You'll be seriously impressed by the innovation of the Marie Claire UK Hair Awards winning breakthrough acts

Beautiful, considered and smart hair

Marie Claire UK Hair Awards 2024 - Breakthrough Acts - gettyimages 1202125485
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It can take so long to perfect your ultimate hair wash, care and style product line-up that you can feel bound to your choices but believe us, when you see the next-gen in product innovation you’ll be making space on your bathroom shelfie ASAP. 

These breakthrough acts were favoured by our Marie Claire UK Hair Awards judging panel for their point of difference, coming in and shaking up the hair market. Whether that’s with a heritage brand innovating with sustainability or a new beauty disruptor that’s innovating the way we take care of our hair and scalp, you need the low-down on these standout brands and products. 

Want to see the rest of the winners? Don't skip over the incredible winners in Tremendous Treatments, At-home Salon Saviours, Superstar Stylers and Haircare Solutions.

How are the products tested and judged?

The Marie Claire UK Hair Awards judging panel is formed of a host of industry pros from professional hairdressers and salon owners to journalists, content creators and hair experts to ensure that all products are thoroughly put through their paces.

Here are the best breakthrough acts in hair care for 2024…

Best Innovation - Product

Winner: K18 Biomimetic Hairscience Molecular Repair Hair Oil

Molecular and oil aren’t two words you normally hear together in hair care but K18 seems set out to continually work beyond the boundaries of care and style products as we know them. This oil is a pre- and post-styling must-have which repairs damage from the inside out - an antidote for chemically-damaged or heat-damaged hair. Speaking of heat damage, it protects strands against heat styling up to 232 degrees Celsius too. Marie Claire UK's Executive Beauty Editor and judge, Shannon Lawlor, is a big fan; “I adore how lightweight and effective this is,” she says.

Highly Commended:

Living Proof Full Texturizing Foam

Best Innovation - Tool

Winner: ghd Duet 2-in-1 Hot Air Styler

What’s the cardinal sin for hair straightening? Using your tool on wet hair, right? So you can understand how confusing ghd launching a wet-to-dry styling tool was for us. But what's even more confusing is how effective it is at creating a sleek and smooth finish. It’s a true breakthrough in innovation. 

The Air-fusion technology channels airflow to dry while the plates at a low temperature straighten. Shannon Lawlor calls this the “best wet-to-dry styler on the market by a long shot.”

Highly Commended:


Best New Hair Brand

Winner: Act+Acre

Labelled as the world’s first cold-processed hair wellness brand that focuses on your scalp, Act+Acre shunned the traditional methods of creating products and opted for a way that preserved more nutrients for its plant-based products. Not only are the products efficacious, but sustainability is key, from the packaging and the ingredients they choose to the fact that they use 90% less energy than competitors to create its products. “This is a really exciting brand,” says judge and Hair Stylist Adam Reed.

Highly Commended:


Best Sustainable Brand

Winner: Garnier

With the launch of GOOD, Garnier set out to shake the table of the old-school at-home dyes and try something that few manage - create a great formula and be sustainable - in a section of hair that can be pretty wasteful. GOOD is a hit from all perspectives. It has a 90% natural origin formula, with no ammonia and is boosted with nourishing shea butter, lasts up to eight weeks and offers up to 100% grey coverage. To encourage reuse, you can purchase a starter kit with the bowl and spatula and then keep both for when you repurchase just the colour and believe us, you will keep coming back to this colour.

Best Vegan Brand

Winner: alott

This brand brings efficacious products with little filler but packed with naturally-derived vegan ingredients that achieve their purpose. The selection is small, with shampoo and conditioner bars, a matte clay and sea salt spray in the line-up so far but trust us you’ll want to make space in your hair styling stash for this innovative brand that’s environmentally astute too. 

Best New Wash & Care Product

Winner: Hair by Sam McKnight Bigger Love Volumising Treatment Mask

The Hair by Sam McKnight team continues to release products that become mainstays in our weekly routines and this mask is no different. It's a must-try for reversing lacklustre hair that’s also lacking volume. So many masks are created with thicker strands in mind, often weighing down finer hair. This, on the flip side, is created with volumising in mind. “It’s got a cool girl approach and insane scents and deep deep conditioning,” notes Session Stylist and judge Syd Hayes. What’s not to love? 

