The 12 Best Clean Hairstyling Products of 2023

These styling products give ‘clean hair’ a whole new meaning.

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Best Clean Hairstyling Products

InStyle / Kristin Kempa

Over the past decade, clean ingredients have taken center stage in skincare and makeup. Now, clean haircare is finally having its moment, giving clean hair a whole new meaning. We’ll be the first to acknowledge that “clean” is an ambiguous (and unregulated) term. But as a rule of thumb, hair products labeled as such are free from phthalates, sulfates, synthetic ingredients, and other potentially harmful chemicals.

Upgrading your hair styling routine to include formulas without these ingredients can have a host of benefits. “It’s better for your overall health, better for the environment, and better for your scalp,” notes Marwa Bashir, a Nashville-based celebrity hairstylist and member of the R+Co Collective. That said, don’t panic if your go-to texture spray isn’t Leaping-Bunny-certified or your ride-or-die gel has silicones. The key is to clean up your routine gradually, taking time to find clean products that really mesh with your mane.

So, which clean styling products should you add to your product stash? We tapped eight hair experts to weigh in on their favorite clean picks for everything from hairspray to heat protectant. We also spritzed, smoothed, and sampled our way through dozens of products, and took our own past research into account. In the end, we found 12 unparalleled clean styling products — including drugstore gems and splurge-worthy styling creams — that will help you achieve salon-quality results from the comfort of your home.

Best Overall

Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil

Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil


What We Love: This catch-all styling product increases shine and softness while also taming flyaways and repairing damaged hair.

What We Don’t Love: The bottle is on the small side — but you only need to use a tiny amount of product per styling session.

It’s no secret that InStyle editors love Olaplex, and we’re in well-coiffed company. Everyone from Jennifer Aniston to Margot Robbie and Gwenyth Paltrow are gluttons for the brand’s signature ingredient: Bis-aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. Don’t worry about pronouncing it. Just know that it works wonders to strengthen hair by repairing broken bonds, and it’s a central ingredient in the Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Hair Oil.

We like to call this vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free styling product liquid gold (and not just because of its color). The oil quickly absorbs into all hair types — even fine, thin hair — to increase shine, softness, and color vibrancy, while also repairing hair from the inside out and protecting it from future heat damage. Think of this as the Swiss Army Knife of your styling kit.

To use the oil, dispense a dime-sized amount, distribute it through wet or dry hair, and style as usual. The one ounce container is on the small side, but because you only need a tiny amount of product, it should last you a very long time.

Price at time of publish: $30

Formula: Oil | Hair Type: All | Size: 1 oz | Best For: Strengthening hair and adding shine

Best Budget

Odele Air Dry Styler

Odele Air Dry Styler


What We Love: It works on all hair types.

What We Don’t Love: It can leave a white residue behind if you use too much.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend an exorbitant amount of money to get salon-worthy results at home. We consider this affordable hair hero from Odele to be the white t-shirt of air dry stylers: It works on every hair type, takes care of frizz and flyaways, adds shine and hold, and it has a beautiful scent that combines notes of oak moss, cucumber, and ylang-ylang.

Vegan and cruelty-free, the salon-grade cream is also sulfate-free and comes in sustainable packaging. To use, just work a small amount into towel-dried hair, and go about your day. Take note: If you’re too heavy-handed with this product, it may leave white residue on your hair or on your comb (we recommend no more than a quarter-sized dollop.)

When applied more sparingly, the non-sticky cream quickly absorbs into your mane. It separates strands for a look that the brand calls “artfully rumpled.” Not bad, for less than $15 a pop.

Price at time of publish: $12

Formula: Cream | Hair Type: All | Size: 6 oz | Best For: Smoothing frizz and conditioning hair

Best Splurge

R+Co Bleu Super Style Crème

R+Co Bleu Super Style Crème


What We Love: It offers a host of benefits, ranging from taming frizz to sealing split ends.

What We Don’t Love: The product has a distinct fragrance, which may be too strong for those who are sensitive to scent.

R+CO refers to this as an “all-around hairstyling hero,” and we couldn't agree more. While it works beautifully as a blow-dry cream to create an ultra-sleek look, we also found that it provides curls and waves with ample hold and definition, too. It’s not just a blow-dry cream, though: The leave-in moisturizer smooths out air-dried styles as well.

