Ouidad (pronounced wee-dod) is a haircare line specifically formulated for curly hair. The Beirut-born founder, known by the solo moniker, Ouidad (like Madonna) was often teased for her unruly hair as a child. Determined to overcome curly-hair-induced PTSD, she became a stylist and moved to the U.S. She developed unique techniques for cutting curly hair, namely the “carving and slicing” method that earned her the reputation as the Queen of Curl. She eventually opened a salon in New York, the first ever, to address the specific needs of curly hair. Her ambition to gain curl control spawned an eponymous haircare line to tame coiled tresses.

Until recently, I never even considered Ouidad as a haircare option as it’s created for those blessed with natural ringlets. While my hair does have a natural wave, it unfortunately doesn’t work in my favor. To add to my hair woes, it’s extremely frizz-prone. Only on the occasions that I’ve used a hair mask have I found my hair to be the most manageable; however, using a mask daily is neither practical nor economical. Shine serums haven’t delivered as they are formulated to, well, add shine - not necessarily softness. While I did find a hair oil that conquered humidity, Yarok’s Feed Your Shine Serum Drops ($23), it requires judicious application (it’s easy to overdo it) so I save it for rainy days.

The purpose of a hair conditioner is to moisturize, soften, detangle, and ideally, not leave hair looking or feeling greasy. Just-conditioned hair possesses those properties but often loses them as hair dries or is exposed to humidity. Standard conditioners have a high viscosity, employing polymers, which coat the hair shaft and are meant to be rinsed off. Leave-ins have a thinner consistency, designed to enable drying and styling without any residue. These are a good option for anyone afflicted with parched, frizz-prone hair.

However, I find most leave-ins to be overloaded with silicones and (too often), fragrance. Having experimented with a multitude of leave-in products over the years, including the popular It’s a 10 treatment, Phyto Phytodefrisant baume as well as MIT’s Living Proof products, which did nothing for my hair. I have yet to find a leave-in conditioner that continuously delivers conditioning benefits throughout the day. However, Ouidad’s New Moisture Lock Leave-in Conditioner ($9-$22) has come the closest!

Moisture Lock was recommended to me by a Sephora associate who assured me it would work on my hair type. I wasn’t convinced but he offered me a generous sample, and since I’d tried just about everything else, I decided to give it a try. Before using the leave-in, I did some research and found mixed reviews. While a previous, curly-haired tester of Ouidad products hadn’t achieved the desired results, the brand’s Water Works Clarifying Shampoo earned high marks from Copley, despite containing sulfates. Thankfully, the Ouidad line has been reformulated to be free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes, phthalates, GMOs and triclosan.

I also perused the Curl Queen’s website and decided to employ techniques from the How-To section. Only the scalp should be shampooed, never the length of hair, to which conditioner should be applied; never condition the scalp. Hair must be rinsed with lukewarm water only, never hot water! The “Drape & Blot” technique involves putting the edge of the towel over your head to the hairline and wrapping it around the hair, gently squeezing to blot out moisture. Since I was using a bath-sized towel, I flipped the towel to the dry side and repeated the method. Wrapping hair into a turban is forbidden! Out of curiosity, I decided to air-dry my hair. I utilized the “Rake & Shake” method by dividing damp hair into four sections, and depositing a nickel-sixed dollop of Moisture Lock onto each section, spreading my fingers like a rake. When ends are reached, the hair section is gently shaken and air-dried. I rarely air-dry my hair, reserving it for days when the furthest I venture out of my apartment is the lobby to check mail.

The first time I put this stuff in my hair, I knew it would be a good hair day. My air-dried hair remained soft and shiny! Of course it didn’t have the same polished look as when I use the leave-in and style using a hair dryer. Nonetheless, it’s the best it’s ever looked when air-dried. For the first time in years, I could actually run errands with air-dried hair! What this product mainly provides, for me, is incredible softness that lasts through most of the day. That’s a rare find! While the softness lasts, my hair does begin to return to its dehydrated state toward the end of the day. I have found this to be the case whether I style it or let it air dry. However, if I’m going out that evening, a dab of shine serum mitigates the dullness and I’m back to healthy-looking hair.

First, I noted that the recently launched Moisture Lock is not a “new” formulation, just a re-branding of the original with the words “to go” dropped from the product’s name. However, the formulation includes a bevy of good-for-your-hair ingredients targeted to condition and provide shine. While there is the ubiquitous dimethicone, there is also amodimethicone, which is an interesting type of silicone. It’s chemically modified to provide selective conditioning to areas most in need of it. The cone has an affinity for highly damaged cuticles, forming a film to seal in moisture, flattening the cuticle, and providing shine due to highly refractive properties. Moreover, amodimethicone has low thermal conductivity, reducing heat transfer to the hair shaft. It’s important to point out that this cone is not water soluble and does build up. While amodimethicone is not unique to Moisture Lock – it’s all about getting the formulation just right.

Moisture Lock also includes prickly pear extract, a potent antioxidant (also found in Kronos Phyx) that draws in moisture without stripping natural oils. There is also antioxidant green tea and vitamin B5 aka panthenol (found in TIA’s Truth Vitality Complex; $59-79 in the TIA shop), which seals the hair shaft to protect and promote shine. Arnica extract (found in Sheilo’s Leave-in Protectant) also aids in sealing the cuticle for fuzz-free results. I was happy to see behentrimonium methosulfate, (not to be confused with toxic behentrimonium chloride), a detangler highly regarded for its conditioning abilities. There’s also witch hazel (which may add a little body to hair). The very last ingredient, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, is a preservative (an alternative to parabens) that can cause contact dermatitis yet is deemed safe in concentrations of 0.01% in leave-in products.

Overall, I’m very impressed with Moisture Lock and have purchased the full-sized bottle. I also plan to continue using the Curl Queen’s cleansing techniques along with Drape & Blot and Rake and Shake as I believe it contributes to the improved condition of my hair. While I will continue to seek out the perfect leave-in, I’ll be using Ouidad Moisture Lock  Leave-in Conditioner - it’s the closest to perfection that I’ve found.

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetyl peg/ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Amodimethicone, Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Castor Oil/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Polyquaternium-59, Panthenol (Provitamin B5), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Opuntia (Prickly Pear Cactus) Tuna Flower Extract, Fragrance, Butylene Glycol, PVP, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium EDTA, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate