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How to choose the perfect hair conditioner

Heads up! Your favourite liquid conditioners have had a makeover in response to changing ingredients regulations and - most importantly - your feedback. The good news is it’s now easier than ever to keep your hair in dazzling condition. A menu of effective conditioners are armed with the right tools and ready to help you get to the root of your hair dilemmas. Banish bad hair days and get ready to be a bigwig.

Soft, shiny, smooth or sleek? Turning up the volume or taking it down a notch? However you like to style your hair, the following will help you to choose the right conditioner for you.

But first, what’s changed?

The classic Lush conditioner formulas you will remember from years ago used an anti-static called cetrimonium bromide to give your hair that sleek and shiny, ‘just conditioned’ feel. However, when other cosmetics companies started using this material as a preservative, some global regulatory bodies reclassified it as such, meaning our liquid conditioners sold in Europe and Japan needed tweaking.

Cosmetic scientist and product inventor Daniel Campbell explains: “The materials that we can use are often restricted by our anti-animal testing policy. It’s a restriction we’re happy with - we’re doing the right thing - but it means that we are only able to play with the tools we have access to. 

“When the regulatory authorities reclassified cetrimonium bromide as a preservative as well as an anti-static, we had to reduce the amount we use to comply with the legislation. When we trialled this, our formulas didn’t work as well on the hair, so it was then a case of looking through the companies we could buy from to see which other anti-statics were available to us.  Since then we’ve been selling these conditioners with the very best anti-statics available which don’t compromise our ethical standards.”

While some customers may not have noticed the change, passionate purveyors of their old favourites have been asking for something a little more like the original. And, after years of hard work from the buying and research and development teams, Daniel is happy to share the good news.

“Because our business has grown massively, we’ve got more buying muscle now and that helps encourage more collaboration from potential suppliers. We’ve found a material called cetrimonium chloride, which is from the same family of anti-statics as cetrimonium bromide and has a very similar effect on the hair - in fact, if anything, it’s slightly better.  

“It has an even greater affinity for the hair [more on that below] so you get an ultra conditioning effect without having to use a lot, which leaves us more space to pack more of the nice stuff in. It ensures that fans of both the original recipes and the newer versions will find that they get more of what they love about their conditioner, and, as it’s more concentrated, they will be able to use less.”

It’s great news for the customers who want their conditioners to feel extra rich and their hair to be flyaway free. But for those who like their conditioners the way they already are, Dan has some advice: “If you like the effect these conditioners have now, you may want to simply use a little less, or consider switching your formula from say, American Cream (our most anti-static formula) to Retread which has a little less.”

You’ll find plenty of hints and tips to find your perfect match by reading on, but if you want a little extra help, speak to your local shop who will be able to give you an in-depth consultation and samples to try, or call Customer Care on 01202 668545 for more expert advice.

It’s also worth noting, that as these changes only came into place in Europe and Japan, customers in North America and Australia can still enjoy the original conditioner formulas. As Dan notes: “Just because one regulatory authority said this, it doesn’t make it a global agreement.”

Similarly, the solid conditioners have also been mostly unaffected by the change - although eagle-eyed customers may note that some are classified as preserved due to their cetrimonium bromide content - even though it is not actually being used to keep the product fresh.

What does conditioner do?

Have you ever wondered how a conditioner actually works? Understanding how they work and why we use them could just help you find ‘the one’ amongst the many.

Put simply, our hair naturally has a negative chemical charge which sits all the way down the hair shaft. When coated in oil, this charge is masked. Shampoo uses surfactant to create an emulsion with the oil on the hair, which then pushes the oil down each strand, making it feel squeaky clean. Imagine swinging down a fireman’s pole and you get the idea. The negative charge of the hair is revealed and the hair cuticles become raised from pushing the shampoo away, like two magnets with the same charge.

Conditioners contain anti-static ingredients which are positively charged. This means they are attracted to the negatively charged hair strands of freshly shampooed hair. When applied, they sit on top of the hair shaft and push down the raised cuticles to create a smooth, sleek effect.

