Are you bamboozled by the proliferation of shampoo claims? Can it really thicken hair fibres from within? And should you be relieved or suspicious when your shampoo tells you all the things it doesn’t contain, such as parabens, silicones and fragrances?
As children, my parents washed their hair with soap. And when I was a child, we chose our shampoo for dry, normal or greasy hair, and anti-dandruff shampoo was simply revolutionary. Now the choices are endless – you can even buy shampoo that claims to make your hair look ten years younger!
So we examined the science behind the shampoo claims using an expert panel made up of a dermatologist, trichologist (hair and scalp specialist), chemist and marketing experts.
The experts explained what shampoo ingredients do, and which ones (those containing botanicals such as the plant extract red algae, vitamins and amino acids) are more likely to give a feel-good factor, rather than deliver tangible benefits in the small amounts likely to be present.
They also clarified that free-from claims are not quite as simple as they seem. While some shampoos, such as Herbal Essences Clearly Naked shampoo, are free from ingredients such as parabens (a preservative), this is not infrequently replaced by the preservatives methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone. This combination is a known skin sensitiser or allergenic.
So what we found was that while shampoos can legitimately make all the claims they do, it’s not nearly easy enough to see the manufacturers’ evidence backing up their substantial claims, with many declaring it ‘commercially sensitive’.
I don’t think it wouldn’t be far-fetched to expect all companies to clearly let us know exactly what we’re paying for and how it works, as L’Oreal did. And especially so when we’re paying premium prices.
So do you think that these claims need clearing up? Or do we just accept that this is the way marketing works, take some claims with a large dose of salt (sodium chloride thickens your shampoo after all), and enjoy the choice and the feel-good factor?