We have a tough question to ask you, one that we’ve been asking ourselves.
If you could only use 5 products—total—what would they be? Yep, it’s that childhood game, and we’re gearing up to make it a challenge, so think carefully: What would you take with you on a desert island?
Alexandra would probably take Rare Elements Conditioner, Tammy Fender Repair Balm, RMS lip-to-cheek in Rapture (though she’d shed a big tear for Ilia’s Bang Bang), Afterglow Concealer in Praline, and a good bar of soap. Or no soap—the ocean will clean her!—and her Laura Mercier waterproof mascara instead? Ugh, tough decisions.
Siobhan would take her Acure Shampoo (hydrating enough for her to forgo conditioner), Tata Harper’s Refreshing Cleanser, Laura Mercier Minerals (they’re clean!), 100% Pure Mascara and, like her pal, the Tammy Fender Repair Balm.
Now, tell us in the comments what you would take, and begin to mentally gear up for one of our most exciting (and challenging) challenges yet!
When my sister finds a hair product she loves she’s the type to seriously stockpile—I’m talking supplies for months! She’s no hoarder, though: As fellow curlies can attest, there’s just nothing worse than running out of your formula. It’s a habit that’s only intensified since she went clean, given that certain products aren’t easily found up in Canada. Knowing this, and also that we would be sharing a bathroom on a recent visit to our parents’ house, I opted to travel sans hair product.
I was surprised—but also excited—to see that she’d recently taken up with the new Harmonic Conditioner from Intelligent Nutrients. I was also surprised—but excited—when I read the ingredients label: The phenoxyethanol is gone! (The old formula is still out there though, so be sure to doublecheck when purchasing… That’s the update.)
See, we’d steered clear of this line at first because it contained the ever-controversial phenoxyethanol. We have nothing but the highest regard for Horst Rechelbacher—founder of Aveda, current head honcho at Intelligent Nutrients, and all-around genius; the man practically starred in our book! So we figured he had his reasons for going with phenoxyethanol and that we’d just have to live without this line…
Alas, good news for everyone: it’s out! I’m not entirely sure when they reformulated but phenoxyethanol wasn’t listed on my sister’s bottle, nor is it on their site. What’s more is that I absolutely loved the conditioner: It was just the right thickness for my taste, smelled great, and detangled brilliantly. At $24 it’s not exactly a steal, but it’s a big bottle and I think it will complement my more expensive but still beloved Rare Elements. I’ve copped to an expensive conditioner habit in the past—being that it’s pretty much my only hair product most days.
For the same reason (dirty hair) I also cannot report on the shampoo. We’ll have to get Siobhan to try it, but in the meantime: have any of you given it a whirl? What about the conditioner? Or were you, too, holding back on this?
If you’re wanting to try the line, you can often find Intelligent Nutrients products at Whole Foods (also know as our Sephora) and it’s available at NuboNau as well—regular partners in our Friday Deal bonanzas. Both NuboNau and the IN store also ship to Canada, just in case you’re wondering. :)
Image via Intelligent Nutrients
Remember those Dare cookies that you were always bummed to find in the pantry when you were a kid because they had currants in them instead of chocolate chips? But you might as well have one anyway, you’d reason, because you could lick off that really good white icing that tasted kind of like sugary coconuts? Anyway, if you do remember those cookies, and you remember how good they smelled, then you’ll have an idea what my hair smells like right now.
Last night I whipped out the brand-new Glossy Locks shampoo and conditioner—a new line from none other than 100% Pure, whose face sunscreen I love—and stuck it in my friend’s face. “Is this…too much?” I hadn’t tried it yet but the smell was overwhelming in an I-can’t-tell-if-this-is-good-or-bad way. “No way,” he said. “It smells like those cookies.” I’m fairly sure we were talking about different cookies—he’s a New Yorker and I think those currant cookies are a Canadian thing—but the cookie consensus was in. This shampoo and conditioner smells super sweet.
The even better news? While intensely smelly coconut things are usually artificial mélanges cooked up in a lab in New Jersey, this stuff is completely synthetics free, and it doesn’t linger on your hair and make you smell like a teenager.
But enough about the smell. What’s it like to use?
The shampoo is more of a cleansing milk: Few to no bubbles, and you need very little. It’s thin and watery, like a rinse, but applied to my roots and massaged in it was definitely cleaning my hair. The conditioner, meanwhile, is super rich—almost as rich as the Rare Elements Alexandra and I looooove (ahem, and you may have noticed their logo just went up on our site… you know what that means!). So I melted about a tablespoon worth by rubbing my palms together, then ran it through my hair. The whole experience was really rather pleasing.