As if that wasn't enough, the cream also seals split ends, adds movement to hair, and keeps frizz at bay thanks to ingredients like vitamin E and sunflower-seed extract. And not only is this splurge-worthy cream Leaping Bunny-certified, its packaging is also designed with the environment in mind — the bottle and cap are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials, making them completely recyclable.

It is not, however, fragrance-free. While the scent doesn’t bother us (it’s woody, citrusy, and bright) it may be too strong for some.

Price at time of publish: $64

Formula: Cream | Hair Type: All | Size: 5 oz | Best For: Adding hydration and shine

Best Drugstore

KRISTIN ESS HAIR Style Assist Blow Dry Mist - Hair Heat Protectant Spray

Style Assist Blow Dry Mist - Hair Heat Protectant Spray


What We Love: It’s lightweight enough for fine hair.

What We Don’t Love: Though the scent is fresh — like clean laundry — it can be a bit overpowering.

For under $20, this styler achieves even more than some of its pricier counterparts: It cuts down on drying time, adds shine, smooths split ends, and serves as a heat protectant. You can use it on wet hair before a blow-dry, or smooth it onto dry hair before thermal styling.

Dianna Cohen, founder and CEO of the buzzy clean hair brand Crown Affair, lists this as one of her go-to drugstore picks, too. Vegan, cruelty-free, and sustainably packaged, the mist leaves hair smelling like fresh laundry (though the scent is a bit strong, so spritz it on sparingly). Plus, its featherweight texture plays well with fine hair, so you won’t have to worry about it weighing your mane down.

Price at time of publish: $15

Formula: Mist | Hair Type: All | Size: 5 oz | Best For: Reducing drying time and adding shine

Best Leave-In Conditioner

JVN Complete Conditioning Mist

JVN Complete Conditioning Mist


What We Love: Its plant-based ingredients are good for your skin.

What We Don’t Love: The packaging is a bit faulty.

While the main purpose of leave-in conditioner is to, well, condition hair, This JVN mist goes above and beyond to hydrate, detangle, add shine, and protect your hair from heat — and it won’t harm your skin in the process because it’s formulated without silicones. Instead, it contains squalene and hemisqualane.

“There are many wonderful and effective non-toxic ingredients out there, but plant-derived squalane and hemisqualane are among my favorites because they deliver amazing hair benefits without clogging pores or irritating the skin,” notes Dr. Iris Rubin, a Harvard-trained, board certified dermatologist and founder of SEEN Skin & Hair Care. Another noteworthy ingredient is tremella mushroom extract, which holds 500 times its weight in water to keep hair well moisturized.

We have no complaints about the formula, but the packaging could use some work: It sprays the mist out unevenly. Luckily, there’s a workaround. Try spraying it directly into your hands, rub your palms together, and then run it through your hair.

Price at time of publish: $21 

Formula: Mist | Hair Type: All | Size: 5 oz | Best For: Adding moisture and detangling

Best Hair Oil

Fable & Mane MahaMane Smooth & Shine Hair Oil

 Fable & Mane MahaMane Smooth & Shine Hair Oil


What We Love: It’s made with adaptogenic plants and ayurvedic herbs to support overall hair health.

What We Don’t Love: This oil may be a bit too heavy for those with very fine hair.

Adding a hair oil to your styling routine is an absolute must if you want to boost shine and nourish your hair. This ayurvedic leave-in oil treatment an InStyle favorite because absorbs into hair instantly — and adds shine just as fast.

The formula contains an antioxidant-rich blend of six super-strength fruit oils, which give hair enviable shine. It also contains ashwagandha to strengthen and condition hair, and the plant shikaki to smooth strands and add (even more) shine. These time-tested ingredients work: Vegan, silicone-free, and suitable for all hair types, the oil has been clinically proven to strengthen hair and reduce frizz after just one use.

Another perk is the fragrance, which is spicy, sexy, and fashion-crowd-approved. In fact, all Fable & Mane scents are created by the perfumer who concocts fragrances for Dior. A little of this goes a long way, too: One drop of oil is enough for a full head of fine hair, while three drops does the trick for a thicker mane. As with any hair oil, using too much might make your hair feel weighed-down, so be sure to use it sparingly. To apply, smooth it through towel-dried hair, then style and get ready to glimmer.

