While summer can be a time to relax and have fun, oppressive temperatures and wild hair can often get in the way of a good time.
Ellen Levine, editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping magazine, shared some of the most-wanted summer tools for combating summer heat and what it can do to hair, as reviewed by researchers from the Good Housekeeping Institute.
Check out the fans, bottled coffee drinks, hair removal products and anti-frizz hair tools reviewed for Good Housekeeping magazine.
The Good Housekeeping Institute tested 32 fans (prices from $9.99 to $110) and came up with four winners, one for each category. The Institute's Engineers tested the fans based on four factors: ease of use; features; performance; and safety and appearance. They had staffers who were not engineers rate the importance of each category while taking into consideration the price to determine Best Overall winner.
Best Desk/Table Fan: Honeywell HFT-114B ($14.99): It's energy efficient (consumed only 20 watts of power at its highest setting). It's also inexpensive, small, quiet and light. The fan passed Good Houskeeping's safety test and there's no assembly required.
Best Box/Floor Fan: Honeywell HF-810 ($29.99): This fan does a great job of creating wind flow, with breezes detected as far as 60 feet away from the unit. It can circulate gusts of air in hallways and basements and also works well when angled to blow air up a staircase. Staffers praised the appearance. Note to parents: as with all box/floor fans the Institute tested, the Honeywell HF-810's large grates are not kid-safe for children under 3. No assembly required. No remote control.
Best Pedestal Fan: Lasko 2530 ($44.99): This fan is great for families with small kids because the grates are too small for fingers to get stuck in. It has an innovative space-saving design and is powerful enough to refresh a room quickly — air flow could be felt up to 44 feet away. Very quiet. Assembly required; took engineers about 11 minutes to set up. Fairly heavy at 11.4 pounds. Has a "Breeze" function that you can use when fan is oscillating to randomly fluctuate the speed of fan from high to low.
Best Window Fan: Holmes HAWF3159R-U ($49.99): This programmable double-rotor fan was one of the quietest the Institute tested. The twin fans can be set independently, meaning you can have both fans taking in air or blowing it out, or set one to intake and one to exhaust. It has three power levels, plus a thermostat and a 16-hour timer. It also has a remote control. Staffers thought it was very attractive. But, as with the Honeywell floor fan, keep kids under 3 away from this fan since they could get their fingers caught in the grates. No assembly required.
Iced Coffee Break: The Best Brews
No time to stop for coffee? Bottled drinks that taste like they were brewed by your local barista can be a convenient substitute. To find the best chilled java, Good Housekeeping's taste testers sipped five national brands and gave two top billing: The creamy Folgers and the rich-tasting Starbucks.
Folgers Jakada French Roast ($1.59 for 10.5 ounces): Testers said it had a good coffee flavor and creamy texture.
Starbucks Frappuccino ($1.49 for 9.5 ounces): The top brew in the mocha and vanilla categories.
Summer's Worst Enemy: Hair
When the heat and humidity are on the rise, some will look for extra products to keep their hair at a reasonable size. But which products will do the best job? The Good Housekeeping Institute tested leading brands of products to see if they held up to their claims to decrease frizz. The chemists applied the anti-frizz products to hair swatches and then put them in a special chamber where the air could be tightly controlled. Humidity levels were set at 80 percent.
Pantene's "Moisturizing Curls Shaper" Anti-Frizz Crème ($7.53 for 3.5 ounces) did the best job keeping hair from frizzing up. The pricier Redken "Outshine Anti-Frizz Polishing Milk" ($12.75 for 3.4 ounces) was a close second.
Summer's Second Worst Enemy: Body Hair
What woman wouldn't want great, sexy legs? But getting them — and keeping them looking great — takes some doing. To help, Good Housekeeping Institute and Good Housekeeping's Beauty Editor Amy Keller combined forces to test the latest leg products. They found some useful ways to remove hair among razors, depilatories and waxes. The results:
Best Razor: The Gillette Venus Divine Razor ($9.50) was the best of the four razors tested. It has a coated triple blade with an Intensive Moisture Strip. The testers said Venus was easy to use and left their skin smooth and hair free. None of the testers experienced irritation or cuts.
Best Depilatory: The Veet Bladeless Razor Kit ($7.99) edged out two other depilatories. It has a gel cream used with the "bladeless razor," a plastic tool to scrape away lotion and hair. Testers said the Veet kit was quick (the process took three to seven minutes), long-lasting (up to six days), and had a pleasant smell. "It's as efficient as a razor," said one former blade devotee.
Best Wax: The GiGi Hemp Wax Microwave Hair Remover ($17) came out on top. It's applied from a tub with a wooden spatula-like tool; the kit comes with a post-wax cream and a prepping solution to prevent pain.