Here are some herbal essences conditioners that I own (all intensive masks in the jar)
Smooth and Soft Tousle Me Softly Hello Hydration
(Dry/Damaged/Frizzy Hair) (Naturally Wavy Hair) (Dry/Damaged Hair)
The first five ingredients are
|Smooth and Soft||Tousle Me Softly||Hello Hydration|
|Stearyl Alcohol||Stearyl Alcohol||Stearyl Alcohol|
|Behentrimonium Chloride||Behentrimonium Chloride||Behentrimonium Chloride|
|Bis-Aminopropyl Dimethicone||Cetyl Alcohol||Cetyl Alcohol|
|Cetyl Alcohol||Bis-Aminopropyl Dimethicone||Bis-Aminopropyl Dimethicone|
The ingredients really are virtually identical. All three conditioners have the same ingredients and they virtually follow the same order. The only change is the position of bisaminopropyl dimethicone and cetyl alcohol in smooth and soft. However, I would not read too much into it as in truth if you have the same amount of cetyl alcohol and bis-aminopropyl dimethicone you can list either one first.
The real test is in using the product and for me there are clear and distinct difference
Smooth and Soft - I used to think hello hydration was awesome until I met this guy. This is an all singing, all dancing conditioner with incredible softness. It has quite a strong scent but the softness it gives makes it worth bearing.
Hello Hydration - The one I used to love. It does give hair a wonderful softness but it has been trumped by smooth and soft.
Tousle Me Softly - Nothing bad but nothing to write home about either. I only bought it because I have a herbal essences fetish...if they make something I will try it (except for straight hair/shine). I have also tried beautiful ends (in a red jar marketed for split ends) and the result is similar - nothing to write home about.
There are subtle differences in these products that you cannot tell by looking at the ingredients. The difference may be as little as 0.5 to 1% more of a particular ingredient which does not necessarily change its position in a list but radically alters the feel of the product.
I would always recommend that you read the product claims. Clearly the conditioner for naturally wavy hair or for hair with split ends is not for me as my hair is not naturally wavy and it does not really have split ends. The conditioner that works best for me is one for dry and frizzy hair (I do not describe my hair as frizzy but I would think that when the average joe describes frizz, my natural curl pattern would fall into that definition at the extreme end.)
If you have ever picked a product for something that did not affect your hair for example curl enhancer when your hair never makes clumped curls or for bleached/colour treated hair when your hair is not colour treated, you may experience that the product simply does not work. Equally you may have bought a product which was designed for your hair but did not work as promised.........you need to try something else, the formulation may work for someone else...just not you.
In short, ingredients only tell you part of the story. The second part is the claim and the third and most important part is the actual test. Read the ingredients, read the claim and above all, TEST the product.