Now, whenever I try a new hair line, I put it to the airdry test. When you own a good hairdryer, it’s impossible to tell what’s a miracle of heat styling and what’s product. Well, you’re in for it, Glossy Locks, because it’s set to hit 92 degrees in New York (ew) and humid: The perfect day to road test a new regimen.
The result so far? Since I’ve been up for HOURS I think it’s fair to assess: Bouncy, shiny, contained waves and basically zero frizz. Not bad, I’d say. Not bad. (And if something goes terribly wrong by lunchtime, I’ll update this post, promise!)
UPDATE: I was a greaseball by 8pm :( Like, total greaseball. Couple things: It was really hot yesterday, and I might have used too much. Today I used it again and used way less conditioner and didn’t put it on my roots. So far, so good. Stay tuned.
Here are the ingredients below. Japanese honeysuckle abstainers won’t like that in there as a preservative, but the rest of the list is clean as a whistle. And as for the “coconut flavor,” since the company promises it’s synthetics free with no artificial smells, too, I’m guessing they’re using food grade 100% natural flavoring to boost the smell a little.
Shampoo Ingredients: Honey, Concentrates of Green Tea, Burdock, Nettle, Rosemary, Peppermint, Rose Petals, Calendula and Hibiscus, Aloe Juice, Vitamin E (a-tocopherol), Coconut Milk Powder, Saponified Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Wheat Protein, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Colloidal Oatmeal, Neem Oil, Citric Acid, Extracts of Japanese Honeysuckle, Grapefruit Seed, Thyme, Oregano, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Lavender and Goldenseal, Coconut Flavor.
Conditioner Ingredients: Infusion of Green Tea, Burdock, Nettle, Rosemary, Peppermint, Rose Petals, Calendula and Hibiscus, Aloe Juice, Honey, Rapeseed Oil, Vitamin E (a-tocopherol), Avocado Butter, Virgin Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Cetyl Babassuate Oil, Rice Protein, Wheat Protein, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Colloidal Oatmeal, Neem Oil, Vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate), Coconut Milk Powder, Citric Acid, Extracts of Japanese Honeysuckle, Grapefruit Seed, Oregano, Thyme, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Lavender and Goldenseal, Coconut Flavor.
At $9-18 for the shampoo and for the conditioner—$18 for EIGHT OUNCES—and considering how little of each product you need, this seems like a good deal to me.
Let the covers of women’s magazines tell it and you’d think seasonal change only means one thing: getting your body beach-ready (do people really do this?). But for me, it’s always meant getting my hair right.
I’m a huge fan of letting my mane do its thing during warmer months (see last year’s fun summer-hair challenge, for proof), but after a long winter of daily heat styling and dry air, my hair has seen better days. I suspect I am not alone in this! And so I want to help.
The most important aspects of any hairdo are, of course, healthy hair and a good cut. I love my hairdresser, and if he weren’t gay I might want to marry him, but I’m trying to let my hair get longer, so I’m spacing out my visits. HOWEVER! The waves I so love when I air-dry are, well, limp now.
In order to get things looking better as it grows out, I’ve tried LOTS of products and even—gasp—one dirty one. I won’t tell you about that one because it gave me a rash and I only used it once, but I will share five clean products I tried and loved. And if you don’t like these, or want to save your cash, there’s always coconut oil. And avocados.
1. Argan Oil (prices vary)
Arganoilarganoilarganoil. I’m a broken record, I know (there’s nothing like the zeal of a convert, right?). I’ve slept with Kahina Giving Beauty and Amal argan oils in my hair many times, and the next day, after a light shampoo, my hair always looks and feels and smells amazing, with no greasy buildup. I do it extremely rarely for a simple reason: It’s just too “rich” for my stupid hair. Not rich like heavy, rich like expensive. For the price I pay—and I believe it’s worth every cent—it means my face gets to use it, not my split ends.
2. Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue Styling Gel ($12.99)
I’m wild about this gel. I put it on my ends wet or dry and it holds nicely. I also sometimes use a pea-sized amount on the hairs around my face, when the hair is still wet. It’s not a typical gel—the texture reminds me a little of aloe—there’s no crunchiness or wet look, obviously, and the ingredients are squeaky clean. It’s nongreasy and smells light and fresh in a unisex kind of way, which gives you full license to throw out your boyfriend’s Dippity Do when he’s not looking.
