Showing posts with label hair mask. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hair mask. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Hair Masque

I was planning to take a long break from reviewing hair products, but last month I did some reshuffling of the product pile in my beauty room and found the jar of Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Hair Masque that I misplaced. The packaging is the same blue as Elemis Spa at Home  products, so the hair mask was hidden among body scrubs and lotions. There was nothing to do but take it to the shower and start testing.

Does our hair need anti-aging treatments? I'm not sure. My hair needs deep hydration, good detangling, and shine. I'd say that Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Hair Masque delivers these things, though not more than any of the other hair masks I've reviewed in recent months. It's a rich paste that nourishes the hair and makes it soft and easy to manage. The caviar thing refers to the use of caviar extract (so this is definitely not vegan or cruelty free, FYI). Do take note that the extract is way down the ingredient list, far below stuff like dimethicone and all its friends. I'm far more excited about the shea butter, but that's something that other hair products offer in abundance. The thing I really do love about Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Hair Masque is the scent. The mask smells like the most luxurious spa you can imagine, and the scent lingers for the entire day, making it a really lovely treat.

Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearalkonium Chloride, Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Polysorbate 60, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Divinyldimethicone/Dimethicone Copolymer, Cyclohexasiloxane, Methyl Gluceth-20, Cetrimonium Bromide,Citric Acid, Dimethiconol, Behenmidopropyl Dimethylamine, Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimoium Chloride, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Propylene Glycol Isoceteth-3 Acetate, Amodimethicone, C11-15 Pareth-7, Disodium EDTA, Hydrolyzed Algae Extract, PEG-45M, 12-13 Pareth-23, C12-16 Pareth-9, Glycerin, C12-13 Pareth-3, Trideceth-12, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein PG-Propyl Methylsilanediol, Propylene Glycol, Wasabia Japonica Root Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Melanin Silanetriol, Polyquaternium-10, Superoxide Dismutase, Bromelain, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Papain, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Seed Extract, Pikea Robusta Extract, Caviar Extract,Glycine Max (Soybean) Symbiosome Lysate, Saccharomyces/Lysate Ferment, Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment, Algae Extract, Lactoferrin, Corn Oligosaccharides, Adenosine Triphosphate, Niacinamide Polypeptide, Peptone, Phospholipids, Phytosphingosine, Acetyl Methionine, Acetyl Serine, Amino Acyl tRNA Synthetase, Copper Lysl Oxidase, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Peroxidase, Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Ganoderma Lucidum (Mushroom) Tyrosinase, Lentinus Edodes Tyosinase, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid Polypeptide, Pantothenic Acid Polypeptide, Methylparaben, Methylisothiazolinone, Fragrance, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool, Geraniol.

Bottom Line:  very nice, but not quite as luxurious as they'd have you believe.

Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Hair Masque ($42) is available at Ulta. The product for this review was sent by PR.

Photo by John French.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Nelson J Beverly Hills Argan Oil 7 Moisture Healing Mask - Rosemary Mint

I'm not sure what hair treatment Joan Crawford was having in the photo above, but it's just another example of how good we have it these days. A nourishing hair mask such as the Nelson J Beverly Hills Argan Oil 7 Moisture Healing Mask makes a world of difference in how hair like mine looks and feels. This excellent hair mask has a base of jojoba butter and jojoba oil enriched with a hefty dose of argan oil (these are the fifth, sixth, and seventh ingredients listed). It gives my hair the much-needed boost for this time of the year where the air indoors and out is horribly dry.

Now, I admit to getting cranky with the "100% argan oil" claim on the box as well as in the press materials. It's misleading, as this is a commercial product made of several ingredients, including amodimethicone (third ingredient, after water and cetyl alcohol). I get that the argan oil used by Nelson J is pure, but I'd appreciate a more accurate representation. After all, the hair mask and its results speak clearly for themselves.

My hair is not colored or chemically processed, so I can't comment on anything related to that. I can say that the mask restores moisture and life to very long and ultra thick hair that can get very dry very fast. I use it as I would a conditioner and leave it for 5-10 minutes before rinsing (depending how many grooming rituals I perform). I don't need to use any additional styling product afterwards, which is always wonderful.

