Among the strange and regrettable things that I did to my hair between the ages of, oh, 12 and 30, were semi-regular VO5 Hot Oil Treatments. Who among you remembers this deep-conditioning concoction? Just for laughs, I pulled up the ingredient list (which probably hasn’t changed in 30 years)—and Oof…
I’m not sure what shocks me more 1) the fact that there’s not really any oil listed, or 2) that there’s actually aloe vera high up on this otherwise unpronounceable list.
Anyways, I used to love warming that little bendy plastic bottle (itself likely filled with BPA and phthalates) in scolding water, and then pour the stuff all over my sopping wet head. From there, on went a plastic bag for minutes (hours?) of sitting, as this stuff seeped into my young and vulnerable brain scalp. Le sigh. While I have no recollection as to whether this treatment had any effects beyond placebo, I did love the idea of deep conditioning my hair—a ritual I’ve lost sight of in my cleaner years.
Unfortunate really, since deep conditioning was made for my type of dry unruly hair. You’d think I’d be soaking up the argan and coconut oil on a nightly basis, and yet as much as I love natural oils everywhere on my face and body—I actually despise the feeling and results of oil in my hair. Note: I’m not talking about a little argan on the tips, which I do like, but a full oil soak like they give you during those otherwise amazing ayurvedic massages I rave about. Anyways, I’m getting to a point here I swear!
See, a little while back a reader asked—nay begged!—that we crowdsource on this very topic. Lindsey, you see, is trying to grow her hair long, and desperate for your tips on how to get beautiful shiny, conditioned hair sans the chems. Which got me thinking: I wouldn’t mind some recommendations myself.
What I do know, Lindsey, is that washing less—or almost not at all—can seriously improve hair luster for some. Though depending on the nature of your hair it can also turn it to a greasy mess for a period. Otherwise I’m a big believer in eating healthy fats for skin and hair.
What about you guys? Are we deep conditioning? Are we using oils, or just leaving in our favorite natural conditioner for a spell—maybe making our own mix with avocados?
When a brand says right on their website, “what goes onto your skin, goes into your body,” I’m going to take a closer look.
I did just that with Griffin Remedy and found some go-to products. Though I typically look for unscented skin and hair products, sometimes I do appreciate a light, energizing scent in the shower. This clean, vegan, gluten-free brand makes a variety of products, and I’m a regular user of their hair care.
Griffin Remedy Daily Shampoo and Daily Conditioner: Both have a pleasant, mild orange scent and are my very favorite scented hair products. The shampoo lathers nicely, and cleans thoroughly but gently. I shampoo every few days or so, and this one is the best for when my hair is really feeling dirty. I often choose this shampoo after a coconut mask, and it gets out just enough oil but leaves what my hair needs. The combination of the orange shampoo and the coconut oil smells sooooooo good. The conditioner is fantastic for no-shampoo days, especially when I don’t need a huge amount of moisture, but I want to use a little something. I also like it for post-shampoo, and it’s great for helping to rinse out the last bit of henna after I color. They also make a Restorative line (lavender scent) that is more moisturizing, and have a Volumizing line too (lemon verbena scent). The prices are quite reasonable, much less expensive than most clean brands I’ve tried ($8/8oz bottle). I find them in various local stores, including Whole Foods, and you can order online.
I’ve also tried in-store testers of some of their lotions (lovely, especially the grapefruit). Have you tried anything from this brand?
And for my next trick, I will interview myself about two new products from Intelligent Nutrients. (There are two more to come—so check back soon. But for now…)
What do they smell like?
Like the best Aveda product you ever tried, but better. IN, as you probably know, was created by the founder of Aveda, who sold that company many moons ago. Big difference here, of course, is that the fragrance is completely natural and organic—and smells way better as a result. It’s a mix of lemongrass, ylang ylang and geranium and I’m convinced they possesss aromatherapeutic powers. I also like to know that when I go in for a hug, my hair will smell nice. I don’t wear perfume every day other than my Lotus Wei Infinite Love stuff, which fades as natural perfumes should. So this does the trick there.
On a scale from 1 to 10, how good does your hair look when you use this stuff?
Acknowledging that these things are subjective (and relative), I’m going to go with 8. I’ve been using it almost daily for more than a month and I’ve been having really, really good hair days. Since summer is over and I’ve had lots of big work meetings lately, I haven’t been air drying as much as I did all summer. With very little effort and a little heat I’ve been accomplishing hair that’s not flat, not too bouncy, super shiny, and nice at the end of the day, too.
Do you like them better than the other hair stuff you’ve reviewed lately?
Yow. That’s like asking a mom to pick her favorite kid, which I’m more than happy to do because I’m not a parent (and a shampoo isn’t a child, and this analogy is completely falling apart). Anyway, yes. I prefer these products to the others I’ve reviewed recently—namely Acure and Yarok. But I prefer Yarok for air drying (see below) and I prefer Acure for the price, gentleness, and for everyday. So I still have those in my shower caddy, love them, and will replace them when they run out.
