Everyone wants fuller hair, but it isn't easy navigating through the tangle of products that claim to boost hair volume and make tresses sleeker and shinier.
Enter the Good Housekeeping Institute, which put hair products, shampoos and blow dryers that are supposed to add volume to the test.
"Many people, men and women, want more volume in their hair," said Ellen Levine, the magazine's editor-in-chief. "They want it to be 'fatter.' It's the only place women want to be fatter!"
The institute tested six "volumizing" shampoos on hair swatches and human "guinea pigs," and compared them against non-volumizing baby shampoos.
The top picks, in order, were:
Matrix Amplify Volumizing System Color XL Shampoo, delivered 22 percent more volume. (Though at $9.95 a bottle, it is on the more expensive end of those tested.)
Suave Professionals Amplifying Shampoo provided 17 percent more volume, and is reasonably priced at $1.99.
Clairol Herbal Essences Natural Volume Texturizing Shampoo (9.2 percent more volume) at $3.29.
Ionic Hair Dryers
The Good Housekeeping Institute also tested a new breed of "ionic" hair dryers to see if they delivered. The dryers are supposed to bathe the user's hair in negative ions, which attach to positively charged wet hair, and lock in moisture. Testers found that the new dryers do not save much time, but they were helpful in adding sheen.
"You see a lot about ionic hair dryers these days," Levine said. "It's a buzz word. They are often billed as drying faster than standard dryers and often cost a lot more. We found mixed results, some faster, some slower."
The two top picks:
IonShine 1875 by Conair for $19.99 — Hair was shinier when the blow dryer was tested on swatches and real women.
Panasonic Pantene Pro V, for $24.99. It eliminated static.
"Both are reasonably priced, so you're not making a mistake with either one," Levine said. "They both perform well. There are ionic hair dryers that cost $80, but it's not necessary to buy something so expensive."
Revo Styler, which is being sold via infomercials, is a 14-inch electric hairbrush that manufacturers claim straightens hair in less than half the time, and also makes it shinier. The price is $79.98 for the RevoStyler, plus $19.94 in shipping.
Three women tried it; two said they would buy it immediately. Their stylists said it was hard to handle but it did boost shine.
"The key is you have to read directions and watch the video that comes with it," Levine said. "Sometimes it gets stuck."
In a statement, Revo Styler said: "The Revo Styler's built-in safety clutch locks the brush head when it is near the root or if hair tucks in the brush … it will stop rotating before the hair can ever become tangled. The RevoStyler is a new category of hair styling tool … it's easy to use but takes practice to master."
L'Oreal Couleur Experte, a mascara-type wand used to color hair, is selling for $21.95. At a salon, hair coloring can cost $60 to $120. Good Housekeeping recommends it.
"So this is a big saving … and you can just highlight, so it's an advantage over a frosting cap," Levine said. "You just highlight where you want, but you'll probably need a friend to help get the back of your head."