The Leave-In You’ll Believe In
My haircare regimen has been the same since I was in high school, and it includes a six-step program that hasn’t failed me yet: First I shampoo and condition, then I comb through a styling cream and add a top coat of frizz serum before pulling my damp strands into a tight, low-lying bun that I repeatedly take out and re-secure—while scrunching—until my lengths are dry, slightly wavy, and very smooth. The process always remains the same, but the products tend to alternate. Key to the success of this system, I’ve found, is the styling cream. My hair is kind of thick and kind of curly, so it needs something nourishing that will leave it soft and languid rather than stiff and overly textured. I’ve had many past loves in this category—Fresh Sake Hair Cream, Morrocanoil Hydrating Styling Cream—but lately, my affections belong to Liz Earle. The Brit botanical brand entered the haircare category last year with a coconut-based cleansing shampoo and three corresponding conditioners, and just last month it launched its first treatment product, a shine-enhancing cream formulated with red algae to flatten the cuticle, cotton extract to impart a glossy finish, and sumac wax, a hair-taming agent popular with Japanese sumo wrestlers and traditional geishas. Here’s the twist: While the vanilla and sweet orange fruit-scented balm works wonders at adding glisten when used as directed as a conditioning treatment that gets rinsed out, it is also a fantastic leave-in styling tool when applied after hair is cleansed, conditioned, and towel-dried. Liz Earle has yet to debut a proper styling line, but I’m happy to multitask this super salve while I wait for that day to come.