How does your hair look when you airdry with these guys?
Not the best. Not terrible, but I don’t get the same lovely waves and volume I get with Yarok, for instance.
Does the shampoo foam?
No, not really. It gets you clean, though, obviously. The bottles look similar, which can make showering a little confusing if you’re pre-coffee. I frequently grab the wrong one first.
So does that mean you’ve been doing that weird thing where you wash your hair backwards?
Yes! IN’s founder was the first person to teach us this trick and, no surprise, it works wonderfully well with his products. My favorite trick these days is to lightly wash just my roots with a dime-size dollop, rinse, condition all over, leave on for a few minutes, then rinse again at the roots with another dime-size dollop.
Are they gluten free?
Do they cost an arm and a leg?
How excited are you to try this stuff? And are there other Intelligent Nutrients products you swear by?
Shampoo Ingredients: water/aqua, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, glycerin,1 disodium coco-glucoside citrate, glyceryl oleate, cocoglucoside, behenyl alcohol, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, ethyl palmate,1 theobroma grandiflorum (cupuacu) seed butter,1 astrocaryum murumuru seed butter,1 citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) oil, cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass) leaf oil, pelargonium graveolens (geranium) flower oil,1 cananga odorata (ylang ylang) flower oil,1 sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil, nigella sativa (black cumin) seed oil,1,2 cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil,1,2 rubus idaeus (raspberry) seed oil,1,2 vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil,1,2 vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry) seed oil,1,2 cistus ladaniferus oil,1 glycine soja (soybean) seed extract, elaesis guineensis (palm) extract, oryza sativa (rice) extract, adansonia digitata (baobab) oil,1 aleurites moluccana (kukui) seed oil,1 xanthan gum, citric acid, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, benzyl benzoate,1,3 limonene,1,3 linalool,1,3 farnesol,1,3 eugenol,1,3 isoeugenol,1,3 geraniol,1,3 citronellol,1,3 benzyl salicylate,1,3 tocopherol (vitamin e)
Conditioner Ingredients: water/aqua, ethyl palmate,1 behentrimonium chloride, behenyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, pentaclethra macroloba seed oil,1 theobroma grandiflorum (cupuacu) seed butter,1 astrocaryum murumuru seed butter,1 cymbopogon schoenanthus (lemongrass) oil,1 pelargonium graveolens (geranium) flower oil,1 cananga odorata (ylang ylang) flower oil,1 nigella sativa (black cumin) seed oil,1,2 cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil,1,2 rubus idaeus (raspberry) seed oil,1,2 vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil,1,2 vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry) seed oil,1,2 cistus ladaniferus oil,1 glycerin, glycine soja (soybean) seed extract, elaesis guineensis (palm) extract, oryza sativa (rice) extract, adansonia digitata (baobab) oil,1 aleurites moluccana (kukui) seed oil,1 citric acid, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, benzyl benzoate,1,3 limonene,1,3 linalool,1,3 farnesol,1,3 eugenol,1,3 isoeugenol,1,3 geraniol,1,3 citronellol,1,3 benzyl salicylate,1,3 citral,1,3 tocopherol (vitamin e)
(1 means “certified organic”; 2 means “antioxidant Intellimune® seed oil complex; 3 means “aturally occurring component of organic essential oil blend”)
You know those fancy shoes in your closet that you pull out on the days when you feel like garbage? Or that lipstick that—natural or not—never fails you? Or that cute top your boyfriend bought you that you wore three times in one week because, well, it that kind of week and it’s just that kind of shirt?
This is the shampoo and conditioner version of all of the above.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way. The shampoo and conditioner are $26 apiece for 8.5 oz (which is what I’d call a “regular” size bottle). I got sample sizes of the shampoo and conditioner for free, and quickly bought full sizes when I ran out. (Transparency! See below*) Money well spent, in my opinion. Here’s why.
I haven’t smelled a shampoo or conditioner with a scent this aromatic and interesting in a long time. It isn’t sweet, it isn’t musky, it isn’t too herbal, it isn’t too…anything. It’s fresh and invigorating, a curious blend of lavender, cedar, mandarin, orange, and rosemary that smells like all of those and none of them at the same time. And most important, the scent doesn’t alter strangely as the day goes on.
I still adore my Acure, don’t get me wrong. It’s my go-to for everyday washing. But the smell on Acure morphs for me. (More transparency! See below. **) It doesn’t go off, per se, but it doesn’t smell as great as when I first step out of the shower or dry. This bums me out slightly, because I have a weird nervous tick where I pull my hair in front of my nose and smell it when I’m anxious. (I’ve also been known to do this when I’m flirting, which is awkward.) I do this many times every day! When the smell isn’t as good, I’m bound to notice. That said, I still use it every day and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value out there.
