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Photo Credit: Redken


Posted by 06.27.14

Sulfate-free shampoos are not new: in 2008 Good Housekeeping reviewed its first brush with products formulated without sodium lauryl sulfates (SLS).

While that review wasn’t exactly glowing in the beginning (the reviewer complained that the shampoo wouldn’t produce suds, for starters) by the end of her trial she reported that her hair, in fact, was satisfactorily clean.

Surfactant-free shampoos have come a long way since then, and one of the newest launches in the category is the Redken Color Extend Magnetics ($29-$33) line. The objective of SLS-free hair-care is to preserve color in color-treated hair. In addition, there is some controversy that sodium lauryl sulfates could be carcinogenic. At the very least, most hair experts agree that SLS damage hair and destroy expensive color jobs (hair colorist Philip B says it is “as harsh as some dishwashing liquids”).

Redken not only focused on gentle cleansing in the Color Extend Magnetics line, but incorporated technology called the Charge-Attract Complex, which delivers charged amino-ions that are attracted to the hair fiber. These ions shield the hair like armor, and your pricey color job is protected (it also gives shine and that je ne sais quois allure). The line up includes with the Sulfate-Free Shampoo, Conditioner, and Deep Attraction Mask.

The products work beautifully and the Deep Attraction Mask is my particular favorite because it leaves the hair luxurious soft and shiny.


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Posted by 04.30.14

Shampoos and conditioners are no longer the predictable wallflowers from your grandmother’s days: they’ve gone niche and aim to surprise by their depth and breadth of options. A new breed of haircare has raised the bar considerably for those willing to explore—there’s something for everyone, from coarse hair, to split ends, and, of course, color-treated locks.

Beauty has long imitated nature, and the new Biolage from Matrix range with four distinct product lines goes beyond just the updated sleek packaging. There is one collection for practically every hair concern, and the brand’s proprietary Biomatch Technology takes cues from mechanisms found in nature that have allowed plants to thrive and develop. For example, the key ingredient in the  Smoothproof Collection is moisture-repelling camellia, which reportedly endures monsoon conditions; the idea here is to harness the ingredient to combat frizz and create truly smooth hair. The collection includes a beautifully-fragrant shampoo ($17); conditioner ($18); my favorite serum in the collection because it leaves a glossy shine ($16); and a leave-in cream ($16) that forms a hydrophobic shield. Beach-ready hair was never easier.

The Colorlast Collection in iconic pink packaging, pays homage to the fade-defying orchid, which retains its color thanks to flavinoids that filter out UV rays. The collection’s formulas help color treated hair maintain an even color for up to nine weeks. The lineup includes a shampoo ($17) , a low pH conditioner ($18), a unique Shine Shake ($16), which boasts a creamy top layer that is basically a silicone emulsion with a UV filter and a paraben-free base (basically a hair smoothie), and Colorlast Mask ($19), which envelopes each colored strand and gives it the nourishing pampering it deserves and needs.

True to its name the Biolage Hydrasource Collection is a comprehensive water powerhouse, providing ample moisture to parched tresses. The star ingredient here is moisture-locking aloe, which provides instant moisture absorption and retention. Studies showed that after just one application, hair strands received 15 times more hydration. This collection features a shampoo that increases moisture levels ($17), a detangling conditioner ($18), a hydra-seal spray ($16), a luxurious moisturizing hair mask ($19), a more specific detangling solution ($18), a leave-in tonic ($16), and a daily leave-in cream ($16). With such a mighty hydration arsenal, parched hair will be history.

And finally, what’s hair without some va va voom? The VolumeBloom Collection features cotton flower as its star ingredient. Participants in a study saw 70% hair expansion after one application. The collection also includes shampoo ($17), conditioner ($18), and volumizing spray ($16) that expands each hair’s inter-fiber space.

These gems are available now, online  and in fine salons.


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Posted by 04.15.14

Hair coloring has come a long way since the ancient Gauls and Saxons dyed their hair with natural pigments derived from plants and minerals. And appropriate hair color has long been a sign of status—the ancient Greeks and Egyptians used natural hair dyes regularly to show rank and to look younger. Since few resort to crushing plants and roots in their kitchen anymore, unless you’re a true naturalist, at home hair kits are the best options.

Ninety million people in the U.S. color their hair, so it’s no surprise that the “at-home color kit” concept has grown in leaps and bounds. Madison Reed, brainchild of start-up expert Amy Errett, boasts colorist Sally Hershberger as an adviser, and is very much the UBER of hair color kits. Not only does the box you purchase come with salon quality hair color (Hershberger has personally tested the formulas and vouched for their depth, shine, and grade), but it comes with several surprising perks and virtual services too.

One of the hardest challenges of coloring your hair at home is finding the right shade, so the brand actually sends out a colorist to your door (in San Francisco and Manhattan, so far) to help you select the right shade. You can also get assistance from an online color advisor, mobile app, live web chat, digital photo consultation, or a consultation with a real person on the phone. As far as we know, no other at-home hair color kit gives you all these options.

Madison Reed at home hair color

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The kit itself contains items that would even make the cast of Mad Men reject their hair salons: simple, illustrated instructions on the flap jackets of the box; a radiant Cream Color; Conditioning Color Activator with “less-mess” application tip; two pairs of fitted gloves, one for applying color and another to rinse; Barrier Cream to keep skin around your hairline clean; a hair cap to wear while waiting for color to set; a cleaning wipe to remove stray color; and a specially formulated Color Enhancing Shampoo and Conditioner (this is what we couldn’t believe!). All of this for $29.99 (many luxury shampoos alone cost this amount).

The online quiz is visual and fun: choose from a variety of hair types and length and they’ll figure out what works for you.

While we’re not turning our noses up on the other hair color kits on the market, this is definitely one that raises the bar in more than one way. Once you go Madison Reed, you’re pretty much hooked–just like Uber.

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