From curl-defining creams to residue-free dry shampoo.

By Erin Lukas
Sep 16, 2020 @ 8:00 am
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
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Credit: Arthur Belebeau/Trunk Archive

The perfect haircut relies on the skill of the hairstylist and a great pair of scissors. But good hair days rely on using the right products for your hair type.

In March, when salons temporarily shut down for a handful of months in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19, our bathrooms turned into our personal hair salons, and we became our own stylists.

While some InStyle readers were brave enough to give themselves trims or touch up their roots with box dye kits, others took a break from using hot tools and chemical processing to focus on repairing their damaged hair with various treatments.

So, for InStyle's 2020 Readers' Choice Awards, we polled our readers to find out what haircare and styling products they've turned to throughout the pandemic.

From shaping cream to enhance your gorgeous curls, to the best dry shampoo for when washing your hair is just too much effort, these are the 14 best haircare products of 2020, according to our readers.

Best Leave-In Conditioner: SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner

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Not getting regular trims at the salon right now and want your raggedy ends looking as healthy as possible? Enter SheaMoisture's nourishing leave-in conditioner. Safe for all hair types, it softens and detangles knots to prevent further breakage.

To buy: $13; ulta.com.

Best Hair Treatment: Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector

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The at-home version of this stylist-favorite treatment works to repair damaged hair from the inside out. For the best results, use it on towel-dried hair before hopping in the shower to shampoo and condition.

To buy: $28; sephora.com.

Best Dry Shampoo: Living Proof Perfect Hair Day

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Let's get real: Spending so much time at home is the perfect excuse to slack on washing your hair. That's where Living Proof's odor-busting dry shampoo comes in. A couple blasts refreshes hair by absorbing excess dirt and oil at the roots.

To buy: $25; amazon.com.

Best Mask: Garnier Fructis Smoothing Treat 1 Minute Hair Mask + Avocado Extract

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Smoother, shinier hair in just one minute? Yup, it's possible with Garnier's in-shower mask, formulated with nourishing avocado extract.

To buy: $13; amazon.com.

Best Hair Oil: OGX Renewing + Argan Oil of Morocco Extra Penetrating Oil

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Is there any haircare issue OGX's hair oil can't fix? The short answer: no. It hydrates, tames flyaways, and improves the appearance of split ends.

To buy: $6; amazon.com.

Best Curl Cream: Pantene Pro-V Curl Affair Curl Reshaping Cream

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InStyle readers with curly hair turn to this shaping cream for added hydration and definition. Bonus: the scent is divine.

To buy: $7; amazon.com.

Best At-Home Dye Kit: L’Oréal Paris Féria

Many of our readers acted as their own colorist while salons were temporarily closed down due to quarantine. The box dye of choice was L’Oréal Paris Feria, an affordable color kit blended by the brand's master colorist. It comes in a range of shades, from champagne blonde to smoky silver.

To buy: $9; amazon.com.

VIDEO: What Getting a Haircut Is Like Post-Quarantine

Best Hair Dryer: Revlon Hair Tools One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer

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This innovative blow dryer has almost 70,000 positive reviews because it delivers volume and a smooth finish in a single step.

To buy: $42; amazon.com.

Best Hot Tool: Dyson Airwrap Styler Complete

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“It’s like having a professional stylist at home,” says one reader who praises the versatility of Dyson's Airwrap. The Styler Complete comes with six customizable attachments that you can tailor to your hair type and preferred styles.

To buy: $549; amazon.com.

Editors' Pick: Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Aloe + Oat Milk Ultra Soothing Detangling Spray

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Whether your hair is dry or you're dealing with a ton of knots, this lightweight, moisturizing spray with aloe and oat milk is your answer.

To buy: $24; sephora.com.

Editors' Pick: Head & Shoulders Supreme Exfoliating Scalp Scrub

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Good hair days start with a healthy scalp. Adding an exfoliating scrub to your shower routine gently lifts excess oil, dead skin, and product buildup that's weighing your hair down.

To buy: $9; amazon.com.