Highly Commended:

Keune Haircosmetics Revive Balm

Best New Colour Product

Winner: Hairstory Purple Color Boost

This innovative colour shot is designed to be used with the brand’s much-loved hair cleanser but can be added to any shampoo to help re-tone blonde hair and bring it back from the brink of brassiness. The violet flower complex in the formula combines lavender, rosemary and violet extracts which are all rich in antioxidants to neutralise yellow tones that might be poking through, saving you the need to buy or swap your current fave shampoo. “I love the concept, branding and product,” says Syd Hayes. 

Highly Commended:

Josh Wood Colour Root Smudge 

Best for Environmentally-Friendly Packaging

Winner: VIOLETTE_FR Frange Puff Dry Shampoo

The traditional dry shampoo has been tipped on its head with this innovative delivery from VIOLETTE_FR. Dismissing the aerosol can for something entirely different, we have the Frange Puff, a featherlight dust texture to soak up all the greasiness, prolonging the need for a hair wash in convenient, hygienic and planet-friendly packaging. The brush can be taken off to wash too so it can be hygienically used time and time again. "This is my new beauty obsession," says judge and Marie Claire UK's Senior Beauty Editor Katie Thomas. "I love that it doesn't leave residue in my hair, that I can apply it exactly where I need it and that you can remove the brush for cleaning and buy refills."

Highly Commended:

REHAB. Shampoo Sheets

Best Natural Formula

Winner: Sudtana Nourishing Hair Mask Oil & Scalp Revival Treatment Set

Hair feeling in need of a complete root-to-tip revival? Enter SUDTANA’s treatment set that helps to rejuvenate the scalp and nourish the lengths of your hair in a two-step system. “I really loved it,” notes judge Gina Conway, hairdresser and salon owner. “The smell is divine and my hair looks and feels glossy with no silicones or plastics in the formula masking my hair's natural shine.” 

The formula is packed with nature’s wonders such as bergamot, turmeric and sesame oil, combining anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Gina continues, “I love the sustainability story and all of the manufacturing is aligned with an ethical guideline. The products felt refreshing on my scalp and the ability to absorb on my hair was better than other products in the category.”

Highly Commended:

CHES Editions The Ultimate Oil for Hair

Best Natural-Ingredient Shampoo

Winner: L'OCCITANE Purifying Freshness Solid Shampoo

While there’s no doubt that solid shampoos are better for the planet in so many ways, sometimes formulas can be a little drying due to the amount of soap in them. This offering from L'OCCITANE is formulated with peppermint along with essential oils (thyme, grapefruit, mint, lavender and cedar) but without any silicones or sulphates. It’s perfect for oilier hair types that need to limit sebum on the scalp as it soothes and rebalances as it cleanses. 

Highly Commended:

Innersense Organic Beauty Pure Harmony Hairbath

Best Natural-Ingredients Conditioner

Winner: Odylique Lavender Conditioner & Detangler

“Excellent brand,” says Marie Claire UK’s Beauty and Style Director Lisa Oxenham who always has a keen eye on effective natural brands. This multitasking conditioner doubles up as a leave-in or rinse-out product, a mask, or even as a split-end treatment cream. The potent ingredients include aloe vera juice, avocado, sea buckthorn, shea and virgin coconut for rich nourishment and moisture.

Best Hair Accessory

Winner: Paradisefold Champagne Campaign Fold

“Brilliant to find a silk head wrap that actually stays on!” says judge and Stylist Karen Williams. If you are a scarf wearer and move even slightly in the night you know the annoyance of your headscarf wriggling off while you slumber. Thankfully with Paradisefold, you don’t have to worry about that, so you can enjoy the benefits of protecting your locks with less tangles and softer, shinier-looking hair. Oh and the designs are so chic, “I love the fact it's reversible too,” adds Karen.

Highly Commended:

LILYSILK La Terra Silk Scrunchies

Keeks Reid
Keeks started her career in beauty journalism in 2013 as editorial assistant at Blackhair and Hair magazines working her way to Acting Editor of Blackhair magazine at 23 years old. She now works with a range of companies, from consumer and trade magazines and websites to beauty brands and salons. She regularly contributes to Cosmopolitan, Who What Wear and most recently became a regular on ITV's This Morning.