Product Reviews

This page will contain some of the hair products that i have found particularly useful. Many of you ask the question and I do not like to recommend products that I have not at least tried or researched. So in this section I will present product reviews of things I believe are a) good for hair b) non-toxic and or environmentally friendly c) Will at least do what it promises to do.

Please note that I no longer use hair chemicals that can permanently straighten hair. This includes hair-dyes, relaxers, other straightening agents. I do however, have plenty of experience with these products. Also, there are plenty of women in my network who may be willing to use these products and give their reviews. So where applicable a third party review may be used.

Look forward to some awesome product reviews.

My Favourite things: 2014

In 2014 I undertook a massive product search.  I usually buy my hair products in the US but in 2014 my regular travel route was altered. Which meant that my supplies were running low and I had to formulate a plot. While my heart remains the most adventurous part of me my hair on the other hand is very unforgiving. Being my own guinea pig comes sometimes comes with the price of ball of knotted wool on my head. Sometimes by process others by product I have made some pretty expensive mistakes. While I can now laugh at this stupidity; in those very moments I just stood there looking absolutely free of wisdom and far from freedom. One step away from cracking a tear was lesson 999 I did not want to learn.

Here’s how I narrow the path to trying a product. First search for product reviews. Next, find substantiating reviews. Then I consult the product ingredient list and compare each ingredient to a directory of product ingredients. Followed by an ingredient evaluation.

The product makes the cut if it has excellent or good ingredients right at the top of the list. While I do tolerate some ‘not recommended’ ingredients they have to be at the bottom of the list, which means that they are in smaller quantities. These include ingredients that such as fragrances, additives, synthetic substances and such derivatives. Contrary to popular belief not all natural ingredients are good for hair and not all chemicals are equally harmful. For those of you ready to blow stream at my assertion please recall that some of the most potent toxins known to man are organic and natural. Animal and plant toxins are organic and natural. Bacteria are natural too and it loves to infest anything that comes into contact with water.

Here’s how I classify the use of products. I am not as fussy about products that I will wash out of my hair. Provided that those products won’t have an immediate and massively destructive effect. If my hair does not like a product I will happily put it to some other use such as using conditioner as shaving cream or using a shampoo to clean my cosmetics applicators. I am however a lot more fussy about products that I will leave in my hair. Because the time of the exposure is longer these products should be of a higher quality. So, leave-ins have to live up to their claims. Lest they be demoted to my ever growing shelf of conditioner-shaving creams. 

I would like to stress here that while I have a bias for natural products to my knowledge most products including many listed as ‘natural’ are not 100% natural. They often contain chemical preservatives due to the fact that to produce purely organic or natural products production becomes an expensive exercise. Hence most ‘natural’ products qualify to a 99% natural standard. For the majority of products preservatives are a necessary evil. Aqueous solutions such as creams, lotions, shampoo and conditioner has to be preserved. Otherwise they would become rancid and unsafe for use because they can develop some very harmful bacteria.

Thus I recommend that if you are making your own products then do so in small batches so you can use the lot before you run any risks. While oils have a longer shelf life anything that is mixed with any water needs to be used up in 3-5 days and stored in the fridge for that period. This goes for your diluted conditioners as well. 48 hrs. is enough time to rack up a pretty steady growth of bacteria. So, be safe.

Avoid any product that is not from a reputable source as well as any product without an ingredients label. The cosmetic industry in South Africa does specify guidelines for manufacturers but enforcement of those guidelines exist in theory. Stick to the main road and should you want to do some off-road testing then do your research and make your own stuff.

Bag of lessons to my left and Freedom to my right, front center are the products that did make the cut for My favourite Things of 2014.

Here is the abridged version of my list. I will add the sections daily to give the long thesis in smaller doses.

My Favourite Things 2014:

Entry- Level Products
Tresemme Smooth
Tresemme Naturals

Nature’s Gate

Mid-Level Products
Wen and One Hair
Frizz Ease

Heavy Hitters

DIY Natural stuff
Bentonite clay
Brown Rice Vinegar
Oil mixtures.

Entry-level products
Good to use yet economical choices

Tresemme Products
These entry- level products are a great place to start when trying out DIY hair. I will however limit my commentary to the shampoos and conditioners. The Smooth and Naturals ranges are good quality and value for money. These are a good source of bulk product and I sometimes use them in conjunction with other products as combing conditioners that I rinse off. Not so sad that they cost less than R 70 for 900 ml. I tried the Split Remedy Range and did not like it at all.

