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Whether it's caused by the bad weather, stress, using the wrong shampoo or something as stupid as washing my hair too often, I've been suffering with an itchy, flaky scalp recently. I decided that I would get myself as gentle a product as possible, as I've heard that shampoos loaded with chemicals, colours and fragrances can be really irritating to the scalp even if it's not already inflamed, so when I saw the Faith in Nature range in my local health food shop, I thought I'd give one of their shampoos a try - especially as they were only £4.10 as opposed to some other natural products I'd seen for well over a tenner!
Faith In Nature are a well-established company selling a whole range of natural products, from shampoo to floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, soap and deodorant. Founded thirty years ago by someone called Rivka Rose, the business aims to produce all their products using (according to their website) "naturally derived sources", with "no synthetic additives". They also state that part of their mission is to be good for the environment and good for the user by avoiding anything which might be harmful to either. Everything they produce is vegan and cruelty-free, so they might be a good bet if you're interested in the environment and/or animal rights.
I chose Faith In Nature Rosemary Shampoo because it promises that rosemary is an astringent, which means that it's good for clearing dandruff and scalp irritation. Apparently it also "promotes hair growth and colour" and "improves the scalp" in general, which could mean anything but probably isn't bad; it also says that this shampoo "balances oily hair". It's totally natural and organic, paraben and SLS free (parabens are basically preservatives which extend the shelf life of a product; they're thought to perhaps be toxic. SLS is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a detergent used for its foam-building properties; it's very alkaline and drying to the skin). It's also pH balanced and fully biodegradable, so it won't hang around forever once it's been used.
It comes in an excellent value 400ml bottle, round at the bottom with straight sides, a round top and a large label which covers most of the bottle - though not all, the vivid green shampoo is still visible at the top and bottom, plus there's a small gap at the side so you can see how much you've got left. The bottle itself is nice, if not particularly interesting, but I ran into problems with the cap almost straightaway: it's got one of those incredibly annoying push-down and slide-up lids which immediately got stuck. Instead of being able to put my finger on the side and slide it up, I had to forcibly grab the bottle, shove my nail under the lid and yank it up - when this only worked a bit, I had to shove my nail in the hole where the shampoo comes out and pull it up from there. In the shower, with hands slippery and wet, this was a really annoying job! I've left it permanently open now as I'm not going through that malarkey again.
So, after all that, what was the actual shampoo like? I squirted a blob onto my hand and found it was quite thin and watery - not really really thin, but not creamy and it did start to run off my hand pretty much immediately. The smell of the product is lovely, very fresh and definitely rosemary, and it was easy enough to get a good lather up on my mid-shoulder length hair, although I did have to use plenty. It rinsed out perfectly well and my hair felt clean enough not to need a second wash and rinse, which I don't tend to bother doing much anyway.
I let my hair dry naturally and then slept on it, only to wake up to find that my hair was greasier than before I'd washed it! Argh! I don't even tend to have particularly greasy hair anyway, sometimes it's a bit oily if it hasn't been washed for a day or two but it's certainly not prone to being like a chip pan. I was horrified and particularly annoyed because the shampoo specifically promises to "balance oily hair", which seems a bit ironic seeing as the only balancing it was doing was adding half a ton of grease to my hair. Although it had, admittedly, become something of a side issue in the face of the grease bomb, there didn't seem to be any improvement on the dandruff front, either.
Give it a chance, I told myself, and in the interests of fairness and allowing my hair to, er, 'get used to it', I used the shampoo twice more. Readers, twice more I looked as if I'd been working in the chip shop for 10 hours straight, plus the dandruff hadn't gone anywhere. It wasn't worse, but it wasn't better. Enough was enough, and sadly I have quit using this and gone to get myself a bottle of 85p Vosene from Bodycare, which has sorted out the dandruff completely in two washes. Sigh. It's not going to save the planet and it's probably putting too many chemicals onto my head, but that's the price I'm willing to pay.
Overall, I'm disappointed with this offering. I like to do my bit for the environment and I'm concerned about loading my body up with chemicals, but if the price of being careful is greasy hair and no real improvement to my flaky scalp (as well as a trapped finger and half an hour spent grappling with the bottle in the shower), then I just don't think it's worth it. I won't be using this again.
If I haven't managed to put you off everything eco forever, Faith in Nature products are available online at www.faithinnature.co.uk, priced at £4.59 per 400ml of shampoo. As I said, I got mine for £4.10 in my local health food shop, but I've also seen these shampoos in Oxfam - not sure how much they are there, but it won't be more than £4.50.