I could have called this post “sappy-looking, stylish hair care that I thought would be rubbish but actually turned out to be really good”, but I didn’t. I thought that it might be a little rude of me. Because it all looks very smart, actually, doesn’t it? Smart and clean and the kind of hair care that won’t make your scalp fall apart or dye your bathtub blue when it leaks or make your hair smell of “candy floss” or “peach melba” or “strawberry bubbles”.
I have a love-hate relationship with these kinds of products – SLS-free, natural extracts of this-and-that, shampoos that don’t lather, conditioners that don’t detangle – because part of me thinks that the best my hair ever feels and behaves is after I’ve used the cheapest, most synthetic of products. A clear, SLS-based shampoo followed by a conditioner that’s so loaded with silicones and slippery agents I can hardly put the lid back on the bottle after I’ve got the stuff on my hands. But I say part of me because actually, though I get these effects temporarily with the cheaper stuff, if I use those products long-term my hair tends to suffer. For the first few tries I have the silkiest princess hair known to man, but after a week or so my flowing, golden locks become dull and rubbish, and my scalp feels crap and itchy, and I’m all the way back to square one.
So, to cut a long story short, I like to use a mixture of some cheapy stuff (occasionally and also – ironically – just before an event or important occasion!) and some posh/”no nasties” stuff, with a default core routine of Philip Kingsley’s Itchy Flaky shampoo (here) and No Scent No Colour Conditioner (here). I find that a lot of the posh/”no nasties” stuff is just useless – shampoos that don’t even touch the surface when it comes to cleaning, conditioners that leave the lengths of my hair knotted and dry – but all of the products in the picture at the top of the page performed really well. I was surprised, because they all looked too stylish to perform well – I thought they’d be the beauty equivalent of those really nice-looking Swedish chairs that are an absolute b*stard to sit on for longer than ten minutes.
The Sans(ceuticals) Balancing Hair Wash and Hydratant (find them at Brummels of London here) smelt far too wholesome to be effective, but the shampoo lathered well (yes I know that lather isn’t an indication of a good shampoo, but I want a lather because otherwise it’s just like rubbing your head with an egg white) and left my hair really clean. The Hydratant was a bit cat’s-wee smelling to my pregnancy nose (lots of the more “natural” products seem to smell like stale wee to me at the moment!) but, considering its light formula, it conditioned and detangled just as well as some of my heavy-duty silicon-laden cheapies.
The Grown Alchemist Damask Rose, Black Pepper and Sage Shampoo (£16 at FeelUnique) is a nice one; less lather than the Sans(ceuticals) but still a fine cleansing job, even if I do need to go in twice if I’ve got dirtier than usual hair. The Sachajuan Hair Repair, however, has to be the biggest surprise of them all; light, flimsy in texture and with no real “presence” when you apply it to your hair, after five or ten minutes of getting to work it leaves everything incredibly smooth and silky. Very impressive, and I will be buying a full-sized version. (The one pictured isn’t full-size, you can find it at SpaceNK.)
So there you go – don’t judge a book by its cover, lesson learned, etc etc. Stylish-looking hair care that does a great job. Of course there are cheaper brands who do SLS-free shampoos and so on, and I shall get to those because so many of you ask for ingredient-savvy hair care recommendations, but I’ve finished all of the above and the empties were taking up room on my desk, so that was round one. Ding ding.