Sunday, March 31, 2013

How much can we really expect from hair care products?

I got some Garnier shampoo and conditioner free from BzzAgent to test and review. You might think I'd have been deterred by my last Garnier experiment, but oh no, not me. I do it for you. Besides, it's shampoo and conditioner. How badly can it really go wrong? Basically, I'll either like the way my hair looks and feels after I use it, or I won't. If I don't, I just wash it with something different the next time, and I'm good. 

This is the perfect opportunity for me to rant about people wasting money on shampoo and conditioner (this post is chock-full of informative links, so check those out, lest you think I'm talking out of my ass). This Garnier stuff is cheap, as it should be. There is nothing inherently better about "salon" shampoos and conditioners versus "drugstore" brands. Seriously, there are going to be some good and bad ones in both categories, and not necessarily more bad ones at the drugstore. The salon ones are just more expensive. 

This is especially true of shampoo. That shit is meant to clean your hair. It's supposed to later up and rinse off. It's not going to perform any magic in the 60 seconds it's on your hair. The whole point is that it will rinse clean, so if it's leaving something behind, it fails! So just get something you like - don't look for miracles.

The same thing is basically true of conditioners. They won't cure anything - they'll just deposit some goo on your hair that makes it feel nicer when it dries. And if your hair stylish rails against Pantene for leaving a damaging build-up on your hair, you should smile and nod politely, but don't throw your bottle away when you get home. Don't believe me? Here is a test done by The Beauty Brains with the cooperation of a stylist who swore she could tell the difference between salon and drugstore products on her clients' hair. She couldn't. Your stylist isn't lying to you - she's just been taught this rule, which happens to be incorrect. Silicones are actually one of the better conditioners, and they wash away with shampoos, even sulfate-free ones. So don't fear the 'cones. Don't fear sulfates, either.

Remember this? Let me quote: "There are no shampoos or conditioners that protect color from fading, stop frizzies, protect against heat damage or humidity, or help hair grow longer or stronger. It is physiologically impossible to do that with a shampoo or conditioner." The job of your shampoo and conditioner is clean your hair and then make it feel better. It's already dead (see #2). There's only so much you can do. You can use conditioner that coats the surface of the hair and smoothes it or moisturizes it to some extent, or you can use oils that will penetrate the hair and soften it (and coconut oil is one of the only one that will do that). Don't even get me started on products that claim to repair split ends. Please! Think about it - what is it going to do? Glue them back together? The only way to repair split ends is to cut them off

So don't spend a lot of extra money expecting miracles, because you're not going to get them. You might be more prone to convince yourself that salon products are better, because otherwise why did you spend so much money on them? I say this as someone who recently, accidentally, bought a tiny tube of an Aveda hair masque for $30, so believe me, I know all about deluding yourself. It smells so good! But does it work better than my $6 vat of coconut oil? Hmmmm.

If you want to spend extra money because you particularly love the scent of something, and it makes you happy to use it in the shower, and you smell nice for the rest of the day, fucking go for it! If you can afford it, why the hell not? Just know that you are essentially spending that money on perfume and/or aromatherapy. It's cool. Just don't get all smug about your fucking conditioner, you rich asshole.

Anyway, these Garnier Hydra Recharge products are not expensive, and they smell pretty nice. I got the shampoo ($5), conditioner ($5), and treatment masque ($5). I'm not going into this with any preconceptions about how well it will work based on its price. I'm not going to trust the marketing claims, either, but since that's how it's being presented to us, I am going to use them as a basis for evaluation. This is alongside my own experience and expectations for shampoo and conditioner.

Here's what Garnier says:
Infused with superfruits, the Hydra Recharge formula actively replenishes hair for silky-soft hydration that lasts. Hydra Recharge will recharge your thirsty locks and keep your hair super silky and surprisingly weightless for up to two whole days.
  • Hydra Recharge Shampoo is a hydration innovation; the first to feature thousands of beads that burst on impact
  • Hydra Recharge range contains superfruits goji berry, passion fruit and kiwi to actively replenish without heaviness
  • Hydra Recharge 1-Minute Moisture-Plenish Treatment is a powerful deep treatment whose revolutionary lightweight crème-gel formula transforms dry hair with a surge of high-performance hydration in just one minute.

What is meaningful from all that? Beads? No. Gimmick! Explain to me why whatever is in those beads isn't just in the shampoo itself. Super fruits? Whatever. Maybe if you eat them they'd do you some good, but this is going to get rubbed on my hair and rinsed off. So I don't care about that. All I'm interested in here is that it is supposed to make my hair "silky", "soft", and be "weightless". It's supposed to last for "two whole days". Sounds good. Stay tuned to see how it works.

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