Natures Gate
This is an eco-friendly brand has made some reputable lists for its ingredients. The product is available at Dischem in limited variants at a cost of R55 for 350ml. Some health stores does carry the brand such as Wellness Warehouse.

Mid Level products
Cleansing Conditioners
Wen vs. One hair
Wen is the US version of popular cleansing conditioners that have made waves across the hair industry in recent years. The local equivalent is “One Hair” available at Dischem in a few variants. Both products are a balsam and resemble a thick paste with absolutely no foaming agents. That along with its sulfate-free formulation is the Ace.  

Product reduction: both products are cleansing conditioners able to replace shampoo and double as conditioner and leave-in. Do dilute this product since the balsam texture can lead to unnecessary waste.

The downside:
 Wen is overpriced at $30 per 500ml bottle. Hair One is more affordable at under R150. With repeated use it sadly contrary to brand claims does cause build-up. Over a six month use period of Wen as a cleanser, conditioner and leave-in I ended up with an unruly, undefined, albeit soft afro. I also had some unpleasant scalp flaking. Lesson: Shampoo in moderation is necessary. I typically shampoo once per week or once per fourth night. Please note that if you are using the max hydration or other type of clarifying wash then it is not necessary to shampoo your hair since the baking soda or vinegar rinse at the start is doing a good job of keeping your hair and scalp clean.

Wen has been deservedly criticized for its overpowering scents. Even an unsuspecting variant: Fig, will assault your olfactory sense. Both conditioners also contain the unnecessary Menthol (an absolute irritation) that gives a tingling feeling and illusion that a product is working.

Jumping off the bandwagon: Moroccan Oil
In 2013-14 Moroccan oil made a big bang for hair in need of moisture. My residual stupidity and faith in the superiority of professional products led me to spend hundreds of Rand on this said wonder for curly hair. The result was an absolute waste of my money. The products did very little for my hair. This product in my opinion is a total miss.

On my kids’ hair: infinitely easier to manage the Moroccan Oil does an ok job. Honestly, outside of the pleasant smell I do not see the point of applying ‘dry oil’ to hair that evaporates just as fast as the wind moves. The Moroccan cream and conditioner failed the Afro test.

Frizz Ease: Dream Curls
This product lives up to its slip/ detangling and smoothing promise. It is useful as a co-wash and or conditioner. The formula is thick and can be diluted to stretch the product and your money.

The Dove Intensive Repair Range
Works similar to the frizz ease and is definitely useful. Both Dove and Frizz Ease contain silicones such as cyclomethicone and dimethicone that helps with detangling and smoothing of hair. Both are moderately priced at R100-120 for a shampoo and conditioner. Both get an unreserved; Yes. However, I despise that manufacturer’s have five or more products in a range. Also, the on-selling of unnecessary and useless additions with each product recommending the use of all the other products in a range ”for best results”. It is irritating and creates the faulty perception that you need to use the entire product line to get a good result. More annoying still is when they keep re-packaging products so that when you go looking for regular supplies you need to look through everything to find a single item. The more fancy the packaging becomes the more worried I get about how much more I am paying for fancy outsides that are not going toward the purpose of the product.

My Favourite Things 2014: Heavy Hitters
This conditioner makes the top two for the fact that the ingredients check out as good thus making it fine as a leave-in. This conditioner is great subject to the following notes. It is pricy at R240 for 200 ml. The formula is very thin thus better used as a leave-in. Available at L’Occitane stores.

Mark Anthony Curl Cream
While this is not a natural product it does help with curl definition. It provides smoothing and clumping ability to hair. Particularly straw-like and dry hair that tends to fluff when dried. It keeps curly fly-aways at bay and somewhat weather proofs hair. This product lacks some staying power, the effects disappearing within a 24 hr. period.

A special mention:

Bentonite clay: used as a hair mask in conjunction with a hair regime has amazing cleansing effects. The downside: it is not complete and requires some DIY mixing of additional ingredients. It extends wash-time since it is an in-betweener used after a wash/ co-wash and  followed up with a leave-in. Surprisingly, clay goes on very smooth but requires some heavy rinsing to get the product out of the hair. I use the “Natures Source” brand that is readily available at most pharmacies and grocers.

