Oh to be one of those swishy hair models in the Timotei adverts of old. (Showing my age?) I’ve never had a great barnet and my love of beauty was first triggered by a thirst for everything and anything that could help control my frizzy, dull, mousy-brown ‘do. A desire to have those perfect, long, swishy locks you’d see in a shampoo ad has lead me to try hundreds (if not thousands) of different hair products over the years – and to always be on the hunt for the holy grail shampoo-conditioner combo. Having worked at a professional hair brand for a couple of years straight out of uni, I became a bit dismissive of high street names and cheaper alternatives; but with technology improving and serious hair care ingredients filtering down to the masses, there’s often little difference between a super expensive and affordable bottle of shampoo. Over the years I’ve had to re-assess my attitudes to a lot of high street names, and what better way to do so than trying five different hair combos from across the spectrum and seeing how they compare?
Over the last few weeks I’ve been putting these shampoos and conditioners to the test, using them a minimum of three times to really see the impact on my hair in the immediate and slightly longer term. They cover everything from budget and high street brands, to niche and luxury, proving that there’s something out there to suit every need and price point; read on to find out which was my fave…
Aussie Pure Locks Shampoo (£3.99) & Conditioner (£3.99)
For years I’ve avoided Aussie hair products because of the high quantity of silicone they’ve historically included in their formulas, giving hair great shine and fab softness in the short-term, but weighing it down and coating the surface over time. This new ‘Pure Locks’ duo is the complete opposite though, as it features 0% silicone and has been designed to help gently cleanse while counteracting the damage caused by pollution. Considering it’s missing the magic ingredient Aussie have relied upon for so long, the result was thoroughly cleansed hair (without feeling stripped) with a light and soft finish; the surface of my hair always feels smooth after using it, even if hair is a little flyaway to start with, and it lasts a couple of days before I need to wash to re-set the smoothness. Surprisingly good.
HAIR STAR RATING: 7 / 10
The Body Shop Banana Shampoo (£6.50) & Conditioner (£6.50)
I’ve heard so many people sing the praises of this fruity scented combo and hail it one of the high street’s best kept secrets, so as soon as it landed on my doorstep I couldn’t wait to give it a go and see if the hype was really justified. The scent alone is quite hypnotic and certainly awakens the senses, lingering even after you’ve dried and styled; however, the shampoo leaves hair feeling cleansed but not particularly smooth, so I definitely needed a lot of conditioner to inject some much needed moisture and control. It’s silicone free, which may account for the lack of shine, but I was still expecting something more from this – it was certainly ok as a daily shampoo and conditioner, but for my dry and coloured frizzy hair I just didn’t feel that it was powerful enough to leave a positive impact on styling time. I found myself spending more time straightening and smoothing than with some of the other duos, which makes me feel like this is far more suited to those with ‘normal’ hair than my somewhat mess of a ‘do!
HAIR STAR RATING: 5 / 10
Fudge Professional Luminizer Moisture Boost Shampoo (£11.95) & Conditioner (£11.95)
Available exclusively via salons, this duo features some really exciting technology that’s standard across the entire Fudge Pro range: it helps to lock colour in place while smoothing the hair shaft, ensuring your dye job lasts longer. No longer do you have to choose between colour protection and any other hair dilemma, because Fudge tackles it as standard – genius! In addition to this, Opti-Plex Technology helps to repair the inner structure of the hair shaft and actually reverse damage, while a featherlight micellar oil complex gently cleanses, moisturises and illuminates each strand; add in their Smoothing-Swish Technology (which binds to each strand of hair to keep hair soft and frizz-free for up to 48 hours,) and the result is hair that feels and looks great. From the first use I really enjoyed this combo, and I felt my locks were definitely smooth and bright; hair was easier to style, super soft and really quite swishy, while the added colour protection was definitely a bonus. Something about this just made me feel good, so it was definitely a firm fave.
HAIR STAR RATING: 8 / 10
Karine Jackson Cleanser Shampoo (£12.00) & Moisturiser Conditioner (£12.00)
Created with those clever bods over at The Beauty Kitchen, these 100% vegan staples combine the best of natural ingredients with hair care that’s been designed to look after colour and heat treated hair. Although I’m not a follower of natural, organic or vegan beauty, I know a lot of people are always looking for options that tick those boxes – and this combo helps to leave hair thoroughly cleansed and injected with a touch of moisture, without stripping the surface or leaving behind any heaviness. Personally I found I needed a little extra something to help smooth frizz and leave a shiny surface behind (my hair can be super dry, is constantly coloured and tends to be coarse) but this was a great starting point for anyone with ‘normal’ hair who’s simply looking for an alternative to the high street brands we know and love. I’ve got some styling products to try that I’m super excited about too…
HAIR STAR RATING: 6 / 10
My Hair Doctor Everyday Shampoo (£15.00) & Conditioner (£17.00)
The baby of Guy Parsons, a celebrity hairdresser with over 30 years experience, My Hair Doctor uses active botanicals blends to offer hardworking solutions that benefit the overall condition of head and hair. All the formulas are sulphate, silicone and paraben free, and have been designed to boost the health of the scalp as a priority – it makes total sense that looking after your roots will bring benefit to the strands in time, and this range offers everything I want and more. I adored this from the first use as there was such a noticeable difference to my ‘do: my hair was super smooth, shiny, incredibly swishy and full of life, as well as smelling pretty fab too. Admittedly I was a bit skeptical about the results this could offer, but the results spoke for themselves and it was one of those I just kept wanting to pick up. An absolute gem of a combo.
HAIR STAR RATING: 9 / 10
So the results were a real mixed bag, proving you really do have to shop around and try products of all price points to find the perfect match for your needs. It’s no longer as simple as buying the brands you trust, or spending more on a professional formula – it’s just about discovering what works!
Have you tried any of these five picks?
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