The 24 Best New Hair Care Products Of 2021

The High/Low: from shampoo & conditioner to curl creams & scalp treatments, both over & under $20.

By TZR Editors
Model with editorial hairstyle for TZR The High/Low awards

Whether your hair care routine is as simple as a wash-and-go and air dry, or you indulge in a multi-step process involving masks, scalp scrubs, and plenty of styling products, finding the essentials that really work for your unique hair needs can make or break your day’s look. For the color-treated, curly, fine, and everything in between, the best of the best new hair care products will help to make every day a good hair day.

We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Best Shampoo

Under $20:

This Eva NYC shampoo is 30 extra snooze-button minutes, bottled. The product is designed to cleanse hair, eliminate frizz, and texturize for styling — all with zero heat. That saves you time in the morning and lets hair get some rest in-between blowouts. “If you let your hair air dry already,” guest judge Zachary Morad warns, “then your life is going to get even easier, and if you don’t let your hair air dry yet … your life is about to change.” He cites its frizz-minimizing properties, powered by hemp seed oil and sea lavender, and says he’s already recommending the shampoo to people.

Over $20:

Don’t keep this delicious-smelling shampoo in your kitchen lest it’s (understandably!) mistaken for a fresh-pressed juice. But really, the same way a fruit-filled drink is a shortcut to much-needed vitamins and minerals, this nourishing formula does the same thing for hair. Papaya enzymes regulate oil levels for a hydration-cleansing balance, while cherry and mango extract act as natural antioxidants for shine and bounce. Elite Daily Social Media Manager, Tor Knoerzer, says that while the scent is strong, that’s one of the best parts. “I was a fan, and using it made me feel like I was on some type of tropical vacation.”

Best Clarifying Shampoo

Under $20:

Sure, this is a clarifying shampoo, but what it should be called is a satisfying shampoo — the weightless feeling after its sulfate-free lather power-washes away buildup from the scalp and hair is incredible. Plus, there’s no discounting how luxe the matte, minimalist bottle looks on shower shelves. Guest judge Michael Forrey says the light scent and non-astringent formula make the shampoo one he’s adding to his routine. “This is perfect for anyone that is in need of a once-a-week clarifier,” he says.

Over $20:

The same way your complexion needs an effective, refreshing cleanser, hair and scalp need their own counterpart to clear away product buildup and any lingering dirt or oil. Kiara Brown, BDG editorial photo producer, says she used the shampoo after taking out month-old braids and was seriously impressed. “Oftentimes when you clarify, you end up with stripped or dry hair,” she explains. “But with this shampoo, my hair wasn’t dry at all. It got all the build-up out but left me with moisture and a beautiful curl pattern even before conditioning.” While it deeply cleanses, the formula’s shea butter and grapeseed oil work double-time to make sure no precious moisture is lost, leaving hair — and curls in particular — hydrated and defined in the process.

Best Conditioner

Under $20:

With a soothing oat scent, a sunflower oil-led ingredient list, and a cheerful marigold bottle, this Aveeno conditioner practically hypnotizes the user into a better mood. And really, even if that doesn’t do the trick, the smooth, soft hair it leaves behind will. “This left my hair super soft,” guest judge Laura Polko confirms, “and it smelled really good.” (Considering she works with hair transformation queen Gigi Hadid, the endorsement certainly holds up.) Designed for dry hair to reduce the effects of heat styling and sun damage, the formula is jammed with natural oils that hydrate brittle hair and moisturize the scalp in the process.

Over $20:

No matter how careful you are with heat protectants, masks, and color care treatments, the reality is hair can still end up looking brittle or dull. This conditioner is like dumping water on a dried-out sponge — it soaks right up for vibrant fullness you’ll notice right away. The micro-encapsulated argan oil also leaves your hair stronger, in addition to the satisfying moisture boost. Shanelle Infante, BDG junior art director, says that in addition to the added volume, “this conditioner is awesome and smells amazing. It added a nice healthy shine to my curls that is not always the case with other conditioners.”

Best Co-Wash

Under $20:

Read this sentence. Now read this one. And just *one* more time right here, please. That took about eight seconds, right? In the time it took you to read that nonsense, L’Oréal could be changing your hair for the better. The Wonder Water, used in the shower just a few times per week, harnesses protective lamellars and amino acids to boost shine and hydration on even the driest hair. Guest judge Nai’Vasha says this is a great pick for all textures, too. “It’s an immediate treatment for damaged hair,” she explains. “This product went above and beyond.” What do you have to lose besides eight seconds?

Over $20:

When formulating the fan-favorite co-wash, BREAD turned to a reliable muse: a facial cleanser for sensitive skin. The team took that concept, transformed it for hair, and produced the ultimate curl product — one part co-wash, one part cleanser. Argan oil and aloe vera juice add serious hydration (and protect color-treated hair) while lemon tea tree oil offsets scalp oil and buildup. While the signature cereal milk scent might prove too sweet for some, Bustle Associate Entertainment Editor Shannon Barbour says the gentle cleanser is perfect for her dry hair. “My best braid-outs and wash-and-go’s of the month happened when I used this hair wash,” she raves, adding that she even conducted an experiment to confirm it. “I recreated my entire routine minus this hair wash to see if it was the item that made the difference — and it was.”

