Traditional hair products are having their bubble burst by a new wave of “anti-shampoos”, says beauty and health editor Jessica Diner in Vogue’s June 2014 issue.
It’s a cleanser that won’t f- up your hair” reads the strapline for Purely Perfect, the new venture from Bumble & Bumble founder Michael Gordon. In case you’re wondering, though, the “f” stands for foam, because Purely Perfect is a non-foaming “un-shampoo” that aims to prevent colour-fade, save the environment and minimise time in the shower, one wash at a time.
“Normally, people would spend money on a shampoo, a conditioner and a mask. With this you just need one product, no matter what your hair type. It’s very liberating,” says Gordon. The product’s universality is also creating a buzz: traditionally, “cleansing conditioners” have been used by those with very coarse or Afro hair, because of their “curl control” properties. But this is a new-generation “anti-shampoo” that delivers great results on fine hair as well as coarse (although there’s no denying that it’s those fighting frizz who will be the earliest converts).
So what is Purely Perfect? It’s a detergent-free cleansing cream which, when in contact with hair, cleans but doesn’t foam. Which feels incredibly weird, probably because we are by now trained to believe that no lather equals no cleansing. But as soon as you rinse it out, hair feels immediately cleaner – and more than that, somehow more textured, as if you have already put on conditioner and styling product.
The cleansing action comes from aloe-vera extract that rinses hair without stripping away its natural oils, and the non-detergent element is key. “It’s not what it does, it’s what it doesn’t do,” explains Gordon. “It’s like you have certain things you wash by hand. You wouldn’t put cashmere in harsh detergent, for example, and it should be the same for hair. Hair is a very delicate fibre, so by not putting detergent in it, you get better results.”
It’s the very crest of a sea change. Last year, Shu Uemura Art of Hair Cleansing Oil Shampoo rewrote the rule book on how we perceive shampoo, thanks to a low-lathering, oil-based formulation that took its inspiration from the company’s esteemed skin-cleansing oil. Kérastase also added the Chroma Sensitive Caressing Cleansing Balm to its line-up – its first low-foam product, which promises to help prolong colour and maintain hair health because it’s so gentle it doesn’t strip the hair. Florida-based company Tibolli recently launched a “bubble-free” shampoo over here, and natural-haircare company Ojon has just brought out a cleansing conditioner, too. Could this be the end of shampoo as we know it? Quite possibly. But we’re not getting into a lather about it.