Dry, Damaged Hair? The Best Products From Cheap to Steep

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The best serums, leave-in conditioners, de-frizzers from cheap to steep

Kerastase, Moroccanoil and L'Oreal

If you have over-processed hair, curly hair, hair that's been abused by styling tools or hair that's just plain bone dry, then you need products.

But you don't need just any products, you need products formulated for dry, damaged hair. I've done the research for you and found some of the most beloved serums, leave-in conditioners, de-frizzers and hair masks on the market today. You'll find good drugstore options and some pricey, luxurious options. What these products have in common is that they tend to be beloved. And that's what's important to me: finding and sharing products that work well, not that are over-hyped or getting all the buzz. I don't care about what's marketed the most or plugged the most in magazine. I care simply about products that work and work well.

Keep in mind that most of these products contain silicones and chemicals formulated to fight frizz and soften hair. If you want to go the all-natural route, I recommend buying extra virgin coconut oil or 100 percent pure Argan oil and using that on your hair instead.

More on dry hair:

  • Best Products for Frizzy Hair
  • Homemade Hair Mask Recipes for Dry Hair
  • Dry Hair: Best Shampoos and Conditioners
  • Hair Mask Recipes for Damaged Hair
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Cheap, Deep Conditioner: Aussie 3 Minute Miracle, $3


Buy it from Amazon

You just can't beat this price. I was skeptical when doing my research for this list because I simply could not believe any product that cost $3 could actually work AND be so beloved.

Aussie's 3 Minute Miracle Conditioner gets high ratings from the reviewers on Makeupalley.com. At the time of this writing, it had 773 reviews and 82 percent of the beauty junkies would buy it again. The reviews themselves are highly complimentary with most reviewers saying things like:

  • "If I could marry a hair product, it would be THIS conditioner."
  • "...it's like everything I've been using until now has been completely bogus."
  • "My hair has never been softer. If you haven't already, give it a try. For the price, you've really got nothing to lose."
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L'Oreal Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm


Buy it from Amazon

If you are looking for a decent drugstore brand deep conditioner, this is a good bet. It gets great reviews on the online Websites I follow. People go ga-ga for it, claiming it's a miracle product for their formerly straw-like hair. I haven't tried it, because my hair isn't dry, but I love to read reviews from real people because people tend to "tell it like it is" as we say in Texas.

And usually, people go online to complain, not to rave, so when you read review after review about how amazing a product is, well, you put it on your Best List, of course.

The good news is it's incredibly inexpensive (under $10), so if you don't love it, you haven't gambled your money away on a pricey product.

Here's how to use it: Simply apply to towel-dried hair, leave in for 5 minutes and rinse.

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Pantene Damage Detox Shampoo ($8.97) & Rehab Creme ($6.58)


Pantene has a great reputation for making great shampoos and their Damage Detox Shampoo gets good reviews online and is formulated for hair that gets frequent abuse: either colored, flat-ironed, blow-dried or chemically straightened.

I wouldn't use these products every day. Instead, use them weekly and in tandem for a 2-punch system.

Buy them at your local drugstore or supermarket or online:

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Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask, $9


Buy it from Amazon

"Triple Moisture" is good marketing, eh? The good news is this hair mask isn't all marketing hype, people who use it actually seem to love it. Apply it once a week to hair that's been overprocessed or is just plain frizzy and dry. You should expect softer, silkier hair and for a fraction of the price of some of the fancier masks on this list.

As of this writing, a whopping 98% percent of reviewers on the Neutrogena Website would recommend the product to a friend. 

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Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Cream, $15.99


Buy it from Amazon

This is a beloved product among beauty editors and product junkies alike. It's perfect for day-old hair or for use in between washings to gain another day. The water in the product brings back any waves you may have created with an iron that fell out days ago and the olive oil in the product adds the perfect amount of light gloss, toning down any dry ends or frizz.

A pea-sized dot works beautifully. Palm it through hair but avoid the crown if you have oily hair.

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Redken All Soft Heavy Cream, $18


Buy it from Amazon

Another fan favorite, Redken All Soft Heavy Cream won't weigh hair down or leave residue as it moisturizes and detangles. This deep conditioner is great for de-frizzing and for moisturizing damaged hair. I love that you can buy Redken in some drugstores and grocery stores these days. Use it every time you shampoo.

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Maple Holistics Silk 18 Conditioner, $24.99

silk 18 conditioner

Buy it from Amazon

This stuff is like a meal for your head, and a good healthy one, too. It contains 18 different silk amino acids, jojoba and argan oils and botanical keratin. Plus, you won't find any added fragrances or chemicals and ... bonus points! It's a product that hasn't been tested on animals.

This conditioner gets great reviews online. At the time of this writing, it got 4 1/2 stars out of of 5 on Amazon.com and 787 reviews. Use it every time you shampoo your hair.

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Styling Cream: Living Proof 'No Frizz' Nourishing, $26-$36

Living Proof "No Frizz" Styling Cream. Living Proof

Buy it from Amazon

So the buzz around this product is that is contains OFPMA, a moisture-controlled molecule discovered by Living Proof scientists (that's the company) that blocks humidity while smoothing the hair's cuticles.

Ok, but what I wanted to know is if it works and apparently it does. It's a Sephora favorite and gets great reviews on the review sites. Plus, it's heavy silicone- and oil-free.

Buy it for $26 or $36 depending on size.

