As some of you know, every Wednesday we feature new favorite products on Open Sky. Today we’ve added a shampoo and conditioner set from Acure Organics. Siobhan reviewed this line back in November, so we thought we’d repost. Have you tried it?
I’m going to do a Q&A with myself about this new shampoo and conditioner from Acure Organics, because that seems, in this moment, to be a funny and easy break from form, since I’ve reviewed a bunch of shampoos and conditioners lately. Also, easy to read for you guys, right? Heh.
Does the shampoo get your hair clean?
LOL! What? Yes! Obviously.
Is there residue left over?
No, actually. The shampoo has a nice lather—hard to get in naturals—and rinses out pretty easily. Ditto the conditioner, which I typically leave on my hair for a couple of minutes as I shave my legs or sing or something.
Does it smell nice?
I’ve only smelled the argan oil shampoo and conditioner—there are three different kinds, with three different smells and oils, by hair type—and I love the smell so much! Spirit Demerson sent me the duo to sample to try and review (she sells them on her site), and I BBMed her after I first tried it freaking out about how nice is smells. Like almonds, kind of, with a citrusy smell that cuts the sweetness of the almond extract. I love how the smell lingers on my hair too. It makes me feel good about hugging people. (Does everyone think about how their hair smells during hugs?)
Does the conditioner weight down your hair?
Only if it’s opposite day. Which is to say, no, not at all. My hair has a nice bounce to it, no residue (see above) and it’s SHINY, probably thanks to all the oils in there.
Do you like it enough to use it—and only it—every day?
Which means it’s probably prohibitively expensive right? Like all the other stuff you like?
Hey! That’s not true! OK, it’s sometimes true, but no, this one’s totally affordable! 12 oz. for $10.99.
I’m new to Acure. Do you like the rest of the line?
We’re new to it too! I haven’t tried anything else from them, but their price points are amazing, and the ingredients are clean, so I’m thinking this might be the beginning of a love affair.
Finally, is it…clean?
See for yourself:
Shampoo ingredients: Organic Euterpe oleracea (Acai) Berry, Organic Rubus fruticosus (Blackberry), Organic Rosa canina (Rosehips), Organic Punica granatum (Pomegranate), Organic Fair Trade CertifiedTM Rooibos, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Vera Leaf Juice, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate (from Coconut), 100% Naturally-derived Betaine (from Sugar Beets), Vegetable Glycerin, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate (from Coconut + Amino Acids), Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate (from Coconut + Amino Acids), Cocoglucosides Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride (Sugar Conditioner), Sodium Levulinate (from Corn), Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride (Guar gum conditioner), Potassium Sorbate (food grade preservative), Organic Argania Spinosa (Argan) Oil, Organic Fair- Trade CertifiedTM Olea Europea (Olive) Oil, D-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (vitamin E), Hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) seed oil, Organic Curcubita pepo (Pumpkin) seed oil, Ubiquinone (CoQ10), Argania spinosa (Argan) Stem Cells, glycerophosphoinositol lysine (from sunflower), Almond Extract, Cinnamomum aromaticum (Cassia Bark) Oil
Conditioner ingredients: Organic Euterpe oleracea (Acai) Berry, Organic Rubus fruticosus (Blackberry), Organic Rosa canina (Rosehips), Organic Punica granatum (Pomegranate), Organic Fair Trade Certified™ Rooibos, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Stearylkonium Chloride, Vegetable Glycerin, Glucono Delta Lactone (fermented sugar), Organic Argania Spinosa (Argan) Oil, Cetearyl Glucoside (from corn and glucose), Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride (guar gum conditioner), Glyceryl Stearate (vegetable-derived), L-Arginine (amino acid), Organic Fair Trade Certified™ Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Sorbitan Olivate (from olives + sugar), Panthenol (Pro-vitamin B5), Cellulose (plant derived), D-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (vitamin. E), Lactic Acid (vegetable derived), Hippophae rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) seed oil, Organic Curcubita pepo (Pumpkin) seed oil, Ubiquinone (CoQ10), Argania spinosa (Argan) Stem Cells, glycerophosphoinositol lysine (from sunflower), Prunus dulcis (Almond) Extract, Cinnamomum aromaticum (Cassia Bark) Oil
Have you guys tried this stuff? Or anything else from Acure?
Guess what’s the last thing in the world I want to think about? Correct: Whether or not my beauty products, which I am already very picky about, are gluten-free.
But I’ve been performing a somewhat irresponsible (and unscientific) study on myself in the shower, and the results are in: Shampoo and conditioner that contains gluten totally gives me a rash. Well, sometimes.
This should not surprise me. I am allergic—not intolerant—to gluten,* and have been strictly avoiding that pesky protein for about 6 years now.** This is not a big deal! I avoid wheat-substitute foods for the most part, but I love what I get to eat, I cook a lot, I make it work. You would think that, knowing what I know about transdermal absorption, it might have occurred to me at some point that I should eliminate it from my beauty products too. But it did not.