As well as ensuring sleekness after a shampoo, conditioners work to protect and prevent damage from environmental factors, friction and heat styling. When it comes to oil, the scalp is the source of the river, therefore conditioners are best used through the ends of the hair where oil is less likely to reach. They act as guardians of your hair, helping to prevent dryness and split ends.

Narrowing it down

When it comes to creating different styles, playing around with different products is all part of the fun. But a number of factors actually influence how your hair looks and feels, including how it naturally falls, whether you are using hard or soft water and even how you use the product. When you have a very specific style in mind, this knowledge is power.

Cosmetic scientist and product inventor Daniel Campbell puts it into basic terms: "If you have finer hair but you still want volume you need a conditioner which doesn’t have too much of an affinity with your hair cuticles so it doesn’t push them all the way down. However, if you want a very smooth, sleek look and have thicker hair you need a conditioner which has a stronger affinity for the hair cuticles, so it pushes them all the way down."

The conditioner with the strongest anti-static effect is American Cream, followed by Retread, and, for those who like to go naked, Jungle solid conditioner. You’ll find lower levels of anti-static in Veganese and Happy Happy Joy Joy meaning the hair has more bounce and volume.

How to pick the right hair conditioner
How to pick the right hair conditioner

Get some bottle

Finding the right conditioner is key to ensuring that whatever style you’re after works, as it sits just before the styling stage of your routine. Thankfully, a spectrum of different liquid conditioners awaits you, itching to hydrate your locks with moisturising butters and strengthening essential oils.

Packed with lemon oil and fresh organic lemon juice, Veganese is a light, oil-free conditioner with a stimulating, sherbet-like fragrance, ideal for those with fine hair or who desire volume and lots of shine. Agar agar gel from seaweed coats the hair without weighing it down, whilst lemon encourages the hair cuticles to lie flat, smoothing down the hair for gloss and softness. A beautifully botanical blend of rosemary and lavender are a soothing tonic for the scalp, helping to balance the amount of sebum produced and keeping hair oil-free. This stunning citrus conditioner will also help hair to retain moisture for a super soft mane.

Does the scent of a conditioner normally sell it for you? Thankfully there’s plenty of substance beneath the fine fragrance. Originally formulated as a conditioning hair perfume, Happy Happy Joy Joy leaves the hair with a delightful orange blossom, rose and neroli scent which lasts for days. Almond milk is beautifully delicate, soothing and smoothing the scalp and hair, and this light, milky conditioner also contains jojoba oil: the lightest of cosmetic oils which has a low affinity for the hair so adds moisture without adding weight. These ingredients work wonders on finer or quite processed hair, with anti-statics to keep hair smooth and stop flyaways.

Rich in vitamin E, protective olive oil helps to retain moisture in the hair, increase tensile strength to prevent breakage and soften in Retread. Pry open to uncover a midweight, creamy concoction packed with strengthening and shine enhancing avocado oil and jojoba oil which lightly coats the hair shaft for silky, more manageable locks. Like a pit stop in a pot, Retread is formula #1 for quenching hair’s thirst while maintaining body. Combine this reparatory blend of avocado, olive and jojoba with different shampoos to find your perfect finish. Sea salt-packed Big will play up the volume, while cleansing Rehab will help to smooth down strands and seal in moisture.

Aside from smelling delicious, American Cream contains honey water and vanilla pod infusion which are humectants that help to lock in moisture, strawberries and oranges for serious shine and protective and highly moisturising lanolin. For those who strive for serious condition and Hollywood sleekness this is both the most conditioning and moisturising of the menu, hugging the hair cuticles tight for an ultra polished, million dollar style. This strawberry and vanilla milkshake scented conditioner is full of glamour and great for those with thick, luscious locks.

Naked ambition

Conditioners just got nude! These solid conditioners are a naked, space-saving, practical alternative to the bottle when travelling abroad and a solid solution to waste at the same time. Jam packed with essential oils and lasting for up to 80 washes, you can hydrate and enrich your hair with wonderful ingredients over and over again.

