Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Alba Botanica coconut milk extra-rich hair conditioner

I do tend to find a few products I love, and then stop looking. Lately I've been trying out different combing/ leave in conditioners so that I could offer a wider range of conditioners I recommend. Before I recommend a conditioner, I check out the ingredients several times. If there aren't ingredients I know to be bad in the product, I look to see if it has ingredients that look moisturizing, will give my hair weight, and seem like they will help me comb through with my Denman with little friction. If the conditioner seems to pass these hurdles, it's only then that I'll use it. I comb it through my hair after washing, use it to define my curls, and use it to smooth my hair every day for a week, until it's time to wash my hair again. The conditioners that work, I recommend on the site.

I often get asked about what I think of other conditioners that didn't make the cut. So I decided I would write about the ones that seemed like they would work, but for one reason or another didn't.

The first one I tried was Alba Botanica's coconut milk extra-rich hair conditioner. I have a special weakness for tropical flavors like coconut and mango. On looking at the ingredients, it seemed to have good weight ingredients, good moisturizing ingredients, and lots of slip ingredients. I don't have a very sensitive scalp, so I generally don't worry about extracts and essential oils. Everything seemed good to go. I figured it would be a bit light, going by the ingredients, but that just means I'd use a bit more. Sometimes I wait until my hair is dry, then go back over the ends, putting in more product to keep my ends together.

The combing went well. I was feeling excited I'd be able to recommend another conditioner that I found at the health food store. The clumping action also seemed to go well. So far, so good. As I suspected, it dried a bit light. No big thing, I'd just add more to the ends to keep my curls together. It was at this point the conditioner started to go a bit wrong for me.

When I added more, it started drying up as a rolly white film that flaked out of my hair. Instead of keeping my ends together, it seemed to ball up in confused little particles. Not a good sign.

I tried for a couple more days to smooth water and this conditioner on my ends, but my ends ended up looking dry and covered in little flaky globs. I finally stopped using it and switched to smoothing a tried and true on my ends.

So then I was puzzled. What ingredient caused this product to gunk up? The next week I used one of my regular conditioners I love to give my hair a rest. The week after that I tried Shikai Natural Everyday Conditioner. It was wonderful. And it's basic working ingredients were similar to the Alba. What gives?

After comparing the ingredients of lots of products that worked, I saw a few things that this conditioner had that others didn't. One was guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride. My research of as many objective sources as I could find all seemed to agree that this was used to condition hair, and so far, I haven't found anything to say this is a problem ingredient. Which makes sense, because if I were to rinse it out, this wouldn't have been a problem. It's just that I leave good products in.

So to experiment, I decided to try another Alba conditioner that didn't have this ingredient, but was basically similar otherwise. In this way, I could see if this ingredient was the culprit, or if there was another ingredient in there that was making my hair feel so dry. I wanted to get to the bottom of the flaky bits that occurred if I used enough product to keep my ends together.

To be continued on the next post...

*Note: I understand that this product (as are nearly all the conditioners I review) is meant to be rinsed out. And there are plenty of wonderful reviews for how this product works when it's rinsed out. However, since my method involves leaving the product in our hair, I review how a product functions this way.


Anonymous said...

i was going to try this product! you saved me a few dollars. i like this review post... can you please continue to do more reviews on products. thank you!

Gem said...

Hi! I'm the one who just sent you the epic e-mail about poofiness that you replied to. I'm using Nature's Gate conditioner right now.

Denman brush question: I tried it over the summer and it seemed really harsh on my hair (texture is similar to yours), I heard little snaps like my hair was breaking off. Do you recommend this over a wide-tooth comb? Does the brush make a discernible difference over the comb?

I tried the brush while on vacation after I got out of the ocean (with the hotel conditioner) so I'm wondering if it's worth trying again as I keep reading rave reviews about it.

Thank you for your earlier response, and have a magical day!

