A Beginner’s Guide to Hair Serum, and Why You Need One

From taming frizz to repairing damage, and even helping hair grow, hair serum is a real multi-tasker!

Hair SerumFrom shampoos to conditioners to after-shower products and styling formulas, we’re expected to put about a thousand different products into our hair. It can be overwhelming to decide which products you want to include in and exclude from your hair care routine, which is why we’ve created this comprehensive guide to hair serums. Keep reading to find out the benefits of hair serum for different hair types, our favorite hair serum products, and more!

What is hair serum?

First of all, you might be wondering what hair serum is, how it works, and what it can do for your hair. Hair serums share similarities with leave-in conditioners. They’re both after-shower products that help to improve your hair’s appearance and health. However, hair serums are generally silicone or oil-based substances that adhere to the outside of the hair shaft, and are usually not intended to deeply penetrate your hair and scalp in the same way as leave-in conditioners.

Once applied to your hair, a hair serum will work in several different ways. It’ll reflect light to make your hair appear shinier, detangle and soften your hair, and form a barrier to protect against exterior damage.

While most hair serums use silicone as the base for their hair serums, we suggest that you stay away from this substance due to concerns about its potentially damaging effects. Although it makes the appearance of hair look lustrous, it seals your hair cuticle in to the extent of drying it out. Over time, this causes hair to become more brittle, weak, and dull.

Fortunately, there are plenty of silicone-free products out there (we’ve mentioned our favorites below), which work hard to tame and repair your hair using natural ingredients.Hair Serum Benefits

Hair serum benefits for different hair types

  1. Hair serum for frizzy hair

    Many hair serums leverage hydrating and smoothing ingredients such as natural oils in order to reduce frizz. When using a frizz-fighting hair serum, you can work it through your hair from roots to ends, or build the product onto problem areas.

  2. Hair serum for dryness, damage, and split ends

    Hair serums can also help to heal long-term damage and restore hydration to your hair, even repairing split ends. (Our favorite serums for nourishing dry or damaged hair are 100% Pure’s Pro-Vitamin B5 Smoothing Hair Serum, and Yarok’s Feed Your Sunshine Serum, mentioned below.) If you’re using a hair serum to repair split ends, you should apply the product from ends up to roots so that you can build up more product where you need it most.

  3. Hair serum for hair growth

    There are also hair serums specifically formulated to help you fight against hair loss. Serums such as Camille Rose’s Cocoa Nibs and Honey Ultimate Growth Serum (details below) will nourish, clean, and hydrate your hair follicles while strengthening the hair shaft. Hair growth serums can either be massaged into the scalp or applied from roots to ends.

  4. Hair serum for dry and irritated scalps

    If you suffer from scalp problems, the right hair serum can make a huge difference. Serums such as John Masters Organics’ Deep Scalp Purifying Serum (full details below) use nourishing ingredients to restore your scalp’s oil balance and soothe dryness. These serums are usually massaged directly into your scalp.

The best hair serums to bring back your shine

100% Pure Hair Serum

  1. Pro-Vitamin B5 Smoothing Hair Serum from 100% Pure
    Cruelty-free, gluten-free100% Pure’s formula uses plant-derived ingredients to smooth and soften your hair for easy styling, add shine, heal split ends, and lock in moisture. It features hardworking vitamin B5 and vitamin E, as well as lavender essential oil and plant-derived amino acid. This product can be used on damp or dry hair, and is buildable. To use it, apply one pump of product to clean hands and work through your hair from ends to roots. If you feel more product is needed, add more to suit your hair.
  1. Cake Restorative Scalp Tonic from Reverie
    Cruelty-free
    A pampering solution for dry, itchy scalps and overshedding. The serum features apple stem cells and hydrolyzed protein to rejuvenate hair follicles and promote hair growth. It also includes a blend of hydrating essential oils, including frankincense, sandalwood, and ylang ylang. To use this product, start with a wet scalp. Apply a few drops of product to your hands, and massage deeply into your scalp before allowing your hair to dry.

