Coupled with the rising temperatures and increasingly intensifying UV rays, going months without a cut can wreak havoc on our hair. It’s tough to say when we’ll feel safe being up close and personal with our hairdresser again, but that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice healthy hair while we wait for daily life to resume to normal.
While it’s important to be wary of claims that any given hair product can reverse damage at a cellular level or fix split ends, you can go the extra mile to prevent damage with these 15 top-rated hair products, from serums to sprays.
1. A shampoo that gives Topanga-worthy volume
When I think of Boy Meets World, Topanga’s iconic, lush mane comes to mind. Lucky for us, Danielle Fishel, the actress behind the quirky character, created her own hair care line called Be Free that managing editor Kate Ellsworth found was free of ingredients thought to harm hair and the environment, like sulfates, phosphates, and phthalates. No wonder she gives the shampoo rave reviews for restoring her hair’s natural shine.
2. A hair treatment with 14,000 reviews on Amazon
Named one of the top hair masks of 2020, the cult-favorite Olaplex brand claims this treatment is so much more than a conditioner, but instead an “at-home bond builder” that provides “real, structural repair that works from within.” That’s just a fancy way of calling it a deep conditioning leave-in treatment, which is undoubtedly crucial in warding off sun and heat damage. According to one reviewer: “This is the only product I have ever used that has truly repaired my hair after all of the bleach...In ONE USE this product visibly and textually repaired my hair so well, it’s insane.” Simply work it into washed strands from root to tip, set for 10 minutes, and rinse.
3. A mask that masks tons of damage
Miracle products don’t exist, but Briogio's deep conditioning mask with over 113,000 fans on Sephora comes pretty close. Rosehip oil reduces frizz, algae extract strengthens strands, and almond oil seals your hair's cuticle for extra shine. Our beauty writer Jessica Kasparian suggests applying it to washed hair for five to 10 minutes two or three times a week. Customer reviews suggest this mask is ideal for both curly/dry and thin/oily hair types.
4. A popular sunscreen-infused mist
Coola's cool hair mist coats overlooked areas like your scalp with SPF 30, while ingredients like panthenol and monoi oil help restore your strands’ natural moisture and shine. It’s water-resistant up to 80 minutes and is safe to use on color-treated hair, making it ideal for beach and pool days. Reviewers are also obsessed with its refreshing ocean salted sage scent.
5. A custom hair serum
What beauty writer Jessica Kasparian and I can both agree on is that Function of Beauty makes hair care a fun experience as each product is literally tailored to your hair type and needs. Each bottle is filled with everything your hair needs (like nourishing natural plant oils) and nothing it doesn't (like sulfates and parabens). When I ordered the Function of Beauty’s custom hair serum, I was struck by how deeply it moisturized my hair without leaving it with a greasy, oily film. I opted for the strong pear scent, and routinely rub a dab on my split ends throughout the day just to get a whiff.
6. A heat-protecting leave-in conditioner
Gone are the days of reserving our heat protecting products for styling tools like irons and curlers—the sun can take its toll on our hair, too. This leave-in conditioner from Ouai with celebrity hair artist Jen Atkin is best used on damp hair. Before heading to the beach, spritz your hair with water, apply the leave-in conditioner, and enjoy shiny, smooth hair without the fear of hair so damaged that only a cut could remedy it. One happy customer says, “This is lightweight and protects my hair and hair coloring against heat, Texas sun, and pool conditions.”
7. A Barbie-themed take on an old favorite
I’ve used CHI products all my adult life, from its hair straighteners to its popular Silk Infusion, so when I found out about its Barbie-themed iteration of the cult-classic treatment (same strengthening plant proteins, new adorable pale pink packaging), I knew I had to have it. I use it on damp or dry hair to retain moisture and shine that’s usually hard to come by during the summer months. It works like a charm, and that scent is truly something I wish I could smell all day.
8. A non-greasy keratin-booster
When I’m looking for protection against sun and heat, but my hair is already on its third day of not having been washed (i.e. greasier than a Quebec poutine), I opt for Eufora’s repairing spray. It has a weightless formula made with quinoa proteins and aloe leaf that restores my hair's elasticity. That means I can protect my sweaty head without making it look sweaty—a.k.a. everyone’s happy.
9. A softening detangler
It’s no secret that all that fun in the sun (and in the water, and on the sand) can create unruly frizz, and thus bird’s nest-levels of knots. This must-have conditioning detangler from Unite gently untangles my hair, which allows me to comb or brush it without further breakage (though we do recommend using a Wet Brush to avoid damaging hair). Bonus: its water-based silicone blend is perfect for heat protection, while hydrolyzed rice protein is said to promote strength and shine. Think of it as a leave-in conditioner with immediate benefits.
10. A printed, protective shower cap
Our beauty writer notes a shower cap won’t itself repair your hair, but the way it limits daily shampoo use likely will since you’ll be cutting down on your exposure to drying detergents. She notes that allowing your scalp’s natural oils to coat the cuticle can go far in preventing and reducing frizz, which can often be a symptom of damage. One reviewer calls this one from EcoTools “the best shower cap I've ever used,” noting that its fabric-lined interior helps keep hair extra dry in the shower while providing another layer of comfort.
11. A detoxifying shot of purifying shampoo
Did someone say “shots?” Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp—and if you’ve got all kinds of products building up at your cuticle like SPF mist or thick styling creams, you’ll love this clarifying scalp treatment made with vitamin C, bamboo charcoal and baobab oil as much as I do. Simply mix the gel-to-milk shot into your existing bottle of shampoo to strip away any icky debris. You’ll be left with a tingling, cooling, and clean sensation that feels especially refreshing during the summer.
12. A weightless hair oil for smooth strands
We’ve all had this conundrum at some point during the summer: our scalp is greasy and our ends are fried from sun and swim. With this feather-light oil made of moisturizing coconut and sunflower, you can easily target the ends of your hair that need a boost of shine without weighing anything down. What’s great about its applicator is that it isn’t a spray nozzle—the dropper allows you to wield full control over the application process. I had a similar experience to this reviewer: “It literally changed my hair. I have always been known to have frizzy hair and when I used this product I had girls coming up to me asking what products I use because I had no frizz in the humid Florida state I live in.”
13. A protective microfiber hair towel
The rough, terry bath towels you use on your body might be damaging your fragile hair if you use them immediately after the shower. Opt instead for a gentler microfiber towel designed to protect your strands from breakage in between cuts while also cutting down on drying time. One reviewer finds her Aquis hair turban so useful she bought one for home use and one for travel: "I love my turban. After showering, I put it on first, then towel dry me! Keeps my shoulder-length hair from dripping on me and the floor! Don’t settle for cheap terry imitation, tried that once, mistake!! Love this thing."
14. A drying balm that doesn't dry out hair
I’m always looking for products that tick off several boxes—most of which involve saving time and money. For a does-everything-but-your-taxes hair balm, look no further than It’s A 10’s smoothing balm. Because it has a gel-like consistency, it moisturizes without leaving a film of grease on your hands or hair. The best part? I’ve found that applying it on dry hair cuts my drying time in half, which makes letting it air dry in the summer months a total breeze and reduces the damage that styling tools would cause.
15. A top-rated hair mask that revitalizes strands
When my hairdresser recommended I buy Moroccanoil’s intense argan oil hair mask from the salon, I was a bit skeptical. To ease my doubts, she used it on my hair after a cut and bright ashy blond highlights application. And let me tell ya: it left my hair so soft, it didn’t feel like I had just submitted my hair to hours and hours of heat and sun damage that very week. I’m glad she sold me on it and I reach for it every time my hair needs a little pick-me-up in the summer months.