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One of my problems with my hair is that I have very sensitive skin, not only on my face and body but also on my scalp. I would get small itchy sores on my head that I would feel compel to pick at. My hairdresser told me this is probably due to a mild allergy to my shampoo (as I don't use styling products) and stress. He said that if I didn't let my scalp heal I could end up with bald patches... Obviously that was a stylistic choice I wasn't going to make. It was then my hairdresser recommended Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo Classic to me.
I think it is common for many salons to have products on display that can be bought; my hairdresser is no different. Perhaps unlike some salons, he mainly stocked Paul Mitchell products, perhaps he was endorsed by the company, I am unsure. Many Paul Mitchell hair products, including shampoos and conditioners, are in white (sort of like an aerosol); this was the only product on the shelf that broke the combination, as a rather fat, round green plastic container with grey writing. There are other products in the same range, including 'firm hold' gels and a shaping cream with similar packaging exteriors, but my hairdresser never seems to have them in stock.
The idea behind this Paul Mitchell Tea Tree shampoo is that it combines natural essential oils to wash hair instead of harsh chemicals. The bottle informs you that it contains peppermint oil, tea tree oil and lavender oil. To delve a little bit into the science behind the three ingredients:
Tea tree oil, when applied topically, is a natural antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiseptic. It is taken from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia (Narrowbark Ti-tree) which only grow in Australia.
Peppermint has a long list of medicinal uses when taken internally as a herbal supplement, but in oil form applied topically, it is thought to be an antiviral.
Lavender oil is an antiseptic and a pain reliever, and it can also be used on mild burns and insect bites and stings. It is also used in aromatherapy as a scent thought to help people relax.
When you flip the cap open and take a sniff it does smell very strongly of tea tree oil, with a bit of an undertone of peppermint, but I can't really sniff out the lavender particularly under those two very strong scents. The shampoo itself is a white liquid, not too runny or viscous, I would say about average as shampoos go. I have tried many types of shampoo, including medicinal ones, and I have found they don't tend to bubble up well due to the lack of detergents in them (and also tend to need two washes and rinses before my hair feels properly clean) but this Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special shampoo bubbles up really well. The scent is even stronger when washing my hair and it was surprisingly pleasant, not too astringent as I thought it might be with tea tree oil. It also gives a mildly tingly feeling, which only reminded me of washing my hair with mouthwash (though I've not tried that yet). I have to say, the sores on my scalp stung a bit, but not as bad as I thought they would be compared to other shampoos.
I have quite short hair and I only needed one wash to get that squeaky clean feeling; I also tend not to use conditioner because of my hair's length, as the addition of conditioner does tend to make it seem lank and greasy. I mention this because I imagine multiple washes and the addition of other products would impact the effectiveness and the scent left on the hair. While my hair was drying the scent was still strong, but as it dried it did seem to evaporate. I don't mind this too much, as it was only ten years ago that my mum used to put tea tree oil on my head to ward away nits - sadly the scent only brings back bad associations. Tangentially, like tea-tree oil, lavender is thought to help eradicate head-lice as well. Maybe not something most people want to think about when using a 'luxury' shampoo?
For 300mls, the bottle lasted about a month and a half which is fair going for how frequently I wash my hair. I did find the bottle a bit chunky on my shower shelf, but not as bad as certain other bottles (like Tresemme) and it didn't go all gross like sadly many other bottles do to prolonged damp exposure.
As for the results on my scalp, I am happy to report that the little wounds on my head cleared up and vanished while I was using this. Obviously, I had to break the itch-scratch cycle as well, and if I had kept scratching at them this shampoo wouldn't have been much use at all. After the first few washes the initial stinging sensation seemed to abide, and after a while I forgot about it altogether. My hair is of quite a good quality as I don't style it or use heat products on it, so I didn't feel this shampoo brought out any special shine or depth to my hair colour as any other shampoo would have done. The scent wasn't particularly lingering either (which I wasn't too sad about).
The price is what put me off buying this product again after my initial problem was sorted out. Amazon retails this at £19.59 at time of writing, and it regularly goes for £15-£25 in salons. I paid somewhere around £22. If you have an itchy scalp or dandruff, it is worth the money, as it is effective without being harsh or overpoweringly scented. However, for an everyday shampoo, or a specialised one for coloured or heat-treated hair, this isn't really appropriate. I wouldn't recommend this for children either, unless they have a particular scalp condition, as there are cheaper ways to eradicate head-lice and that is not really what this shampoo was made for.
Overall, this is a very high quality shampoo from a high quality brand, and it lives up to the name of 'special shampoo'. In fact, it even won an award for "Best Shampoo - Dandruff" in 2008 and 2009. So, for anyone with a scalp condition, I couldn't recommend this enough, and it may also appeal to those interested in natural ways of cleansing your hair (though I have no idea if it is vegetarian/vegan friendly). However, special also has a dual meaning of 'not very often', and the price will ensure this won't become my newest everyday shampoo.