this thing's incredible

I’m Dropping My Olaplex Habit for This Oil That Gives Me Shampoo-Commercial Shine

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist

Once upon a time, my hair was Rapunzel-like in length (past my waist) and in smoothness. But years of blow-dryer-brush heat, infrequent trims, and intense detangling sessions have turned wash day into a rescue effort. The last step of my routine, applying a styling product, now isn’t just for the sake of protection but a way to conceal the consequences of my hair-care sins: split ends, wild frizz, and dullness that borders on mousy.

The problem with most of these finishing products is that they have the thickness of whipped cream and never fully melt into the hair, even if you apply the prescribed “very small amount.” The closest I’ve ever come to the One, though, is the Olaplex No. 6 Bond Smoother, which does the heat protecting and damage repairing well enough but still leaves a trail of stickiness behind. I’ve kept an eye out for a successor, and after almost half a year, I think I’ve finally found it: the True Botanicals Hair Shine & Protect Hair Cream Oil, which launches today.

It’s no secret that the clean-beauty brand — which counts Olivia Wilde and Laura Dern as part of its “band of activists” — is known for its priciness. This reputation made me immediately suspicious of its new hair oil, but because I was between bottles of Olaplex, I said yes when the brand offered me the chance to try it out ahead of its release.

This is the part where I admit to being completely wrong. The first drop of oil felt invisible in my hands, while adding the second (per box instructions) thickened the consistency to that of a sunny-side-up yolk. This was enough to cover my entire shoulder-length head of hair, which helps justify the $52 price tag, though that’s only a few dollars more than similar oils in this tier.

My hair soaked in those drops easily, and I blow-dried as I normally would, twisting clipped-off sections around my barrel brush. When I flipped my hair over post-blowout (in an attempt to achieve Fawcettesque volume), the effect was something akin to what I would get in a salon chair: smooth, bouncy, and impossibly shiny. With my oily roots, greasiness is a constant, but True Botanicals gives me a glossiness reminiscent of what you’d see in a shampoo commercial. Even my mother, who notices when a single strand is out of place, complimented me on how my hair looked the morning after I first used the oil.

Although I’ve relied on it as a heat protectant, you don’t need a blow-dryer to use this product. Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens (who was also gifted a bottle) air-dries her curls but has never found an oil that isn’t too heavy for her superfine hair texture. This formula, which includes antioxidant-rich passion fruit and moisturizing pracaxi-seed oils, is especially hydrating on her overdue-for-a-trim ends. With the True Botanicals in, you wouldn’t know she’s in need of a cut, she says.

And that’s a big part of its appeal: The oil has an incredibly natural finish. There’s no uncomfortable crunch, as when you’ve been overzealous with the hairspray or gel. It goes on with a verdant scent that’s not overly saccharine or chemical, and it dissipates completely once the blowout’s done. (I got an extra day out of mine, with no fly-aways to be seen.)

What you’re left with is your hair feeling like its best self — I can even see mine going back to its lustrous, fairy-tale-princess lengths. And because the True Botanicals can smooth, polish, and protect against heat without any telltale stickiness, I won’t be reordering the Olaplex after all.

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I’m Dropping My Olaplex Habit for This Smoothing Hair Oil