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College Beauty Awards: The Best Hair Products of 2020

Have you ever spent hours reading reviews for a beauty product, only to find yourself overwhelmed and closing out of tabs empty handed? That’s kind of how we feel about shopping for hair care in general. Managing your mane looks different for everyone, and as such, what you need from a product can get really granular. What defines hair isn’t just a sliding scale between dry and oily, or between curly and straight.

In a stroke of personal luck, we have a place to start when you next go to fill your online cart or just want to play with silky shampoos in the shower. Scroll down for the best hair care recs you need rn, all adored by college women.

Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco Shampoo & Conditioner

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OGX, walmart.com, $16; shop now

If you’ve recently found yourself in a mild panic thinking you’ll never be able to restore your dry, damaged hair back to its original luster, let this rec from college women help you out. Three words: repair, restore and revitalize. This is the OGX mantra for healing even the most far-gone strands and bringing them back to life. For a treat, take a look at some of the before and after pics in the reviews.

Keratin Smooth Color Shampoo & Conditioner

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TRESemmé, walmart.com, $14; shop now

Color-treated hair requires top-notch ingredients to keep your tone salon-fresh. This set is great for maintaining vibrant color, and as a bonus, it combats the frizzy texture that hair tends to carry after a dye sesh.

Curl Quencher Moisturizing Shampoo & Conditioner

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Ouidad, ulta.com, $32; shop now

This song goes out to all the curly girls here tonight. We all know that curl care goes way beyond just “lather, rinse, repeat” — it’s lots of soft scalp massages, shaping ringlets, and teasing strands with your fingers until they fall into the perfect place. The magical thing about this system is that besides cleansing your hair, it almost works like a curl definer too. All the oils make curls noticeably more manageable.

Shea Butter for Natural Hair Shampoo & Conditioner

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Cantu, walmart.com, $13; shop now

Cantu is a god-tier brand for natural hair care. This shampoo gets deep into the scalp, and the conditioner is so creamy, you could almost use it as a deep conditioner (thanks shea butter). 

Don't Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Hair Mask

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Briogeo, sephora.com, $36; shop now

This hair mask tackles all your biggest concerns: brittleness, dryness, dullness, what the heck you’re supposed to with your degree after college (kidding). But on a serious note, this vat of cream will restore whatever you’re looking to restore in ~10 minutes. Like any product, you see better results with continued use over time — so just imagine how healthy your hair will look after a month of deep hydration.

Perfect hair Day (PhD) Dry Shampoo

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Living Proof, sephora.com, $36; shop now

To put it mildly, this dry shampoo has us ascending to the astral plane of perfectly styled hair. Nothing more fresh smelling and hair reviving has ever been invented? The dry shampoo sucks up all the oil and dirt at your roots and somehow makes it cute. We love to spray it in the night before waking up with gorgeous, clean hair. No one has to know that you haven’t washed your hair in six days, it’ll be our little secret.

Miracle Curls Co-Wash

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Aussie, walmart.com, $5; shop now

Dry, frizzy curls? We don’t know her. Because between washes, this co-wash keeps things fresh, bouncy, and smelling like strawberries. Plus, it’s sold in a large bottle and you only need a little product, so it’ll easily last you the whole semester.

3 Minute Miracle Strong Conditioning Treatment

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Aussie, walmart.com, $10; shop now

Tbh, this treatment takes the words “deep conditioning” to a whole new level. It’s like a big blast of creamy moisture for your hair, and it only takes three minutes to work — though we recommend keeping it on dry, crusty ends for at least five. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s a deep conditioning treatment locking in hydration.

Baomint Deep Conditioning Treatment

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Adwoa Beauty, sephora.com, $36; shop now

Because college women love self-care hair time, we had to include another deep conditioner on here. While this treatment is also great for hydration, one thing key factor to point out is that it does miraculous work for texture improvement, re: making hair way more manageable and defined. Bonus is that you can get this all up in your scalp to soothe that too!

Jojoba Oil Hair Serum

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Pattern, ulta.com, $25; shop now

Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross was an absolute game changer when it debuted. This serum, especially great for curly and coily textures, is one of the most lightweight formulas we’ve tested. Yes, it gives hair all the moisture, but doesn’t leave any of that too-shiny residue that looks like you forgot to wash the conditioner out of your hair. Instead, all you see is happy, bouncy curls.

Ritual Hair Oil

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Playa, sephora.com, $38; shop now

This oil is best for shining and shaping. It’s packed with essential nutrients that keep your hair safe from environmental damage. And, guess what! When your hair feels healthy, it’s more likely to behave. That’s why this oil is great for tucking away flyaways and teasing your strands into an envious “beachy” look.