Nelson J Argan Oil 7 hair mask comes in several scents. I was sent the Rosemary Mint which I love. It reminds me of a long-gone Aveda product, and just feels fresh and delightful. I am curious about the pomegranate scent (there's also one in coconut), because you don't find it that often in hair products. Something that's even better: while the press sample I got was the small pot (4oz), Nelson J actually offers the argan oil mask in a 16oz tub, perfect for my big head.

Bottom Line: future purchases are already planned.

Nelson J Beverly Hills Argan Oil 7 Moisture Healing Mask ($20/4oz or $59/16oz) is available from The product for this review was sent by PR.

Monday, November 18, 2013

L'Occitane- Aromachologie Soothing Concentrated Mask

It took me using about half the tube before I came to truly appreciate the Aromachologie Soothing Concentrated Mask from L'Occitane. My usual solution for itchy scalp is shampooing to get rid of product buildup and whatever else that causes the uncomfortable feeling. A clean scalp is a happy scalp.

The first few times I used L'Occitane Aromachologie Soothing Concentrated Mask I enjoyed the sensation of applying the treatment directly to my scalp with the nozzle, but I probably rinsed it too quickly and wasn't too impressed with the lack of results. Only when I started leaving the mask on for at least 15 minutes did I realize that it was doing a world of good to the way I was feeling. This L'Occitane mask relieves dryness, discomfort, and the occasional reaction for an unsuitable hair product (an occupational hazard that sometimes have me question my sanity). I've learned to save this mask for real emergencies, leave it on my scalp for a good while, and follow with a gentle but hydrating hair conditioner since the soothing mask does little for the hair itself.

Bottom Line: use as directed.

L'Occitane- Aromachologie Soothing Concentrated Mask ($26, 5.2oz) is available from L'Occitane stores as well as online. The product for this review was sent by PR.

Photo of Salvador Dali via Stirred, Straight Up With A Twist.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hair Treats: Jason Natural Cosmetics and Alba Botanica

Every once in a while my sensitive scalp has a minor freak out. It can be the result of product buildup, testing far too many new hair products, or simply changes in weather. No matter the reason, the result is the same: an itch that drives me out of my skull. Bad but accurate pun. The solution has always been borrowing the husband's Head'n'Shoulders. Not very glamorous but effective, and I even switched him to the green apple scent to make it more palatable for me. But Head'n'Shoulders, as effective as it is can be a bit too harsh on my actual hair, especially during the winter. I was ready for an alternative.

Enter Jason Natural Cosmetics Tea Tree Scalp Normalizing shampoo and conditioner. The good news is that the shampoo works wonderfully. It calms the scalp almost upon contact while removing every last drop of goop and debris from my hair. The result is a squeaky clean hair and scalp that barely feel stripped and dry. This Jason shampoo is surprisingly mild (for what it is, I mean. Jason NC has several products that are very gentle on hair and body). As long as you can deal with the smell this is a great option for emergency itches. I know that some people enjoy the smell of tea tree oil but I'm not one of them. However, I'm willing to deal with it in a product that delivers results (and then washes down the drain).

Jason Natural Cosmetics Tea Tree Scalp Normalizing Conditioner is not quite as successful. A conditioner needs to condition and make hair feel softer and look shiny and healthy. The normalizing conditioner is thin and doesn't moisturize or give my hair any boost in nourishment. As a matter of fact I find it quite drying. Leaving the conditioner on my hair for a couple of minutes is quite unpleasant given the scent and has proven to be futile as far as shiny and healthy hair is considered.  I highly suggest skipping the conditioner and using a good hair mask after treating the hair and scalp with the tea tree shampoo.

Speaking of good nourishing masks, here's one that I adore: Alba Botanica Deep Conditioning Minute Mask in  So Smooth Gardenia. I already told you about another Alba Botanica mask that I love, the cocoa butter one.So Smooth Gardenia is just as wonderful (and effective), and its rich tropical gardenia scent with its fruit undertones has all the sunshine and  beaches one craves as the weather turns miserable. Alba Botanica's hair mask does wonders to my mood just as it pampers the hair and restores healthy look and feel to it. A word of warning: it's utterly addictive (and now I want to slather myself from head to toe in this golden scent).

