What does it mean to condition hair naturally, if not simply to deliver conventional conditioning benefits with materials that fit some scheme of acceptable natural ingredients? To summarize the performance expected from hair conditioners as outlined in an earlier “Formulating With Naturals” column on natural hair care,1 an adequate product would reduce the force of both wet and dry combing, prevent snags, reduce the final surface charge to reduce fly-away with an antistatic effect, make hair mass more manageable and allow the consumer to style hair with ease. Other parameters cited could include wet and dry feel, gloss or shine, strengthening, and even color and UV radiation protection.2
This column proposes that the current natural and organic hair conditioner market can de divided into two types—those that are effective but use technology considered suspect under most natural certifications, i.e., “greenwashed,” and those that are more compliant with natural and organic certification but are found by consumers to have performance gaps. Both the development of new ingredients, mostly those naturally derived based on acceptable chemistries, and formulation techniques can potentially move the cosmetic industry into better performing conditioners within generally accepted natural guidelines.