When I left off last post...
I had found the Alba Botanica coconut milk extra-rich conditioner to be not only drying, but when I added enough product to clump my curls, it got flaky. I wanted to see if it was the guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride that was causing this. So I decided to try Alba Botanica gardenia hydrating hair conditioner, which had nearly identical ingredients, except that it was missing the guar hydroxypropyltrimonim chloride.
So a few weeks later, I tried the Alba Botanica gardenia hydrating conditioner. Just like the coconut milk version, things started out fine. The combing was nice, and it clumped okay. It was a bit light, and when my hair dried, I added more product to my ends. And sure enough, this time it didn't flake or glob! So I knew that guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, though a fine ingredient for a product you will rinse-out (as far as I've been able to find), was not ideal for a product you were going to leave in your hair. This was fair.
Now the real test: was this ingredient also to blame for my hair feeling dry? Or because it was included in the ingredients, I wasn't able to use enough product to keep my ends together, and that just made them feel dry? Or was/were there other ingredient(s) lurking in there that caused the dryness and matting?
As the days wore on with the gardenia conditioner, my hair felt dryer. I'd put a generous amount on my ends, but when the product dried, they felt even dryer. Not good. By the end of the week, it seemed like I had little matted areas in my hair.
At the end of the trial week, when it was time to wash and re-comb my hair, I decided to comb with a stand-by very slippery conditioner, and used Paula's Choice Smooth Finish Conditioner. To my surprise, my hair took even longer than the usual two hours to comb and smooth. It was really matted. I grumbled to my guy, Jon, about how long it was taking me to get through my hair, and he said he'd noticed my hair had looked sort of matted this week. So that decided it. There was something in those products that was drying, and I needed to find out what it was! This way I could avoid it in future products and save my money.
During that time I was doing some reading and stumbled upon a mention that pineapple was drying (per Don't Go Shopping Without Me by Paula Begoun, pg 352), mostly because it has the enzyme bromelain in it. I know when I eat lots of pineapple, my tongue gets really raw. It's mostly from the the acidity, but also the enzyme action. So I checked back over the ingredients in both bottles of Alba conditioner, and saw that they not only had pineapple, but papaya as well (a source of the potent enzyme papain). I'm thinking this product is pH balanced (it says it is on the bottle—though I haven't used litmus paper on it to make sure)— so it's probably the enzymes in those two ingredients that made my hair dry and matted, not the acidity.
However, these two conditioners also have citric acid, which puzzles me: Citric acid is used to balance the pH in products that may be too alkaline by making them more acidic. Hmmm. I think I will get some litmus paper. If I find out anything, I'll post again about the results.
So from what I can tell, the pineapple and papaya were mildly exfoliating my hair, which was what was causing it to feel so dry. So now I know to avoid them in future products.
I do want to say I use Alba's cocoa butter hand & body lotion and am happy with it. It's just that products have to go through a much more rigorous process when it comes to my hair. I'm much easier going when it comes to lotion for my skin than for my hair.
*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.