This Heat-Activated Spray Is the Easiest Way to Get Glass Hair

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I feel a little sorry for any smoothing product I test; before it’s even fully emerged from the box, it’s already committed to the nearly impossible task of impressing a styling-averse person. I’m the first to admit how lazy I am with my hair routine, and consider it a major sacrifice of time if I even have to spend 30 seconds finger-combing in the morning. For beauty research purposes, I’ve spent years trialing piles of hair serums, sprays, and oils—but it’s rare that I’ll reach for any of them again once the testing period ends. 

When Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray landed on my desk, my immediate reaction was dismay that the heat-activated formula would require the use of a blow-dryer, which I had no idea where I’d stashed away. But after one use, I realized it was well worth the single extra step for actual glass hair results. Below, my honest review of a rare formula that’s made it to a coveted spot on my bathroom counter.

Best for: All hair types, but those with curls or coils may prefer Dream Coat for Curly Hair

Uses: Smoothing and shine-boosting

Active ingredients: Heat-activated polymers

Byrdie Clean: No; contains DMDM Hydantoin (a formaldehyde-releasing agent)

Price: $28

About the brand: Color Wow combines the formidable backgrounds of a product innovator, in-house chemist, and celebrity hairstylist to create high-performance hair formulas destined to become daily staples.

About My Hair: Thick with a natural wave and brunette highlights

My hair type makes it easy for me to leave it alone; it’s thick and voluminous with a natural wave, allowing me to just roll out of bed and go. I’ve put it through a fair amount of bleaching over the last five years (varying shades of burgundy and fire-engine red highlights before settling on low-maintenance warm brunette), but it’s remained in good health. I attribute this to the skills of my colorist, Diaz at New York’s Bumble and bumble, and the fact that I rarely use heat tools.

My one bad hair habit is that I tend to go way too long in-between trims. Currently, it’s been 11 months since I’ve sat in a salon chair, so my split ends are starting to emerge. This admittedly makes my hair look more tangled and frizzy in the morning. On the plus side, it's also allowed me to get a better idea of Dream Coat’s capabilities.

The Ingredients: Heat-activated polymers and moisturizing agents

Color Wow attributes the humidity-shielding powers of its formula to heat-activated polymers, which also protect against the damaging effects of hot tools. When heated with a blow-dryer, these polymers react to form an invisible, water-repelling coat on each strand. This thin coat helps smooth hair and boost shine without weighing it down or creating a slick, greasy feel. 

Additionally, Dream Coat contains calendula and chamomile extracts to boost shine and smoothness. You’ll often see chamomile in hydrating formulas because of its moisturizing, antioxidant-rich properties, which benefit hair and scalp health. Calendula has been shown to help prevent oxidative stress when applied topically. The treatment is paraben-free, and the brand stresses that all of its formulas leave out common ingredients known to darken or distort hair color, such as sulfates. 

The ingredients list does contain one entry flagged on our Byrdie Clean Pledge, DMDM Hydantoin (a formaldehyde-releasing agent). When we reached out to Color Wow to confirm this, a spokesperson for the brand stated that the level of exposure is extremely low and considered safe for cosmetics use. “DMDM Hydantoin is safe as a cosmetic ingredient at current normal levels of use in personal care products, according to scientific experts at the Cosmetics Directive of the European Union as well as an independent Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel,” says Joseph Cincotta, Ph.D., Vice President of Color Wow R&D. “To put formaldehyde exposures from DMDM Hydantoin in personal care products into perspective, the tiny amount of formaldehyde released from DMDM Hydantoin is about equivalent to the amount of formaldehyde naturally occurring in one medium-sized apple or pear. It has also been used in preservatives for over 50 years and is found in IVs to counter any bacteria.”

Color Wow Dream Coat
Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray $28
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The Feel: You’ll forget it’s even there

The main reason I’m so lax with my styling routine is that I truly detest the feeling of excess product in my hair. I’m happy to report that Dream Coat has the same consistency as pure water; no matter how much I spritz on, the mist comes out so fine and featherweight that it might as well not be there at all. Even after it’s been heat-activated and binds on to the hair, I still can’t feel the slightest hint of residue.

The Scent: Barely detectable

I’m the rare individual that likes to douse herself in five different fragrances at all times, but I know many prefer not to have their beauty products clash with their perfumes. Dream Coat’s scent is so faint, it’s barely detectable and gone in half a second. From what my nose just barely picked up, I would classify it as a clean floral, but again, it’s very subtle.

The Results: A glossy hair shield that lasts

Color Wow Dream Coat Review
 Sarah Wu/Design by Cristina Cianci

When I heard that a single application would recreate the effects of a mini keratin treatment for three days, I was skeptical. I’ve heard the alluring “blowout in a bottle” promise plenty of times, but it’s a rare occasion when it actually holds up. To test that claim, I used it exactly as instructed. After towel-drying with my favorite Aquis Rapid Dry Lisse Hair Turban, I spritzed on generous amounts of Dream Coat and unearthed my blow-dryer from the back of a drawer, where it was collecting a year’s worth of dust. 

The key to getting IG-worthy results is to thoroughly saturate both the surface and bottom of your hair with product, then use a brush to apply light tension while completing the drying process. This will come as a surprise to no one, but I am not particularly skilled at the art of the at-home blow-dry. My attempt on this day could best be described as the halfhearted bare minimum, but less than 10 minutes later, my hair looked several levels glossier without any additional product. It also felt noticeably smoother and less tangled, even after my subsequent wash days. Shampooing eventually removes the polymers, but the effects are meant to hold up through 3-4 washes (I found it started wearing off around the third one). But for an impressive few days, I had a great time watching the murky autumn light bounce off my waves. 

The Value: An affordable alternative to salon blowouts

At $28 for a 6.7 fl oz bottle, I find this to be an affordable alternative to a salon appointment. While you do need to use a fair amount each time (on my mid-length hair, I estimated 15-20 sprays per use), you’ll still get at least a 1-2 month’s usage out of each bottle. Depending on how often you wash your hair, you could stretch that out even longer. Either way, the cost per use definitely beats booking a professional blow-out.

Our Verdict: Buy it now

Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray managed to convince me that at-home styling products are stepping up their game. I’m in love with the ease of use, combined with the noticeable before and after results. If something is good enough to make me pull my hairdryer out of retirement, rest assured that it’s worth adding to your cart.

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