I adore my colorist Diaz for two reasons: She's incredibly knowledgeable and willing to tell me when I'm doing something wrong. In fact, on a recent visit, she revealed something I always thought to be true about my hair is actually...100 percent false.
While folding my hair into foils, Diaz noticed a slight green cast on a few patches of my hair. "Are you using a purple shampoo?" she asked me. I told her I was using one, but only because I thought that was the golden rule of being a bottle blonde. "Your curls are in the 2B range, which means you have high porosity hair," she said. "That means your blonde, yellow hair is absorbing those purple tones from the shampoo. It's color theory, purple or blue plus yellow equals green." Needless to say, I was thrown for a loop.
When it comes to shampoo and conditioner formulas, there's high-lather, no-lather, volumizing, moisturizing, and everything in-between. It can be extremely difficult to navigate such specific formula types, even for a beauty editor. Enter: Ouai's Daily Care Shampoo and Conditioners.
The idea behind Ouai's new line is to simplify your wash routine by offering a formula based on your hair type: thin, medium, or thick (this refers to texture, not density). The concept is easy enough to understand and the product is certainly easy to use, but here's the million dollar question: Can it work? I intended to find out. Ahead, my thorough review of Ouai's Daily Care shampoo and conditioner for medium hair.
Pros + Cons
- Repairs damage and split ends
- Adds shine and body
- Sulfate free
- Packaging is recyclable and refillable
- Heavily fragranced
- Conditioner can be heavy
The Bottom Line
Ouai's Daily Care Medium Shampoo and Conditioner isn't going to deliver dramatic results, but you will notice immediate shine, body, and nourishment.
Ouai Daily Care Medium Shampoo and Conditioner
Best for: Wavy, straight, curly, and coily
Uses: Repairs hair, adds shine, eliminates frizz
Star Rating: 4.5/5
Potential allergens: Fragrance
Active ingredients: Kumquat extract, babassu oil, coconut oil
Price: $56 for both, or $28 individually
About the brand: Ouai was founded by celeb hair stylist Jen Atkins. The brand's goal is to create luxurious hair and body care products that nourish from the inside out.
About the Shampoo and Conditioner
Daily Care features a shampoo and conditioner duo in three simple iterations: for fine hair, medium hair, and for thick hair. The intention is to cut out confusing marketing that may steer you in the wrong direction—and, instead, offer users an easy to use, easy to understand formula that's gentle enough for regular use. "The daily care space has gotten very noisy and hard to navigate. There are so many options and they are all problem or solution based," says Ouai's founder Jen Atkin of the launch. "Most people have multiple concerns they want to address and almost all consumers want healthier hair, regardless of what type of hair they have. We wanted to simplify our daily care offering so it was more intuitive for consumers to shop and choose, and we also wanted to be realistic about what we were promising."
"Most people have multiple concerns they want to address and almost all consumers want healthier hair, regardless of what type of hair they have. We wanted to simplify our daily care offering so it was more intuitive for consumers to shop and choose, and we also wanted to be realistic about what we were promising."
The product and packaging have both received an upgrade from Ouai's earlier wash and condition offerings. The formula for medium hair, for example, features hydrolyzed keratin, babassu oil, coconut oil, and kumquat fruit extract (which is loaded with vitamins A, B, and C). It looks almost identical to the body wash Ouai launched in 2019—so everything looks consistent together in your shower shelfie, obviously. But there's a serious sustainability attempt being made here as well. Once you've purchased your initial shampoo and conditioner set, you can order a refill pouch for your empty plastic bottles. By flat-packing the pouch, Ouai says it will see a 30 percent reduction in its carbon footprint. The pouch includes three bottles' worth of product, but for the price of only two bottles.
How to Choose a Formula
To Ouai's credit, it's easy. The idea is you don't have to worry about defining your color, curl type, or length. You just have to be able to identify if you have fine, medium, or thick hair.
If you're unsure of which hair type you have, you can use this guide to determine your hair's texture, as well as the density. Remember your individual strands can be fine (texture), while the overall volume can still be thick (density).
About My Hair
I have bleached, 2B waves with a well-defined "S" shape (they eventually coil into tighter ringlets at my ends). And, my hair is high-porosity, which means it loses moisture quickly. My roots get increasingly oily between washes, but my ends get increasingly dry (it's tough for my scalp oils to travel down my frizzy, wavy-to-curly strands to hydrate my ends). I see my best hair days when I layer a protein treatment—like keratin—with a leave-in conditioner or hair oil after washing. Ouai's shampoo and conditioner for medium hair is formulated with both, it has keratin and two different hydrating, strengthening oils.
Medium Hair Shampoo: This shampoo lathers beautifully, and, for a sulfate-free shampoo, that's a feat. Since I go so long in-between washes, I like a frothy formula to combat all that oil and styling product buildup on my roots.
The Mercer Street scent is delightful—it combines with your shower steam to make you feel like you're really having a moment at a French spa (rather than a standing NYC shower).
Medium Hair Conditioner: The conditioner provided an equally satisfying experience—although the Mercer Street scent starts to smell a bit perfume-y when you're double-dosing it (it's in the shampoo and conditioner). The conditioner has a thick, creamy texture that does a really good job of coating your strands evenly.
Medium Hair Shampoo: Since the wash experience was fairly sudsy, I expected to feel that squeaky-clean, dry scalp feeling. But weirdly enough, my hair actually felt more moisturized from root to tip. And I hadn't even conditioned yet.
Medium Hair Conditioner: The directions say to squeeze out the excess moisture from your hair and apply a quarter size amount of conditioner. But if you have wavy-to-curly hair, I can tell you right now you'll probably need more than that. I followed the instructions exactly, but found my ends didn't feel quite as hydrated as I'd like them to be. I used a second helping of conditioner (with more product concentrated on my ends than on my roots) and it was the perfect serving for me. If your ends don't feel like hay (like mine), a quarter-sized dollop might do it for you. My advice is to start small and add more as needed, because this conditioner—with its coconut and babassu oils, as well as kumquat extract—could weigh your hair down if you overdo it.
You can purchase the Daily Care shampoo as a set for $56, or $28 individually, so these products are definitely priced towards the luxury end of the hair care spectrum. I think that the aesthetics, the recyclable (and refillable) packaging, and luxe ingredients like kumquat extract justify the price. But if you're like me and prefer to keep your shampoo and conditioner basic to focus on your styling products, this might be something you can skip. But if you're looking to treat yourself, then this is a worthy splurge.
The Ouai vs Odele
If you're looking for a similar Instagram-ready, luxurious hair care experience but don't want to shell out the coins, check out Odele. Odele's Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner ($12) is designed to nourish and smooth medium to coarse textured hair. The Ouai and Odele have similar looking aesthetics, both are women founded, and both pride themselves on offering clean, salon-inspired formulations. The biggest difference between the two brands? The price. Also, Odele's products are made with natural fragrance, while Ouai's is not, if fragrance is a particular game changer for you.
Is there a dramatic before and after photo? No (just as there wouldn't be if I were reviewing a new cleanser or body wash). Daily Care isn't going to transform your hair, but it is packed with nourishing ingredients to smooth the appearance of your hair with one use, as well as its health over time. I prefer to keep things simple with my wash routine, then get more specific with leave-in products to target my needs. That makes Daily Care for medium hair an effective (and hydrating) cleansing ritual—for me. Everyone is different, as are the three formulas. If you prefer to get really specific with your shampoo and conditioner formulas, this isn't the line for you.