5 Hair Serums That Deliver on Their Shine-Boosting, Hydrating Promises

See ya, lackluster, dried-out, frizzy hair.
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Publish date:
September 11, 2015
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N.4, hair serums, styling products, Biolage, matrix, shiny hair, joico, frizzy hair, Briogeo, Cure-ology

Not a day goes by without my squirting a little serum in the palms of my hands and running it through the ends of my hair. Right after a shampoo and blow dry? Hair serum time. Ten hours later before I head out the door for an evening get-together? Hair serum time. Day two or day three hair, when ends are particularly crunchy and thirsty? Hair serum time.

Basically, I go through a lot of hair serum.

While I've got my staples in every hair, beauty and skincare category, I'm always open to trying new products. Over the last few weeks, I've been sampling new-to-me hair serums in a quest to get the shiniest, healthiest-looking hair. Some were OK, some didn't do the trick, and others nailed it. Here are my five favorites.

Briogeo Roscarco Oil, $24

I'm a fan of Briogeo, so it's not surprise that this Rosarco Oil hair treatment made the list. It definitely leans more oil than thick serum, and you only need a tiny bit to make a difference. If you prefer oils in your hair, this is a good choice for you.

It's thin in texture, and you'll notice a difference in your hair as soon as you apply it. In fact, you may feel like it's a little too oily at first, but just like a dry oil on your face or body, it seeps in and nourishes, so it doesn't stay oily-looking.

It smells sweet, a little fruity, a little powdery, and very clean.

N4 Fluoro5 Elixer Restore & Repair Oil, $26

This N4 Elixer Restore & Repair Oil is, perhaps, the most gently fragranced of this roundup. In fact, its fragrance is barely detectable, so if you prefer unscented products then give this a go. While it's thicker than the Briogeo oil above, it's not as thick as the rest, making it a nice common ground for those of you who are texture-driven.

It smooths hair down, creates a healthy sheen, and leaves hair feeling nourished. When applied to damp hair before blow drying, it decreases your blow time. For that reason, I use this both before and after styling.

JOICO K-PAK Protect & Shine Serum, $17.50

JOICO's K-PAK serum is lightweight and a little fruity-smelling. Based on reviews I've seen online, it seems ideal for coarse, curly hair and frizz-prone hair. I've found that I prefer this one on days when my hair needs a whopping dose of shine boost--AKA day two or three hair--otherwise it can feel a little bit too heavy. On that same note, I reserve it mostly for my ends.

I haven't been using it long enough (or concentrated enough since I've been testing multiple protects) to notice a difference in split ends, but it promises a decrease.

Matrix Biolage SmoothProof Serum, $16

Humidity got you down? Join the club. (Hey, it's monsoon season in Phoenix. Desert rats got frizz problems, too.) This MATRIX Biolage SmoothProof serum is specifically made to tame fly-aways and frizz caused by the elements and your styling tools. The product description boasts that it keeps your hair under control even in 97% humidity—that's almost the same as walking in the rain, people.

My two favorite things about this one: 1) it's got a pleasant, clean, salon-y smell, which I prefer over fruity, and 2) it soaks into the hair shaft really quickly and leaves my hair feeling super-soft. I also appreciate that it's the least expensive in the bunch.

Cure-Ology Vital 3R Serum, $37

And here's the splurge... Cure.Ology's Vital 3r Serum is the most salon-smelling of the five and therefore my favorite, scent-wise. It's a thinner formulation that you apply before drying your hair, and actually works to improve hair's overall health. I recommend this one for color-treated hair, chemically damaged hair, and hair that, day in and day out, really needs TLC.

Again, I haven't been using it long enough or regularly enough to tell you if it delivers on its promise to reduce breakage or split ends. That said, I've found it noticeably restore shine (as any good hair serum should), and makes my hair look and feel bouncy and healthy. Even though you're supposed to use it on wet hair, I sometimes use it on dry ends, too.

  • How often do you use hair serum?
  • Do you prefer oils or serums for your hair?
  • How humid is it where you live and are you dying?