If I'm a maximalist with my skin-care routine, I'm the polar opposite when it comes to my hair. While I am all about exfoliating and moisturizing my complexion, I tend to avoid treatments that do the same for my hair or scalp. I rely heavily on dry shampoo to get me through several days between washes, and I lack the patience to spend much time styling my hair. As someone with a fine texture that tends to fall flat easily, I'm a big fan of anything that can help me keep greasiness at bay and enhance volume. That's exactly what Amika's new pre-shampoo cleansing oil accomplishes.
If you, like me, are super lazy, this is probably the point where you're questioning why on earth I'd want to incorporate an additional step into my hair-washing process. I get it. But I'm a huge fan of Amika and was intrigued when the brand sent this my way. It relies on a sunflower and sea buckthorn oil base to moisturize hair and skin while also breaking down grime, sebum and product buildup lurking on the scalp. A combination of French pink clay and charcoal provide another hit of cleansing power (both ingredients absorb dirt and impurities) while a small amount of menthol creates a refreshingly tingly sensation to really drive home the purifying vibe of it all.
You use the thin-nozzled bottle — which vaguely resembles one of those squeezable ketchup containers you'd encounter at a diner — to apply the formula directly to the scalp in sections. You're supposed to use it on dry hair before you get in the shower, distributing the product at the roots and massaging it around a bit with your fingers before letting it sit for five minutes. When you jump into the shower to rinse it out, it emulsifies (like an oil cleanser for your face would) and foams up a bit, though not to a crazy-sudsy point like a typical shampoo.
You can follow it up with your usual shampoo and conditioner routine, and I found that it really only added about 20 seconds to my usual process, since the applying-and-massaging process is quick and easy. The results were really amazing: My hair immediately had that squeaky-clean (but not dry!) feeling, and when it came time to style I noticed it was shiny and had more body than usual. The whole process makes total sense if you think about it as a hair version of double-cleansing: The Amika oil is your oil cleanser, shampoo is your water-based cleanser and conditioner is like your moisturizer or serum. Since hair products, environmental pollutants and natural oil production can create a gross, dulling buildup on the hair (and also potentially cause issues like clogged pores, flakiness or dryness on the scalp), having this type of oil-based cleanser to dissolve, absorb and whisk those away is a game changer.
Amika Reset Pink Charcoal Scalp Cleansing Oil, $25, available here.
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