2021 Winners The Best Hair Products of 2021 Our Byrdie Beauty Awards
Hair Winners
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The Best Hair Products of 2021

Your hair tells a story. Some plot points were written before you were born—the curl pattern you inherited from your grandmother or color that looks just like your dad's. But for the most part, you get to be the author of your own hairstory. And whether you're going for bouncy beach waves or immaculate Fulani braids, the right products are a crucial component in creating a hairstyle that tells the world who you are. Below, take a look at our 2021 Beauty Award Winners in the haircare category.

01 of 17

Best Hydrating Shampoo

Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair!
Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Super Moisture Shampoo for Damaged Hair $38.00
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Highlights

  • Safe for dry, damaged hair 
  • Leaves hair hydrated and silky without weighing it down
  • Works on straight, wavy, curly, and coily hair types
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Black-owned

"Breakage, split ends, and damage are my top hair concern, so I’m always looking for ways to boost hydration. This is one of the few shampoos that helps, leaving my hair feeling clean at the roots but still happy and moisturized. I notice a visible difference in my strands every time I use this magic shower staple, and after a few months it helped minimize breakage and keep my hair healthy between trims."- Madeline Hirsch, senior news editor

02 of 17

Best Hydrating Conditioner

odele moisture repair conditioner
Odele Moisture Repair Conditioner $12.00
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Highlights

  • Adds shine and bounce
  • Moisturizing, emollient formula
  • Sleek, minimalist packaging
  1. Vegan
  2. Cruelty-free

"It’s the crème de la crème for my medium-coarse waves: This Moisture Repair Conditioner is swirled with emollient oils, like argan and jojoba, to give life to limp, extra thirsty hair. The conditioner is t-h-i-c-k (fine-haired users, you might want to opt for another pick). Once the cream is smoothed along strands—detangling and adding softness—the end result is shiny, bouncing hair that feels fresh and clean"- Jesa Calaor, editor

03 of 17

Best Volumizing Shampoo

Best Volumizing Shampoo
Herbal Essences Body Envy $6.00
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Highlights

  • Silicone- and paraben-free formula gives lightweight body to fine hair
  • Dermatologist-tested to ensure it's friendly on your scalp and skin
  1. Cruelty-Free
  2. Vegan

"Call it pandemic stress or just the stress of 2021 in general, but I've had noticeably more hair loss in the past year. It all checks out too—stress is scientifically proven to cause increased hair loss especially following particularly traumatic events (like a global health crisis), so I'm sure I'm not alone. On top of starting a regular vitamin, I've been turning to gentle volumizing shampoos to give the appearance of thicker hair, and Herbal Essences—ever a classic choice—has given my hair just the oomph it needs. It's also safe for color treated hair, meaning my blonde doesn't turn brassy or flat from repeated use. Plus, the citrus-y scent is a general delight." - Lindsey Metrus, project director

04 of 17

Best Volumizing Conditioner

Best Volumizing Shampoo
Verb Ghost Conditioner $18.00
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Highlights

  • Detangles and softens without weighing hair down
  • Works on all hair types and textures
  • Infused with hydrating moringa oil
  1. Vegan

Learn more: These are the benefits of adding moringa oil to your hair care routine.

"There are a lot of conditioners that claim to be weightless—and as someone with ultra-fine hair, I’m immediately skeptical. Most of the options I’ve tried either cause my hair to look dull and flat as soon as I step out of the shower, or they’re so lightweight they barely offer any conditioning benefits at all. Verb’s Ghost Conditioner, however, checks off both boxes: It detangles and softens my hair, but it’s also light enough that my hair maintains its volume.The moringa oil-infused formula somehow manages to offer all the smoothing benefits of the ingredient without the dreaded greasy feel. The conditioner leaves absolutely no residue behind (hence the 'ghost' name), so my hair feels clean, bouncy, and more manageable after every wash."- Karli Bendlin, senior editor

05 of 17

Best Co-Wash

Best Co-Wash
As I Am Coconut CoWash $10.00
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Highlights

  • Offers sulfate-free cleansing
  • Helps with detangling for curly and coily hair types
  • Affordable price point
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Cruelty-Free
  3. Gives Back

"When I transitioned to my natural hair ten years ago, As I Am’s Coconut CoWash was one of the earliest products I introduced into my routine—and one of the only ones that has managed to stay in my shower. The product offers a suds-free cleansing for in-between your full-on wash days, meaning it helps to get hair clean without stripping it of the moisture many of us coilys struggle to keep locked in. And it takes the heavy-lifting out of detangling. As an added bonus, a dollar from every jar sold goes toward an organization like UNICEF US or the NAACP Foundation, meaning you’re cleansing for a cause."- Eden Stuart, associate editor

