strange_complex: (La Dolce Vita Trevi)
Well, my conditioner experiment is now complete. Using travel-sized samples I tested nine conditioners in all, and this is how they performed:

Tresemmé Luxurious Moisture: 9/10
L'Oreal Colour Protect: 8/10
Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light: 8/10
Charles Worthington Sunshine: 8/10
John Frieda Beautiful Brunette: 8/10
Aussie Miracle Moist: 7/10
Herbal Essences Beautiful Ends: 6/10
Dove Damage Therapy Intensive Repair: 6/10
Vinegar Rinse: 5/10

Above all, I'm pleasantly surprised to find how many conditioners there are out there which are perfectly good for my hair. I'd believed for years that there were very few conditioning options available to me, but while perhaps that was true in Oxford with its awful water, in Leeds at least it doesn't seem to be. Five out of the nine options I tried scored 8/10 and above, and none of them were catastrophic. There are also plenty of other brands out there which I still haven't tried at all - these are simply the ones which happen to be available in travel sizes. So there are probably other products on the market which would be perfectly good for my hair as well.

That said, different conditioners really do perform quite differently, and having spent quite some time scanning the ingredients lists on the back of the bottles trying (unsuccessfully) to figure out why, I can report that they can contain radically different ingredients as well. For example, in my old conditioner, the sixth listed ingredient out of twenty-five (so one would assume present at more than trace level) was sugar cane extract, but I haven't managed to spot that on the ingredients lists at all for any of the others. I guess I can conclude now that I don't need to worry about whether my conditioner contains it or not - but on the basis of these sorts of differences I can certainly see why brands might perform quite differently, and why it is worth trying a fair few to find the one which is right for you. They very much aren't all just essentially the same stuff in different packaging. (If you're interested in the major basic types of conditioner ingredients, Wikipedia provides a list).

My plan now is to give each of the top three options a fuller try by buying and using a full-sized bottle of each of them. (I'm sticking to a top three rather than a top five on the basis of minor preferences and price differentials amongst the four which scored 8/10). I've already started those fuller trials with the Tresemmé, and am very pleased with the results. I'm not going to post any more reviews here - I think we've probably all had quite enough of those! But I will continue to explore and experiment, safe in the knowledge that I now have a good range of reliable options which I can switch to if my local supermarkets and chemists stop selling them one I happen to have settled on.

That's a good and useful place to have got to.

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strange_complex: (Penelope Keith)
What on earth is this post about? All explained here.

Name: Vinegar rinse

Price: £1.25 for a 500ml bottle of apple cider vinegar

No. of applications: Would make 50 application from the bottle I bought = c. 2p each

Smell: Vinegary. Obviously. But the website I've linked above is quite right to say that the smell vanishes completely once the hair is dry.

Appearance in hand: I applied this by pouring it directly over my head, so this category does not strictly apply here. In the mug which I used to mix it up, it looked like very weak tea.

Feeling when applied: Basically like pouring a mug of warm water over my head. I also used my fingers to make sure the rinse was properly distributed through the hair, and while doing this it felt slippery but without the creamy / oily feeling you would expect from a commercial conditioner.

First brush while still wet: Pretty good. Hair had a fair few knots in it, but they brushed out nicely, leaving neat, sleek hair.

Hair once dry: Shiny but rather straggly.

Later brush: Not good. Brushing through the hair after it had dried caused huge amounts of static - worse that I can remember experiencing with it for many years. Probably for the same reason, the hair does not hang together nicely, especially towards the ends, but wants to separate out into individual strands. This makes it look dry / frizzy.

Overall: This is certainly a lot cheaper than commercial conditioners, and for ordinary household vinegar I was pretty impressed with its performance. But the static and dryness after my hair had dried were not welcome. It seems as though it does indeed have a good effect on individual hairs, helping them to look shiny and sleek, but has unwanted effects on the hair as a whole. I certainly won't be using this on a regular basis - at most just very occasionally, and maybe not at all. 5/10.

This is now my last post about an individual conditioning treatment; I'll write up the final scores and overall conclusions in a separate post.

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strange_complex: (Sophia Loren lipstick)
What on earth is this post about? All explained here.

Name: John Frieda Beautiful Brunette

Price: £1.99 for 50ml = £3.98 for 100ml

No. of applications: 3 from a 50ml bottle = c. 6 per 100ml = c. 66p each

Smell: Slightly almondy.

Appearance in hand: Beige in colour. Looked almost exactly like a thick & creamy toffee yoghurt, or possibly a slightly melty version of the inside of a Thornton's cappuccino truffle.

Feeling when applied: Went into the hair OK, but left a slightly greasy film on my hands, which didn't feel too great.

