Lather, Rinse, Repeat

By Kevin Raub / September 7, 2011

I’m 35. I’ve lost some hair— not all of it, mind you— but enough. I still manage to tousle my hair just so, pulling off the disheveled look with relative ease, but I’d like the hair that’s left to stick around well into my forties. By then I won’t give a toss either way (unless I get divorced). The problem is, pulling off the I-just-woke-up-and-got-out-of-bed-and-couldn’t-care-less-how-my-hair-looks look ain’t easy. In fact, there’s a secret: Very un-eco-friendly African-American hair products like Murphy’s or Dax pomade. Basically, it’s Vaseline, which someone with thin, body-less hair like me needs to pull off any look remotely approaching cool. To top it off, it’s a royal pain to get out of your hair, so I’m always on the lookout for shampoos that pull triple duty: Strengthen my hair; rid it of its impurities; and stave off any further hair loss. Turns out, finding that sort of threesome isn’t nearly as easy I would like (by the way, here’s a challenge to eco-friendly companies: come up with a green pomade as thick and malleable and wonderful as those mentioned above, and it’ll have a place front row and center in a future column).

If you melted down a few sour apple Jolly Ranchers and poured the concoction over your head, you’d have an idea what it’s like to use Desert Essence’s Organics Green Apple & Ginger Thickening & Volumizing Shampoo. Luckily, I’m a sucker for a Jolly Rancher every now and then. This 100 percent organic sweet nectar has nothing bad in it at all, and calls on sugar and coconut oil for cleansing, and kelp and nettle extracts to beef up your hair. It’s vegan, too.

One shampoo that seems to speak directly to me is the Biotin & Peppermint Strengthening Shampoo from Jason. Soy proteins, panthenol, and biotin help revive my beaten down locks, while the peppermint oil provides just enough tingle for me to think I’m getting a scalp massage from my hairdresser. It’s no Rogaine, but I seem to have frozen the hair loss in its tracks for now. I have no idea if this shampoo has anything to do with it, but I don’t know that it doesn’t, either; so for now, I’m content to sit back and relish the compliments as if I don’t give a toss about my hair at all. Which I don’t. At all.

Certified organic Amazon fruits like acerola and wild-harvetsed açaï fuel Ikove by Floresta’s Açaï d’Amazonie Shampoo, which I love for two reasons. One, it reminds me of Brazil, my new home; but more importantly, açaï, in addition to boasting 30 times more antioxidants than grape-seed oil, strengthens hair with Omega-3 and -9 without adding weight. Organic farming in the Brazilian rainforest provides 98 percent of the plant ingredients and the whole shebang smells like a juice bar on Ipanema Beach. Plus, whatever I don’t use on my head, I can finish off in a smoothie.

One good thing about Organics by Noah’s Naturals’ Rosemary Mint Shampoo is that it’s an organic product for the everyman—you can even buy it at Wal-Mart. I don’t normally like to support Wal-Mart in any way, but the good news in this case is it shows that the Organic Movement is not only here to stay, but penetrating Middle America. That’s a very good thing. And this shampoo ain’t bad, either. It’s full of certified organic ingredients like aloe, echinacea, and wheat protein, and the rosemary and mint tickle my scalp like my college girlfriend.

John Masters Organics’ Honey & Hisbiscus Reconstructing Shampoo didn’t fair as well. John Masters, noted for his commitment to organics (all his products are a minimum 75 percent organic), always puts out quality stuff, but his products often lack oomph. The honey and hibiscus here act as moisturizers, ylang ylang reduces oily hair, bergamot treats dry scalp, and linolenic and hyaluronic acids refortify the hair shafts, but when I wash with it, I don’t feel anything. I don’t smell much. I don’t detect any oomph. I can only assume it does the job, because you wouldn’t know it with your eyes closed in the shower. But the Zinc & Sage Shampoo with Conditioner surprised me— it smells like a caramel sundae, which is nicer to wake up to than I would have thought. That’s the kind of oomph I’m talking about!

Yarok’s Green with Envy Volume Shampoo is loaded with organic herbal infusions not commonly seen in shampoos: Coltsfoot, marshmallow, and cedar atlas for nourishment and hydration; chickweed, horsetail, slippery elm, comfrey root, sea buckthorn, and CO2 for strength; and ta da!—nettles and oat straw to ward off hair loss. It smells like a smashed grapefruit against a cedar barn. It’s manly without being too masculine; sweet without being too fruity. Sadly, though, it’s expensive at a little over $4 an ounce. But hey, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than Rogaine.

Kevin Raub
Kevin Raub

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