The Product That Changed My Life: Julie Klam

When you discover a product with truly transformative powers, you wonder how you ever lived without it. In this exclusive Birchbox series, women from all different backgrounds and professions reveal the personal stories—sweet, hilarious, and even moving—behind their own product epiphanies. Here, best-selling author Julie Klam tells us about her love affair with SHU UEMURA Art of Hair Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil.

I’m a firm believer that each of us was put here on this great earth to quest for a particular product. For example, I have a friend who is always looking for the perfect white shirt. Staring at the vast white expanse of her closet, I have accused her of secretly harboring a boys’ choir. With me, it’s hair-glossing products.

Back in the early aughts, I was introduced to my first hair oil—until that time I had no idea my hair was so dull. Other people’s hair seemed to sparkle like new pennies, and dammit, I wanted me some of that. The first attempt made my hair shiny, but the stuff smelled like a 1960s Canarsie hair salon (I used it nonetheless). A few years later, thankfully, better-smelling hair glosses hit the market. Tucked in between the larger, workhorse bottles and sprays on drugstore and beauty-supply shelves, they came in tiny glass atomizer things, looking more precious—and costing more—than their neighbors. They were called "serums,” like something that might inspire you to tell the truth about how your hair got that way (under severe torture). When it comes to my tresses, I prefer to take Blanche DuBois’ tack: I tell what ought to be the truth.

Two years ago, as I was getting my usual double-process blond with a few highlights followed by a blowout, my stylist picked up a tall glass jar, pumped out a quarter-sized amount of liquid, and started working it through my hair. It looked really, really good, but even more important, it smelled amazing—and more important still, it really seemed to penetrate the hair shafts (sorry to use scientific language) and make my hair smoother and shinier than I’d ever seen it. I whipped the chair around and threw the guy over the blow-dry station, screaming, “WHERE DID YOU GET THIS?” Well, perhaps not quite that dramatically, but I did exclaim loudly, and he revealed the elixir: SHU UEMURA Art of Hair Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil. At first, I was a little wary—I’d once almost bought a Shu Uemura shampoo, and it was a tad more money than I was used to paying…for rent. Sure enough, I nearly fainted when I heard the price, but my stylist quickly pointed out that it works, and it will last a long time—and, again, it works! All that shine had gone to my head, so I bought it, figuring I could go the rest of the week without eating. And you know what? Two years later, I still use that very same bottle every day. There’s still plenty left, and I have long hair—long, dry, color-treated hair. It’s the best product I’ve ever used. I read that someone called it “liquid gold,” and in my opinon, that’s not overstating it.

Julie Klam is the author of Friendkeeping and Love at First Bark, among other books. Follow Julie and her shiny hair on Twitter @julieklam.

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