3. Rare E’lements EL Treatment ($44)
This serum-like treatment is delightful. We both love it and use it with some frequency as an overnight treatment or a leave-in for day on our ends. It smells incredible. Like, “Ooooo! What perfume are you wearing?” incredible, thanks to the ylang ylang and other scented oils. I might go so far as to say that, with frequent use, my ends actually look markedly better than they did. I try to avoid overpromising, but this product really is a winner, and it seems to be more of a winner the more I use it. A dab will do ya, and even with several-times-a-week use, I have a long way to go before I’ll have to repurchase.
4. Whatever is left on my hands after I apply body oil ($0)
Oil-rich body lotions or body oils contain a lot of the same ingredients as natural hair treatments, so if your lotion pour was on the generous side, use the leftovers on your wet hair before drying. I do this probably two or three times a week instead of using a hair product, and it works well. Plus, it saves money and encourages the kind of ingredient savvy and multitasking we’re fond on.
To prove how clean this product is, Horst made me drink it when I met him. Little did I know it would become the only go-to hair product I would use and reuse for almost two years straight. A word about the name: Maybe it’s because my hair is heavy to begin with, but I’ve never understood why this product is called a volumizer. That said, we both absolutely love it as a leave-in, and have been using it and repurchasing it religiously since we discovered it while writing the book. (Other ladies: Please weigh in if you have tried it and found it gave you a boost at the roots! Is this a volumizer for you?) One bottle lasts several months to half a year, it smells incredible, and it helps smooth wild ends and flyaways. It also makes heat styling much easier.
OK your turn. What have you tried as a hair treatment? And do you do the beach-body thing? (Just kidding!)
Vintage hairdryers via
Last week we were asked in the comments to explain our stance on phenoxyethanol after it showed up in a product in our Friday Deal. First, full transparency: We didn’t realize that phenoxyethanol was in this product until after the post went up. It was an oversight due to some excitement and haste on our part and being mere mortals, we messed up. It’s not to say we wouldn’t have done the post anyway—but we should have combed the ingredients list first, just like we always do, and included a mention of its presence in the post. At the same time, we’re not losing sleep over it either. In a second we’ll tell you why.
What is phenoxyethanol? It’s an ingredient that is now ubiquitous in cosmetics. It’s often used as an alternative to parabens (there is a great piece—and debate—about it over here, at Truth in Aging), it gets a 4 on Skin Deep, and it’s on our list of 20 ingredients in the book to avoid. The data about its safety is conflicting, because data about these things is always conflicting, but we’re of the mind that in general, the ingredient should be taken out of products. While many clean companies initially thought it was a safe replacement for other preservatives, they later found out it wasn’t so clean after all. So what to do?
In the book we put this ingredient on our black list. But we’d like to quote the book directly here to remind everyone of our philosophy on such matters. Here’s how we prefaced the black-list section:
“We’ve included [this list] here for quick reference, but remember this: not all ingredients are created equal, so use that logical mind of yours. If several of these are showing up on a bottle, you can write the brand off with confidence. If just one appears on an otherwise clean list, then head to Skin Deep for the better picture, or call the company directly to ask them about it.”
One thing we have tried to avoid like the plague is extremism. Another thing we avoid: Picking fights, in-fighting in the natural beauty world, and finger pointing. For us, there’s a gigantic difference between companies that are greenwashing and companies that have one or two questionable ingredients in otherwise clean formulations. Some of our favorite companies still use it in certain formulations—like eye pencils, for instance, or other makeup—but not in other products, and literally all our favorite retailers carry brands that use phenoxyethanol—if not the actual product that contains it (and kudos if you’re being that strict!). But this is to say, the ingredient is still very popular in naturals! But it’s on its way out, and we are very, very happy about that.
So our stance is this: We want ALL clean companies to take it out. We also understand that this can’t happen overnight. Many of these companies have worked really hard to put out clean products, and reformulating is a tall and expensive order. Like we said, we avoid it. But we’re not about to throw the baby (or, um, natural beauty company) out with the bathwater.
As for Juice Beauty, they’ve been actively working with their lab to take it out for some time now, and it’s not in any of their new products. They’re also updating their site to feature full ingredient lists.
Another brand we like, Rare Elements—which uses it in its shampoo, but not in its conditioner, which we do use—is also working on taking it out. Owner John Amato explained to us that when he decided to use it, it was still considered safe, but that he’s spent the last two years now trying to reformulate the shampoo without it.
So for us, for now, we are going to judge its use on a case by case basis. Like we wrote in the book, we think there’s a logical way to approach this stuff that encourages progress. And we are ALL about progress.
So now we want to hear from you: Is phenoxyethanol a deal breaker? Is a company’s transparency enough for you to support a brand that uses it—and there are many more that use it, other than the ones we have named here—or do you look for perfectly clean products?
Let the debate begin!