First brush while still wet: Good - brushed through well.

Hair once dry: Good at the top, but a bit straggly further down.

Later brush: Also good. Lay nicely, stragglers seemed to calm down after a second brush, and had a decent sheen. Not quite as sheeny as some conditioners I have tried during this experiment, though.

Overall: Another good performance. Dealt with knots effectively, and left me with nice-looking hair once dry. Only complaints would be the slightly weird feeling of the greasy film left on my hands after application, and the fact that it did not leave quite such a sheen on my hair as some competitors. However, it is considerably more expensive than some of the other conditioners I have tried, which I think in the end is likely to mean I don't bother returning to it. 8/10.

This now brings me to the end of the eight different commercial conditioners which I originally set out to try. However, the experiment isn't over yet, because I am now going to follow [livejournal.com profile] a_d_medievalist's advice and try out a vinegar rinse. That's more likely to become something I use occasionally as a supplement to normal conditioner, a bit like they way I also sometimes treat my hair with VO5 hot oil, rather than a total replacement for a commercial conditioner. But I may as well give it a proper try for a few washes now, while I am in the swing of experimenting.

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strange_complex: (Claudia Cardinale fan)
What on earth is this post about? All explained here.

Name: L'Oreal Colour Protect

Price: £1.39 for 50ml = £2.78 for 100ml

No. of applications: 3 from a 50ml bottle = c. 6 per 100ml = c. 46p each

Smell: A little bit like a sun-cream which my Mum used to use when we were children.

Appearance in hand: Texture - similar to the Tresemmé conditioner which I tried. Colour - white.

Feeling when applied: Absorbed easily, felt like it was doing some good.

First brush while still wet: Not that great the first time I tried it, but then again it was the first time I had washed my hair after getting back from New York and spending three days dying of jet-lag. Seemed much better on subsequent uses.

Hair once dry: A bit fly-away at first, but settled into smoother, neater locks later in the day

Later brush: Very good. The bottle says something about this product including some kind of 'nourishing ingredient' which 'transforms' the surface of the hair, and I really did notice a distinct and very welcome sheen to my hair while I was using it.

Overall: I think I really liked this conditioner, in particular for the sheen-y layer which it put on my hair. But because the bottle only included three applications' worth, I don't quite feel that I had enough chance to judge it properly. That's L'Oreal's fault in a way for choosing to put their travel-sized conditioner in a 50-ml bottle, and if I was less sure about the conditioner I'd probably just say "Bad luck, guys - you ruled yourself out." But I'm already thinking that after I've worked my way through these small sample bottles, I might buy a full-sized bottle each of the top three, and give them a fuller trial. I'd like this one to be part of that trial. 8/10.

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strange_complex: (Snape sneer)
What on earth is this post about? All explained here.

Name: Herbal Essences Beautiful Ends

Price: £1.19 for 75ml = £1.59 for 100ml

No. of applications: 4 from a 75ml bottle = c. 5.5 per 100ml = c. 30p each

Smell: This conditioner supposedly contains 'red raspberry and silk extracts', and it did smell slightly of raspberries, but not very strongly or somehow very pleasantly either.

Appearance in hand: Texture - similar to my old conditioner, i.e. smooth and creamy. Colour - pink.

Feeling when applied: Fine - absorbed easily, didn't feel greasy or anything.

First brush while still wet: Good. Brushed through nicely.

Hair once dry: OK. Felt smooth and silky at the top, but got quite straggly further down.

Later brush: Also OK. Shiny and smooth, but perhaps a bit flat. The bottle on this product claims that it offers 'split end protection', but I wouldn't expect to see the effects of that over only four washes, so I can't judge whether it is effective or not on that front.

Overall: Middling performance overall. Does what I would basically expect from a conditioner - i.e. makes my hair easy to brush through after washing, and reasonably silky once dry, but fails to excel. I also found myself disproportionately annoyed by the branding on this product (building on an existing long-standing annoyance with Herbal Essences advertising on TV). The very name, 'Herbal Essences', and the inclusion of 'raspberry extract' attempt to evoke earth-motherly images of living close to 'nature' which are a) annoyingly delusional in any context and b) not remotely lived up to by this product, which is in fact just as stuffed full of artificially-produced chemicals as any other conditioner. And the back of the bottle also attempts to strike up a 'bond' with me as the customer via jokey, first-person text:
My velvety conditioning will give your length protection against breakage and split ends. Use me: soak your hair with me, yep all the way down to the tips, rinse and repeat for good measure.
Puh-lease! 7/10 for actual performance, but an extra point knocked off for stupid branding, so 6/10 overall.

