You might have expected this story to start with an anecdote about how skeptical I was when I heard brands were selling cans of fortified H2O, but in reality, as much as “hair water” sounds like a scam, its arrival prompted many beauty editors to let out a resounding, “Finally!”
Professional hairstylists have long kept a spray bottle filled with nutrient-spiked water in their kits. Some mix their own cocktail of water and oils, while others have used Evian Brumisateur or Caudalie’s Grape Water because there wasn’t option on the market. And now, pro hairstylists are taking matters into their own hands and developing their own “hair waters” for clients.
So, what exactly is hair water? In the U.S., hair water is plain ‘ol H2O spiked with oils or silicones, plus a light fragrance. (Not to be confused with the hair waters sold in South Korea, which are used as a strengthening rinse in the shower.) They typically deposit a fine mist, which allows for quick restyling without adding a ton of product or soaking the hair. In fact, your hair will barely even be damp after application — which is a good thing.
You can use it on dry hair to refresh your natural waves or curls, or to add a more natural, messy finish to a blowout. It’s also great for a quick restyling — you can mist your hair before braiding or wrapping it into a bun to reveal major waves or curls once dry. And finally, it’s perfect to slick hair into a snatched ponytail or to create the brushed-back wet look without using a ton of crispy gels or hairsprays.
Convinced? Check out our favorite new formulas, plus a DIY option, ahead.
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You can make your own hair water with one of these bottles, filtered water, and a few drops of your favorite oil, cream, or shine spray. It’s important to pick a bottle that distributes a fine mist — anything stronger will over-saturate your hair.
Salon Care 360 Mist Sprayers, $6.99, available at Sally Beauty
At just $10 a pop, celeb hairstylist Kristin Ess’ formula is the most affordable — and my personal favorite. It smells like a fresh floral bouquet and the light oils help my fine, medium-weight, straight hair find its natural wave without the crunch of a salt spray.
For volume and separation, I mist my ends with it and scrunch with my fingers. I also use it to fix dents from my curling iron, or to make my hair look less “done” when I over-style it. It makes my hair look instantly cooler, like I didn’t try as hard as I did.
Kristin Ess Kristin Ess The One Signature Hair Water , $10, available at Target
R29 beauty writer Khalea Underwood swears by this formula for her natural 4C curls. “When I’m in a rush and can’t co-wash before work, I mist this all over,” she says. “The formula really does make more of a difference in moisturizing and boosting my color than regular water does.”
Vernon François Mist~Nourishing Water, $18, available at Sephora
Philip B.’s take on the category is the most expensive, but also an office favorite. “It smells amazing, like flinging yourself headfirst into a lush rose garden, and it’s really lightweight so you get nice shine without getting greasy or lank,” senior beauty writer Rachel Krause says, who has hair that is fine, wavy, and long. “I tend to use it on day two or three, because it takes away that dusty dry shampoo look and is also really good for fixing the weird cowlick I get from sleeping on my back.”
Philip B. Weightless Conditioning Water , $38, available at DermStore
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