I AM NOT A BEACH PERSON, nor do I frequent chlorinated pools. Nonetheless, just being outdoors regularly, in the sun, without a hat (they make my head sweat), produces hair that resembles straw. Graying straw.

Since I know the you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours relationship between the purveyors of beauty products and the editors of magazines, I am infinitely skeptical about recommendations I see in the glossies. I am also pretty jaded by the tendency—particularly noticeable in France—to create a different “treatment” for every square inch of the body (elbow cream, eyelash balm, behind-the-ear refresher). However, when I saw PhytoPlage Protective Beach Spray mentioned (twice!) in Madame Figaro, the Sunday ladies’ magazine that comes with the weekend newspaper, I took note. Reader, I bought it. The decisive factor was the metallicized orange pump spray bottle. It looked as if it had spent time on the Côte d’Azur.

In 48 hours this blend of oils (in the U.S., $22 from beauty.com) has made my hair wavy and glossy, despite a daily three-mile walk in the sun. A few blasts are enough. For me, the only downside (mentioned in some negative reviews on the site) was its rather noticeable scent. It does seem to dissipate after a while in the open air.

But now I’m wondering if I was wrong to abandon the home brew of lemon juice and olive oil—a recipe passed on to me by a friend who got it from her mother—that I have used in the past. Would I rather smell like a salad than a beauty parlor?