I'll start off with scalp products that have really helped me this year. For context, I don't have dandruff (which is a fungal condition), I just have a dry, sensitive, itchy and flaky scalp! If you have what looks like dandruff but you find that products marketed in this way just make the situation worse: you could be in the same boat as me. There are two products that aren't new to me this year but have continued to help me so much. The first is the Ordinary's 100% Plant-Derived Hemi-Squalane | £2.75. Squalane is a plant-derived oil (this one comes from olives) that our skin recognises as similar to those it creates itself. This formula is designed to be super light so as you drip it using the dropper, it almost looks like it has the viscosity of water. I apply a couple of full droppers of this to my scalp before I go to bed, then wash it as normal the next morning. It really helps moisturise the skin on my scalp without leaving behind any greasy residue after washing.
The following morning, before shampooing my hair, I apply the Inkey List's Salicylic Acid Scalp Treatment | £14.99 | which I've been through countless bottles of! They finally released a bigger bottle, which I'll pick up once I'm through my backups. This is a water-light scalp solution. Salicylic acid is oil soluble, meaning it can get right in there to clear out dead skin cells that cause itching and flaking. Since I started using this last year, I've been able to reduce my hair washing to twice a week, because that flakiness was the main reason I felt I needed to cleanse my scalp more frequently. I've recommended this to so many people in my personal life who suffer with the same issue!
Once my hair is dry, I then often apply the Typology Calming Scalp Serum | £21.80 | and this can be reapplied later in the week if my scalp starts to feel irritated and I want to eke an extra day out of my wash! It's a really light, milky serum that feels like nothing once applied but provides instant calm to red, irritated, dry, itchy, flaky scalps with bisabolol, the active component of soothing chamomile. This is pretty much my scalp holy trinity!
I have a pre-shampoo oil and also a styling oil I use on dry hair here. The night before a wash, I'll cover my scalp in the Ordinary Hemi-Squalane, as mentioned, and then slather the lengths and ends of my hair in the Khali Min Rescue Oil* | £38. I've just finished this up, but once I've emptied a couple of other products I already have, it's absolutely going to be one I replace myself (like the 3 scalp products I was originally sent to try and have since repurchased time and time again). Firstly, can we just appreciate a hair oil that comes in an appropriately-sized bottle? A 30ml bottle would last about 8 weeks with the way I like to apply oils! This is packed full of nourishing oils like jojoba, macadamia, shea, avocado and more. When I wash it out and blow-dry my hair the following morning, it's felt so soft, smooth and deeply moisturised. Now I'm not using it, I really appreciate what a difference it had been making to my hair!
When my hair is dry and I want to smooth down the ends or just add a bit of nourishment and shine, I reach for the Charlotte Mensah Manketti Hair Oil | £48. It's not cheap, I went through a couple of minis before taking the plunge (and to be fair, they lasted me a good while!) but it was so worth it for my hair. I've not come across Manketti oil before but it's nut-derived and appears in all of Charlotte's products, and if this product is anything to go by, it's pretty magical. You need very little product (or at least my hair texture does) but it just does it all; smoothing and nourishing my hair whilst giving it that shine.
Then we have something a little more scalp-focused in the Monpure Strengthening Silk Protein Shampoo | £36 | and the Monpure Strengthening Essence-Conditioner | £36 | full review. I was originally gifted this range and have since bought this duo myself twice! Again, these weren't cheap, but with the way they keep my scalp in equilibrium, they're worth it for me. I don't think you realise this until you have problems with your scalp, but it's skin too. And, if I'd spend this much on facial skincare, it's worth it for my sensitive scalp. The shampoo is really gentle, it doesn't foam excessively and contains silk peptides, aloe and keratin, gently soothing and clearing my scalp without being too much. The conditioner is light, but I use a hair mask between these two steps, and I think it's lovely either way! It's kind of a milk and I use it on my scalp as well, and it helps to calm and moisturise things (with ingredients like panthenol and argan oil) without being heavy or greasy on my roots.
I guess this next product could be used as either a hair mask or as a conditioner or as a 2-in-1! The Dizziak Deep Conditioner | £22 | is truly delicious. It's formulated with fatty alcohols, coconut oil, shea butter, aloe, castor oil and more. I leave it on for as long as possible, in all honesty. It's one of those true straw-to-silk transformative formulas for me.
The Olaplex 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask | £26 | full review | steamed right in this year to take the top spot as my favourite product from the brand! This line uses patented bond repair technology that's amazing for heat-damaged and coloured hair. I won't lie, some of their products aren't that intuitive to incorporate into your routine, but this slots right in for me giving all of that amazing technology in a surprisingly nourishing and great hair mask. I don't think this would weigh down medium hair textures either. My only negative is honestly that this doesn't last longer!
A great option that I can easily use every wash (because it's lightweight but really moisturises my hair) is the Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair! Vegan Apple Honey Bear Mask* | £32. Again, I don't think you have to have thick or curly hair to enjoy this one, it has quite a light, fluid texture, and the way you can usually tell this is that from it being in a squeezy tube rather than a tub. It's packed full of nourishing oils like almond and avocado and really brings the softness and shine whilst smelling so yummy.
What hair stuff did you love in 2021?