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.
Our cabin upstate in Woodstock, New York, came fully furnished: There are more lava lamps than you’ve ever seen under one roof. And more wind chimes. And more peace signs (pillows, posters, towels, a bath mat). Zany portraits of wizards and elfin creatures hang on the wall. The pièce de résistance is the bathroom, which teeters on stilts above the kitchen, treehouse-style, and in a strange architectural twist, lacks a ceiling. The house is weird for sure—“eclectic” is how we brand it on Airbnb—but we love it and can’t bring ourselves to change a thing.
Staying there really does the trick when we need to get out of our heads and relax, hike, make pizzas from scratch, go on nonurgent errands, and read. My favorite way to unwind, though, is to soak in the hot tub, icy spiked lemonade in hand. The tub is perched on the back porch and looks out over a dense forest. I sip my drink, tilt my head back, shut my eyes, and the world goes still.
There is one drawback: chlorine. I try not to get my hair wet but invariably end up splashed or sink too deep into the water in my blissed-out haze. And just as chlorine kills bacteria in the water, it destroys hair, stripping away its natural oils and making it look like absolute hell. Even when I manage to keep my head dry, the chlorine-filled steam gets me anyway, seeping into my curls and turning them frizzy and bedraggled.
So I make a beeline for the shower after a soak, especially when I’ve remembered to pack my favorite après-hot-tub hair-salvaging tricks. The linchpin of my easy routine is this thick, creamy, whipped mousse shampoo studded with chunks of mineral-packed pink Himalayan salt, along with a gorgeous blend of essential oils. It’s a scrub designed to cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize the hair and scalp, and it leaves my hair beautifully silky, nourished, and refreshed. The scalp has oil glands just as the rest of our skin does and, similarly, accumulates dirt and buildup; the scrub clears everything away and leaves nourishing conditioners in its wake.
As I massage it in (try this quick acupressure massage next time you’re in the shower—it is heaven), it generates a frothy, cloudlike lather. (Pro tip: The wetter your hair, the foamier the lather.) The scent of rosemary, geranium, orange, and peppermint essential oils blossoms around me and stays with me the entire night. Cold-pressed moringa and rose hip oils go to work softening my hair as the detoxifying salt sloughs away grime, oil, buildup, and of course the hated chlorine.
I rinse it out and my head feels almost the way my teeth do after a visit to the dentist: refreshed and awakened, sensitive to even slight ripples in the breeze. And my curls are left downy-soft and shapely, with no frizz.
Next comes conditioner from Rahua. I’m completely obsessed with how shiny, manageable, and unreal-soft it leaves my hair—and with the way its intoxicating scent (it’s made with mango and passion fruit extracts) gently wafts through my hair. The shell-pink cream is swirled with nourishing, sustainably-sourced-from-the-Amazon oils, and I treat myself to yet another rousing scalp massage as I smooth it in. The brand is devoted to environmental preservation and—best thing ever—just came out with refillable bags of both shampoo and conditioner, which takes my Rahua appreciation to the next level. You pour the contents of the bag into your empty bottle; it couldn’t be easier, and it reduces plastic consumption by 90 percent.
When I’m out, I wrap my hair in the brilliant Aquis towel. I swear it ruins you for all other towels: It’s made of a super absorbent, super soft material that dries any hair type faster than a regular towel and at the same time minimizes breakage and frizz and helps boost shine. I like the turban version because I can literally dance around for the ten or so minutes I like to keep it on and it never unfurls.
The step that really dictates how great my hair looks is the last one: the leave-in treatment. Supremely moisturizing, curl-defining, and frizz-smoothing, castor oil is a dream for dry textures, and this one from Kreyol Essence has an ultralight consistency that makes it work no matter what your hair type. I squeeze out half a dropper and work it through my damp curls, paying extra attention to smoothing the tight corkscrews at the nape of my neck.
My even-lighter alternative hair oil is the jasmine hair serum from Ranavat. It’s super smoothing, and it smells like an explosion of wild jasmine flowers, so it doubles as hair perfume.
I also love this anti-frizz milk. I spritz it through my damp hair when I don’t need something as intensely moisturizing—it’s an excellent heat protector if you blow-dry your hair. Or I smooth it into my ends as I’m braiding my hair up before bed and wake up with beachy, crinkly, French-girl texture (the brilliant aloe-and-shea butter formula is from legendary French hair guru Christophe Robin).
Whether I’m hot-tubbing in the woods or laptopping at my kitchen counter, my secret-weapon hair lineup always delivers—and feels almost as relaxing as the vacation I’m craving right now.