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strange_complex: (TT Baby Helios)
What on earth is this post about? All explained here.

Name: Charles Worthington Sunshine

Price: £1.99 for 75ml = £2.65 for 100ml

No. of applications: 5 from a 75ml bottle = c. 6.5 per 100ml = c. 45p each

Smell: Perfumey, though not in an unpleasant way.

Appearance in hand: Texture - quite similar to my old conditioner, although a little thicker. Came out of the bottle in distinct 'worms'. Smooth and creamy but no pearlescence. Colour - white.

Feeling when applied: Light, easily absorbed.

First brush while still wet: Very good. Few knots, easy to brush through.

Hair once dry: Also good. Nice sheen, lies well, feels smooth and silky, barely any stragglers.

Later brush: Seems very prone to static on later brushing. Otherwise good - shiny, silky, smooth.

Overall: Very good performance apart from the tendency to static when re-brushed later in the day. That is quite off-putting, though. Also the most expensive conditioner per application which I have tried so far. 8/10.

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strange_complex: (Megara flowers)
What on earth is this post about? All explained here.

Name: Aussie Miracle Moist for dry hair

Price: £1.69 for 75ml = £2.25 for 100ml

No. of applications: 4 from a 75ml bottle = c. 5.5 per 100ml = c. 42p each

Smell: Nice - sweet and nutty. (Unsurprising, given that it proclaims itself to contain macadamia nut oil.)

Appearance in hand: Texture - a bit like slightly more liquid vaseline. Colour - beige-ish.

Feeling when applied: Oily (in a good, nourishing sort of way), well absorbed into hair.

First brush while still wet: Very good. Some knots, but they melt away quickly under my brush.

Hair once dry: Basically good. Nice sheen and lies well, but there are a few stragglers.

Later brush: Hair hangs nicely and looks smooth, but is a bit static-y, and has a slightly 'rough' feeling - more like cotton than silk.

Overall: Felt nourishing and good for my hair while wet, but became a bit more disappointing as it dried - stragglers on initial drying and then a static-y rough feeling when brushed through once dry. Could do better, but certainly not a disaster. 7/10.

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strange_complex: (Claudia Cardinale fan)
What on earth is this post about? All explained here.

Name: Tresemmé Luxurious Moisture

Price: £1.29 for 100ml

No. of applications: 5 from a 100ml bottle, but it would easily have done 6 - I was just extravagant with the last couple of helpings, as I wanted to finish the bottle before going to Scotland and interrupting the experiment for a week. So strictly speaking 26p each, but if I'd been more frugal it would have worked out at 22p each.

Smell: Very mild, slightly ricey / starchy.

Appearance in hand: White with a slight pearlescent sheen. Texture similar to the last one, but slightly thicker.

Feeling when applied: Smooth and light, absorbed easily into hair.

First brush while still wet: Good. Similar performance to my old Garnier Fructis conditioner. Obviously there are some knots when I first start to brush, but they disappear pretty quickly.

Hair once dry: Very good. Falls into place nicely, looks smooth, shiny and well-cared-for.

Later brush: Also very good. Barely even seems to need any further brushing beyond the original styling while still wet, at least if I haven't been out in the wind anyway. Hair hangs really nicely and generally looks just how I want it to.

Overall: Yay, this one is excellent! It has all the same good qualities as the Pantene conditioner which I last reviewed, but doesn't make my hair hang down too poker-straight in the way that that one did. I suppose a conditioner could be more perfect than this, so I will hang back from actually giving it 10 out of 10, but this is the best I've tried so far and I can't imagine I will improve on this. 9/10.

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strange_complex: (La Dolce Vita Trevi)
What on earth is this post about? All explained here.

Name: Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light

Price: £1.19 for 75ml = £1.60 for 100ml

No. of applications 5 from a 75ml bottle = c. 7 per 100ml = c. 24p each.

Smell: Almondy / coconutty

Appearance in hand: White, creamy and moist, a lot like my old conditioner but a little bit more liquid. Slight pearlescent sheen.

Feeling when applied: Light and silky, 'vanished' quickly into the hair. Slight tendency to lather as I rubbed it in - not like a shampoo, but a few tiny bubbles forming in my hand.

First brush while still wet: Medium performance here. First few strokes of the brush smooth and resistance-free, but there were quite a few largish knots further down which took some time to work out.

Hair once dry: Pretty good. Hair mobile and fluid with a moderate sheen to it. A few stragglers, but not too bad.

Later brush: Really nice. Hair feels silky, soft and strokable, but not at all oily / greasy. Arguably it hangs slightly too poker-straight on this conditioner, though - the two broad sweeps I'm used to on either side of my face became less and less noticeable on each successive wash with it.