Jason Natural Cosmetics Tea Tree Scalp Normalizing shampoo and conditioner ($10.59 each on and Alba Botanica Deep Conditioning Minute Mask in  So Smooth Gardenia ($8.99 on were sent by PR.

Photo of Audrey Hepburn by Mark shaw, 1953.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

J.F. Lazartigue Shea Butter Shampoo & Pre-Shampoo Mask

Shea butter is one of my favorite ingredients for both body and hair (I accidentally typed "body and soul" at first, which is not that far from the truth in my case). It makes a major difference in the way my big pile of hair looks and feels more than any other hair care material I know. That's why I was very excited  when the J.F. Lazartigue Shea Butter Shampoo and  Pre-Shampoo Mask landed on my doorstep. And I've become even more thrilled since I started using them.

The shea butter J.F. Lazartigue products were formulated for very thick hair, taking into account the inherent dryness as well as the longer penetration time required for hair care products when dealing with it. The treatment begins with a pre-shampoo mask that is thick and buttery (the box includes a spatula for scooping it out of the pot). You apply the mask to your hair at least two hours before washing (it's easiest to just use before bed and leave overnight), concentrating on the parts that need the most TLC. The mask smells of cocoa butter, actually, with the added nuttiness of shea butter. I find it very cozy. It really does feel like buttering my hair, but I don't mind-- it's kind of nice. I was expecting having to put some effort into washing the J.F. Lazartigue mask off in the morning, but was nicely surprised that any goo that didn't fully absorb into my hair washed away smoothly, helping with the Sisyphean task of detangling.

J.F. Lazartigue Shea Butter Shampoo is kind, gentle, and very runny. The texture reminds me of my beloved L'Occitane Shea Butter Conditioner-- you need to be careful and not lose half the bottle content every time you use it. It's a very mild  concoction that never irritates my scalp and actually feels soothing which again, might have something to do with the buttery (cocoa and coconut) smell. The shampoo is light but actually quite mighty (do note that it contains SLES if you're sensitive). It might not be the product for dealing with very grimy hair or serious product buildup, but it does feel cleansing for everyday use. I find that when I use the J.F. Lazartigue mask before washing there's no need for anything else after shampooing (though you can leave the shampoo on for a couple of minutes, just like you'd do with a conditioner). My hair feels soft and happy with its natural shine restored.

It might sound a bit silly, but I get a feeling of well-being from continuous use of these J.F. Lazartigue products. When you have as much hair as I do, softness is a major issue, and I get it with these shea butter treatments. These two were sent to my by PR, but I'm already planning to repurchase and also add the shea butter cream conditioner and leave-in conditioner to a future order.

J.F. Lazartigue Shea Butter Shampoo ($39, 6.8 oz) & Pre-Shampoo Mask ($54, 8.4oz) are available from The products for this review were sent by PR.

Photo of actress Dorothy Lamour via Stirred, Straight Up, With A Twist.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Seasonal Pleasure: Chocolate

Chocolate is an all-year thing if you ask me. But some seasons are more chocolate-friendly than others, especially when it comes to scents, body treatments, and ordering products by mail. The one positive about having a birthday during the cold months is knowing that there's going to be lots of chocolaty things in the package my mom will send me next month. It wouldn't have worked had been born in July.

A year ago I made a list of my top chocolate and cocoa perfume picks. Today we're about a different kind of treat: beauty products and chocolate. Starting with the latter, a discovery I made last month when I was in New Hampshire. You know, I've visited chocolateries in several big cities from Paris to NY, but one of the very best (and perhaps most creative) was in Manchester, NH. Master chocolatier Richard Tango-Lowy trained in France and brought his knowledge and creativity to Manchester where he opened The Dancing Lion. There's a cafe section with several tables and a chocolate counter where you can pick and choose chocolate bars or handmade bonbons (a random selection may include treats like apple, pecan, & honey caramel with hard cider finished in Kenshi 70% dark milk chocolate or a ganache of Cotes du Beaune red wine & Vermont honey in Peruvian "Piura" 67% dark chocolate). Everything is exquisitely presented. Some of the bonbons are crafted using one-of-a-kind chocolate molds (see the Chinese mask above?). While the chocolate itself is sourced from the very best growers around the world, the unique creations and flavoring have a New England twist which makes them even more special.

