–same hair, different lighting–

I probably don’t need to preface this (because asian), but I am not naturally blonde. My natural hair, is in fact, PITCH. BLACK. For the past few months, I’ve been going lighter & lighter – for summer & my quarter-life crisis – and with all that lightening, my hair needs some extra TLC these days.

Disclaimer: Everyone has different hair types, so what works for me may not work exactly the same for you, meaning if your hair type is similar to mine, these products will likely work just as well for you, but if your hair type is the opposite of mine, they may not. To give you a better idea beyond photos, my hair type is currently wavy / dry-to-normal (roots get oily after 3–5 days depending on how often I’m working out) / normal-to-thick / sometimes frizzy hair (super scientific description, I know).

Second Disclaimer: My husband is a hair stylist, so for the past ten years or so, I have been lucky enough to pretty much try every single high-end and “drugstore” hair product out there. The following products/tips are what I’ve found to work best for me with my current hair situation.

I try to only wash my hair once a week, but dry shampoo can only do so much, so again, depending on how sweaty I get throughout the week, I wash my hair up to 2 times a week max.

So, on hair-washing days, here are the products I’ve been using, in the order that I use them:


BEFORE THE SHOWER:

1. ORIBE Gold Lust Pre-Shampoo Intensive Treatment

This stuff is freakin pricey, BUT it is magical & lasts forever. I use this every other time I wash my hair (so about 3–4 times a month), or whenever I feel like my hair is extra dry. Before I get in the shower, I lather my hair in this from mids to ends (never on my roots) for 20 minutes. Then I get in the shower, do a quick rinse of my hair, and shampoo & condition like normal.


IN THE SHOWER:

2. JOICO Color Balance Purple Shampoo

I alternate between this and a regular (non-purple) shampoo, to keep my blondes from looking brassy. The shampoo itself is a BRIGHT PURPLE, exactly like the color of the bottle. I’m messy, so it gets all over the shower, but it’s never stained our shower walls, my hands/nails, or my face/neck, and I leave it in for about 5 minutes or so after I shampoo to let it soak in. I notice a difference every time I use it so I’ve been really happy with it, especially for the price.

3. KÉRASTASE Elixir Ultime Le Bain Shampoo

This is the non-purple shampoo I’ve been using for several years and it is LIQUID. GOLD. Smells incredible and makes your hair feel super clean, but never stripped.

4. KÉRASTASE Elixir Ultime Le Fondant Conditioner

This is the conditioner I’ve been using for several years, along with its partner shampoo above. It is amazing for when my hair is closer to normal, but because my hair has been lightened significantly, I alternate between this one and the one below, for extra hydration.

5. JO HANSFORD Intensive Masque

They aren’t lying when they call this thing an “intensive masque.” It is probably the most heavy duty hair mask I’ve ever used. The consistency is a little thicker than a normal conditioner, so I focus it on my ends, but WOW. Leave this in for a few minutes & when you go to rinse your hair, be prepared for silk to flow through your fingers. It’s that good.


AFTER THE SHOWER:

6. R+CO Dallas Thickening Spray

I like my hair to be that “Victoria’s-Secret-Runway-Model-Voluminous” always & this stuff is the Best. Thickening. Spray. Ever. Once I get out of the shower, I towel dry my hair, then spray this magical stuff all over my roots, focusing on the crown of my head for added volume, and IT. WORKS.

7. OUAI Leave-In Conditioner

I spray this all over my mids to ends for both thermal protection and to help with frizz. Works great & smells a m a z i n g .

8. KÉRASTASE Résistance Ciment Thermique Blow Dry Primer

Most of the time I try to let my hair air dry to avoid unnecessary heat, but if I don’t have time and need to blow dry my hair, I ALWAYS put this stuff on my mids to ends. One, it smells like heaven, and two, it is like a magical lotion for your hair. This is specifically for over-processed hair, so you may not need this step, especially since the leave-in conditioner above gives you some thermal protection already, but again, if you’ve got hair sorta like mine, you will LOVE this.

9. SHU UEMURA Urban Moisture Double Hair Serum

I only started using this serum after I started going lighter, but it has been a lifesaver. It is a leave-in serum for dry hair and it is INTENSELY hydrating. Like… two pumps will more than take care of all my mids to ends and leave my hair glistening. It’s good stuff, but again, pretty heavy duty, so I only use this when I feel like I really need some extra hydration.


WHEN WASHING YOUR HAIR IS THE LAST THING YOU’D EVER WANT TO DO:

10. R+CO Death Valley Dry Shampoo

THIS. STUFF. WORKS. WONDERS. I kid you not, I have probably tried over 100 different kinds of dry shampoos over the years – both high & lower end, and this stuff is the MVP by far. It soaks up all that nasty oiliness we hate without leaving any white cast or weird, heavy texture or residue. Added bonus: it lasts all day and gives you some volume!

I hope that’s helpful for you fellow hair nerds out there. Let me know if there is a product you swear by that’s not on this list! I love trying new products.

XO NINA
@xoninackim