Acne Studios sweater. Beauty note: Define the terms: Lancôme Brow Densify Powder-to-Cream formula anchors the arches for a sense of structured cool.

Photograph by Lena C. Emery; Styled by Katie Burnett; Makeup by Ciara O’Shea & Hair by Mark Hampton.

Manicure by Jenny Longworth for CND at CLM Hair and Make-up. Casting by Edward Kim at The Talent Group; Model: Nienke Kuipers at Future Faces; Photography Assistant: Guy Isherwood; Local Production: Jake Collins; Fashion Assistants: Hali Christou, Conaill O’Dwyer.

Trips to the hair salon have been slashed in the wake of the pandemic, leaving some who visited their hairstylists on a monthly basis to their own devices. Beauty junkies have spent the past nine months making DIY hair masks out of pantry and refrigerator ingredients, while others have opted to simply chop it all off. Meantime, a slew of deeply conditioning and nourishing hair treatments targeted specifically for home use have hit the market—and one caught our eye: the Sisley Hair Rituel Restructuring Nourishing Balm. Much has been said about this product in the beauty community—that the balm can take the place of a salon treatment, that it’s the next Olaplex. Four W editors decided to put it to the test, and gave it our honest opinions.

Maxine Wally, Senior Digital Editor

How would you categorize your natural hair type?

I have thick, slightly coarse hair that’s got a natural wave. It is generally frizzy and large, giving me a distinctly helmet-like look.

Describe a typical month in your haircare.

Much like my skincare routine until the pandemic began, I take a pretty hands-off approach to my hair. I don’t dye or highlight it, and I don’t use any heat or styling tools. After washing my hair with shampoo and conditioner, I always air dry.

Describe your experience using the Sisley Nourishing Balm.  

Since I don’t do much to my hair, I opted to try the 30-minute treatment for the Sisley Hair Rituel Nourishing Balm. The product is a thick consistency, almost like the inside of a honeycomb. Once I’d worked it into my hands, it reminded me of petroleum jelly. I applied it to my lengths and strands, and also rubbed some on the top of my head, since I’m always looking for something to tame my frizz. For half an hour, I resembled a wet dog. Then I showered, washing the balm out with my usual shampoo and conditioner. The result was night and day: once my hair was dry, it was tamed in a way it never has been in my life. It was soft and shiny, putting forth the illusion that I’d gotten a soft blowout at the salon. I skipped using the Hair Rituel for one week and saw a serious difference in smoothness and frizz.

How did the Sisley Nourishing Balm work for you? Would you use it again?

I have a hairdresser friend who once said she cannot find one single product to make her hair look exactly the way she wants it to. I think I’ll show her the Sisley Nourishing Balm. I loved the silken sheen it gave my hair, and will absolutely use it weekly going forward.

Maryam Lieberman, Contributing Beauty Editor

How would you categorize your natural hair type?

My hair is fine and has gotten far more wavy over the years. 

Describe a typical month in your haircare. How much processing/heat styling/dyeing do you do?

Since the pandemic, I’ve been lax on processing, and have picked up a more neutral routine these last two months. In terms of color, I stopped getting balayage highlights last year because the process killed my hair. Now, every six to eight weeks, my hairdresser comes over and gives me highlights using minimal bleach to avoid damage. I have to be really careful and just to err on the side of caution, I do a deep conditioning treatment before and after highlights to ensure there’s no breakage. In terms of styling products, I wash my hair two to three times a week and I almost always blow it out straight. I just like the way it looks and feels on me. I use an excellent heavy-duty blow dryer, the BaByliss Porcelain Ceramic. It’s hotter and stronger but causes far less damage to the hair because it takes less time to blow out and style. 

Describe your experience using the Sisley Nourishing Balm.  

It was recommended to use no more than a quarter-size dollop, but I used a little more since my hair is long. I applied on ends and lengths of hair. It smells heavenly and was easy to apply without feeling gross or heavy. (I have done the trendy castor oil/coconut oil applications and those are definitely not for me—too heavy and too much residue.) I left the Sisley balm on my hair overnight, and washed it out in the morning following with my regular shampoo and conditioner; it washed out easily and without any residue. 

How did the Sisley Nourishing Balm work for you? Would you use it again?

Yes, it’s worth every penny. This is just as good as any in-salon deep conditioning treatment, and price-wise, with the amount of applications it more than matches up. I blew out my hair and could feel my hair softer than usual, which to me meant healthier. This feeling lasted until my next wash and my hair felt much more manageable. My hair responded very well to this. 

Jenna Wojciechowski, Senior Fashion Market Editor

How would you categorize your natural hair type?

Hairstylists have told me I have fine strands of hair, but a lot of them. My hair tends to be both straight and wavy; if air dried, it definitely has a natural wave, but also straightens very easily. 

Describe a typical month in your haircare.

I let my hair air-dry and don’t do much styling. I do highlight it and the bleach makes it a bit more coarse than my natural, silky hair texture. 

Describe your experience using the Sisley Nourishing Balm.

I was pleasantly surprised by this nourishing balm. I was hesitant to use it at first, as I thought it was going to make my hair oily—as many balms do. This did the opposite. The balm itself is a velvety texture that feels gelatinous once I rubbed it into my palms. I applied it to the strands of my hair and was especially generous on the tips. I tried keeping it in for 30 minutes then washing out, and I also tried leaving it on overnight. I got the same result both ways. A little goes a long way, which is also a positive.

How did the Sisley Nourishing Balm work for you? Would you use it again? 

I really love this balm. I would definitely continue to use it. It gives my hair the healthy look and feel that the periodic bleaching takes away from it. It also feels like I’m treating myself to a bit of pampering which I also like. 

Tilden Bissell, Digital Designer

How would you categorize your natural hair type?

My hair is surprisingly thick—every time I get it cut, the hairstylist thins out a significant portion of the back—and is naturally straight, but holds waves pretty well. I also have a fairly dry scalp at times, particularly in the winter.  

Describe a typical month in your haircare.

I’ve been dyeing my hair—first bleaching it to varying shades of blonde, then going red—for the past 10 years or so, and it’s done a lot of damage. My natural color is close enough to the shade I’ve got now that I can get away with doing my color once every two or three months. My colorist, Courtney Lee, always does an amazing job—she’s great about doing treatments to keep damage at bay and not overprocessing, plus, Kinloch Salon is fantastic with doing a cut that keeps it fairly short and easy to manage. Aside from the routine coloring, I don’t do much to my hair. Sometimes I’ll straighten or curl for a special occasion or if it’s lying weird in the morning, and I like to do a deep conditioning treatment once a week.

Describe your experience using the Sisley Nourishing Balm.  

As someone who gravitates toward less viscous products because they’re easier to manage with my hair, I was a little intimidated by using this balm. However, the texture was very velvety and smooth. Though it took some effort to work it through my hair because of the texture and density, I will say a little bit (like a quarter size) went a long way. The scent was fairly nondescript in my opinion, but overall I found it pleasant. I tried the balm as a 30-minute treatment and overnight, and I personally found the overnight treatment yielded slightly better results. It did take some effort to wash out, but once it did, my hair felt healthy and hydrated. 

How did the Sisley Nourishing Balm work for you? Would you use it again?

I will say it made my hair very soft and silky to the touch. However, I was a little disappointed that my hair didn’t look significantly healthier after a few uses (that also might have been because I’m on month two of my color). While I personally liked the Sisley Nourishing Balm, I do think there are products out there that achieve similar results for a lower price point.   

Related: The 5 Best New Treatments for Damaged, Overprocessed Hair

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