This story is about my undying love for Davines, the brand that has inspired everyone from my barista to my colleagues to ask me about my shiny, shiny hair. But before I sing the praises of yet another serum you should buy because it’s the best, I need to explain why it matters to me so much.
A few years ago, a combination of self-inflicted poor health and an underlying autoimmune disease meant that I lost a ton of my hair. Malnourished and deeply stressed out, every time I took a shower I was watching spidery clumps fall into my hands and every time I brushed it felt like the end of the world. My partner used to joke about my endless molting; my housemates were constantly frustrated about the little piles that would get swept into every corner of every room. To me, having a shiny abundance of hair was everything that being a woman was about and, with every strand that clogged up my plumbing, I lost a little more of my sense of self.
I refused to go to the hairdresser because it felt too humiliating to imagine what would end up caught around their fingers. My hair loss felt like this giant, indelible label, telling everyone that I was fucked, that I treated my body badly, that I was helpless and didn’t know what to do about anything in my life—let alone my hair. I sort of just gave up, bought whatever shampoo was on offer and whatever was left on my head into a ponytail, hoping it would all go away.
Then, for my birthday one year, my mother took me to the Aveda salon for a facial. When we left, she bought me these giant bottles of volumizing shampoo and conditioner that they sell there—the sort that you usually see in salons. For the next six months, I religiously used them as I started to get my shit together, and my hair started to look like that of a normal (ha!) woman.
By no means was transferring to expensive, sulphate-free haircare the singular means to reconfiguring my sense of independence and empowerment. If products were all it took, my job and tendency to hoard anything I can find in a beauty aisle would mean that by now I’d be competing with the Dalai Lama in terms of spiritual wellness. But that $100 shampoo and conditioner stopped my hair from looking quite so lank and raggedy, and that was really what I needed to boost my confidence in getting myself sorted out.
Now, I’m kind of OK with a lot of stuff in my life. I’ve made whatever changes I can physically make and the rest of it I have medication and regular blood tests for. I don’t look jaundiced and raggedy (I hope); I look like a proper, grown up woman who’s got it together. And now, what I do to take care of my hair is a giant part of the self-care that I spent the past few years having drummed into me. Basically, I feel like I am now pretty much the fussiest woman alive when it comes to a hair product because that stuff means more to me than the average person. While hair absolutely does not determine my sense of identity these days, its volume is inextricably intertwined with my process of recovery.
And so, to Davines. About two years ago, someone sent me a bottle of hair lotion called MOMO that completely changed my appearance during a particularly rainy Fashion Week. I was besotted with it, and then I lost it and I couldn’t find it online because I’m an idiot and thought that MOMO was the brand name and not the product title. Then a beauty miracle happened: I borrowed a friend’s shampoo, realized Davines was the long-lost brand of my dreams and the rest is history. So, here are my top five of their products because I really do love them that much to have five favorites.
OI/ Shampoo and Conditioner SLES- and paraben-free, you only need a tiny bit of both shampoo and conditioner so, if spending $15 on a shampoo feels a bit extravagant, rest assured a bottle of each lasts me three months. Three months! And I wash my hair loads! Plus, I have no idea what about it makes my hair both smooth and volume-y, but even when I’m too lazy to apply product after washing it, it looks rad.
OI/ All In One Milk Before I dry my hair, I spray this through it all. Both a heat-protector and a shiny, conditioning moisturiser, it doesn’t leave me with sticky or crispy strands which are the bane of my hair-product-using life.
MELU Mellow Split Ends Repairing Sealing Serum So, I now actually make it to my darling hairdresser every three months but, because I use straighteners on my hair and also it’s just a part of life, I still end up with split ends. The serum has keratin in it, which somehow disguises them, and a cellulose conditioning agent that helps avoid them.
This Is A Relaxing Moisturizing Fluid My natural hair-state is curly/frizzy and I live in London, land of the constant, light spatter of rain. A tiny amount of this smoothed over and through my hair is like some sort of miracle cure for humidity and weather-related disasters. Smooth and shiny. That’s all I want.
Oil Non Oil For Wizards I basically don’t do anything remotely exciting with my hair—the closest I come to a ‘do’ is slicking it back into a bun. Decent quantities of the Oil Non Oil is ideal for wet-look, Lucy-Chadwick-esque chic vibes but a little bit also adds some weight to it when it’s down.
—Olivia J. Singer
Photographed by Tom Newton.