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Price Tag Cage Match: Root Boosters

By Amalah

Ah, summer. The season for pedicures, natural highlights and bronzed skin. And flat, droopy-ass hair.

If your hair is anything like mine, you know what I’m talking about. Your hair goes totally splat at the slightest whiff of humidity. You leave the house with a decent amount of body and volume, but then it’s plastered to your scalp by lunchtime. Awesome.

But volumizing products can be pretty tricky — the hair that needs them the most is usually pretty fine and easily weighed down. It’s possibly on the oily side. Which means the wrong product is just going to make a bigger mess of things.

Enter the root boosters. These are lightweight mousses you apply directly on your roots. No product weighing down your ends, and no sticky product-y residue. Targeted oomph in a bottle.

But, you know, do they really do that?

Today’s Cage Match is a three-way battle, and without further ado, let’s meet today’s contenders:

First up, priced at a mind-blowingly cheap $3.99 is . $3.99! That’s crazy talk.
Next is , which retails for around $9.99, give or take a buck.

And in the insanely frou-frou holy-crap-that’s-expensive corner? . Twenty bucks. Or more! Or less. (The bottle I purchased at my salon, bizarrely enough, cost $12. I can’t find this stuff priced that cheap ANYWHERE online, so I’m guessing my salon messed up. Either way, the moral of the story is to SHOP AROUND.) I’d used this stuff before, several years ago, back before Noah, in my heady days of disposable income. I remembered liking it a lot, but was curious to see if it really was better than the cheaper versions.

I used each product for a couple days in a row. Every day, I started with Pureology’s Volumizing shampoo and conditioner. I applied the root booster directly to my roots, in straight lines across my scalp every inch or so. Then I massaged my scalp, combed it out, then blow-dried. I tested both a quick-and-dirty blow-dry (just the roots, upside down, leaving the ends to air dry) and a full fancy blow-dry with a round brush.

Okay, let’s start with the worst and go from there.

I have to be honest, I do.not.get.why the Garnier Fructis line is so popular. Yes, they are cheap. Yes, they smell very pretty and they offer a bazillion and one products. Yes, who doesn’t like the idea of “fruit micro-waxes” (schwaa?) being the key to all your hair woes? But I have never had any luck with any of their styling products, and this one was no exception.

On one hand, it made my hair very shiny. Really lovely and shiny. But on the other hand, it did not give me any extra volume. At all. None. I might as well have skipped the product altogether and just blow-dried. It didn’t make the blow-out last any longer either, as the volume around my roots deflated after about an hour. I tried applying it from roots to ends as well, just to see if that made any difference, and…no. Shiny! But stringy and flat.

(I also hated the nozzle, which shot gobs of mousse out like a sprinkler head and made it impossible to target my roots.)

The TIGI stuff definitely added volume and didn’t leave any residue. It was all-around totally okay. I still noticed a lot of deflating by the end of the day, which is frustrating since you can’t touch-up dry hair with a mousse. But yeah. Is an okay product, and probably would have ranked higher if I hadn’t tried the Pureology.

Because this stuff is miraculous. Oh my WORD. After day one I knew it was the winner, since the volume is BIG and LOUD and NOTICIABLE. My hair felt thicker but not product-y. It looked just as good at the end of the day as it did in the morning.

And it looked good when I GOT OUT OF BED THE NEXT MORNING. Seriously, the next day my hair still had more oomph than it did with either of the other two products.

The only drawback? Well, my hair was not very shiny. And all this volume resulted in a small amount of frizz. (I tried Frankensteining the Garnier and the Pureology together to see if that did anything for the shine problem, but it didn’t. Curses!) I solved the problem with a dab of Bed Head After Party Smoothing Cream (rub in palms, run hands gently over hair), but I think any type of spray shine or even just rubbing your hair after applying your hand cream would also work.

So. In this case, you definitely get what you pay for. I’m completely addicted to the Pureology product now and use it every day — even if I’m just shooting some hot air at my roots and putting my hair in a ponytail. (The key to a cute ponytail IS volume at the crown of your head, after all.) If you’ve got really flat, blah hair, it’s worth the $20. It’s a bigger bottle (10 ounces) than the cheaper options, and it actually does what it says it does, unlike the Garnier.

Man, think of all the Easter candy I could have gotten on sale with that $3.99.

(Although if you happen to be in the DC area, you MIGHT want to think about checking out the PR @ Partners salon on Wisconsin Ave. in Tenleytown. Act casual! Don’t let them know we’re onto them and their crazy low prices!)

(But don’t you dare book all of Phillip’s open appointments. I will cut you.)

(Geddit? Cut you? Hair? Heh? Well, fine. Shut up.)

Published April 30, 2007. Last updated June 1, 2017.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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