Overall: This is definitely encouraging - only the second conditioner I have tried, and I really like it. It's not perfect, a) because it requires me to fight through knots a bit more than my old conditioner did when I first brush out my hair, and b) because I'm not quite sure about the poker-straightness which it gave to my hair by the time I got to the bottom of the bottle. But my hair does feel lovely and smooth and silky on it, and it appears to fulfil the claim on the front of the bottle to be particularly suitable for fine hair, leaving it with 'virtually no weight'. 8/10.

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strange_complex: (Lady Penelope)
What on earth is this post about? All explained here.

Name: Dove Damage Therapy Intensive Repair

Price: 99p for 50ml = £2 for 100ml

No. of applications three from a 50ml bottle = six per 100ml = 33p each.

Smell: Mild and inoffensive.

Appearance in hand: Pale yellow colour. Texture of first helping like thick-ish cake mix. Came out of the bottle in distinct 'worms' rather than as a pool of gloop. No real sheen or shine to it. But also became looser and creamier further down the bottle. Lesson - shake each bottle carefully in future before starting to use the contents.

Feeling when applied: First helping had an odd sort of rough, scrapey feel to it, a bit like there was silica or mica in it or something. Kind of like the feeling of a graphite pencil travelling over the surface of some paper, as opposed to the silkier feel of my old conditioner. But again, this had gone by the third (and last) application.

First brush while still wet: Not great the first time. Hair quite matted and tangly, required quite a lot of patience to get the knots out. Could still feel the roughish texture that was there in the shower on application. Much better by the third application.

Hair once dry: Also not great the first time. A lot of rather frizzy-looking stragglers floating free of the main body of the hair. But again got better.

Later brush: Improved texture, even the first time - stragglers seemed to settle down, and hair felt OK, but a bit dry and dull. By end of the bottle, perfectly acceptable.

Overall: On the one hand, this wasn't as bad as the first application made me think. On the other, I don't want a conditioner that is as vulnerable as this one to settling out and performing badly as a result. Also, presumably its average performance even when properly mixed is still somewhere closer to the initial rough-feeling experience than I would like. Definitely worse than my old Garnier conditioner, but not catastrophically bad. 6/10.

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strange_complex: (Sophia Loren lipstick)
So, I fully appreciate that this post is a bit loser-ish, but here I go anyway.

My last bottle of the conditioner I like (Garner Fructis Sleek 'n' Shine, pictured below left) has just run out. I've been using it for a good ten years, I'd say, but over the last three years it has gradually and steadily been disappearing from every shop where I used to buy it. We're now at the point where the only place I know of that I can reliably get it is a large edge-of-town supermarket (the Asda at Holt Park, for locals), but that isn't where I shop normally, so it means a special journey out there just for this one item. And given past form I wouldn't be surprised to see it disappear from there soon enough too.

So it is time to explore other options. Earlier this week, I popped into my local Superdrug, and bought one each of every one of their little travel-sized conditioners. Or at least, one each of the ones which didn't claim to be completely unsuitable for my hair-type - so I left behind the ones for dyed hair, blond hair, frizzy hair, and the ones which claim to produce 'volume' (or, as I like to call it 'tangles'). These are the results:

Conditioner line-up

I'm now going to work my way through each one sequentially, and - this is the really loser-ish bit - write a quick review of each one here when I get to the end of the bottle. I apologise in advance for becoming The Girl Who Blogs About Conditioners, especially since my findings probably won't be readily applicable to anyone else. I don't think very many of my friends share my very fine fly-away hair-type, which is so ultra-sensitive to any kind of residue left on it - be that conditioner, limescale in the water, or just sweat - that different products can genuinely make a huge difference to its appearance and manageability. But I promise they won't be very long. It is just my way of ensuring that I systematically write down a few notes about each one before I forget and move on to the next, so that I can compare them at the end and choose the best one to stick with.

For the sake of science, I will ensure comparability by continuing to use the same shampoo throughout: the matching Garnier Fructis one, which I get through much more slowly than the conditioner, and therefore still have two and a half bottles of. I also won't take these conditioners with me when I travel anywhere other than Leeds, in spite of their temptingly handy size, so that my observations are not skewed by different water types. (This is what I mean about my hair being ultra-sensitive - I barely need conditioner at all in Birmingham, which is supplied by pure spring water from the Welsh valleys, but need a ton of it and a lot of patience in Oxford, where the water is so hard when it comes out of the tap that you have to break it up with a hammer before you can use it.)

First exciting results on this journal in just a few short days - woo-hoo! Betcha can't wait.

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