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We Tried It: Four "As Seen On TV" Hair Products

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Have you ever found yourself engrossed in an infomercial, wondering if it works as well in real life as it does on those perky people on screen? Sure, everything turns out perfect on the paid model with gorgeous glossy hair, but what about the rest of us non-hair-model types? Four editors put some of the most the most buzzed-about “as seen on TV” products to test in order to see if the actual results live up to the hype.

Turbie Twist test
Courtesy Zoë Ruderman

Zoë Ruderman, Senior Style Editor: You guys, it’s me, Zoë, not Kourtney Kardashian! I know it’s hard to tell in this photo of me wearing a turban. I’ll admit that I was first drawn to the Turbie Twist for that reason (I wanted to test-drive the turban trend). But yeah, sure, if there was an added benefit of it also drying my hair faster, sign me up.

Level of difficulty: If you can wrap a towel around your head, you can do the Turbie Twist.

Overall experience: After showering, I quickly towel dried my long hair before putting on the Turbie (see top right photo). Make sure all of your strands are tucked into the towel. The first time I Turbie’d, I left a chunk of hair hanging out the back, which creates a rattail look. My goal was to look like Kourtney, not Rihanna!

Then it’s time to twist (see bottom right photo) and wait. I’ve been leaving my Turbie on for about 15 minutes, enough time for me to brush my teeth, get dressed, do my makeup and ask my boyfriend, “What do you think of me in a turban?” (It’s important to ask your significant other this question every time you wear the Turbie.)

I brush out my hair then do a quick pass with the blowdryer (or even let it air dry the rest of the way). Full disclosure: My hair tends to dry a lot faster than other women’s so you may want to leave in the Turbie Twist for longer if you have thick hair.

The verdict: While my boyfriend has yet to confuse me with a Kardashian, this product definitely delivers on the other promise. It cut down on the amount of time I had to spend sitting around waiting for my hair to dry or using a blowdryer. Because I don’t have time for that. I have an empire to run. Oh, sorry, that’s me thinking I’m a Kardashian again.

Hot Buns review
Courtesy Brittany Talarico

Brittany Talarico, Associate Editor: I have really long straight hair (my one friend use to call it “Duggar sister hair,” but I prefer the Blake Lively comparisons), so I’m always looking for new ways to change my go-to down style. Enter: Hot Buns!

Level of difficulty: Hot Buns are super easy to use. Plus, it takes less than 5 minutes to complete the process.

Overall experience: Hot Buns. Sock buns. Hair donuts. They’re all very similar. But what I liked most about the Hot Buns is the elastic cord connected to the sponge that helps keep the bun in place. And the set comes with two different sizes to try (so you don’t have to have a massive one like mine). It’s definitely easy to use on long hair, but if you have layers, it’s tough to roll shorter pieces into the bun. (Confession: I used a few bobby pins.) One other complaint: It gets easily tangled in long strands, so make sure to take it out slowly.

Verdict: I would definitely use this product again. It’s a great alternative to a basic bun or pony, and I might even wear the style for an upcoming wedding. Plus, I love the volume and natural-looking waves it leaves in my hair when I take it out.

Andrea Lavinthal, Style Director: I have a weakness for hair tools with a power button. Bonus points if steam comes off my hair when I use it. The InStyler checks these boxes.

Level of difficulty: It’s really easy to use. You just take a small section of hair, clamp it between the heated rotating barrel and brush, then slowly move the tool down the length of your hair.

Overall experience: I let my fine, naturally curly air-dry on the way to work. Once I got to my desk, I plugged in the InStyler, which heated up in less than a minute. Per the directions, I clamped small sections of hair between the heated rotating barrel and the brush, then slowly moved the tool down the length of my hair. In just one pass my hair went from curly to poker-straight. I did my whole head in about 5 minutes. The downside: The barrel gets insanely hot so I felt like I was absolutely frying my hair.

I also tried curling my hair by twisting it around the metal barrel but the results weren’t as impressive.

Verdict: It’s a great quick fix for flyaways and frizz. I’d totally use it again.

Pamela Edwards Christiani, Style & Beauty Editor, PEOPLE: My hair is so much thinner than it use to be, so any tool that adds texture (equivalent to volume for me) definitely gets my interest. And yes, the TopStyler is from the same beauty masterminds behind the InStyler.

Level of difficulty: Super easy, though I should note that I’m pretty comfortable setting my hair (I’ve been at it since high school) whether with rollers, rods or pins. That said, the TopStyler doesn’t require a skilled hand. You just curl a section and clamp it with the heated shell (way easier than securing with bobby pins).

Overall experience:: My hair won’t hold a curl, so if I want even a semblance of a wave by end of day, I need to start with small, tight curls. The TopStyler heats 10 shells at a time, but I needed more to create a set that would last. Fortunately, the kit includes 20 shells, so as I removed a heated shell, I placed a cool shell in its place. By the time I moved through the remaining heated shells, the five add-ons were hot (I used 15 shells in total).

Verdict: I’d absolutely use this product again. the box was hot in a few minutes and I set my hair in less than ten minutes. I didn’t even use a mirror (watching the Homeland season premiere, with zero interest in pausing). I kept the shells in for maybe, five minutes. The result was a head full of bouncy curls.