Lesson number 1000 I did not need to learn: Clay forms a waxy layer over the hair. Rinse clay as you would a hair colour. First lather then rinse. The clay on the inner part of your head will not rinse off as easily as a conditioner. So be patient unless you want to end up with a coat of ash. Lesson1001 do not invert yourself to rinse clay. While the rinsing may happen down the shaft of your hair and in the supposed ‘right direction’ he clay tends to clump the hair on your scalp inverting your head over a bathtub will knot is. The more you rinse the more knotted it can get. Rinse under the shower or sitting in a bathtub with your head erect and pouring water top down from root to tip till all the clay is off. Do check the bottom layers for residual product.

Brown Rice Vinegar/ Rice Water
This I love. It is a natural protein treatment and or rinse for your hair. If you are into max hydration then use brown rice vinegar instead of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Do check the PH of your product. Do dilute it down to a 4.5 or 5.0 level. If you are unfamiliar with using vinegar then read up on it before you try it out. Do not apply vinegar undiluted onto your hair.

#The Number One Product: Naturalmente
The ingredients in these products are organic, natural and environmentally friendly. Their corporate ethos is unmatched with responsibility and sustainability to consumers and the environment. Every single element in their chain is carefully managed. Their ingredients are superior and their packaging is reusable and their sources are renewable. Disposal of packaging is done by composting, meaning you dispose of it along with wet waste in the organic pile should you wish to do so. Alternatively, they offer a refill service. The company holds international certifications from Qualita Reale and the Ethical & Environmental certification Organic and Wild Harvest Institute (ICEA). The company also subscribes to a code of responsibility through all its practices. What I love about brand is that it is consumer focused. They subscribe to keep consumers fully informed of their practices and manufacturing process.

Their ingredients and formulas are simply superior. They subscribe to a ‘no yuk’ code and do not use any harmful and irritant ingredients. Their consumer centered focus and responsibility- missing in most brands- extends to transparency of ingredients and their sources. Meaning that if it is not listed on the label it is not found in the product.

I tend to be more forgiving of natural products that more often than not sound better than they actually are. In this case though I have gone from wow to wow. At R240 per pop it is not cheap but it is definitely worth your money.

Here are the ones I have tried:
Aloe and Sandalwood Shampoo
Aloe and Sandal multivitamin restructurising treatment
Yoghurt and millet conditioner intensive revitalizer
Intensive hydrating treatment fennel and geranium- I love this one most
Moisturising and modeling glaze
Macassar restructuring fluid

The shampoos are not atypical in that while they do cleanse well they don’t feel as smooth. Don’t be alarmed when your hair feels a bit rough during a wash. This is due to the fact that the typical commercial ’yuk’ is not there. This conditioners stands out with a string of actual essential oils, hydrolysed proteins and other ingredients that are non-irritant, good and not harmful to your health.

The fragrance experience: The products have subtle and natural scents instead of the usual nose numbing.

I use one of the aforementioned conditioners to detangle and finger comb my hair. I prefer the fennel and geranium as a leave in. The formula dilutes easily in warm water and slides onto the hair like a gel. It sets curls beautifully, dries fully absorbed into the hair. Best of all once hair is dry you can actually see and feel the oils without any residue. I find maintaining my bush a great deal easier. With this product there is no need to constantly be worried about pre-poo and additional oil applications. My hair can go for days without needing care. I just love the way this stuff works.

#Dr Baumann Products
#Best Natural Hair products

Dr. Bauman products are a German brand created by a Dermatologist Dr. Ernst W Henrich and Dr. Baumann a cosmetic chemist under the Bionome brand.

Dr. Baumann products are better known for their award winning work on skin care products. The skincare products make up the bulk of their business.

Their work includes two decades of dermatological and allergological expertise. Using scientific and clinically proven ingredients that are both healthy and beneficial for the skin.

Their products are free of chemical: preservatives, colorants, sunscreen, oxygen, fragrances, animal derivatives, mineral oil and paper packaging. More impressively it is skin compatible and identical.

Here is a link to a comprehensive range of outlets that carry Dr. Baumann products.

These products are available at select health food stores and natural pharmacies and some online hair retailers.

Dr. Baumann products

INCI ingredients

Mild cleansing substances that cleanse the hair and scalp. Herbal extract
diminishes itchiness and flakiness & an active ingredient reduces dandruff. Won’t weigh the hair down. Recommended with the same line of
Hair Conditioner.
Also suitable for pets.

