This Leave-In Conditioner Actually Does It All

Photo: Courtesy of Purely Perfect.
Certain beauty products — think NARS blush in Orgasm or Clinique's Black Honey lipstick — are so good, they're practically famous and have devoted, loyal followings. While we love many of these, we've been wondering why others have been quietly flying under the radar. With that in mind, meet our series, Cult Classics, in which we'll introduce you to the products you should really, truly know about (and try, like, right now). They're not brand-new, but trust us: They've got staying power.  At my first magazine job, my boss had a favorite phrase: “Come to Jesus.” This was not, of course, her trying to convince me of a higher power, or to implore me to realize my sins and be cleansed of them — all things I was used to, having attended Catholic school for many psyche-damaging years of my life. A "come to Jesus moment," as she explained it, is a point in time when things feel particularly eye-opening, revelatory, or serendipitous.  Jesus and I have a strained relationship, though, since I’m just about gayer than Christmas/Cher’s comeback tour/Madonna’s Grammys performance. (Not to say that you can’t love Jesus and be gay, but that just has not been my journey.) So, I never exactly understood the full potential of my boss’ “come to Jesus” mumblings. But, then, at a particularly trying point in my life, I ended up in the chair of Wes Sharpton, and all of that changed. I found Jesus — or, at least, my version of him — and he’s fabulously bald, speaks in a low whisper, and has a penchant for Rick Owens.  Wes works at Hairstory, a creative studio so chic that appointments are treated more like auditions: You email, and only upon being accepted will the address be disclosed to you. The studio is actually a fabulously high-ceilinged apartment with more fashion photography books than all of Shoes are not allowed, and neither are a lack of adventure or poor taste. The staff is so cool, and so delightfully open-minded, that everything is called a “journey” or, alternatively, a “moment.”  Hair, according to Wes, must tell a story. (Hence the name!) His walls are lined with pictures of iconic models Edie Campbell and Freja Beha Erichsen. Before we talk about hair at all, in fact, we talk about everything else over a cup of tea: who I’m dating, how work's going, how my family is, what’s coming up in my schedule for the next couple of months. When he talks about your “look,” he doesn’t use the typical adjectives, like “edgy,” “cool,” “polished,” or “sleek.” Instead, he talks about your head in terms of a great piece of clothing, or an era. “I’m feeling '60s,” he said to me, peering at my hair through the mirror, his hands outstretched next to my ears. “You know, like, skinny jewel-toned suits with sneakers and great, fitted cashmere sweaters.” He explains that growing out my hair on the sides — something I haven’t done for about six years — will better balance my face, and will create “an explosion at the cheekbones.”  Right, I think. Do whatever the hell you want.  Wes has changed my cut, certainly, but he also changed how I approach my hair. Hairstory, you see, is actually home to Purely Perfect, which you probably know from a) reading Refinery29 Beauty, or b) reading any other magazine or website that writes about beauty. It’s a cleansing conditioner that received an immense amount of fanfare upon its launch.  To be frank, though, that’s not the product that first caught my eye. Having recently gone through a bit of hair-dye rehab from a brief experiment with platinum gray, I wasn’t shampooing all that often, anyway. But, at the end of my service, my hair was perfectly textured and piece-y, yet still looked fluffy and soft. I went to run my fingers through it, expecting the usual gunky buildup of hair wax, but instead, I felt…my hair. I raked my hands through it, and it took on a new, mussed-up form. I flattened it out with my palms, and there it stayed, perfectly obedient. “What did you use to blowdry?” I asked, incredulous. “Conditioner,” he said smugly, readjusting the black beanie perched atop his head. Actually, it’s called Foundation Creme, a blend of rosehip and evening primrose oil with an added dose of glycerin (for attracting moisture) and natural waxes that condition the hair and the scalp. It’s a leave-in conditioner that is very concentrated — you can work it into damp hair to help you detangle or finger-style, should that be your method. Or, you can do what we did, which is apply a couple of pumps to dry hair and blowdry into place using a Mason Pearson, and then your fingers.  This has, in fact, caused me to edit my morning routine when I want a slightly more disheveled look. Instead of mousse, rough-dry, then styling cream, then blowing it out with a brush, I just put a little oil in my hair, let it air-dry, and then use foundation cream with my dryer. I even comb a couple of pumps through before I fall asleep, now that winter and hair dye have taken a toll on my scalp. It’s funny, too, because it works on my shorter 'do, but it also can rough up super-straight hair, or define and polish curls. It’s sort of become the MVP of my hair game — a bona fide multitasker that I don’t have to feel bad about layering, thanks to its ingredients list.  Now, my hair products can assemble neatly on just one shelf of my dresser, rather than the two-and-a-half they took up before. This gives me more room for the coffee-table books I’ve run home to purchase after spying them on the shelves at Hairstory. Or, maybe the skinny suits and cashmere sweaters I apparently need to purchase to go with my new cut.  Purely Perfect Foundation Creme, $40, available at Purely PerfectWant a free bottle of Smooth Finish and Foundation Creme? Now through May 4, add at least one Cleansing Creme to your shopping bag, use the promo code HAIRSTORYR29, and click APPLY COUPON.

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