06 of 17

Best Edge Control

Best Edge Control
Influance Glazed Edges $22.00
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Highlights

  • Leaves edges healthier, firmer, and shinier
  • Non-greasy and non-sticky formula
  • A little goes a long way

"The Influance Glazed Edges is one of my favorites because it helps make ponytails or buns look sleeker without the hardness or sticky feeling of other edge control products. Also, a little bit of this product goes a long way. The hold lasts for days so there is no need to reapply the Influence Glazed Edges. It is not greasy and still has amazing shine."- Sophia Emmanuel, trichologist

07 of 17

Best Gel

Best Gel
Ouidad Coil Infusion Good Shape Defining Gel $30.00
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Highlights

  • A lightweight, moisturizing hold
  • Define coils and doesn't flake
  • A blend of argan and black castor oils
  1. Byrdie Clean

"Since Ouidad is dedicated to curly hair, they have a strong understanding of what each type of curl needs. The coil infusion gel oil provides a lightweight, moisturizing hold to produce well-defined coils without weight."- Elyse Love, MD, board-certified dermatologist

08 of 17

Best Hair Brush

Wet Brush Original detangler
Wet Brush Original Detangler $16.00
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Highlights

  • Flexible bristles help glide through tangles
  • Ideal for detangling in the shower
  • Available in a variety of designs and colors
  1. Sustainable Packaging

Learn more: Have curly hair? This is why you should brush your hair when wet.

"The first time I used my Wet Brush, I was legitimately suspicious. Surely the ease with which I detangled my hair meant that it didn’t actually work, right? But lo and behold, my coils were coming through. The magic behind this feat is the flexible bristles, which help glide through tangles without any pulling or yanking (and, by extension, reduce breakage and/or split ends). I use mine in the shower with conditioner for extra slip."- Eden Stuart, associate editor

09 of 17

Best Scalp Serum

Best Scalp Serum
Better Not Younger Superpower Fortifying Hair & Scalp Serum $47.00
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Highlights

  • Increases shine
  • Supports thicker, denser looking hair over time
  • Hydrates dry scalp
  1. Vegan
  2. Cruelty-Free

"Better Not Younger strives to change the narrative around brand marketing for mature women—you can look your best without trying to be a younger version of yourself (hence the name). It's a celebration of aging as a privilege and its product range helps boost your hair, making it healthier and stronger rather than aiming to turn back the clock (onwards and upwards, as they say). So while this serum is specifically made for women over 40, I find that it's been a game-changer in helping my 30-something thinning hair to appear denser and more nourished—because good haircare starts at the root. I also love that it has tiger grass, a known calming ingredient to help soothe my scalp while also strengthening my hair follicles. Finally (and most importantly) I appreciate that the brand has done independent clinical trials to be able to stand behind its claims and prove the serum's efficacy." - Lindsey Metrus, project director

10 of 17

Best Deep Conditioner

Best Deep Conditioner
Bread Beauty Supply Hair Mask Creamy Deep Conditioner $28.00
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Highlights

  • Moisturizes, adds shine, and strengthens your hair
  • Lightweight but highly effective
  • Recommended for wavy, curly, and coily hair types
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Black-Owned
  3. Sustainable Packaging

"I am in love with this creamy, cloud-like formula. It's made with superfruit extracts like kakadu plum and starflower oil to support softness and strength (which is helpful because my hair is consistently dry and breakage-prone)—but it still feels lightweight enough for my fine, curly texture. I pop it on once a week and my hair is so silky and happy afterwards." - Hallie Gould, associate editorial director

11 of 17

Best Hair Mask

Best Hair Mask
K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask $80.00
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Highlights

  • Transforms the texture of dry, damaged hair
  • Proprietary polypeptide technology rebuilds hair strands from the inside out
  • After one use, hair feels softer, stronger, and smoother. 
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Cruelty-Free

"My fellow Byrdie editors, friends, and family members are probably sick and tired of hearing me talk about this mask, but I simply can't restrain myself. K18's Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask is the one and only reason I'm able to have highlighted hair that's also long. Before trying K18, I could never grow my hair beyond my collarbone; the bleached ends would just break off, leaving me with uneven layers and a damaged curl pattern. But after a year of using K18 consistently (every other week), my hair has grown six inches—and it's healthy growth. My hair is extremely soft, strong, shiny, and doesn't tangle easily. If you highlight, color, or heat style your hair on a regular basis, I am begging you to try K18. It will change your hair for the better, forever."- Holly Rhue, senior editor

12 of 17

Best Detangler

Best Detangler
Lolavie Glossing Detangler $25.00
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Highlights

  • Adds shine
  • Helps protect against heat damage
  • Makes hair look and feel healthier
  1. Vegan