Price at time of publish: $38

Formula: Oil | Hair Type: Thick and curly | Size: 1.8 oz | Best For: Adding shine

Best Blow-Dry Cream

SEEN Blow-Out Creme

SEEN Blow-Out Creme


What We Love: It’s formulated by a dermatologist, and it won’t clog your pores. 

What We Don’t Love: This can be challenging to find at brick-and-mortar stores.

Have you ever experienced acne along your hairline or on your back? Believe it or not, the culprit behind these breakouts may be your hair products. You won’t have to worry about skin flare ups with this blow-dry cream from Seen, though, as it's non-comedogenic, has a seal of approval from the National Eczema Association, and still gives you a sleek, salon-quality blowout.

Formulated without sulfates, silicones, phthalates, parabens, or dyes, the cream helps banish frizz and add shine. It also serves as a heat protectant, helping hair resist damage from styling and UV rays. To use it, apply a dime-to-quarter-sized amount to damp hair from roots to ends. Then blow-dry or heat style as usual.

“I love [this blow-out cream] for its lightweight touchable hold that's easy to use with any hair type,” says Bronwen Robinson, a New York City-based hairstylist. “It provides soft fullness and natural shine with no pore-clogging residue on hair or skin.”

This cream can be tricky to find at brick-and-mortar stores. Luckily, it isn’t hard to come by online — both Ulta and Amazon stock it.

Price at time of publish: $24

Formula: Cream | Hair Type: All | Size: 5 oz | Best For: Adding body and bounce to hair, and added heat protection

Best Texture Spray

Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Hair Volumizing Spray

Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Hair Volumizing Spray


What We Love: It instantly adds fullness to hair.

What We Don’t Love: It can feel tacky or gritty if applied to dry hair. For best results, use it on damp strands.

Hair falling a little flat? This citrus-scented spray adds instant fullness to hair and works to strengthen it over time. The cruelty-free, gluten-free, and naturally-derived formula has natural hair thickeners including maltodextrin and biotin; plus, it also contains ginseng, which can stimulate hair growth, and witch hazel extract to sop up extra oil. Combine these ingredients, and you have a recipe that will provide a quick boost to fine, flat hair.

Unlike most texturizing sprays, this one works best when applied to damp hair. Though it can be used on dry strands, it can make hair feel tacky or gritty, so be sure to use sparingly for quick refreshes.

Price at time of publish: $25

Formula: Spray | Hair Type: Fine and Thin | Size: 5 oz | Best For: Adding volume

Best Shine Spray

Authentic Beauty Concept Glow Touch

Authentic Beauty Concept Glow Touch, Shine spray, All Hair Types


What We Love: It gives hair a healthy-looking, smooth finish.

What We Don’t Love: It has a light floral scent — we love it, but if you prefer unscented hair products you probably won’t like this.

Clariss Rubenstein, a Los-Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist and member of the R+Co Collective, loves using this shine spray. “It’s glossy and light,” she raves.  A quick spritz breathes life back into dull hair, reviving shine and making it feel smooth and soft. The oil-mist is formulated with plant extracts like sunflower and rosemary (which add shine and promote growth, respectively), and without silicones, parabens, or microplastics (read: Irritants that can potentially damage hair). To use, shake the bottle well, and mist it onto dry hair in short spurts.

On top of how it makes hair look, the spray also has a soft floral fragrance spiked with rose, freesia, and violet. We think the smell is dreamy, but if you gravitate toward unscented products (or find scent to be a bit irritating), you may want to sniff out other shine sprays.

Price at time of publish: $25

Formula: Oil Spray | Hair Type: All | Size: 5 oz | Best For: Adding shine and softening hair

Best Dry Shampoo

Crown Affair The Dry Shampoo

Crown Affair The Dry Shampoo


What We Love: Rather than coming in a spray can, this dry shampoo powder is housed in a tub with a kabuki brush that allows you to target oily spots.

What We Don’t Love: We wish there was more product in the container.

When you think of dry shampoo, an aerosol can that sprays a white powder might come to mind. Erase that image from your mind, though, because this dry shampoo from Crown Affair is completely different.