Problem: It’s everywhere. Another problem: Whether or not I react to it is unpredictable, and probably has to do with particle size, concentration, and how aware I am of my own symptoms. Sometimes I’m totally in tune with these things; sometimes I treat my body like a garbage can and notice nothing. (Rare! But true story, I do it.) Now, some gluten-containing beauty products cause a reaction—specifically, an itchy-rashy back of neck, which drives me bonkers and makes me very self-conscious—and some do not. Complicating things is the fact that other ingredients also cause a neck rash to flare up: Stress, hair dye, SLS and SLES, you name it.
It’s one of those things where I’m inclined to say I don’t really know what to do about it—except I do. I need to eliminate all beauty products that contain the stuff and then pray to the rash gods that the itch stays at bay.
And so, dear readers, I turn to you: What gluten-free shampoo and conditioner do you love? And have you ever noticed a similar reaction to gluten—or some other ingredient in your naturals?
* Gluten, as most of you almost certainly know, is the protein in many grains, including wheat. Wheat is very commonly used in hair products, often in the form of hydrolyzed wheat protein.
** When I eat it by accident—an extremely rare event—terrible, terrible things happen. Not gross, but like, indescribable pain. And then a black cloud of death comes over me, mood-wise, as well.
So how’s this for irony: The weekend I decide to do the Summer Hair Challenge for my picture is also the weekend I go upstate with friends and dutifully pack my toiletries, not forgetting my toothbrush for once and even remembering to bring my Hope Gillerman Muscle Relief and my Lotus Wei Infinite Love Elixir. What’s the one thing I forget, though? My clean shampoo and conditioner, naturally.
Especially ugh because before hopping in the car, I took a sweaty yoga class—which meant showering and hair washing was going to have to happen at some point. Another problem? We’d planned a scary-hard day hike and after that, indulgent massages at the lovely (and, I’m happy to report, ALL-CLEAN) Mohonk Mountain spa, which, incidentally, carries Lotus Wei—but not shampoo and conditioner. En tout cas, a massage meant someone was probably going to rub oil into my sweaty-from-hiking scalp, necessitating more hair washing.
Maybe you’re thinking, “What on earth is wrong with this chick—can’t she live with a little dirty hair for a weekend?” I mean… Greasy hair is bad enough, but when it’s greasy and sweaty and the air is damp but also hot, it’s a recipe for feeling completely revolting. Plus, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little curious about the Aveeno and the Pantene in the bathroom…
Would my hair be all silicone-sleek and easy to manage? Would I maybe even love the smell? Would it dry quicker with the blowdryer? Would I discover volume I hadn’t seen in ages?
Uhhhhh, ahhhhhhh! Here’s what happened.
Shampoo, day one. Yup, I totally used the Pantene. I read the ingredients while I lathered it into my scalp, trying not to remember what Dr. Mitchell Kline told me while we were writing the book (refresher: Sulfates go right into your scalp!) and banishing thoughts of the inevitable rash to come. I took a deep breath and holy fragrance, batman. Here’s the thing: Alexandra used to use fistfuls of this stuff and hugging her was always a delight because I adore her but also because her hair always smelled so delicious. We’ve talked about this before but it’s always surprising when it hits you again: When you abandon synthetic fragrance and then come upon it again (in an elevator, say, or at Sephora), it kind of makes you want to die. Anyway, I washed my hair with those gigantic Pantene bubbles, slicked on some silicone-filled conditioner, rinsed it and found that my hair felt very slimy even after a long hard rinse. Next up, the blow dry.
Once done, my hair looked, in a word, sick. It was super-shiny from the ‘cones, but not in a pretty way. The ends were going every which way, and it was limp at the top. The smell got to me, too. Better luck next time?
Shampoo, day two: This time I tried the Aveeno. Aveeno’s marketing always irks me (I find it to be greenwashy) and it’s not at all gluten-free, but I did notice it lathered a lot less than the Pantene (though still way more than, say, Rahua or C Tonics) and the fragrance was further down on the ingredient list, making the scent far less pungent. I used a tiny amount on my scalp to rinse the massage grease from me, and then decided to forgo conditioner altogether. There was still oil left over from the spa, and silicones don’t typically wash off in a day. Lo and behold, I could draw a comb through my hair no problem without conditioner. But…
Once dry, I was afflicted with the same gross-shiny mane. Only difference: Lots of volume at the roots, and a less lingering scent.
When I got home last night I decided to wash my hair with my clean stuff and air dry it, then I went to sleep. The resulting photo is my Summer Hair Challenge picture. I emailed it to Alexandra this morning with the subject line “Where’d my waves go?” and in the body of the email: “Let’s discuss.”
Consider this post that discussion. After a weekend of using gross products, my hair isn’t what it would have been otherwise. I’m not mad at how it looks today, but it isn’t exactly representative of how it normally looks when I airdry, and I think it might be a week or so before it’s back to normal.
Anyone else have a cheating-with-conventional-products horror story they want to share? Please?
