I’ve always been a hair product junkie. Maybe it’s because my hair is something I can easily change without too much of an investment. Different products allow me to style, color and condition my hair for different looks that I can rotate throughout the year.
But with many products costing as much as a visit to the salon, it’s hard to know what works. I’ve frequently questioned whether I should just pay more for brand-name products, assuming that lower-cost products won’t work as well. Luckily, my unscientific research (a.k.a. personal use) has shown me that’s not the case at all! I don’t have to spend $10–40 on a product to achieve the result I want—there are many comparable products are available for far less. Here are eight of my favorite hair styling product dupes:
Instead of: Biosilk Silk Therapy Treatment, 2.26 oz. for $12.60
Try: Bioplus SoSilk Silk Drops, 3 oz. for $5.99
Biosilk drops are one of those products where a little goes a long way. Invest in a small bottle of a little over 2 ounces, and you may just use it for 3–6 months. Still, I can get more ounces for less than half the cost by purchasing Bioplus SoSilk, which I find at my local H-E-B store (and other grocery and drugstore chains as well). The silky drops last just as long, working to tame my flyaway tresses like magic and add shine and softness in the process.
Instead of: TIGI S Factor Flat Iron and Shine Spray, 4.23 oz. for $32.50
Try: FX Special Effects Sheer Silky Smooth Heat Memory Flat Iron Spray, 6 oz. for $4.47
TIGI S Factor Flat Iron Spray can be used in conjunction with a flat iron to achieve board-straight locks, but I could buy a good flat iron for the price of one bottle! I like that the FX Special Effects spray comes in an easy-to-use, lightweight pump bottle, and is available at Walmart. I also prefer that I can use the FX spray on dry hair instead of wet hair, which is the recommended use for the TIGI brand. Something about the sizzling sound of flat ironing my wet locks just doesn’t make me feel like I’m taking good care of my hair!
Instead of: Biolage Finishing Spritz, 13.5 oz for $17.99
Try: Aussie Sprunch Hair Finish, 10 oz. for $3.99
There are so many hair sprays on the market that I often get confused as to which product does what. I want something to finish my look and hold it in place (especially when I’m wearing an up-do), but I don’t want to look like I’ve got a helmet of product covering my style. Biolage has easy coverage and a pleasant smell, but Aussie Sprunch Hair Finish is a low-cost product that blows Biolage out of the water with a secondary use: “scrunch” loose hair (wet or dry) after application to create a tousseled, beachy look. Aussie products also have a grape-like smell that I love.
Instead of: Victoria’s Secret Style Clean & Go Dry Shampoo, 4 oz. for $14.00
Try: Suave Dry Shampoo Spray, 5 oz. for $2.88
Dry shampoo is all the rage in the marketplace today, and with good reason—if offers an easy way to keep hair looking good in between washes. Victoria’s Secret Style Clean & Go Dry Shampoo gives my hair a sexy, just-come-from-the-beach look, but it’s very sticky right after application and throughout the day. Suave’s formula is gentler and doesn’t have that annoying sticky residue. So while I love the visual result of the Victoria’s Secret brand (and know there are certainly several ways to save at Victoria’s Secret), Suave’s formula is more effective overall and budget-friendly, especially with frequently seen Suave product coupons appearing in Sunday circulars and being available through our printable coupon database.
Instead of: Chi Shine Infusion, 5.3 oz. for $14.50
Try: Got2b Smooth Operator Lustre Lotion, 6.8 oz. for $6.29
Throughout the fall and winter, my hair loses its summer sheen. I can restore that bright look with Chi Shine Infusion, but Got2b makes a product that works just as well. I like that I can apply the Got2b Smooth Operator product exactly where I want it, thanks to a small manual pump on the bottle (no aerosol). That means whether my hair is down or up, I can use the product exactly how I want to, getting great mileage from a hair-care product that costs less than a dollar an ounce.
Instead of: Moroccanoil Treatment, 3.4 oz. for $43.00
Try: Organix Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil, 3.3 oz. for $6.39
I would love to buy the original Morrocanoil from Nordstrom’s, but my beauty budget just won’t stretch that far. Instead, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Organix version, which is readily stocked at drug and grocery stores. A bottle lasts me about six months, since a small, less than dime-sized amount is all that’s needed to add moisture and lustre to my medium/long hair. I swear it gives it a sheen that subtly suggests highlights—I see beautiful golden streaks in my light-brown hair due to the intensity of the oil. My hair has never looked so shiny and healthy for such a low cost!
Instead of: John Frieda Sheer Blond “Go Blonder” Controlled Lightening Spray, 3.5 oz. for $9.95
Try: Sun-In Hair Lightener, 4.7 oz. for $5.29
I received a free sample of John Frieda Sheer Blonde spray in a promotion last summer and fell in love with it, but the price still felt a little steep for such a small bottle. Then I remembered a product my own mother used to use 30 years ago to lighten her hair, and, voila!, there it was at Walgreens! Sun-In is incredibly easy to use and allows me to subtly lighten my hair outdoors with the heat of the sun or indoors with the heat of a blow dryer. Apply it all over or on select strands for more of a sun-kissed look.
Instead of: Umberto Shimmer Shine Spray, 5.0 oz for $12.99
Try: Garnier Fructis Brilliantine Shine Spray Glossing Hairspray, 3.0 oz. for $3.49:
Both of these products are sold in most mass-market stores, though these particular price points were found at Target. The larger size of the Umberto spray may make you think you’re getting more for your money, but don’t be fooled—the Umberto spray sells for $2.60 per ounce while the Garnier spray sells for $1.15 per ounce. Both will work to add gloss to dull strands, but the Garnier Fructis blend is a non-aerosol hairspray as well. Two products in one makes this the hands-down dupe winner, and the fruity smell of the Fructis spray is an added bonus.