I've tried a lot of luxury hair lines over the years, but their ingredients disappoint me, from the $33 a bottle Kerastase (full of parabens) to the $37 Oribe and the cult-fave Living Proof (brimming with endocrine disruptors like synthetic fragrance and butylphenyl methylpropional). They're just not products I feel good about massaging into my head, and I'm certainly not going to pay top dollar to do so, you know?
But if you look hard, you'll find that there are haircare splurges that are both healthy AND luxurious. Meet Olja. This brand new handmade line (it just became available in the fall of 2012) is packed with some of the finest natural beauty ingredients, and bottled in elegant violet glass to preserve the integrity of its natural oils. These products are expensive, but in most cases you only need a small amount at a time. The founder of Olja, Amy Lindwall, is a seasoned stylist who believes that our hair is an extension and an expression of our well-being and our physical selves. She hand cultivates and picks the herbs used in Olja products on her farm in Upstate New York, and uses principles of medical herbalism to formulate them. The love and quality in these products shows!
Here are the 4 Olja products that I'm obsessed with (they rival products from any prestige hair care line—and they're natural!):
Luxury Scalp Oil ($38). If your scalp is any sort of unruly, whether it's flaky or extra-greasy, this oil has an ingredient to help. Its botanicals also stimulate hair growth and strengthen the hair follicle. I love the smell, and the natural cooling action that you feel when you apply a small amount to your scalp.
Ingredients: sweet almond oil, lemon oil, rosemary oil, clary sage oil, cypress oil, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, peppermint oil, tea tree oil
Texturizing Hydrosol (not yet available for online purchase). This is the product you'd use to create beach waves and textured hair while sunning yourself in the French Riviera or on the shores of Italy. It has the best in natural ingredients—from sandalwood to dead sea salt—that just make your hair feel natural, and a little wild.
Ingredients: sandalwood hydrosol, Dead Sea salt, rosehip oil, citric acid, aloe vera, ylang ylang, glycerin.
Scented Hair Powder ($42). Finely-milled and scented with soft, powdery essential oils, this is a truly lovely hair powder that also adds texture and strengthens hair with silica. It doesn't contain any talc or chemical ingredients that you have to worry about inhaling as you brush it on (though you never want to actually breathe in a powdered product of any kind). It's available in Light, Dark, or Warm, and can be custom-blended to match your hair color.
Ingredients: corn flour, rice powder, clay powder, sodium bicarbonate, horsetail powder, essential oils
Luxury Hair Salve ($56). This delicious-smelling salve is great for defining the curl in naturally curly hair types. It also softens and adds shine to the ends of hair, and protects hair from damage and heat styling (or a swim in the ocean).
Ingredients: jojoba oil, shea butter, beeswax, burdock root, comfrey, calendula blossoms, chamomile, essential oils
One thing I'd change about Olja: I don't think the word 'luxury' needs to be named in of so many of these products. Their ingredients, performance, and packaging instantly tells you that they're the best of the best.
Lindwall tested Olja products on her clients for years before launching her line in 2012. You can find them online at ojlahaircare.com.