From Ingrid D: Thank you for your awesome book and blog. I was wondering if you know about Belegenza? I heard it was a great natural line but some of the ingredients look suspect. I am having a hard time finding clean shampoo that works on my hair. It is very dry and damaged (and fine!) from being off and on some heavy meds over the last few years.
Ed’s note: This is going to be a long post, so you might want to grab a snack!
First thing’s first. Damaged hair, whether from heat styling, sun, coloring or something else internal cannot be remedied with shampoo and conditioner. Maybe everybody but me knows this, but it bears mentioning just in case. Not even intense leave-in treatments can “repair” hair that is damaged. I know this because a) I’ve tried everyyyyything and b) I asked a cosmetics chemist named Colin. Also, common sense. We all know hair is dead, but it grows out of your head, which isn’t, so you want to make sure whatever you are using on your scalp and putting inside your body is making things better, not worse.
Our nutrition chapter covers a lot of this but here’s the cheat sheet: Take your omega 3s and 6s every single day, and eat a balanced, fruit- and vegetable-rich diet with plenty of good fats. These things make a tremendous difference in skin and hair health. The rest is up to you and your doctor. Lucky for you though, she or he doesn’t pick your shampoo, we do (ha), so we’ll tell you how to do that in a sec.
Anyway, I’ve been in your shoes, we all have, and I have great news! Not all hope is lost. There’s a lot you can do to improve the appearance and feel and manageability of your hair, even when it’s damaged. Mainstream brands usually feature silicone, which is not an ingredient we are comfortable endorsing. For the naturals, you won’t find the same kind of thing, but I’ve found that with certain oils, wax-based products, and good old fashioned aloe vera, I can get the effect I want. I’ll tell you more about that below, but first we have to go to class.
Belegenza. Oh, Belegenza. I did not know this line, but a brief look at the ingredient list for one shampoo kind of pissed me off, mainly because the line seems to be presenting itself as natural by hawking the absence of certain ingredients, like the aforementioned silicones, and generally speaking this annoys us. OK so that’s something that’s not in there. What is? Let’s look, shall we?
Ingredients: Water, Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl betaine, Decyl glucoside, Glycol stearate, Disodium cocoamphodiacetate, Panthenol, Polyquaternium-7, Proprietary Blend CCS500i, Laureth-4, Tetrasodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl glycol, Sorbic acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Yellow 10, Blue 1.
I don’t know. Should we just start at the top? It’s definitely low on the toxicity scales, but is it natural in the way that we like things to be natural? Not even remotely.
The site says it is salt free, but the second ingredient is Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, a cleaning agent that is considered to be a low irritant. It is, however, a disodium salt of an ethoxylated lauryl alcohol, so the salt-free thing, beside being a little random to call out, doesn’t appear to be true. (Budding chemists, please fact check me on that if I’m mistaken; I did a bunch of reading and this is what I came up with.) Also, because it’s ethoxylated, there is the concern of 1,4-dioxane contamination. Check the book for a refresher on why that’s not awesome.
Cocamidapropyl betaine is another eyebrow raiser. A lot of brands use it still, but there is concern about nitrosamine contamination. I avoid it, and obviously so does Alexandra (and not just because she doesn’t wash her hair).
Then there’s our old friend phenoxyethanol, an ingredient that’s being phased out by a lot of naturals brands that thought it was safe, only to find out there are some concerns about it. We avoid it. And finally, there is something called “proprietary blend CCS500i” which Google thought was a typo when I pasted it in. (Also, INCI, anybody?) I’m guessing this is their fragrance, which is another no-no for us, since there is no way to know what it’s made of.
I’m going to stop there because really this is just one brand, but it is emblematic of a larger trend that gets my goat.
Moving on. Here’s how to pick a good shampoo.
The best natural shampoos I have used contain clays (my mom has one for me to use when I am home, which should be its own post some day) and/or saponified plant oils (often coconut) as the main cleansing agents. Then you have aloe vera, some herbs, maybe even honey, some vitamins that probably don’t do anything, essential-oil-based fragrance or none at all, some fairy dust and that’s about it. It’s not hard to make a natural shampoo that gets the job done, which is why there are so many good ones. You need something sulfate-free so you aren’t drying our your hair, and you need oils but not too many, because that will leave your fine hair limp.
I personally like John Masters, Max Green Alchemy, Sumbody, Rahua (even though that mysterious nut may be of dubious origin), C Tonics and some others. NuboNau, who does our Friday Deals, carry some of these. So does the wonderful Spirit Beauty Lounge. Check them out, and request samples from retailers if you can. This one by Yarok seems awesome for fine hair, but I have not tried it.
Finally, and I imagine no one is still reading this post, if you want some tips on how I managed to help my heat-damaged hair in time for summer, read this post. I list the top 5 things I tried that kind of worked—and I tried a lot of things.
Good luck with your hair and if any of you have a great shampoo recommendation for our girl Ingrid, please share it in the comments?
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.