove Refresh+Care Volume & Fullness Dry Shampoo, $3.94, available at Target.
Styler This is something you've probably never expected you could love, but it's powerful enough to make a huge difference in thick hair. "I use it every time I do hair," Rubenstein told us about this throwback stick. "You can heat some of the wax up in your hands and use it for texture and separation, but its real strength is holding down flyaways." TIGI Bed Head Hair Stick, $23, available at Ulta Beauty.
Shampoo & Conditioner Bleach and highlighted gets a special recipe. "If you need some volume, go with L'Oréal EverPure Volume shampoo and conditioner," Rubenstein says. "It will plump up your hair and it’s sulfate-free." L'Oréal Paris Hair Expertise EverPure Volume Shampoo and Conditioner, $6.79 each, available at Target.
Bonus: Purple Shampoo Feeling Brassy? Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo comes with many accolades. "It's great for bleached and highlighted blonds," Rubenstein says. "It helps to keep blonds bright and tones the brassiness away." This stuff is pigmented, so don't be afraid to ease in: Providence recommends mixing a few drops into your regular shampoo for a foolproof refresh. Clairol Professional Shimmer Lights Shampoo, $20.49, available at Sally Beauty.
Deep Conditioner "I bought this because I thought the packaging was cute," Rubenstein admits. "It turns out it makes your hair feel amazing and smells delish. As a colorist (and unnatural blond myself), I am hair health-obsessed — nobody notices how great your color is if your hair is in bad condition, so I am totally hooked on masks." Garnier Whole Blends Repairing Mask Honey Treasures, $6.29, available at Walgreens.
Styler "Leave-in conditioner is the product most people overlook," Rubenstein says. "[This spray] is a great way to keep your hair feeling shiny, soft, and it has the added bonus of UV and heat protection." It's a 10 Miracle Leave In Product, $25.99, available at Target.
Shampoo & Conditioner Our experts are giving ladies and gents with textured hair two options. If you prefer a classic shampoo and conditioner combo, Rubenstein recommends John Frieda's moisturizing duo. "It's fantastic!" she says. "If you are coarse or frizzy, this will really help smooth your strands." John Frieda Frizz Ease Daily Nourishment Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner, $5.49 each, available at Target.
Co-Wash Prefer to co-wash? Redway recommends this offering from Pantene. "This is great for textured hair because over-shampooing in this hair type can cause more damage and strips the strands of natural oils," she says. Pantene Gold Series Deep Hydrating Co-Wash, $9.19, available at Target.
Leave-In Conditioner Michelle Breyer, Co-Founder of Naturally Curly, notes that this Hair Milk is a savior for textured and curly hair. "This is a classic, wonderful moisturizer," she says. Also in the running? SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie. "It provides great definition without crunch." Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Cream-to-Serum Lotion, $10, available at Carol's Daughter; SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie, $6.99, available at Target.
Styler "Whether it's the Olive Oil, Coconut, or Krystal, Eco Styler Gel provides a lot of bang for your buck, and is a Hall of Fame Best of the Best winner with our community," Breyer tells us about this bargain styler. Ecoco Style Gel Olive, $2.99, available at Target.
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