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How does Finesse give different levels of conditioning?

Warning: 1980’s flashback ahead.

Do you remember this tagline for Finesse conditioner: “Sometimes you need a little Finesse, sometimes you need a lot.” Finesse was the first brand to make a big deal out of “variable conditioning.” What does that mean? I’ll explain after you watch the commercial.

In this version of the commercial they talk about “variable conditioning” which depends on how long you leave the product on your hair; in later executions they referred to it as “self adjusting conditioning.”

Either way, this was the first time the idea of “smart conditioners” appeared in a mainstream product. The basic idea is that somehow the product knows how much conditioning your hair needs. The brilliance of this advertising campaign lies in the fact that they’re taking advantage of something that almost EVERY  conditioner can do. But since no other brand was talking about it, it sounded like a big deal.

How it works

Certain types of conditioning agents (known as quaternary ammonium compounds) have a positive charge where as the damaged areas of hair have a negative charge. Since opposites attract, the more damage your hair has, the more the positive conditioning agents will stick to it. If your hair is in good condition more of the conditioner will just rinse away. Hence the “little” or “lot” idea.

There’s nothing special about Finesse in this regard because any conditioner with this type of ingredient will work the same way. But Finesse was the first one to communicate the idea in a way that sounded made their product sound differentiated to consumers. I like to think that some clever cosmetic chemist was the one who came up with the idea.