Friday, 11 June 2010

Aubrey Organics: Ingredients Order Discrepancy?

Two recent comments prompted me to contact Aubrey Organics to explain some things! One from CBx mentioning that AOHSR (honeysuckle rose)  advised to deep condition on dry hair and the second from Intelligentbeauty who advised that AOHSR has coconut fatty base as its first ingredient not water

If you can recall in my five ingredients posts ( here and here) I stated that if the first ingredient in a conditioner is not water then you should be highly suspicious. So I penned off a questioning note to AO.

Jc: Should water be the first ingredient? (Highlighting courtesy of me!)

Aubrey Organics says, 'The issue that you bring up is due to different labeling standards used in our labeling and your assessment (that water is among the key ingredients) is correct. Coconut fatty acid cream base is actually made up of many different ingredients such as Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Aloe Vera. The detailed breakdown can be seen in our web site

Jc: Different Labelling Standards?

Aubrey Organics says, 'Before INCI standard (International nomenclature of cosmetic ingredients) become the most accepted standard in cosmetic labeling, Aubrey Organics listed its ingredients in common names. Hence coconut fatty acid cream base is the common name Aubrey Organics choose in its labeling.We are updating our labeling to reflect the newer INCI standards and if listed in INCI, indeed water (aqua) would be among the key ingredients (click on INCI names in our website for more information.)'

Jc: Why deep condition on dry hair?

Aubrey Organics says,'As to applying conditioner to dry hair - some of our conditioners can be left on hair for "deep conditioning."  For instance, GPB Conditioner and Honeysuckle Conditioner are loaded with many nutrient oils and butters such as Wheat Germ oil and Shea butter.While the norm (as listed in labels) is to apply conditioner to damp hair (after shampoo), for deep conditioning of hair the product can be applied to dry hair, left for 15 min.  and then shampoo/condition once more. In summary - applying to dry hair and leaving on for 15 mins allows the hair;to absorb the nutrients.'

1. My conclusion on the water question: Yes I noticed how AO avoided saying water is the main ingredient but acknowledged it is a 'key ingredient'. I did however note that the coconut fatty acid base does indeed start with water and looks suspiciously like any normal hair conditioner. To cut a long story short, water is always top dog in conditioner formulations (i.e water based ones, if it is a solid clay like paste then different story). It is really highly unlikely that coconut based fatty acids (i.e cetyl, stearyl, cetostearyl alcohol) would be higher than water in a conditioner. These thicken up water at very low levels (circa 3% in water).

2. My conclusion on the deep condition question: I did not place the quotation marks around deep conditioning! (Seriously I didn't, I'm a known sceptic so I have to make it known lol!). As for the explanation, I do not care much for it. I do think an oil coating prior to shampoo can be beneficial. Do shea butter and wheat germ oil actually get absorbed by hair? If so would 15 minutes be enough? I would write to AO again but then again..............maybe not lol.

As always, my approach is about using facts. My feeling is that AO's products despite the dodgy label (yes it is dodgy in my opinion!) seem to be well received by you, the public. I also appreciate that they took the time to answer my questions (2nd attempt though!) and therefore clearly show they value your custom. I am certain something is right about their formulation and advice. If it works for you, don't change it, I am just a fact seeker!


  1. JC, I truly love how you investigate and get to the bottom of the matter, the truth!! I have used Aubrey Organics in the past, but since my hair has changed over the past year so have my current line-up of products.

    What do you know about rice bran oil? I've heard of oils like coconut, olive, avocado and maybe a few others being used on hair, but never rice bran oil. This is one of the ingredients in a product I just discovered and I couldn't really find too much info on it. I'd like to know what benefits it has for hair if any. Thanks!

  2. They do have dodgy labels! But the AOHSR, oh the AOHSR! I will be very interested to see what those labels look like as they update them.

  3. It's funny you made about post about AO--after years of reading rave reviews about HSR-- I finally saw it in store and purchased it. I have yet to try it out, or look at the ingredients lol. I think I'll use it tomorrow and see what happens.

  4. Mikimu - I know about rice bran oil for cholesterol lowering but really haven't seen it discussed for hair. I will check it out for my ingredients dictionary.

    Katie and Danyelle - I know AO products are raved about so they must be doing something right formulation wise. I do think they should be more forthright though (plus it is the law!!)

  5. Have the bottles changed recently? I know changing labels tends to lead to some discrepancy because of formula changes that led to this label swap. Have they admitted that the formula changed/Has anyone noticed that it's different?

  6. Alice - I don't know if they have changed formula but you are certainly right that this can be a reason to swap labels.

  7. JC, I apprecriate you looking into this. I think that is deceptive of them to not list ALL of their ingredients in a very plain way. But you know I am finding that with alot of all natural or organic hair care lines. They are leaving ingredients out or disgusting them. I believe AO probably did that to show their organic side, with no chemical names that would distract people that wouldn't understand them(ex: cetyl alcohol). Overall, I am anticipating this label change and hopefully formulation is the same because I love my AOHSR;-)

  8. Great post. I tried this product, but it did nothing for my hair and it was too thick for me. I attributed the thickness to the lack of water. Thanks for posting this. I definitely think they need to be more transparent about their products.

  9. Jc, thanks for this post! It's quite timely because I'm phasing plastic out of my life. Finding hair and soap products not in plastic containers is nearly impossible,though. So, I'm like, okay, I'll make my own. It may not be as good as the store-bought, but it'll be more sustainable, blah-blah. So the first thing I wanted to try to make was a copy of AOHSR. And as I was thinking about it, I was like, "What the hell is coconut fatty base?" Where am I gonna find that at Whole Foods/Trader Joes/Random Healthy Store?"

    Now that I know it's just mostly a marketing ploy, I will probably make conditioner out of oils/butters, aloe vera juice/gel (which I guess contains lots of water), and some sort of emulsifier.

  10. Thanks for the investigation!

    AO HSR Shampoo and Conditioner are staples of mine but I had no idea what 'coconut fatty acid base' (conditioner) and 'coconut oil-corn oil soap'(shampoo) were.

    The UK AO site told me that the 'coconut oil-corn oil' soap in AO SHR Shampoo is coco glucoside and I am ok with that. I just wish they would be more honest with the labeling.


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