This dry shampoo actually comes in a tub with a kabuki brush applicator — it looks a lot like a loose setting powder, but trust us, you’ll want to use this on your hair. Made up of mineralized Japanese persimmon powder, Tsubaki seed, and tapioca starch, it naturally deodorizes hair, absorbs oil, and nourishes the scalp. Once applied, it leaves hair looking fresh and voluminous — as if you just washed it.

To apply the shampoo, flip your hair over and dust it into your roots with the kabuki brush. This application method really allows you to target extra oily spots. If it’s been a few days since your last wash, you can also work it through strands for a refresh. We do wish the jar was a bit bigger, but you only need a small amount of powder to sop up oil. If you pick up too much powder, just tap the brush over the open container.

Price at time of publish: $36

Formula: Powder | Hair Type: All | Size: 0.53 oz | Best for: Adding volume and sopping up oil

Best Heat Protectant

Iles Formula Finishing Serum

Iles Formula 6.8 oz. Iles Formula Finishing Serum

Neiman Marcus

What We Love: It’s a true multitasking formula that can be used on both dry and wet hair.

What We Don’t Love: The scent leaves little to be desired.

“Iles Formula is my favorite clean beauty brand,” raves Erin Ahern, Chicago-based hairstylist and cofounder of City & Shore Studios. And one of her favorite products from the line is the Finishing Serum, a multitasking heat protectant that can be used on wet or dry hair.

“Amongst all the amazing ingredients — which include tucuma seed butter, macadamia nut oil, and silk extract — this product also has vitamin B5,” explains Ahern. “The vitamin penetrates hair deeply to moisturize dry strands and increases pliability, which helps hair withstand breakage.”

The serum protects against heat tools, UV rays, color fade, and humidity. On top of that, when used as a pre-blow dry serum, it provides impressive volume and effortlessly tames frizz. When you need to spruce up dry hair, use this to soften strands, add shine and tame flyaways. The versatility completely justifies the hefty price tag. If we could improve one thing, though, it would be the scent: It smells quite synthetic, but isn’t too overpowering.

Price at time of publish: $52

Formula: Serum | Hair Type: All | Size: 6.8 oz | Best for: Preventing damage and smoothing hair

Best Hairspray

Innersense I Create Finish

I Create Finish


What We Love: Its carefully considered ingredients are (almost) good enough to eat.

What We Don’t Love: It can leave hair feeling wet or sticky if you use too much.

This lightweight hairspray — a favorite of Cohen’s — is formulated with ingredients that could’ve been pulled from a high-end tea party: Organic honey gives hair a flexible hold, and organic rooibos tea supplies a burst of antioxidants. There’s also aloe and rice proteins to help nourish and strengthen the strands. The overall effect? Touchable hold, gleaming shine, and hair that smells like a fresh sprig of lavender.

Be sure to spray sparingly as the product can leave hair feeling wet or sticky if it’s applied too liberally. Luckily, the sustainable packaging delivers an even spray — just be sure to hold it a few inches away from your head as you spritz.

Price at time of publish: $26

Formula: Spray | Hair Type: All| Size: 10 oz | Best for: Adding hold and shine

What to Keep in Mind

Hair Type

“There are two important factors to keep in mind when going clean with styling products: Hair type and hair health,” says Devin Graciano, a Los Angeles-based hairstylist and the head of development at Goldie Locks. “Your hair type and hair health [help determine which] ingredients will serve your hair care needs.”

For those with thin or fine hair, it’s best to look for products that won’t weigh hair down, and rather make it look more full. Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng and Biotin Volumizing Spray is especially good at boosting volume and breathing life into fine hair. If your hair is dry and fine, incorporating an oil can also be beneficial. Try Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Hair Oil — the formula is lightweight so it won’t be too heavy on fine hair; just be sure to use a small amount.

If you have thick hair, opt for a nourishing cream that will keep it well-moisturized and flyaway-free. R+Co Bleu Super Style Crème is ideal because it is a true multitasker, sealing split ends, taming frizz and giving hair a bouncy, fresh look. This option is also great for those with curly and coily hair thanks to its rich, hydrating ingredients like avocado oil and vitamin E.

When it comes to hair health, protecting it from heat damage is of the utmost importance, so regardless of how damaged it is, Iles Formula Finishing Serum can help the repair process from the ground up because not only does it contain nourishing ingredients, like tucuma seed butter and silk proteins, but it also protect from heat damage and penetrates strands to lock in moisture and help prevent future breakage.