Aqua, Sodium Laureth Sulfate(and)Laurylglucoside, Sodium Lauroyl Sarkosinate, Urea, Cocoglucosides(and) Glyceryloleate, Butylene Glycol, Glycol Distearate(and) Steareth-4, Linoleamide DEA, Sodium Chloride, Dicaprylyl Ether(and)Laurylalcohol, D,L-alpha-Tocopheyl Acetate, Panthenol, Sodium Lactate, Extr. Urticae e Fol, Polyquaternium 10, Sodium Lactate, Oleum Chamaemelum ormensis

Detangler- the D-panthenol and
other active ingredients
give a healthy, silky sheen.
The macadamia nut oil has an intensely
Nourishing effect on the hair and scalp, without weighing the hair down.

Aqua, Butylene Glycol, Oleum Macadamiae, Urea, Ethyl Hexyl Cocoate, Polyglyceryl-3 Methyl Glucose Distearate, Panthenol, D, L-alpha- Tocopheryl Acetate, Stearyl Alcohol, Sodium Lactate, Polyquaternium-10, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, D-mixed- Tocopherols, Oleum Chamaemulem ormensis

A gentle product designed to keep both the hair and scalp healthy. Reduces hair loss and supports the growth of hair where the roots are still intact.

Aqua, Alcohol, Iso Propanol, D-alpha- Tocopheryl Acetate, Polysorbate-20, D-mixed-Tocopherols, Extr. Thymus vulgaris, Panthenol, Sodium Lactate, myo-Inosite, Biotin

Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla (moisture and shine) 
Leave-in Conditioner

“For Dry, Dull and Brittle Hair” 

The product promises to:
Replenish moisture
Improve manageability
Adds shine

Made from Aloe, Pro-Vitamin B5 and wheat Protein

First impression and description of the product
The product is basically a tea like substance in a spray bottle. Atypical of what one expects from a leave-in conditioner. Unlike with most products where one needs to get under the packaging to see and feel what the product is this one is a straight up clear tea type of hair spray. 

First Use: This product for me is just not thick enough to use alone. I used it with one of my favourite leave-in hair conditioners and finished it off with the spray instead. If you are looking for a very light weight leave in then this may be a great product for you. However on my thick bush of hair it is just not enough. The water base would not give enough weight to my hair and so I did not even try to test it alone. 

The product has a very strong Vanilla fragrance as is clearly described on the container. It smells sweet enough to attract both bees and ants. Even though I felt that I needed to layer it with a conditioner I still liked it. It dried well and left a slight sweet smell on my hair. 

This product would be great for adding moisture with protective styles and braid or twist hairstyles. 

This product is available locally at at a cost of R229. It is as expected more pricy here than at the 11$ price I paid in DC. 

The Ingredients: 


Polysorbate 80- is a mild cleanser, emulsifier and binder used in hair as a conditioner. Its okay.

Glycerin- A humectant. A sweet water soluble substance derived from either animal or synthetic sources. It works to give slip on hair in the product it gives longevity by slowing evaporation. 

Panthenol (VIT B5) Is a hair conditioner. Is able to penetrate the shaft and give a soft feeling. it is a good ingredient. 

Sodium Hyaluronate and Sodium PCA-humectants. Both are ok items. 

Lonicera Japonica (Japanese honeysuckle) flower extract- is a common ingredient in perfume as flowers are fragrant.  

Salvia Officinalis (Sage) leaf extract- its a common herb and food flavour. its an ok item. 

Calendula officinalis flower extract- Marigold extract. It may have some anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, ragweed sensitivity may lead to skin allergy with this ingredient. Its a cautionary item.  

Aloe Barbadensis leaf juice- is an anti-inflammatory for the skin. Its an okay item. 

Hydrolysed wheat protein- is an emollient and moisturiser. It is not advisable for those with wheat protein allergies

hydrolysed wheat starch and hydrolysed corn starch
Its a carbohydrate from various plant sources. Wheat, rice, corn tapioca and potato variants are common sources. In hair products they function as an absorbent which acts to reduce product concentration. It acts as a coating to hair and can give it a thicker feeling. Starch can have a non-slip feel and so alone it is not ideal for curls. 

Potassium sorbate- A mild food grade preservative. Is generally safe in cosmetics. 

Citric Acid- acid derived from fermenting fruit sugars. Used to adjust the PH to a more acidic level. Its has preservative and anti-foam and astringent qualities. Its an okay item.  

Caramel- heated sugar


No comments:

Post a Comment