Thursday, 8 December 2011

Hair Conditioner: Why should you read the label?

Last time, I discussed what formulation is and why it is important. Today here are some examples.

You may know that in UK herbal essences comes both in a jar (marked as an intensive treatment) and as the tall bottle (regular conditioner, available in US as well)

the infamous picture
However what you may not know is that the ingredients in the jar and bottle are different. Click on the pictures to enlarge them if you wish.
Ingredients: Hello Hydration Tall Bottle
Ingredients: Hello Hydration Jar

I generally only look at the first five to six ingredients (here is why). Therefore the key part of this list is

Tall Bottle Jar
Aqua Aqua
Stearyl Alcohol Stearyl Alcohol
Cetyl Alcohol Behentrimonium Chloride
Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine Cetyl Alcohol
Glutamic Acid Bis Aminopropyl Dimethicone
Bis Aminopropyl Dimethicone

Although both products are marketed as 'hello hydration', they are very different products. 

The Jar: Behentrimonium Chloride in the jar is an excellent surfactant for softness . The jar is marketed as an intensive conditioner and the addition of this ingredient quite high up in the list is likely to be what contributes to the softness experienced

The Bottle: The tall bottle contains stearamidopropyldimethylamine as its key surfactant. This ingredient gives slip to hair but is also easy to wash off. It will add softness to hair but not as much as behentrimoinum chloride.  The bottle also contains glutamic acid which is an amino acid which can be taken up by hair from conditioner (but interestingly not from water........we'll talk about it another day).

My experience has been:
Jar: Wonderful softness that lasts for days. Not much slip.
Bottle: Excellent slip but not much softness. If left on for too long (hour plus) can make hair feel quite strange - kind of crunchy, kind of crispy but not brittle......very odd.

Next up: Same brand, different conditoners, same ingredients..........different effect?


  1. I always look for Behentrimonium Chloride in my products. Stearalkonium chloride is also a great softner. It's in my Scurl No Drip and it makes my hair very soft and moist. Great post!!


  2. very interesting. I CANT wait for part two. It always bothered me so see the same ingredients on different bottle yet they claim to do completely different things!

  3. Thanks for the lovely comments:)

  4. hello i was just wondering about sodium hydroxide in the jar version .. I know its in relaxers is it safe to use for my natural hair anyone ? thanks

  5. i was in tesco the other day and they now make their own version of this conditioner and some others.. cheaper of course...hmmmn i checked the ingredients and they seemed similar but i can't vouch for that. However i did find that midly amusing. any thoughts?

  6. anon on sodium hydroxide - please just search the blog, there is a post already on this

    chatter box - pantene and l'oreal also have similar ranges with similar ingredients. I will go into it next week but in essence just because the ingredients are similar does not mean the effect will be the same.

  7. My question are natural ingredients better than their synthetic counterparts for example Giovanni Leave-in has a lot of natural ingredients? I've always wondered? :)

  8. oh gosh I never knew this. thanks for the advice!

  9. Marie - I am certain that some botanical ingredients can be great but Giovanni in my opinion (I stress my opinion) is not one of them. I have the leave in and it is not that great at all. It works as a moisturiser but only for a few hours. If you make the mistake of using more than a drop then you get a white coating on your hair.

    The reason in my opinion is that the only substantive ingredient in it is cetyl alcohol. It is my opinion that they place natural sounding ingredients in plenty at the top to make the product look good. In other words the 'extracts'(rosemary, thyme...blah blah blah) that they list quite high up in the list are nothing more than a few chopped up herbs added to water and then that water is used to make the product.

    I feel that if there was proper research and formulation done some botanical/natural ingredients could help a product become better.

    Many synthetic ingredients do have a natural origin. Things like cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol and even behentrimionnium chloride are referred to by some companies by the more consumer appealing name 'coconut oil derived base' or 'coconut fat derived base'

    It is better in my opinion to ask yourself if the product works as you want it to. This is the guide as to whether the ingredients in it are doing their job.

  10. Thank you Jc for your thorough answer. Ingredients are very important to me and i don't buy a product unless i approve of them. :D

  11. I've been using Hello Hydration conditioner for awhile now. I bought it because so many naturals seem to love it but now that I'm almost a year into my HHJ and know more about ingredients I am thinking it may now be too much for my fine hair since it is much healthier than when I first began using it. What do you think? My hair is a 3c/4a combination (I think, lol) and I'm worried HH may be over moisturizing it and that the coconut extract in it is a protein.

  12. Mary always listen to you hair, if you think it is time to try something new, then do so. Sometimes products do stop working.

  13. Tresemme naturals conditoner in the uk is different from the usa one as well the uk version is better :-P

  14. you are so stupid, they are obviously not the same products, they are two completely different products, under the same range. they are hello hydration, but one is a treatment masque, the other is a general conditioner.

    1. lol Anon, you are so hilarious. You do realise that we are not 5 years old here, calling people names reflects only on your obvious lack of maturity. Why are you here anyway?


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