I satisfied a lifelong curiosity of mine recently by dying my hair [dark] blond, going from a level 2 to a level 8. Doing so has made me rethink how I look at hair care, and that I should consider good hair health as intentionally as I do for skincare.

I. Herbal Essences Silk n Shine – This is the OG. The shampoo in the pink bottle (or green if you’re throwing it way back) of the 80s and 90s for everyone loved the smell, so much so that Herbal Essences relaunched the vintage packaging after their attempt to modernize the brand failed to capture hearts. It worked fine for me as a kid and teen. I would not repurchase now considering their lame and reprehensible marketing ploy advertising Silicone-free shampoo and Sulfate-free conditioner (see Beauty Skeptic’s summary on why this means nothing).

II. Pureology Hydrate – This is my gold standard. I have always had bad scalp issues. A spa owner in Huntington Beach recommended this shampoo and conditioner because my skin needed to be soothed, not bombarded with harsh formulas like was then using. It worked like a charm, oddly enough. My hair and scalp felt better, and I’ve been using it for years. My scalp isn’t perfect, especially if I’m stressed or not taking care of my health, but it’s much better than before.

III. Botanist – I bought this Organic Japanese brand’s shampoo and rinse because Rina of Jrock band SCANDAL uses it, as discussed in a magazine-book interview. It’s reasonable priced at around $15 for a big bottle, either on Rakuten or at Tokyo Lifestyle. It did not nourish my hair and scalp the way Purelogy did, so I did not repurhase, but it was fine and I would not hesitate to recommend or gift it to a friend.

IV. Enjoy Hydrate – One of my old college roommates recommended this to me as a cheaper dupe to Purology. I’ve used the conditioner and it’s alright. It doesn’t leave a heavy weight on my hair as many people have said it does for them. The price is almost the same as Pureology these days though, so it is no longer a dupe.

V. Unite Blonda – After going dark blonde, I learned I needed a shampoo with violent tones to prevent unflattering brassiness. Unite does the trick. It smells like grapes, does not leave a purple stain on my hands, and does not lather much at all. Wih no other experience with blonde/violet shampoos, I cannot make an apt comparison on how well it reduces brassy color tones.

VI. Olaplex – This legendary treatment for protecting bleached hair lives up to the hype. The first week after lightening my hair, it felt more dry then normal. I used a bottle of Olaplex No. 3 a few times and my strands as healthy and smooth as they can be. Every salon bleaching a patron’s hair should use this.

VII. Redken All Soft – This is the line used by Aussie supermodel, Fernanda Ly, as revealed in a magazine article. She’s also known as the pink haired model for Louis Vutton, Kate Spade, and is not afraid to speak out on problems seen in her industry. I’m a little bit in love with her. The conditioner and megamask are heavy. When I use the conditioner only on no-poo days, my hair does not stay fresh for as long as when I use other brand’s conditioner only. The mask is inconvenient as it must be applied to towel dried hair after shampoo, left alone, and then washed out again. I’d repurchase the conditioner but not the mask.

VIII. Lador Scalp Scaling Spa – After reseaching popular Asian treatments for your scalp, I narrowed it down to Innisfree Green Tea Mint Scaler and Lador after this review (for a different product by Uka) at Fanserviced-B. Innisfree was sold out, and continues to be, so Lador won a place in my shopping cart by default. It works, it’s refreshing. It must applied to scalp and left alone briefly between shampooing and conditioner. I’d like to try other products of the same function to compare.

Special mention to shampoos discovered to be subpar: Aussie, OGX, and all the typical scalp treatment shampoos that failed me, including Head and Shoulders and Selsen Blue.

In the future, I’d like to try the brand Colorproof. It comes from the original creator of Pureology, with new formulas updated ten years later. They have a line for blondes called Signature Violet that could replace my Unite Blonda shampoo.