Entertainment journalist and influencer Sylvia Obell knows about gorgeous hair. 

The media personality and podcast host is a fixture across your social media platforms; you can catch her rocking a variety of styles and looks during her interviews or recording her podcast, “Okay, Now Listen.” Since her career keeps her in the spotlight, she makes sure to keep her hair on point and her focus on Black Girl joy. In that spirit, her hair philosophy is simple: "Don't be afraid to have fun with your hair!”

The key, she discovered, is going back to your roots. 

The first-generation, Kenyan-American influencer, who rocks knee-length gold braids as her signature style, credits her culture as an influencing factor in her style, even as her looks have changed over the years. From getting her hair braided by her mom as a kid to navigating her hair journey after the Big Chop in college, Sylvia discovered that the key to healthy, thriving hair is top-notch scalp care.  

In a commitment to helping women discover the essentials of scalp care, 21Ninety is partnering with Sephora to get an inside look into Sylvia’s scalp care regimen, her can't-miss hair care tips and her favorite product pickups from Sephora that she uses to nurture her roots and keep her hair happy and thriving.

Welcome to Sylvia’s Regimen:

Hair Concern #1: Product Buildup

Believe it or not, one of the biggest culprits of an irritated scalp comes from product buildup. Even though we were historically encouraged to engage in habits like routinely using oils and butters to soothe an irritated scalp, it turns out overuse of those products can actually make the problem worse. It leaves buildup that sits on the scalp without giving it the chance to breathe. Now we know better, and thanks to science and better technology, there are improved products out there. To combat buildup, Sylvia regularly turns to her Sephora arsenal to target and clarify as an essential part of her hair-care routine.

Some buildup busters to try: 

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Happi Scalp™ Scrub: A scalp scrub that uses organic AHA/BHA compounds to dissolve dead skin cells. 

Amika Reset Charcoal Detoxifying Scalp Cleansing Oil: A gentle pre-poo cleanser that detoxes the scalp and rinses clean after shampooing. 

Virtue Exfoliating Scalp Treatment: A lightweight scalp treatment that removes impurities and adds moisture and balance to the scalp. This one is great for color-treated hair. 

OUAI Detox Shampoo: A clarifying shampoo with apple cider vinegar and keratin that deep cleanses all types of buildup. It’s a perfect sidekick for scalp care after wearing wigs and units. 

Hair Concern #2: Flaky & Irritated Scalp

You don't have to look very far to find someone who hasn't had to battle with the effects of an irritated, flaky scalp. And while nothing is as frustrating as a reactive and shedding scalp, flakes and irritation is actually our scalp's cry for help. Sylvia's pro tip? "The key is really listening to your hair. Usually if your hair is dry or itchy, that's it telling you that it needs attention!" And it is always a good idea to tune in and check for what your scalp is trying to tell you. Over time, a neglected scalp can lead to dandruff or hair loss or worse. Your best move is to take care of calming your scalp at each step of your hair-care routine, from pre-poo to rinse out.

Some of Sylvia's favorite scalp cleansers: 


Mizani Wonder Crown: A foaming pre-cleanser that is great for invigorating the scalp before shampooing. Leaves scalp feeling refreshed and is the perfect product for fine strands. 

Adwoa Beauty Baomint™ Moisturizing Shampoo: A gentle, moisturizing shampoo that cleanses the scalp of impurities without drying it out.

Moroccanoil Dry Scalp Treatment: The ultimate scalp treatment that gives instant relief for itchiness and dryness.

Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Scrub Shampoo: A gentle scalp-nourishing shampoo that uses soothing charcoal to detox the scalp and lift away impurities. 

Hair Concern #3: Hair Growth & Maintenance

While each of us have unique hair experiences and genetics, we all want to give our hair its best chance to grow lush and healthy. And if part of your hair journey means contending with the after effects of wigs, tight braids or extensions, or even just nature-given hair growth patterns, the ultimate goal is to maintain hair health. For Sylvia, that meant changing her approach to hair care after making the Big Chop. Instead of getting discouraged that her hair wasn't growing as full and strengthened as she wanted, she shifted her approach and began treating her hair as if it were a plant, focusing on nourishing it from the roots up. 

What is Sylvia using to nurture her roots now?

Kerastase Genesis Strengthening Serum: A lightweight serum that is perfect for building strength back into weakened hair strands. 

Living Proof Scalp Care Revitalizing Treatment (NEW): A strengthening scalp treatment serum that nourishes the roots. Can be used before blowouts or as part of a nighttime routine. 

Fable & Mane HoliRoots™ Pre-Wash Hair Treatment Oil: The perfect pre-wash treatment that is safe for all hair types and textures. Gentle, strengthening and silicone-free oil that is safe for color-treated hair and protective styles.

Whether rocking braids, sew-ins, a curly 'fro or trying out a brand-new signature style, what it all comes down to is making sure that your scalp-care routine is on point, which is key to having fun with your hair. And fun is the flame that fuels that #BlackGirlJoy. Sylvia agrees. "I spent so many years afraid to try things because I was afraid of taking a risk," she says. "But being at this time in my life, I've learned that I don't need to ask for permission!"

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Sephora.  

– By Natalie Webb