Tame your mane and protect colour treated locks with an exotic fruit cocktail in Jungle. Fresh figs, kumquats and vitamin rich passion fruits add shine and hydrate the hair whilst a rich base of Fair Trade organic cocoa butter will take your hair on a trip to ‘cocoa’cobana, deeply conditioning each strand for Rio carnival-ready hair. With the added benefit of being self-preserving (that means made without any synthetic preservatives), it’s the perfect way to bring your hair down to earth - literally. Get in touch with nature and get blown away by this fruity little number.

For those looking to wave a magic wand over brassy blonde, Sugar Daddy-O contains violet leaf absolute to help make fair heads lighter and brighter. Protective linseed is rich in protein, oil, vitamins and minerals to help keep each strand nourished and healthy while reparative argan oil helps to prevent damage. Filled with floral notes, a swish of the hair will release rose, violet and bergamot music.

Let them stare at your big, beautiful hair. Sea salt brings softness and body in Big solid conditioner, a twist of fresh organic lemon and lime juice helps to flatten out hair cuticles so that they reflect the light for divine shine and protein rich toothed wrack seaweed helps detangle tresses and leave them more manageable. Restorative vetivert relaxes with an earthy, smoky aroma, whilst glycerine locks in moisture to leave hair volumized yet super soft. Comforting vanilla, sultry jasmine, zesty bergamot and fresh vetivert blanket each hair strand to leave your hair smelling utterly enchanting.

Found your perfect match? Now that you know exactly which conditioner will tick all your boxes, you can find them here

Comments (12)
12 Comments

beth.rees_6721500

about 3 months ago

Which conditioner is good for coloured hair please? Like, coloured with all the colours but mostly red.

chloeleecarr37_6716638

about 3 months ago

I have thin hair at the front and thick hair at back, and my hair is super oily all the time.

Lizzie_MCU

about 4 months ago

Ok, so I have super thick wavy hair and I currently use American cream, which from reading this I know is good for thick hair. But is it good for wavy hair, and to maintain those curls as that is one thing I struggle with, keeping the curls I have 2 days after I wash it(i wash my hair twice a week). I there a better conditioner i could be using? Thank you!

Lush Customer Care

about 4 months ago

Staff

Hi - Take a look at our Jungle conditioner, great for the curly hair! https://uk.lush.com/products/jungle-0 Rose

about 6 months ago

Hi there. Can you please tell me why so many of the conditioners contain lemon juice and what one would be best for me (not american as dont want to smell of strawberries) My dark hair is in good condition however it is dyed because i Have quite a bit of grey. I dont really want lemon juice to lighten it further. I like the idea of the conditioner bars but they dont really condition my and my daughters long hair. We then have to use argon oil. Currently using seanik and karma komba. Thanks

femyraechel_6661629

about 6 months ago

Hi, Could you recommend shampoo, conditioner for dry , frizzy and curly hair

Lush Customer Care

about 6 months ago

Staff

Hi - have a read of this https://uk.lush.com/article/hey-curl-all-about-hair-shapes and if you drop us an email to [email protected] we can give you some recommendations

@cherryblossom1003

about 7 months ago

Hi, I was wondering if you guys could recommend a conditioner for my hair. I have extremely fine, unhealthy hair which is prone to hair fall. It is easily damaged by various things including heat ( I can't straighten my hair too much), and my scalp isn't in good condition either as it is either too oily or too dry and it can get quite itchy and irritable at times. I'm looking for a conditioner/ product that will help make my hair and scalp more healthier and stronger and help grow some of my hair back to make it slightly thicker like before. I have tried products like the new shampoo bar and roots to help combat this and I enjoy using them but I still feel like my hair is quite unhealthy and they aren't quite helping with my fineness. What would you guys recommend?

eniko.medgyesi.uk_6008426

about 7 months ago

Hi guys, could you recommend any conditioner for natural thin hair? I love Retread, but it makes my hair greasy on the second day. Now I use Jungle, but it doesn't make my hair enough smooth and soft, it is too dry. I started to wash my hair with Honey IWMH (before I used Rehab+ Retread <3, BIG <3, Avocado Co-wash <3 but I would like to try something new) Many thanks :)

Lush Customer Care

about 7 months ago

Staff

It sounds like Veganese would be the perfect conditioner for you!

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