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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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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 25th, 2013 03:09 pm (UTC)
It's interesting what you say about different water in different places affecting your hair. My hair has been much more frizzy and flyaway since I moved to Inverness. Elgin, where I lived before, is only 40 miles away and you wouldn't think there would be a big difference in water, but I do notice a change.

I'm so limited in what conditioners I can use because I'm allergic to limonene, which is in so many of them. I can usually only use shampoos and conditioners designed for dry and damaged hair - which is OK, I guess, since they do help flyaway hair.
May. 27th, 2013 09:34 pm (UTC)
Yes, water hardness can make a big difference, especially if your hair is thin (as mine is).

I've certainly noticed limonene being on a lot of ingredients lists, though I'm impressed that you managed to identify it as the cause of your allergies amongst all the other possible candidates. How did you manage to work out that that was the problem?
May. 30th, 2013 09:00 pm (UTC)
I thought it must be something that was in a lot of different products, since I was itching in so many parts of my body, including my lips, and I was especially itching in bed at night. When I realised how widespread limonene was (laundry detergent, lipsalve, toothpaste, shower gel, conditioner, shampoo) it seemed like the best candidate - and cutting it out cured my itching, so the case was proved!
May. 27th, 2013 01:47 am (UTC)
I think I should give the Tresemme one a try myself. We seem to have similar hair-types, after all!
May. 27th, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
I'm definitely liking it, and it is actually quite cheap compared to some of the other options, too.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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