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When you want to look red carpet ready but have a budget that’s more aligned with a high schooler’s, there’s nowhere to go but the drugstore. The good news: There are tons of budget hair-care buys that are just as good—if not better—than pricier brands. Every day can be a great hair day, and you can save cash if you know just what to buy.
Lucky for you, we’ve done research on the hordes of products that fill the aisles of CVS and Target and come up with 12 picks that are definitely worth it. Stock up and prepare for the compliments to roll on in.
The Volume Booster
The 1,578 positive reviews can’t be wrong, right? Just spritz this dry shampoo on hair, let it absorb for about 30 seconds, and then comb through (or massage with your fingers) to make sure it’s blended.
The Seaside Spray
This product smells like the ocean and enhances the natural waves and curls you get while you’re there—all for less than $5. Oh, and it’s alcohol-free (read: nondrying) and cruelty-free. Just mist damp hair and let it air-dry.
The Deep Clean
This iconic shampoo is a master of the deep cleanse. Grab it when your hair is feeling dull or product buildup is making the strands a bit limp—you’ll want to use it sparingly, only about once a week. Bonus: A cleaner scalp means your other products will work better.
The Curl Softener
For those with curls, a good leave-in conditioner is a must. With the help of the wheat protein and vitamin B5 in this weightless spray, dry, dull, brittle hair is transformed into soft, shiny strands. Just spray it on, focusing mostly on midlength and ends, and go about your day.
The Eco Hero
Love Beauty & Planet is doing really, really big things for Mother Nature: Each bottle is made from 100 percent recycled materials; the shampoo is vegan and never tested on animals; and it has zero parabens, dyes, and silicones. Plus, it won’t fade your hair color and it will leave your strands soft and shiny.
The Metallic Rinse
Celeb hairstylist Kristin Ess launched her Target line three years ago and we still can’t get enough of it. This first-ever “in-shower watercolor” will give your mane a temporary rose gold tone when spritzed on wet hair. When you’re tired of it, just wash it out.
The Salt Spritz
Upstate New York–based brand Captain Blankenship has an exclusive-to-Target skin-care and hair line called Sailor. We’re fans of the sea salt spray, a dry shampoo, and a texturizer that will give you a cool, just-woke-up-like-this look.
The Flat Hair Vanquisher
ApotheCare Essentials’s collection is free of silicones, parabens, and dyes. Not to mention, New York hairstylist Teddi Cranford is the brand’s lead stylist. This shampoo is the talk of the town (or at least the CVS comments section), specifically for its volume-boosting skills. Rose hip oil, geranium, and aloe vera give fine and flat hair a much appreciated, lasts-all-day lift.
The Hair Dryer of the Future
This blow-dryer is a game changer. The nozzle twists to “360 Vertical Mode” to create a tunnel of powerful air jets that dry hair faster and with less damage.
The Root Refresher
Use this deep cleansing rinse, made with apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, and shea butter (which adds a dose of moisture), as a clarifying rinse. Your hair will be healthier and your scalp detoxed, all sans gunk from sulfates, parabens, silicones, and phthalates. This product is almost identical to apple cider vinegar treatments that are five times more expensive, so consider it a big bang for small bucks.
The Fan-Favorite Dry Shampoo
This dry shampoo has a massive following for a reason. It fully absorbs into your tresses, leaving you with a natural, bouncy finish. Consider it your second-day hair hero.
The Style Savior
This hairspray comes out as an ultra-fine mist, but it has strong hold. Use it when you want to make sure your blowout lasts all day long—with no crunchiness.
Now go show off your crowning glory.
This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated.
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