Everything I bought and tasted was fantastic. I don't know if I should be sad or thankful that I don't live in that area. This stuff is addictive. The Dancing Lion accepts phone orders and ships within the US. You can have a look at the website ( for the current offering and you call them at  603-625-4043. If you're in the area, The Dancing Lion is open Wed-Sat (11am-7pm) and their address is 917 Elm Street, Mancester, NH. The address is now saved on my GPS.

Now for some chocolaty beauty treats for hair and body:

Alba Botanica Cocoa Butter Deep Conditioning Hair Mask ($8.99, 5.5 oz, They claim that it's an Hawaiian-style product. I don't know about that, but what I can say that it's an addictive hair treatment (after shampoo, skip the conditioner and go straight to the hair mask). The cocoa butter scent is divine, and my hair feels the benefits of a rich mask. The ingredient list* includes many good-for-you botanical oils and butters, including real cocoa butter, so it's not surprising at all. My one complaint: the jar is too small.  I polish it off in two weeks. [press sample]

Jason Natural Cosmetics Nourishing Cocoa Butter ($10.09, 4oz, I like this product very much but I have a major issue with the misrepresentation of the ingredients. This is not pure cocoa butter and not even a cocoa butter product. It's a great cream , chock-full of natural ingredients** with a skin-loving aloe vera and avocado oil base. It also contains cocoa butter (presumably a high percentage)  and is scented accordingly with all-natural essential oils. So the rich cream gives you that coveted chocolaty feeling while doing good things to one's skin. But I dearly wish that the nice people at Jason would be a lot more forthcoming whan naming this product. It wouldn't take away from its appeal, I'm sure. This nourishing cream contains some interesting active ingredients, such as retinyl acetate(vitamin A),  and Jason says it can and should also be used on one's face. I keep it for hand and body, though, with excellent smooth skin results. Tomorrow I'm going to discuss a deep treatment for hands and will tell you how I incorporate this Jason cream into the process. But for now, let's not forget the chocolate aspect: slather this all over and you'll want to eat yourself. [press sample]

*Alba Botanica Cocoa Butter Deep Conditioning Hair Mask ingredients: Aqua (Water), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Alcohol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil(1), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil(1), Glyceryl Stearate, Diheptyl Succinate, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)(1), Theobroma Grandiflorum Seed Butter, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Dipteryx Odorata Bean Extract, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Styrax Tonkinensis Resin Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Aleurites Moluccana Seed Oil, Argania Spinosa Seed Oil, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil(1), Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil, Safflower Oil / Palm Oil Aminopropanediol Esters, Bentonite, Citric Acid, Glycerin, Quartz, Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Triethyl Citrate, Vanillin.

(1)Certified Organic Ingredient

**Jason Natural Cosmetics Nourishing Cocoa Butter ingredient list: Aqua/Water/Eau (Purifed Water), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Hydroflorate (Lavender), Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil (Sunflower), Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice (Aloe Vera), Persea Gratissima Oil (Avocado), Glycerin (Vege), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter (Cocoa), Buxus Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil (Jojoba), Stearic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A), Cetearyl Alcohol, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Potassium Carbomer, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract (Grapefruit), Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Color (Natural), Essential Oil Blend.

Image via The Dancing Lion Chocolate.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Serge Normant Meta Morphosis Hair Repair Treatment

Serge Normant Meta Morphosis Hair Repair Treatment is my current hair obsession. It's an intensive renewal mask to use after shampoo and leave to sink in for various amounts of time. You can do a quick conditioner-like treatment or leave it longer (I even experimented with leaving it overnight with great silky results), rinse and admire the smoothness and shine left.

Serge Normant's Meta Morphosis feels very rich even when you just touch it, and indeed, even with my inhuman amount of hair I don't need to use half the tub every time. All it takes is the smallest amount to coat my hair. The scent of the product is creamy and  floral. It bears a faint resemblance to the Serge Normant perfume, Avah, which I didn't like as a personal fragrance but is fine for hair, especially since it's rather mild and has minimal sillage. It's amazing to me that such a nourishing hair product does not end up being too heavy and doesn't weigh down my hair. My wavy-curly hair maintains its shape, doesn't lose its bounce, yet feels softer than soft.