Former Mushroom-Haired Child said...

rae1234: I was really surprised this didn't work. I'm glad I was able to save you a few dollars. Yes, I will definitely do more reviews on products.

bohemian bookworm: Hi there! To answer your question on the Denman: I don't know if it was fair to the Denman to use it with what may have been an un-slippery conditioner after perhaps still having salt in your hair. The little snaps may have been from pulling the brush through hair that wasn't slippery enough.

What I like about the Denman is that the give comes from the rubber cushion of the brush rather than your strands of hair. When you pull a comb through your hair, your hair has to stretch because the comb is inflexible.

Now, nothing will do well if your hair is like mine, and the conditioner has no slip. That's why it's so important for me to see those slippery ingredients on a product's list of ingredients. Combing my hair with a bad conditioner will damage it/cause lots of friction and wear it out no matter what I'm using.

Also, if you are wearing your hair naturally, the Denman helps comb your curls together, while a comb combs your curls apart.

Ultimately, it is up to you and what you prefer. If you just feel better with a comb, that's totally your call.

Have a wonderful evening!


Gem said...

I think I'm going to give the brush another try, under fair conditions this time :-). I tried the routine you recommended on your website last night, and wow what a difference! My curls are weighted down by the conditioner, and there's not much shrinkage, and it's just glorious! I think I put too much conditioner on the top of my head so it looks a little flat up there, but I'll play around with it.

How many times a week do you wash your hair with this routine?

Enjoy your day!

Anonymous said...

This is one of those products line I could find in Canada's supermarket. Do you use these product for your skin too?

Former Mushroom-Haired Child said...

bohemian bookworm: I'm glad the suggestions on the site worked (apart from the conditioner overload on top). To answer your question, I wash and comb my hair once a week.

koffeed: I do have the cocoa butter hand & body lotion at home now, and am happy with it (and I love how it smells)

Gem said...

One more question! I hope I'm not badgering you, but I have just become really excited about my hair again since I've tried your technique.

My Sally's Beauty Supply only sells Denman D3. Is there a big difference between the D3 and the D4 that everyone raves about?

Former Mushroom-Haired Child said...

Hi Bohemian Bookworm:

Sorry for the long delay in getting back with you...but to answer your question, there is no difference between the D3 and the D4 except size. I think the D3 has seven rows of teeth and the D4 has nine. So it shouldn't make much of a difference which you choose. I guess the D4 is more "adult" sized is all, but both should work in the same way.

Unknown said...

thank you for helping all of us curly haired girls find the right and safe conditioners to use on our hair.with the amount of knowledge you have in the ingredients i would definately stick to only the recommended one on your site.

curls rule said...

I ordered a Denman D5 because the bristles are wider spaced than the D3 and D4. I tried Clarol's "Dangerously Straight" conditioner as recommended by Former mushroom hair child and it works well. Thank you for sharing. Love your hair.

Priscilla Bri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Korey said...

I Received a large sample of Bumble & Bumble Creme de Coco shampoo and conditioner to try on my 10 year old daughter's hair. Have you reviewed/tried either of these?
She is bi-racial (black/white) and has VERY thick curly hair. The curls seem to be about the same shape as yours, but I think her hair is MUCH thicker, and I am afraid the defining process would take a very long time.
Additionally, she plays sports, and refuses to wear her hair "out."
I am hoping she grows out of this tom-boy stage.
Do you have any other tips for keeping her hair "contained," yet manageable? The ponytail gets very old.
I had to cut about 6 inches off of her hair over the summer due to split, broken and frizzy ends that just acted like Velcro to the rest of her hair. It is almost to her shoulders again.
Also, I am wondering if your recommended products are in order of your preference? In other words, which shampoo and conditioners are your absolute favorites?
Thank you,

Unknown said...

Thank you for these product reviews! I love having access to user reviews and I have found yours very helpful.

I was wondering if you have ever tried any of the Aubrey Organics conditioners (or shampoos). If you have would you be willing to share your experience with us bloggers?