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Alterna CAVIAR Anti-Aging® Replenishing Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner


Buy from Amazon

This is a great sulfate-free shampoo for hair that's been overprocessed and damaged. If you look on the ingredients list (as I always do for shampoos making such claims) and see the words "Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate," don't freak out. Though they sound similar, SLSAs are not bad for hair or scalps and are not as harsh as the dreaded Sodium Lauryl Sulfates.

This product gets very good reviews online.

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HSI Professional Argan Oil Leave-in Conditioner, $35


Buy from Amazon

An excellent leave-in conditioner for fine-yet-frizzy hair. It won't weigh hair down and is formulated to work as a thermal protector. Use it before using a flat-iron or curling iron.

It's beloved by users. At the time of this writing, it got 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com and a whopping 1,383 reviews.

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Shampoos: Kerastase Oleo Relax, Bain Satin and Bain de Force


Kerastase is hands-down the best shampoo on the market, however, you will pay a price for perfection. At about $37-$39 for 8 oz., you have several formulations to choose from.

  • Bain Satin is a vitamin-infused shampoo created for parched, dry hair. Choose from 1 or 2 with 2 created for the most parched hair. Buy Bain Satin 1 from Amazon. Buy Bain Satin 2 from Amazon.
  • Bain de Force is a reconstructing shampoo for weakened to very damaged hair. Buy it from Amazon.
  • Oleo Relax, pictured here, gets the best reviews of all of them. It's beloved for the work it does on dry, rebellious hair. Buy it from Amazon.

You can buy Kerastase in finer salons, in beauty supply stores and online.

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Defrizzer Oil: Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil, $39

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Oil. Bumble and Bumble

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While this oil is marketed for all hair types, its main benefit is as a defrizzer, taming flyaways and smoothing out hair that might frizz up or break during the wet-hair-combing process. This is why it's a great product for dry, damaged hair.

I first read about this on my favorite beauty blog Into the Gloss. It's the one product ITG editor Elizabeth Brockway keeps in her bathroom, her purse and at her desk. She's obsessed.

Brockway writes, "I find it works the best applied while still standing in the shower; I smooth four or five pumps through my sopping hair while ringing out the excess water. The oil seeps in while I air dry, and leaves me with shiny, slightly beach-scented, smooth-to-the-touch, silk-to-the-eyes, Reese-Witherspoon-level hair."

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Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask by Arvazallia, $40


Buy it from Amazon

If you're into Argan oil (read more about it here) and you don't want to use pure Argan oil on your hair for whatever reason, you might consider this popular hair mask from Arvazallia. It's a great basic hair mask that works beautifully on dry, frizzy hair. Simply apply to hair and leave it for a few minutes and then rinse it out.

Keep in mind this mask does contain silicones, which some women don't like because you need shampoos that contain sulfates to wash out (most shampoos contain sulfates, which are the lathering agents in shampoos). Some women claim that silicones keep hair from absorbing moisture, so decide for yourself if it bothers you. If it does, I recommend trying pure argan oil or extra virgin coconut oil.

Read more about Argan oil:

  • Argan Oil: Your 8 Most Burning Questions
  • 9 Amazing Beauty Uses for Argan Oil
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A Great Leave-In Cream for Curly Hair: Kerastase Oleo-Relax Slim, $40

Kerastase Oleo-Relax Slim. Kerastase

Buy it from Amazon

This is an excellent leave-in cream for women with curly hair who want to relax their curls without making them crunchy. 

It's touted as a "volume reducer" for "thick, dry, rebellious hair" that smooths curly hair while giving it an intense shine.

I don't have curly or dry hair, so I haven't tried this product, but it gets great reviews. Users love that it provides deep moisture, lasts a long time and leaves hair soft, not crunchy.

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Moroccanoil Treatment, $43

Moroccan Oil

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Moroccanoil -- and Josie Maran of course -- are the 2 brands that put Argan oil on the map.

Argan oil is one of the most hyped-up natural cosmetic products on the market today and is beloved for its haircare and skincare uses and the fact that it is 100% natural. Moroccanoil is beloved by women with dry and/or frizzy hair who use it as a deep conditioner, a styling oil and a finishing product.

Here's how to use: Apply a small amount to clean, towel-dried hair from mid-length to ends. Blow dry or let it air dry. You can also use it to tame flyaways or to condition split ends.

The best thing? It's natural, alcohol-free, sulfate-free, phosphate-free and paraben-free.

Read more about Argan oil:

  • Argan Oil: Your 8 Most Burning Questions
  • 9 Amazing Beauty Uses for Argan Oil
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Nourishing Hair Masque: Kerastase Masque Oleo Relax OR Age Recharge, $63


Buy it from Amazon

Ultra-rich and packed with moisturizing proteins, Kerastase masques are my favorite. I have used Age Recharge for years and just picked up another one yesterday.

Both the Age Recharge (formulated for hair that's been colored or weakened) and Oleo Relax (created to fight frizz and smooth hair) leave you with salon-worthy results. In fact, you can't go wrong with ANY Kerastase masque in my professional opinion. They are pricey, but worth the splurge.

Here's how to use these masques:

  • Apply a quarter-size amount to towel-dried hair
  • Massage from roots to ends and comb through hair. Only apply to the bottom 2-3rds of hair if you have oily hair.
  • Leave on for 5-10 minutes and emulsify with warm water before rinsing.

Other ways that work that I've read about: put a shower cap over your hair and leave it for 20 minutes for added benefit or apply heat to the shower cap with a blowdryer. It helps the product work faster on hair, apparently.