Best Leave-In Conditioner

Under $20:

Though the tropical bronze bottle and beachy scent may look like a sun care product at first glance, the cocoa seed butter and argan oil on the ingredients list spell out one thing: a leave-in oasis for dry hair. But while plenty of leave-in conditioners can add in moisture, few can do it and help shape hair’s body in the process. “It kept the hair nice and soft,” guest judge Zachary Morad says, “and had just the right amount of hold to keep your texture defined, yet touchable.”

Over $20:

You know that after-shower feeling when all you want is to stay wrapped in your towel, sitting on the edge of your bed, and staring off into space? This leave-in is so hydrating (and honestly transformative) that you’ll want to skip the post-shower haze and dive right into getting ready because your hair is already popping. “This smells really good and it left my curls feeling soft and hydrated,” says Desiree Talley, Bustle’s associate director and counsel, calling it “a mighty impact in such a small bottle.” Avocado and coconut oils team up with shea butter and monoi extract for touchably soft hair just begging to be swished all over town.

Best Hair Mask For Color

Under $20:

Everyone with color-treated hair knows that frizz, damage, and dehydration is the price you pay for looking fabulous. But TZR's Deputy Beauty Editor, Hannah Baxter, has a trick for keeping hair silky and manageable — especially when you're traveling and your hair is even more fragile. "I throw one or two of these ampoules in my beauty bag to give my blonde hair a boost of moisture on the go,” she says. “It's rich enough that I treat it like a weekly mask (but you don't need to rinse it out), so your hair is nourished and protected for much longer."

Over $20:

Like Madonna and Prince, Olaplex needs only one name to build a cult-following and household recognition typically reserved for historical figures and rockstars. The brand’s now-famous, patented bonding technology works to seal frayed, stressed strands while an army of hydrating ingredients brings in moisture, shine, and shape. This mask was BDG Associate HR Director Ashlyn Thompson’s first foray into the world of Olaplex, but she’s already deeply impressed. “The formula is thick,” she says, “and I liked that a lot. I let it sit for 10 minutes and I definitely noticed a shinier, softer texture after.” It’s safe to say, the brand nailed it with its first-ever hair mask, making it a must for anyone who needs serious deep-conditioning to get your color-fried hair back to feeling silky soft.

Best Hair Mask For Curls

Under $20:

Put your hair in Do Not Disturb mode with this rich, enveloping mask that works overtime on curls — even fragile ones prone to breakage. The best part is the shea butter, coconut oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil ingredients mean this mask can be used as a deeply nourishing overnight treatment or as a quick 15-minute boost on a busy weeknight. “I was nervous that the mask would be too heavy given the consistency of the product,” says Danielle Colin-Thome, BDG editorial operations senior manager, “but it actually gave my curls great definition and didn't weigh them down. It felt hydrating and kept my hair feeling soft for a day after using it.”

Over $20:

Warning: It may be difficult to resist playing with the hydrated, defined curls left behind by this richly moisturizing mask. While black castor oil mitigates future breakage, avocado and grapeseed oils breathe new life into your curl pattern for vibrant, voluminous hair. TZR writer Natasha Marlene Marsh says she bid a farewell to dry curls for good when she tried this mask, raving about both the hydration and how long it likes. “I loved this deep conditioner!” she says. “It truly brought my moisture-lacking curls back to full bounce and lasted for a good three to four days after each use.”

Best Hair Oil

Under $20:

Listen closely and you might be able to hear your hair exhaling an actual sigh of relief when you apply TRESemmé’s ultra-hydrating curl oil. The coconut-scented formula absorbs quickly (without sacrificing moisture) via coconut and avocado oils, and the way it defeats frizz and encourages a more defined curl pattern makes it clear that hair is drinking it right up. TZR contributor Parizaad Khan calls the oil perfect for dry ends and praises its light-as-air weight, too. “I really liked how this oil felt and looked in my hair,” she says. “It distributes easily and gives a nice shine and a small amount of hold for curls.”

Over $20:

No Self-Care Sunday is complete without some scalp-specific treatments — and the Daily Elixir Hair & Scalp Oil is about three different treatments in one tiny, amber-colored bottle, complete with a twist-cap nozzle for concentrated use. Particularly great on Type 3 and 4 curls as well as anyone wearing a protective style, the rich baobab and patauá oil-infused formula hydrates the hair while copaiba resin soothes the scalp for an always-fresh feeling in between wash days. Bustle Associate Entertainment Editor Shannon Barbour is a self-proclaimed hair oil obsessive and says this one is the right consistency and weight with a lovely smell to boot. “It absorbed into my hair nicely, left my strands feeling so soft, and sealed moisture in,” she says. “I also used this on my ends after applying a leave-in and cream as they’re super dry, and this kept my curls healthy the entire week.”

