Monday, 12 December 2011

Hair Conditioner Claims : Should you take them seriously?

I am now addressing the formulation question, why do products within a brand have similar ingredients but claim to do different things?

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
Aqua Aqua Aqua
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 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.


  1. My favourite is the smooth and soft as well but I've switched to the curls coconut sublime conditioner. It smells yummmy too!!!

  2. I am really enjoying this "conditioner ingredients" series.Being natural can be overwhelming when it comes to finding the right product.I am glad you can help us to identify, the fluff/hype as all hair companies want our natural hair pound lol!

  3. Hmm..thanks for that assessment...


  4. excellent blog. soooo glad i found u!!

  5. Thanks for the info! I am 4 months natural and feel a little closer to finding my go-to conditioner after reading your assessments...I am a PJ in search of my routine...this is EXHAUSTING!


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