Bottom Line: worth the hefty price tag.

Serge Normant Meta Morphosis Hair Repair Treatment ($60, 6.7 oz) is available from Barneys, Bergdorf, Neiman Marcus and The product for this review was part of a gift bag at a Bergdorf Goodman media event.

Photo of the beautiful and tragic Pier Angeli  via

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Kiehl's Superbly Smoothing Argan Hair Pak

I have very simple requirement from my hair care products: they should thoroughly moisturize, shine, detangle without making me use excessive force and not make my scalp itch. You'd be surprised how few conditioners and hair treatments actually hit the spot. One that does and even exceeds expectations is Kiehl's Superbly Smoothing Argan Hair Pak. This is a rich and creamy hair mask, to be used after shampoo (I alternate between Tela, L'Occitane and the occasional deep cleansing with Head'N'Shoulders. Seriously).

Kiehl's directions are to leave the Argan Hair Pak in for at least 3 minutes. I recommend a minimum of 5 minutes and even longer if you can swing it. The longer it's in, the more buttery soft it makes my hair- the results are absolutely amazing. I end up with shiny and silky hair, the waves are open and stay in place without frizzing, there's no hint of dryness even when I spend all day inside, blasting the heating. The mask is also a superb detangler- pesky knots just melt away after five minutes of treatment. And the best thing: all that is done with a silicone-free formula, which means my scalp remains itch free (actually, it's in the best shape I've seen my scalp in forever).

Bottom Line: It's so good I don't mind the unpleasant pharmacy-like smell.

Kiehl's Superbly Smoothing Argan Hair Pak ($25, 8.4oz) is available from select department stores (Saks, Bloomie's, Nordstrom) and

Photo of Jean Shrimpton and her amazing hair from

Monday, March 29, 2010

L'Occitane Aromachologie Repairing Hair Mask

It occurred to me that I never shared my most trusted hair care product. I did talk about L'Occitane hair care product in general, and they are, indeed, awesome. The best one is Aromachologie Repairing Hair Mask. This is a heavy duty, fix-every-hair-sin and bring it back from the dead product. If you're a normal person with a reasonable amount of hair on your head you'd probably only use it occasionally and to fix issues like over-processing, chlorinating and sun damage. It'd be too rich for you on a regular basis. But if your hair is dry, super thick and/or very long (thus requiring extra care to ensure shine and moisture), the Aromachologie Repair Musk should be part of your routine.

I have a very long hair. I keep it at mid-thigh length because that's how I like it. It's also very thick and can get dry very easily if not fed shea butter and cake (well, only the shea butter) on regular intervals. I've been using the Aromachologie mask regularly for nearly three years, some weeks on an almost daily basis if I feel the need. It's that good and is partly responsible to the health of my hair.

L'Occitane Aromachologie Repairing Hair Mask ($29, 8.4 oz) is available from every L'Occitane store and online.

Photo by Nina Leen, 1947

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Frederic Fekkai Protein Rx® Reparative Treatment Mask

One of the biggest improvements in recent years as far beauty products go is the great selection of heavy duty, overachieving hair products. Ten years ago there was very little fabulousness outside of Aveda salons. Nowadays things are easier and my hair is grateful.

I've been pretty devoted to L'Occitane products lately, but brand monogamy is not my thing, which is how I found myself with a tub of Frederic Fekkai Protein Rx® Reparative Treatment Mask. I've been testing it under harsh conditions: when using Hair & Shoulder shampoo (to wash out silicone buildup from another product) and after toasting my hair with the flat iron.

The first thing you'll notice is the delicious vanilla scent. The second is the straightforward, no hassle directions: just slather it on and leave for 10-15 minutes. No need for towels, shower caps or ancient rituals. It was easy to wash off and the results are great every time: soft, shiny and easy to manage hair.

Once again, my only complaint is the small packaging- I have a lot of hair and 5.5 oz is enough for about 8 uses.

Fekkai Protein Rx® Reparative Treatment Mask ($29) is available from Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and Sephora, among other places. I bought it from in my infamous last order.

Image: Veronica Lake from