Best Color Treatment

Under $20

Blondes, say bye to brass for good. Purple fig and iris team up to counteract any lingering, unwanted yellow tones from blonde and silver hair, restoring it to a bright, lustrous color that looks and feels like a salon-quality refresh. But the best part of this toning treatment is the bit of in-shower alchemy you get to do with them — mix a few drops into the shampoo or conditioner of your choice and let the purple stuff get to work. “If you’re a blonde, you know that a purple toning product is a must,” says TZR Deputy Beauty Editor Hannah Baxter. “I always add a few drops of this formula to my moisturizing conditioner to keep my highlights buttery and bright. It’s also so clutch when you’re traveling!”

Over $20

While a fresh set of highlights might be one of the most effective mood-boosters known to humankind, the damage left behind by even the most high-quality dyes is a definite bummer. Luckily, this is the age of Kérastase — and it has solutions. “The product itself is designed to replenish and repair your hair immediately following a bleaching service,” guest judge Zachary Morad explains, “and I feel that it accomplishes that task. This treatment made the hair feel softer and stronger after being treated with it.” He adds that it’s the one treatment he’d recommend to anyone undergoing lightening services. Blondes, meet your new bestie.

Best Curl Styling Product For Type 2-3 Hair

Under $20:

It’s the curl cream you wish you had years ago — that’s how it feels every time you use the styling-friendly and creamy shea butter- and pataua fruit oil-based formula. Perfect for twists and defining your curls, it also helps seal away split ends and tame flyaways for a sleek finish. “This cream left my hair feeling bouncy with my curls very defined,” Elite Daily intern Awo Jama reports, adding that her hair felt noticeably soft to the touch as well. Your new best curlfriend is finally here.

Over $20:

It’s the busy person’s dream: a lightweight serum that revives curl patterns for defined curls and waves, zero frizz, and a leave-in application method that makes all of the above a 30-second snap. Fans love to describe it as a big glass of water for your curls — and with castor oil, super fruit pequi, and murumuru butter filling out the ingredients label, it’s not hard to understand why. “The serum-meets-gel consistency is perfection,” says TZR Deputy Beauty Editor Hannah Baxter. “It provides the ideal amount of curl definition without ever feeling sticky or crunchy. I consider this my new cult-favorite curl product for my 2B hair.” Wavy and curly girls take note — it’s time to clear off some shelf space.

Best Curl Styling Product For Type 4 Hair

Under $20:

After TZR writer Natasha Marsh went for a serious chop, she needed rollers to help train and maintain her curls’ definition. Until she met Maui Moisture, anyway. “I was impressed that this product gave me definition without the extra step of rollers,” she shares. “It smells great, doesn’t leave curls crunchy, and maintains definition for two to three days without a refresh.” That’s probably thanks to the formula’s nourishing coconut oil, which adds to the brand’s signature beachy scent, too.

Over $20:

Reintroduce your curls to the world with a defining cream so thick and lush, you’ll want to ~curl~ up and fall asleep in it. Perfect for tight, defined twist-outs and wash-and-go’s, Defining Butta brings plenty of essential moisture to Type 4 A-C hair, thanks to castor seed oil, baobab oil, and creamy murumuru butter. “Though I had checked their Instagram first and was a bit skeptical by all the 3A curls I saw on there, this cream definitely worked for my Type 4 curls., Shannon Barbour, Bustle associate entertainment editor, says. In fact, she even says the defined, lasting braid-outs it yielded totally changed her hair routine for the foreseeable future.

Best Scalp Treatment

Under $20:

The benefits of regular scalp massage are well documented (improved circulation that leads to major hair growth for one), and this Neutrogena scalp scrub is the perfect facilitator for it. A gentle scrub that breaks up lingering product buildup, daily dirt, and oil, the product also balances itself out with a healthy dose of moisture-retaining hyaluronic acid — now that’s self-awareness. Says TZR Deputy Beauty Editor Hannah Baxter, “This scalp scrub is a once-a-week staple to keep flakes and buildup at bay. The added hyaluronic acid means my perpetually dry hair gets a much-needed hydration boost, which — with winter just around the corner — I can’t afford to miss.”

Over $20:

Beauty-wise, Tracee Ellis Ross’ word is essentially gospel — and considering the sheer scope of enviable hairstyles she’s worn this year alone, that goes double for all things hair. It should come as exactly zero surprise then that her own hair care line, Pattern, happens to be home to the year’s best high-end scalp treatment. “The combination of peppermint, rosemary, and lavender oils is literally the most pleasing scent,” guest judge Tennille Jenkins gushes. “I close my eyes, enjoy the fragrance wafting in the air, and work the serum into my scalp.” She adds marks for the user-friendly bottle and irritation-soothing formula that pairs perfectly with an at-home scalp massage.

Top Image Credits: Miu Miu bodysuit, Lagos earrings