Styling Goals

“The damage that is present on your hair [before you switch to clean styling products] may determine how easy or difficult styling will be at first,” Graciano says. “Hair is a fabric that is shapeable and reshapable when it is in prime condition. If you have mending to do, be patient with your hair as you bring it back to the state of health you want it to be in.”

That said, when taking a break from heat to help your hair heal, opt for products that will help your hair air dry in a more manageable fashion, like Odele Air Dry Styler. And once you’re ready to incorporate heat back into your routine, it is essential to use a heat protectant. Iles Formula Finishing Serum is one of our favorites, but our best overall pick Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Hair Oil also offers heat protection along with a slew of other benefits.

When you’re looking to refresh your two or three-day-old hair, opt for dry style refreshers like Crown Affair The Dry Shampoo or Authentic Beauty Concept Glow Touch.

Your Questions Answered

What clean products do you need to style hair?

“Switching to a [cleaner] hair oil, hair gel, leave-in conditioner [and a] dry shampoo makes a major difference in the long run,” Cohen says.  “Start today with better options, and your hair health will transform over time.” On our list you can find a variety of these products, including Fable & Mane MahaMane Smooth & Shine Hair Oil, JVN Complete Conditioning Mist , and Crown Affair The Dry Shampoo.

If you really want to revamp your entire hair care routine to include cleaner products though, Graciano recommends resetting your hair with a clean shampoo and conditioner. “A great clarifying shampoo will help to jumpstart your new invigorating path of cleaner hair care.” We recommend Goldie Locks Clarifying Shampoo because it uses champagne, black pepper, and bentonite clay to detox the scalp and your strands.

What categorizes a hair product as “clean?”

This is a complex question. “There is no concrete definition of ‘clean’ and no F.D.A. regulation or oversight when it comes to this term,” says Rubin. “I believe that clean beauty is most often driven by a desire to protect consumers from potentially harmful chemicals that could have a detrimental impact on their skin and health, as well as on the environment. Consumers still need to do their homework to make sure the brands’ definitions of ‘clean’ align with their own when selecting products.”

She adds: “It’s helpful to know what ingredients you want to avoid when shopping for a clean, skin-friendly hair care routine. For many, these [ingredients to avoid] include sulfates, phthalates, silicone, parabens, dyes, and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.” None of the products on our list include any of these ingredients.

Are clean hair products vegan and cruelty-free?

The terms are not necessarily interchangeable — but they do share certain traits. “Clean, vegan, and cruelty-free are three distinct categories, but they often overlap,” says Dr. Rubin. “Vegan means [the product contains] no animal-derived ingredients, including those that don’t harm the animal when sourced, such as beeswax. Cruelty-free means no animal testing is involved when developing individual ingredients, as well as final formulations.” Many of the products on our list, including Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Hair Oil, Kristin Ess Style Assist Blow Dry Mist, and Odele Air Dry Styler are also vegan and cruelty-free.

Why Shop With Us

Jenny Berg headed up the research for this guide to clean hairstyling products — and involved her own head in the testing process. A fine, long, and wavy-haired beauty writer with more than a decade of experience, she spent nearly a month sampling serums, blow-dry creams, and more. She also sought input from the pros. For this article, she interviewed 8 experts — Dianna Cohen, founder and CEO of hair brand Crown Affair; Marwa Bashir, a Nashville-based celebrity hairstylist and member of the R+Co Collective;  Dr. Iris Rubin, a Harvard-trained dermatologist and the founder of SEEN Skin & Hair Care; Bronwen Robinson, a New York City-based hairstylist; Clariss Rubenstein, a Los-Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist and member of the R+Co Collective; Erin Ahern, Chicago-based hairstylist and cofounder of City & Shore Studios; Caitlin Carnahan, Chicago-based colorist and co-owner of City & Shore Studios; and Devin Graciano, a Los Angeles-based hairstylist and the head of development at Goldie Locks — to learn about their favorite clean hair styling products and learn more about clean hair products in general. Finally, she also took recommendations from InStyle’s in-house beauty experts, who represent a range of hair types and styling goals to put together this list of the best clean hair styling products.

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