Bad branding can doom even a good product. Think about the old-school girdle—okay, look it up. This former staple undergarment was phased out and ignored for being uncomfortable and old-fashioned, which left women who wanted some support to cut off the legs of their control-top pantyhose (I saw this recommended on Oprah once) until Sara Blakely came along and invented Spanx.
Think that's the only old-fashioned product that deserves a re-invention? Think again. It's probably always been true that most women don't wash their hair every day, but now there's a whole economy devoted to it, from dry shampoo to blow-out bars. But if you're looking to make your hairdo last, what you really need is a good shower cap.
I grew up wearing shower caps, because my hair has always been thick and usually been long, and just getting it dry sometimes feels like a Herculean task. But my version of a shower cap was a thin layer of plastic and a weak elastic, most likely hotel freebies. These days beauty brands are re-inventing the shower cap to make them more effective and more modern.
I first tried a shiny, gunmetal-colored version from All Caps ($52), which has many good arguments why it's the most technologically advanced shower cap on the market. The inner lining is silky to keep a blowout from getting mussed, and the outer shell is waterproof, fungus-resistant (so you can leave it in your damp shower all day) and hypoallergenic. You can even turn it inside out if you're putting a messy treatment on your hair.
The cap is huge, so even if you have the magnificent mane of, say, Courtney Harrell from The Voice, it's gonna fit inside easily, and microfiber band soaks up any and all water before it can come near your tresses. In fact, All Caps markets itself as an option for not just showers but also for sleeping and spa days.
As soon as I started using it in the shower, I noticed a difference. The frizzy wisps around the hairline that always pop up in humidity failed to materialize after my shower, and my thick hair overall was less poufy. Not having to twist it up into a tightly secured bun or ponytail meant no more post-shower kinks from the elastic. Day three hair looks much closer to day one hair, without even a touch of dry shampoo.
There is only one downside to the AllCaps cap, which is that it looks so spectacularly silly. I love how it keeps my hair soft and manageable, but the only way I'd sleep it in is if I wasn't in a serious relationship or if I'd been in a serious relationship for several decades. Nothing in between is gonna fly. Which is why, for all its impressively thought out features, I can't call AllCaps a modern shower cap. That title belongs to the Shhhowercap.
Shhhowercap's aesthetics and marketing are that of a company that takes itself seriously as a fashion product. Designed to look like a fashion turban, the caps ($43) have a sleek profile and come in an a handful of colors and prints, including a red and black graphic stripe print named after Beyoncé. Once I got past the hurdle of thinking that any shower cap could ever be cool, I had to admit that these are pretty damn cool. (It helps that model Joan Small Snapchatted a pic of herself in one.)
In addition to a sleeker profile, the Shhhowercap has many of the same advancements—a waterproof, anti-bacterial and anti-humidity exterior, a rubber grip at the band to hold it in place, and an expandable pocket in the back (where a low ponytail would go) to make room for all your hair. And I could totally see wearing this not just in the shower but around the house, or even on the streets, should I feel the need to channel the fashion turban vibe of Greta Garbo or Elizabeth Taylor.
At $43 for the Shhhowercap and $52 for the AllCaps, these are not cheap, especially when you remember those old plastic freebies. But if they save you from a single extra blowout, they've paid for themselves. Or a more affordable option with some of the same material advancements can be found at DryBar for $16. That one's not quite street-ready, but if all you want is to protect your tresses in the shower, it'll work.