Still, it’s nice to use something sort of luxe, and something that offers different results entirely.
I used this several days in a row last weekend and air-dried every time. As a frequent air-dryer in the summer, I have to say I noticed a major difference in how my hair looked and felt (and smelled—did I mention the smell?). It’s a volumizing line, and my waves were left sort of perfectly beachy, but with no frizz whatever and they felt really, really silky. Not oily. Not coated in sillicone. Just, well, touchable and soft. The marshmallow root is probably one of the reasons. It’s a slippery substance, and often used in shampoo and conditioner to help detangle and smooth the hair. It’s also used by herbalists for eczema, psoriasis and other skin irritations, which might explain why the rash on the nape of my neck, which comes and goes, and which I sometimes don’t mind and sometimes drives me completely insane, went away with a few days of use.
Also in there, calendula and chamomile, both of which my skin happens to love.
Finally, Yarok is one of those givey companies, donating 3% of annual sales to The Pachamama Alliance, a nonprofit devoted to helping land preservation in the Amazon.
Have you tried Yarok? Did you love it? Try anything else new for hair lately?
Shampoo ingredients: Purified Water, Decyl Glucose and Lauryl Glucose, Coco Protein, Seaweed Extract, Organic Herbal Infusions of Coltsfoot and Marshmallow Root, Calendula Blossoms and Chamomile Flowers, Chickweed, Horsetail, Slippery Elm, Comfrey Root and Sea Buckthorn CO2, Nettles and Oatstraw, Organic and Wildcrafted Essential Oils of Lavender, Atlas Cedar, Red Mandarin, Sweet Orange & Rosemary, Grapefruit Seed Extract
Conditioner ingredients: Purified Water, Vegetable Emulsifying Wax, Organic Herbal Infusions of Coltsfoot, Chickweed, Nettles, Horsetail, Slippery Elm, Marshmallow Root, Comfrey Root, Calendula Blossoms, Chamomile Flowers & Oatstraw, Organic Jojoba Seed Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Seaweed Extract, Organic Aloe Vera Gel, Calendula CO2, Organic and Wildcrafted Essential Oils of Sweet Orange, Rosemary & Vetiver, Vitamin C, Sage & Rosemary, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Organic and Wildcrafted Essential Oils of Geranium, Tea Tree, Lavender, Ravensara Aromatica, Rosemary & Lemon, Sage & Rosemary Antioxidants, Grapefruit Seed Extract
* See what we did there?
** Since so many of you want to know the negatives, here you go! The stuff smells weird on my a few hours later. Sniff!
Get ready, you guys, because we’re about to announce our third (third!!) annual Summer Hair Challenge, in which we ask you to forgo leave-ins and heat for a day and then send us a snap from your phone.
You can take a look at our two previous galleries of product-free, air-dried hair here and here to see what we’re talking about. Last year we got well over 100 photos sent to us, and we were over the moon. This year we want even more, so consider this your early mental-preparation warning.
First, we’re not against using leave-ins as long as they’re clean (and if they’re not clean, we’re not against that either—do your thing!) but we have a dorky maxim about cosmetics in general that goes like this: “More products, more problems.”
What we mean by that is, most conventional products—and especially ones for hair—create problems even as they try to “fix” others, which then necessitates more products. Think of silicone-based leave-ins that coat the hair, then need to be stripped off with harsh shampoo, which then requires a fistful of conditioner, a defrizzer, and maybe a finishing gloss, too.
Second, we’re not against heat styling, either. When it’s cold out, I use heat almost every single day. Whenever I can get away with it, though, I leave my hair alone, and here’s why: When I first started doing this regularly, I didn’t even recognize my own hair. Here’s what I said at the time:
I used to wake up, hop in the shower, use Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine shampoo and conditioner, or if I was feeling rich I’d use Rene Furterer’s stuff. Then I’d load Phytodefrisant onto my wet hair, and once blow-dried (and sometimes also ironed), I would use one or two finishing serums that probably had silicone or some other garbage in it.
My hair looked how I wanted it to look, but do the math: That’s expensive, and a pain. I was also unwittingly exposing myself to 11 of the 20 ingredients on the Black List in our book—daily. (For more on what’s in shampoo, check this out.)
Anyway, eventually I realized the unmanageable nature of my hair was squarely the fault of the products I was using, and when I made the switch, my hair chilled out.
So that was neat.
But this challenge isn’t really about all that. It isn’t about what’s bad or what’s good. The reason we like the Summer Hair Challenge so much is in part seeing pictures of all of you, but also hearing your stories. Some people had gone years without knowing what their hair looked like air-dried. How cool is it that they tried? And for those of you who do this every day, God bless! We’re going to want your pictures, too.
So in preparation, we want to know: Do you use leave-ins every day? What about heat? And how excited (or pissed) will you be when we ask you to stop both for a day? Have at it.