"Detanglers are a big part of my routine (I have long, medium-coarse waves that end up knotted if I don’t use the right products) but this one’s multi-use nature takes the haircare step to the next level. The milky and slippery leave-in not only smooths strands, but also imparts a healthy-looking shine and helps protect it from potential heat damage. Cosmetic chemist Ginger King says the protection comes from a vegan ceramide, while its shine action is thanks to a mix of fermented bamboo extract, coconut alkanes (which can act as a silicone replacement), and glycerin. On days I decide to skip the heat-styling, my waves feel softer and more resilient. On days I do decide to wield flat iron, I know that my strands are being protected and will end up with an unmatched luster."- Jesa Calaor, editor

13 of 17

Best Leave-In Conditioner

Best Leave-In Conditioner
Ceremonia Pequi Curl Activator Serum $20.00
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Highlights

  • Pequi fruit helps to boost curl definition
  • Castor oil and murumuru butter help condition, soften, and hydrate
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Latinx-Owned
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Vegan

"Ceremonia’s Curl Activator is truly one of my go-to products that I use after every shower. Since I started using it, my curls are more defined and lightweight. Oftentimes, leave-in conditioners can leave my hair feeling heavy, so I was so delighted to discover this brand. Not only because their products are so great, but also because they are a Latine haircare brand that is Latina-owned and specializes in Latin American ingredients that supports Latine farmers. As a Latina, I love to support Latina-owned businesses that represent my community in the beauty industry and can’t wait to see where Ceremonia continues to take its brand and products." - Tiana Crispino, visuals editor

14 of 17

Best Hair Oil

Best Hair Oil
Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Scalp & Hair Oil $11.00
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Highlights

  • Moisturizes and strengthens weak and dry hair
  • Multi-use product that can be used before, during, or after styling
  • Suitable for curly and kinky hair types
  1. Black-Owned
  2. Byrdie Clean
  3. Vegan

Learn More: This is what castor oil can do for your hair.

"Carol's Daughter was one of the first brands I used when I transitioned to natural. Nine years later it's still one of my favorite Black-founded brands. The applicator makes it super easy to apply the oil directly to my scalp, mess-free. I also use this oil when applying the LOC (leave-in, oil, cream) method to lock in moisture. When taking down braids or perm rods, I like to add a few drops to my hands to lessen the risk of frizz and add a little extra shine to my strands. The seven oil blend is packed with ingredients like jojoba, coconut, and castor oils to help strengthen and nourish curly and kinky hair types."- Jasmine Phillips, social media editor

15 of 17

Best Styling Cream

Best Styling Cream
Pattern Styling Cream $25.00
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Highlights

  • Ingredients include shea butter, cacay oil, and sweet almond oil
  • Helps promote hair retention, reduce breakage, and boost moisture
  • Can be used for wash-and-gos or to enhance styles like braid-outs
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Black-owned
  5. Sustainable Packaging

"Tracee Ellis Ross is a certified curl queen, and she channeled all of her haircare wisdom into Pattern's products. The Styling Cream has become one of my favorite products to use on wash days. The formula is carefully crafted with ingredients that work well for natural hair (think: shea butter, cacay oil, and sweet almond oil) to help promote hair retention, reduce breakage, and boost moisture. When I run the cream through my curls, they look softly defined and feel intensely hydrated. While I often use this to enhance a regular wash-and-go, the Styling Cream is also ideal for setting styles like twist-outs and braid-outs. Bottom line: It's a versatile all-in-one styler."- Olivia Hancock, associate editor

16 of 17

Best Curl Cream

Best Curl Cream
Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding $10.00
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Highlights

  • Great for coily hair
  • Helps define curls
  • Ideal for those transitioning to natural hair
  1. Black-Owned


"Miss Jessies Curl Pudding is a favorite of mine because the owners of the brand were very innovative in creating a product that can be used on a variety of hair textures. From the beginning, they provided a wealth of education and tutorials on how to use all their products. Anytime I want to give a client maximum curl definition, I use Miss Jessies Curl Pudding. What I love most about this product is that your wash and go or twist out lasts up to 7 days and it adds a lot of shine, flexible hold while keeping your hair moisturized."- Sophia Emmanuel, trichologist

17 of 17

Best Dry Shampoo

Best Dry Shampoo
Klorane Detox Dry Shampoo with Aquatic Mint $20.00
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Highlights

  • Removes sebum
  • Leaves no white cast on dark hair
  • Cooling sensation 
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Gives back

"When I get a silk press I like to wear it for as long as possible. But after five days, my hair gets flat and oily. I usually reach for dry shampoo but often have trouble finding one that doesn't leaves behind white powder or overly wet my roots. This dry shampoo is the perfect formula to preserve and refresh. It has a cooling, minty effect that makes me feel clean and my hair smell heavenly."- Star Donaldson, senior social media editor

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