Deep Scalp Purifying Serum

  1. Deep Scalp Purifying Serum from John Masters Organics
    Cruelty-free
    This product was formulated specifically for the scalp, rather than the hair shaft. It’ll improve scalp health and stimulate healthy hair growth. The formula contains essential oils to soothe your scalp and stimulate circulation, meadowsweet extract as an astringent, and B vitamins to maintain your scalp’s oil balance. This product can simply be massaged into the scalp after washing hair.

Feed Your Sunshine Serum

  1. Feed Your Sunshine Serum from Yarok
    Cruelty-free, vegan, gluten-free
    Yarok is deeply committed to formulating effective products from natural ingredients without any parabens, sulfates, alcohols, or other synthetic chemicals. This product is a great multitasker for different hair types, but we specifically recommend it to anyone suffering from ongoing environmental hair damage caused by heat treatments, chemicals, harsh products, etc. The product uses aloe vera leaf oil and blackcurrant seed oil to replenish moisture, as well as a blend of mineral-rich and antioxidant-rich essential oils. To use it, apply three drops to clean hands and work through your hair from scalp to ends. You can use it before sun, heat, or chemical exposure to protect your hair, or afterwards for damage control.

Ultimate Growth Serum

  1. Cocoa Nibs and Honey Ultimate Growth Serum from Camille Rose
    Cruelty-free
    Created for natural, black hair, this serum uses a blend of natural, plant-based ingredients to combat hair loss due to thinning and breakage. Jojoba oil and amla oil condition the hair follicles to promote healthy hair growth, while brahmi and honey nourish the hair and replenish moisture. This product works double-time to prevent hair loss at the follicle and breakage due to weak hair shafts. It’s also easy to use, as you can simply massage it into your scalp at bedtime.

Aubrey Chia Serum

  1. Chia Serum from Aubrey
    Cruelty-free
    Aubrey has given us a wonderful and budget-friendly option for taming frizzy hair and protecting against damage. The formula includes jojoba oil and chia seed oil to hydrate and nourish hair, as well as a special antioxidant tea blend to promote hair and scalp health. To use it, just work a small amount through your hair from scalp to ends, focusing on whichever area needs more love. Bonus points if you apply it before heat-treating your hair to protect from damage!

Is a hair serum right for me?

As you can see, there are plenty of excellent options when it comes to natural serums for hair. You might still be wondering whether hair serum or leave-in conditioner is the right solution for your hair, as these different products can often have comparable ingredients and results. Generally speaking, hair serums are often more lightweight and buildable than leave-in conditioners, although leave-in conditioners generally provide deeper moisture.

We suggest that readers in need of intense moisturizing seek a natural leave-in conditioner, while readers who want a boost to their hair’s appearance without extra weight stick to a hair serum. Some readers may want to vary their product use depending on the season, opting for a lightweight, protective serum in the summer and a deeper leave-in conditioner in the winter.

The final verdict on hair serum

When using a hair serum, always read the ingredients on the product before applying any to your hair. Most hair serums are buildable, so it’s always better to start with a small amount of product and then add more (little by little) until you achieve the desired results. If you’re applying hair serum to your scalp on a regular basis, you might need to wash your hair more frequently than usual in order to prevent buildup, follicle clogs, and/or dandruff

Our hair gets exposed to different kinds of damage throughout our lives, from sun exposure to chlorine treated swimming pools to chemical-based hair products. With the right hair serum, you can achieve great-looking hair while defending your locks against these threats.

Supercharge your hair health by trying more of these beauty tips:

Does Biotin Help Hair Grow? Our Verdict On Whether It’s Worth ItAnd the best biotin hair products to get you back on track to those luscious locks.
9 Easy DIY Hair Masks for Damaged Hair: Simple yet powerful hair masks you can whip up in a jiffy to restore those tresses
How to Use Avocado Oil for Hair: Avocados aren’t just a dietary guilty pleasure. There are real benefits to using avocado oil for hair.

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