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Does cocoa butter in lush jungle hair really work?

Cianyde says…I have started wondering if my current fav conditioner (‘Jungle’ hair conditioner from Lush ) is as good as I thought it was… The main ingredient is ‘Cocoa butter’ with ‘propylene glycol’ and ‘avocado’ listed later. Is cocoa butter actually a good HAIR conditioner ( I was under the impression that only certain substances like coconut oil and olive oil actually penetrate hair, won’t cocoa butter just slide down the drain?) or , is it the propylene glycol and the avocado that are the only worthwhile ingredients?

The Right Brain responds:

We applaud your skeptical approach to reading your conditioner label, Cianyde! But remember that conditioning isn’t just about penetrating hair because most conditioning occurs on the surface. That’s where ingredients like hydrocarbon oils and silicones actually do a great job of smoothing the cuticle to enhance softness, comb ability and shine. Let’s take a look at the ingredients in Jungle Hair.

Jungle hair ingredients:

Cocoa Butter, Cetearyl Alcohol and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Propylene Glycol, Avocado Extract, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Perfume, Soya Lecithin, Figs, Bananas, Passion Fruit, Kumquats, Kiwi Fruit, Cetrimonium Bromide, Ylang Ylang Oil, Vetivert Oil, Cypress Oil, Sandalwood Oil, Chlorophyll, Limonene, Linalool

Inside out

Some oils, like coconut, do penetrate into the cortex where they are able to help strengthen the hair. We can’t find any published data showing penetration of cocoa butter and even if it does penetrate, it’s unlikely to have an effect in a rinse out formula. In a rinse off conditioner the oils are emulsified (in this case by the cetearyl alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate and glyceryl stearate) and so are more likely to be rinsed away.

Conditioner culprit

It’s more likely that the cetrimonium bromide is the conditioning culprit. This is a classic old school conditioning agent: a fatty alcohol reacted with nitrogen so it’s substantive on the hair. That means it stays on hair even after rinsing to give the slippery conditioning effect that your hair needs.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

There’s nothing wrong with Lush Cosmetics Jungle Hair conditioner but don’t get fooled into thinking that it works better just because it contains some natural ingredients. In fact, we’d expect that it wouldn’t work as well as Pantene or Tresemme. Does anyone want to do an experiment? Try Jungle Hair on one side and Pantene on the other. Let us know which you like best.