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The 7 Best Products I Can Buy in the Drugstore Hair-care Aisle

The author at CVS. Photo: Rio Viera-Newton

My hair is very bleached and thus, very damaged. Certain brands — Christophe Robin, Gisou, and Sachajuan — can keep my fried hair soft, shiny, and bouncy, but those products are definitely not cheap. Repurchasing Christophe’s $71 Prickly Pear mask every few months can be downright upsetting. Sometimes, when I’m low on money or just need a cheap alternative (typically when traveling), I gotta go to the drugstore. And while I really do adore all my fancy hair products, I must say my drugstore favorites have held me down in some pretty tricky situations. Below, some of my low-budget faves for my intensely high-maintenance hair.

Drugstore shampoo

Garnier Whole Blends Gentle Shampoo Oat Delicacy

If you don’t have color-treated hair, I’d take a look at this shampoo and conditioner set. What I love about this duo is that it’s completely neutral. It’s not at all stripping, but it’s not over-the-top moisturizing — so if you want clean, soft hair without that heavy feeling, add this to your cart.

Drugstore shampoo for color-treated hair

Redken Color Extend Shampoo

And if you do have color-treated hair, this shampoo gives my hair a good clean from the tons of product I put in it, all without stripping my color job. When I was platinum (I’m more of a dirty blonde now), I could really notice exactly what products worked and which didn’t on my hair color — if a shampoo was too stripping, my hair would turn very orange immediately, but this shampoo passed the test on my platinum hair.

Drugstore hair mask

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner

A pal of mine mentioned this mask to me when I was researching the best products for my big dry hair list, but I only tried it out myself over Thanksgiving. I was going out of town somewhere quite remote when I suddenly realized I had forgotten to pack any kind of conditioner. I frantically went to CVS and grabbed a 3 Minute Miracle, which did wonders on my hair. After shampooing, put a generous amount of this on your locks, focusing on the ends. Wait three minutes — take the time to shave, exfoliate, sing, whatever floats your boat — and then rinse it out and voila! I was shocked at how well my hair responded to something so affordable.

Travel-friendly drugstore hair mask

Nexxus Keraphix Masque for Damaged Hair

Not only are these little single-packet masks from Nexxus incredibly travel-friendly, they also really work on my super-dry hair. Containing ingredients like keratin protein and black rice, it made my dry, frizzy hair soft, smooth, and bouncy. It’s one of my all-time favorite drugstore products — I really notice a difference in the texture of the ends of my hair after using it. I put it on in the shower and leave it for about ten minutes.

Drugstore hair oil

L’Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil Deep Nourishing Treatment

I absolutely love this hair oil. It’s not too thick, it’s not too sticky, and a touch of it goes a long way. I pump out about a dime-sized amount, rub my hands together, and run it through my hair. Immediately my hair looks shiny and healthy but not weighed down at all — just moisturized. I put this on both my wet and my dry hair.

Drugstore dry shampoo

Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Dry Shampoo

This is one of the best dry shampoos I’ve ever used. [Editor’s note: We’ve written about this dry shampoo before.] What I love most about this product is that it really volumizes your locks and lasts all day long — if you wake up with limp, oily hair, a few spritzes and rubs of this in the a.m. will help your hair look matte and full well into the evening. I also love the smell — the subtle coconut scent is pleasant without becoming a full-on hair perfume.

Drugstore hairspray

Garnier Fructis Style Sleek & Shine Hairspray

I once read in an article that hairstylist Adir Abergel (who does Rooney Mara, Saoirse Ronan, and Tessa Thompson’s hair) loved this product, so when I was in the market for a new hairspray I decided to give it a go. I loved that it gave my hair a smoothing effect while keeping it in place — it never dries my hair out or gives me flyaways. In fact, it actually helps to make it look super shiny.

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The 7 Best Products in the Drugstore Hair-care Aisle