5 Haircare Products I Can’t Live Without

5 HAIRCARE PRODUCTS I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT / HAIR / BEAUTY / NICOLEMCARUSO.COM

Because I have always been fascinated by makeup, hair is an afterthought for me. There were a few moments in my life when I had hair regrets -- that bob in second grade, the side swept bangs in eighth grade, and the super long hair that conveniently covered some of my acne of tenth grade -- but now I have a go-to cut, amazing hair stylist (let me know if you want her info DC people!), and products that make it look like I tried a lot harder than I did. 

The thing is, I'm all about balance. I would rather have a full face of makeup and sub-par hair, than the other way around, which is why I am so loyal to products that do the work for me. Just for reference, my hair is pretty fine but there is a lot of it. My roots are usually oily and the ends are dry (but I'm still trying to wash every other day, instead of every day). It's mostly straight and doesn't hold a curl longer than a few hours, so I don't waste time with styling wands. I've also found that if I shower at night and fall asleep with it damp in a bun, it has a slight wave when I wake up in the morning (i.e. not flat). Some may call that low-maintenance, but I do get bored and wish I could do a Blake Lively 'do once in a while (she always has great hair). 

Here are some of my favorite products I've grown to love and repurchase over the years.

1. Bumble and Bumble Thickening Volume Hairspray. This does exactly what it says on the bottle. It's a very wet hairspray (not like the fine mist of aerosol cans) so I spray it directly to the layers my hair stylist cut to define them and bring out the piecey-rocker look. I start by tilting my head to the side and spraying diagonally up onto the ends of the hair, then scrunching with my fingers. I'll finish by spraying the back pieces and possibly around the hairline to tame any flyaways.

I would say the hold is medium because it can be brushed out easily, and fingers don't get caught in it, but it also holds up for a full day if needed. This hairspray can be used wet or dry, and as a protector before heat styling. Bumble products are also not heavily fragranced, which I love, so this doesn't compete with other scents. I go through about 2 bottles of this a year, and that's if I'm using it every day. This is the only hairspray I use because of its versatility, and it works on almost every hair type, so you may need to give it a try! 

2. Verb Ghost Oil. Many hair serums and oils have come in and out of my life as I've tried to find something to tame my frizz and help hydrate dry ends. I've finally settled on this moringa-based oil from Verb. It's super lightweight, and doesn't make my hair look greasy, even if I apply it on dry hair.

What I usually do is apply one pump to my palm, warm it up in my hands, and work it on the ends (ears down) of damp hair after my shower. Then I tie it up in a bun overnight, and my morning hair looks much sleeker and less frizzy. On second-day hair, I brush it out the bed head with a boar-bristle brush I found at Ulta, then work half a pump of the oil onto the bottom 2 inches of my hair to give it some hydration and shine. Then I spritz it with the Bumble spray and it's like new (and sometimes even better than the day before). 

3. Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Overnight Protector. When my hair is straw-like, limp, and desperately needs a fresh cut, I use this a few nights a week to bring it back to life. It is an overnight treatment that is technically supposed to get washed out the next day, but what I've found is that for dry/ damaged hair, this little product actually works best if you leave it in. I apply a quarter size it to damp hair, comb it through, and let it do its thing overnight. When I wake up in the morning, my ends are hydrated and so soft I end up twirling it through my fingers like a lovesick pre-teen. The tube pictured above is a sample that I am still working on finishing. I can't imagine how long a full size would last me, since this tube has been around for nearly a year. Last but not least, it smells divine-- like super clean salon hair. I'm into it. 

5 HAIRCARE PRODUCTS I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT / HAIR / BEAUTY / NICOLEMCARUSO.COM

4. Ouai Wave Spray. With how straight my hair is, I'll take all the wave I can get. The founder of Ouai (pronounced WAY) Jen Atkin is a celebrity stylist whose hair aesthetic I love and her product line is so dreamy. I heard so many rave reviews of the Wave Spray, and purchased the trial size to test it out. My little bottle is almost gone, and I've loved every drop of product in there. It is similar to the Bumble spray in that it adds a thickening texture to the hair, but the Ouai spray is much more airy (and it smells like roses).

I love using this product on dry hair because it adds volume and structure to hair that's fallen flat. It's the perfect spray to use before going out in the evening, because it livens up a style that's been going all day, and scents the hair lightly to freshen it up. Every time I've worn this out to meet friends, they all die over the scent and ask which perfume I'm wearing. Got to love a product that makes your hair look like you made an effort, and takes the place of a fragrance (I wish it was one). You can also apply the spray and scrunch it with your fingers or a diffuser to get a beachy-wave effect. It's a great little product to pack in a beach/pool bag to polish off the wet hair look so it looks a bit more styled when it dries.

5. Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo. I don't always use dry shampoo, but when I do, it's this one. I've struggled to find a dry shampoo that isn't too chalky, too greasy, or too stiff for the better part of the last decade. Some days my roots are just too greasy or flat to style, and just a few spritzes absorbs the excess oil and adds a little lift. Dry shampoos can dehydrate the scalp, causing Head-and-Shoulders-ad style flaking, but I haven't had that issue with this product. I can spray it, brush it through, and not feel like I have glue in my hair; it moves and looks just like I washed it. One word to the wise about using any dry shampoo, is to make sure you spray it at least four to six inches from your head so the formula doesn't concentrate in one spot. I like to spray and move the can quickly down my part like I'm spraypainting the thin stripe of exposed scalp for a lighter application that gives me more control of the finish. I also lift the sections on either side of my middle part to give them a bit of lift as well. Going through product after product to find the right finish can be frustrating (and costly), so I'm thrilled that my search is over. 

SHOP MY FAVORITES

You may have noticed a bunch of my favorites are trial size. I tend to buy minis because they can get tucked into a purse or carry-on, they are moderately priced, and they usually last a decent amount of time. If you're looking to try a few new things, see if you can get them in a smaller size to test them out without the heavier price tag. Sephora has a wide selection of travel size products, which is fantastic if you travel a ton, or just don't feel the need to purchase the standard sizes like me.

These five products maintain my signature look, and work in unison to protect and hydrate my hair between cuts. Have you tried any of these? What did you think? If not, I highly recommend you give one a try the next time you run out of whatever you're currently using. 

Nicole M. Caruso

I was born in Manhattan to two native New Yorkers who met working in the Garment Industry. Fashion was the family business. Suburban Connecticut is where I grew up and often daydreamed about someday attending New York Fashion Week.

When I was in college studying Communication & Media, I met the man of my dreams. We married nearly one year after our first date, and have been adventuring together ever since. While we moved around the country for his job, I freelanced as a makeup artist, worked in retail, and blogged about style & beauty as a creative outlet. 

Moving back to New York led to serendipitously working for two major fashion houses, where I learned the ins and outs of the industry, and attended Fashion Week both backstage and in the tents. Soon after, Verily Magazine brought me on as Beauty Editor, which was my dream job. It combined all of my passions and hobbies into one, and granted me a deeper understanding of print and digital media. One year after that, I had my daughter and experienced true fulfillment in motherhood. 

Everywhere I have traveled, I have met incredible women who inspired me to be the best version of myself; to wake up every day feeling confident and ready to Carpe Diem. I want to inspire women to explore their feminine genius by investing in their self-worth. This lifestyle blog is the place where I can share my worldview, my experiences, and my tips and tricks to live a more fulfilling life, which include expert style and beauty advice, tips for healthy living, and reflections on marriage and motherhood.