The Routine That Got My Hair Right Back into Shape
Megan O’Neill is the senior beauty editor at goop. Which is another way of saying she has a passion for clean products, loves anything that reduces stress, and will happily guinea pig herself in the name of wellness.
When I was a little girl, my curls got so knotted and matted that my mom nicknamed me Thing 1. (Remember Thing 1 and Thing 2, the mischievous twins from Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat? They had identical nests of wild blue hair that stood straight up in the air, and they ran around doing cute, naughty things like flying kites in the house and knocking over furniture. You must Google if you’re unfamiliar.) I was tender-headed, so much so that even her gentle attempts at brushing through my thicket of tangles made me shriek at a pitch that made my mom worry about the neighbors and made us chronically late for school (and in her case, late for work). At one point my mom actually did my hair right there in the classroom, trying to avoid tardiness.
At her wits’ end, my mom remembered a remedy she’d grown up with in Jamaica: She got a bottle of pure castor oil from the health food store and worked a few sticky drops into my hair before tackling it with a brush.
Instant miracle! The brush eased through, smoothing every burr and snarl it encountered in a single painless pass. Instead of shrieking, squirming, and kvetching, I even began to look forward to sitting down to get my hair brushed and braided.
I’m still a fiend for castor oil, and this light one from Kreyol Essence is an order-of-magnitude improvement over the stuff I grew up with. How many times a week you use it depends on how dry your hair is; mine guzzles moisture like desert soil. I smooth half a dropperful through my curls every night before bed and wake up with silky, deeply moisturized, springy, more-defined waves. It prevents tangles from ever forming, and it’s brilliantly multipurpose—hair moisturizer, hair styler, and nourishing skin care for face and body all in one—for traveling (can’t wait for that to be a thing again).
Castor oil is beloved for its rejuvenating, skin-soothing benefits in Haiti and other Caribbean islands, and this one is smoother and more absorbent than the greasy stuff of my childhood, so it’s better suited to work on all hair types, from coarse curls like mine to fine, straight hair. At the same time, it’s still full of hair- and scalp-nourishing goodness—antioxidants, omegas, vitamin E, and protein.
I also love that the founder, Yve-Car Momperousse (like Yves Saint-Laurent, she jokes), is a gorgeous Black woman who employs a 90 percent female staff in her native Haiti, where the company farms its ingredients; has planted roughly 100,000 castor trees, which helps reduce deforestation and soil erosion; and has helped lower gender-based violence and high unemployment. I’m happy I’m supporting a conscientious brand—and happy that no one will call me Thing 1 ever again.
Routine: Get Your Hair Back into Shape—Stat
It’s been a looong past few months, and our hair could definitely look nicer.
Once-a-Week Pink Shampoo-Scrub
The cloudlike lather is epic, the salt-studded whipped texture is gorgeous, the scent of rosemary and geranium is invigorating, and the way it leaves my scalp clean and feeling airy—as if a weight I didn’t know was there has been lifted—is just addictive. Make sure your hair is soaking-wet to work up the best lather. And bonus points for using it with this wondrously soothing DIY scalp massage.goop Beauty G.Tox Himalayan Salt
Scalp Scrub Shampoo goop, $42SHOP NOW
Super Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner
These look too pretty to work, but they’re incredible. Made with soothing calendula and nourishing camellia-seed oil, the shampoo cleanses and moisturizes, while the conditioner leaves my hair soft, manageable, and healthy. Hours later, my entire head still smells faintly of sandalwood and bergamot (I always want to smell like sandalwood and bergamot).Garden of Earthly Delights Botanical Shampoo
& Conditioner goop, $104SHOP NOW
The Best Brush
I love how wide and luxurious the head is, and how working the boar and nylon bristles through my wet, conditioner-doused hair in the shower (truly the best way to detangle curls with the least amount of breakage) feels like a massage. On the rare occasions I wear my hair straight, this brush is amazing for sleek, shiny ends.Philip B. Paddle Brush goop, $190SHOP NOW
Magic Quick-Dry Hair Towel
I can’t imagine washing my hair without this super absorbent hair towel that really cuts down drying time and reduces frizz. It wraps around your head in a perfect turban with a button securing it, so you can literally have a dance party if you want and the turban won’t unwind. I have a stack of four of them.Aquis Lisse Palate Luxe Hair Turban goop, $30SHOP NOW
Frizz-Smoothing Curl Cream
After the turban, when my hair is damp, I smooth in a big blob of this fantastic cream—from roots to ends, piling on more at the front where my hair is for some reason thickest—to condition and define my curls as they dry, and smooth flyaway edges. I gave a tube to my mom recently, and she, too, is hooked now. She loves how shiny and chic it makes her greys look!Christophe Robin Luscious Curl Cream with Flaxseed Oil goop, $32SHOP NOW
The Miracle Oil
After working in my nightly half dropperful, I twist my hair into five or six haphazard braids all around my head and pin them into individual little buns with bobby pins (my bed is littered with bobby pins). I wake up and my hair is crinkly and looks wind-whipped and effortlessly mussed—exactly how I want it. The oil is also genius on just-washed damp hair, and it’s the one hair-and-skin thing I bring with me if I’m spending a few nights away from home.Kreyol Essence Haitian Black
Castor Oil Light goop, $50SHOP NOW