Master Cleanse Scalp Treatment

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THP, target.com, $15; shop now

Scalp health is trending y’all. It turns out that between dry shampoo, texture spray, and exposing hair to pollutants random every day, our roots get a lot of buildup. As such, it’s really important to rebalance your scalp now and then with this neat-looking tri-touch applicator that gets the treatment in there even better than your fingers can. It leaves a nice tingly fresh feeling all over your noggin.

Restore Perfecting Spray

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Living Proof, sephora.com, $29; shop now

If we could only bring one beauty product to a desert island (besides SPF) it would be this Living Proof spray. It’s pretty much the only detangler for adults that can smooth and soften messy beach hair, and it feels like heaven on dry damaged ends. Start using this post-shower and you’ll notice less hair breakage over time.

Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play Volumizing Hairspray

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Sexy Hair, walmart.com, $17; shop now

The volume from this Sexy Hair hairspray is absolutely sending us. With everyone styling at home, this spray is just as essential as any hot tool in your hair arsenal. True to its name, the formula gives so much lift, and has even thin-looking hair turning heads at every corner. Just try one bottle, and you’ll never look back.

Hydrating Styling Cream

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Moroccanoil, sephora.com, $34; shop now

It’s salon day, every day at casa de Her Campus, and this styling cream is the main hair event. Many leave-in creams make hair feel crunchy, but this one just leave it smooth and frizz-free. It’s not a perfect replacement for hair oil, but it does give some moisture to dry stands. Have we mentioned the smell is so good, you’ll want to douse your whole head in it?  

Luxurious Volume Perfectly Full Mousse

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John Freida, walmart.com, $7; shop now

Nothing feels better than running your fingers through your hair using this sweet, sweet mousse. Don’t underestimate this lightweight foam though; it gives your roots a full lift, especially when blow dried.

Beach Club Volume Texture Spray

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IGK, sephora.com, $29; shop now

If you’re a pawn in the pursuit of hair volume, let this texture spray end your futile search. Part hairspray, part dry shampoo, it gives your roots tons of body, and your hair a beachy texture. If only hair looked like this on its own — a girl can dream.

Style Smooth Blow Dry Anti-Frizz Cream

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Garnier Fructis, walmart.com, $9; shop now

We cannot stress this enough: To get the most out of a blow dry, you need to be using a styling cream. Just like how when you use other hot tools, you use a heat protectant or sculpting product. This cream does both to deliver a smooth and shiny blowout that stays put all day — no puffing up in humidity, or noticing the appearance of sudden frizz throughout the day.

Tourmaline Ceramic Deep Hair Waver

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Bed Head, walmart.com, $27; shop now

You know curling wands, you know flat irons, but we bet you didn’t know how glamorous a “waver” can make your hair look. The unique barrel design helps you get sculpted waves, without having to switch between multiple tools and bottles of hairspray to make them look just right. The final look makes it seem like you slept with intricate braids in your hair overnight, but alas, it’s just one amazing hot tool.

Instant Heat Hot Curl Brush

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Conair, walmart.com, $11; shop now

One of the worst parts of using a curling wand is almost burning your fingers off in the process. But this curling iron has a built-in brush that helps separate and hold your hair as you use it, so no more fried phalanges (say that five times fast). We have no complaints about a curling iron that works on all hair types either!

Wet 2 Straight Flat Iron

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Remington, walmart.com, $26; shop now

In 2020 we have flat irons that straighten wet hair. Science is so cool, man. In fact, your style gets longer results when you do style it damp. This is especially helpful on mornings when you’ve snoozed your alarm a few times, because you can straighten and dry in one step.


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Conair, walmart.com, $20; shop now

This opinion might be biased because we’re partial to rose gold-colored anything, but this dryer is a huge advancement in affordable at-home hair care. The design is so sleek, mirroring just how smooth and shiny it makes your hair look. It also comes with two attachments to texture and set your hair according to your liking.

Pro Paddle Hair Brush

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Wet Brush, walmart.com, $11; shop now

There are so many different kinds of brushes out there, but the most important one to have is a wet brush that gently detangles post-shower hair. This paddle brush runs through your hair without any pulling — basically the opposite experience of your mom yanking a brush through your tangly hair when you were a little kid. Better get used to these soothing, slow strokes.

Gina was formerly the Beauty & Culture Editor at Her Campus, where she oversaw content and strategy for the site's key verticals. She was also the person behind @HerCampusBeauty, and all those other glowy selfies you faved. She got her start in digital media as a Campus Correspondent at HC Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she graduated in 2017 with degrees in English and Theater. Now, Gina is an LA-based writer and editor, and you can regularly find her wearing a face mask in bed and scrolling through TikTok.
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