May 22, 2013

duped by herbal essences

I was going to upstart my beauty column with a summer skincare series today, but yesterday I had experienced something that takes precedence in sharing this space for a beauty post. During what was supposed to be a relaxing shower, I felt nothing but contempt and betrayal by something I've loved; that deceitful come down after an eager build up of excitement and thrill from the anticipated reunion with your long lost childhood friend. No, it was no real friend or person that caused such emotional treachery (well, not technically, but there are people indirectly responsible). It was the bottle of classic Herbal Essences shampoo I had bought the day before, in my hands, with its back turned to me, and the word Sodium Laureth Sulfate glowing red from deception. How could that possibly exist in its ingredients list after countless advertising stated that their revival of the lovable classic HE shampoos and conditioners would be free of sulfates and silicones?

The shampoo is stamped with 0% silicone on the front and sodium laureth sulfate remains the second listed ingredient on the back. The conditioner is stamped with 0% sulfates and plenty of -cones are on its list. Neither one or the other are both silicone and sulfate free. Looks like we'd still be massaging equal parts of silicone and sulfates into our precious hair anyway.

Some of you are thinking, wtf's the big deal? It's an ingredient. My deal is that they've tried to dupe us - their fans, their loyal customers, me being one of them, and I'm calling it. The disappointment I've faced, when I've looked forward to using what I thought was a great product made even better, only to be left stranded, cringing at the fact that they've resulted to tricking me into buying their claims, is enough for me to proactively share this story with you all. Misleading marketing is not only frustrating and disdainful, but it's also perpetual and the only way we can help ourselves is to educate ourselves and not be the ignorant chumps major companies like P&G, who owns Herbal Essences, take us to be. Our time, money, and loyalty are put out there, but not to be taken advantage of. Seeing someone botch the craft of great marketing with a tactless, deceitful ploy like this from Herbal Essences is like finding out that Ryan Gosling's abs were actually airbrushed in Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Quick lesson on sulfates and silicones, if you aren't aware already: sulfates are chemical cleaning agents found in shampoos and soap that are only responsible for lathering. They strip your hair of all oils which is why you feel squeaky clean afterwards, but more often than not, your hair will overproduce oils to replace the natural oils it needs. You're left with greasy, flat hair a day later, and dry, dull hair in the long run. You especially don't want sulfates if you color your hair. Silicones coat and seal your hair to make it sleek and smooth, and they stay there. They build up until your hair becomes dull, flat, and "immune" to hair products since nothing actually penetrates your hair strand. Also, the hidden trap door of HE's advertising is that sulfates are often only found in shampoos, while silicones are often only found in conditioners. Which is exactly why Herbal Essences can easily claim that their shampoo is silicone-free and their conditioner is sulfate-free. See what they did there?

Herbal Essences, please don't pull at our heart strings, dangle those throwback, parental-advisory commercials, and tease our enthusiasm for one of the greatest childhood-slash-90s hits to come back and invigorate our showers. Don't do that and falsely cater to our modern expectations of hair care with the intent to fool us, because we are smarter than you think. We were all rooting for you, HE. I'm sure if you didn't claim it to be sulfate-free when it isn't, millions of fans would've still been happy with their purchase. Instead you've found yourself losing the ones who can't stand bullshit when they see it. 


  1. love the honesty and callout! i only use sulfate free shampoos now and this would infuriate me too!



  2. Yes I know they are very bad. You know at my work they sometimes get products in and I tried the #4 hair care line, that is really what it is called Number 4. And makes my hair literally look different. Better, though not sure what is in it, will have to check this tonight. Following back via Bloglovin.

    Ali of

    Dressing Ken

  3. wow! you kept it real! :O gotta love false advertising. :/
    (esp. mascara ads)

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks for reading Lucia! Just want people to be aware of what they are willing to try.

  5. Amazing!!!!


    Fashion Jacket -

  6. That's really sketchy! I too was pretty excited about the original HE returning but I won't be supporting that...that's for sure. And yes, sulfates are terrible for your hair!


    1. Thanks for reading Jacy! Disappointing right? SLS-free all the way :)

  7. I have terrible psoriasis on my scalp, and had to stop coloring my hair because of the OPEN boo-boo's.
    Once I stopped using shampoo's with laurel sulfites, my scalp calmed down and became less irritated and careful what you put on your head! These big companies only care about the bottom line...not our health or safety!
    Thanx for exposing this.

  8. Oh man, this happened to me too! I found my long lost love in the drugstore and after so many years of switching to expensive Aveda and Bumble and Bumble products to take good care of my hair, this new supposedly sulphate free version was like a sign from god... alas when I turned the bottle around and actually read it I was intensely disappointed as well. Major bummer HE!

  9. I never knew this! How lame! It's a shame because I love how their products smell. I like to use Kerastase, it's a little expensive but totally worth it.



    Southern (California) Belle

  10. i never knew this before!
    Thanks for telling us :)
    they are very bad