Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Weird Product Wednesday: Dr. Bronner's Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse

Aren't lemons wonderful? They are so cleansing, so fresh! And of course, my favorite: so natural! Products with lemons? Why, yes, please. I'll take two!

Lemons are great on fish. You can't make lemonade without them. And a little bit rubbed on your silverware will make it shine.

Lemon in hair, however, is quite another matter indeed.

Good students of hair know (by reading Live Curly, Live Free), that acidic solutions help to close the hair's cuticle (making hair smoother) while alkaline solutions raise it (making hair rougher and facilitating the loss of moisture and the entry of dirt, pollution, and other environmental ghouls). The pH of hair is somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5 on the pH scale (which goes up to 14). Vinegar has an acidic value of about 3 (depending on the type of vinegar, it ranges from 2.4 to 3.4). This is why vinegar rinses are favored by many of us -- the abrupt change in pH shuts down the cuticle and results in smoother, shinier hair.

Lemon juice's pH is about 2 on the pH scale. "Pffft," you say. "That's almost the same as vinegar." How wrong you would be, my curly princess. Every successive number on the pH scale represents an amount 10 times more (or less, depending on what direction you're moving in) than the previous one. So, lemon is quite a bit more acidic than vinegar.

I knew this going in when I ordered my bottle of Dr. Bronner's Shikakai Citrus Rinse. I thought I could take it. I thought my hair just needed some tough love, courtesy of the Doctor and his insane little ramblings on his products.

The bottle arrived in the mail and I read the directions. I frowned when I read I would have to dilute a couple of capfuls in water -- I prefer products that are perfect and ready to use the moment they leave the bottle. But, I reasoned, I would have had to mix vinegar had I opted to close my cuticle with an ACV (apple cider vinegar) rinse, so I justified the inconvenience with that rationale.

I had read on the NC.com forums that some people had encountered "globs" in this product. One person said she dealt with them by putting the two capfuls of product in a plastic bottle, adding the water, and then shaking up the concoction like a cocktail. Another person said she brought a cup and a whisk into the shower to eliminate the globs. This option did not seem viable to me, as I refuse to bring kitchen utensils into the bathroom. I have boundaries about that sort of thing.

I believed I could just put the product in my plastic cup, hold it under the shower head and let the shower spray break up the globules. Well, it certainly sounds clever, doesn't it?

I underestimated the power of the globules. When the water filled the cup, the globs danced in spiteful revelry. They proceeded to laugh at my attempt to break them up with my fingers. I tried stirring with my fingers to no avail. Finally, concerned that the shower was running and no progress was being made with my hair routine, I just poured the contents of the cup over my head slowly, being careful to make sure not to miss any areas and waiting to feel that luxurious sleekness that the bottle promised.

I was distracted from discovering this sleekness, however, as I watched brown globs go SPLAT on the floor of the tub. The back of my head started to burn in one spot, so I quickly turned my head to catch the shower spray there. But I didn't want to stay too long under the spray or I might lose the benefits of this acidic treatment. Water is alkaline, you know.

Bent over, I ran my fingers through my hair, imagining I felt the "magic" conditioning effects. I also wanted to make sure I'd gotten rid of all the globs that might be stuck there. One hit my knee. Another landed on my toe. A few more landed in the water headed for the drain.

I turned the water off, vaguely aware that the back of my head was still more than a little tingly. Onto my white bath mat fell a brown glob, and when I reached for my cream colored towel, the one that had been hiding on my middle finger smeared itself on the towel. Another glob popped out of my head and flew onto the toilet seat. It mocked me as I stared in horror at it.

These things were like Tribbles. I began to wonder if I'd come home that night and find armies of them in every room of the house.

I scrunched in some Kinky-Curly Curling Custard, then dried my hair with my Curl-Ease towel. That's when I discovered the entire capful of product that resided just above the nape of my neck. My Curl-Ease turned brown where I had touched it to my head.

Clearly, I needed to rinse this area. The burn was becoming uncomfortable and the Curl-Ease was not up to the task of removing it all. But I had styling product in my hair already! Carefully, then, I put my head under the sink and tried to remove the excess Bronner's without rinsing out the KCCC. I was moderately successful. My head no longer burned and I still felt some KCCC in that section of my hair.

I also saw new brown globs -- two on the nearby wall and another on the bath mat. My boyfriend was going to think I was having intestinal problems...

Did I mention it smelled fresh and clean? Yeah, well, it did. And as long as I kept it from running into my eyes, I could enjoy the aroma.

I blow-dried my hair and went to work, self-conscious for the first hour or so that globs would be dotting my collar or sitting on my shoulder seam. These fears were unfounded, I am happy to inform you.

How did my hair look? Pretty good. Better than normal. But by the end of the day, it was decidedly parched. The lemon juice in Dr. Bronner's had gotten the best of me. If my hair could have made a face, it would have been this one:

This product is beyond weird. Maybe I can use it to clean my bathroom.


Alice said...

What ARE the gobs?! Has anyone bothered to find out?

So, weird. Truly one of the weirdest weird product wednesdays.

Sage Vivant said...

Alice, I haven't a clue what creates these heinous globs but they are the devil's work! Maybe the fatty acids and the lemon juice don't like each other?

Sarah said...

Very very very funny! I'm sorry to here about your crazy encounter with the globs but I love your writing! So funny!

Kelly said...

Hilarious post! It seems to me that Dr. Bronner needs to head back to the lab and reformulate this product. What a fiasco! I think I'll just stick with ACV rinses.

DEL said...

Oh my lovelies it's not so bad! You just pre-mix it before heading to the bathroom!!! Believe me whisking it makes all the difference, just leave the whisk in the Kitchen *LOL*

Very entertaining jill, I still think you should try it ONE more time as a ready mixed conditioner ;)

S said...

This kind of grosses me out. I don't think I could handle brown blobs without wanting to throw it at the wall out of disgust.

Jess said...

So similar to my first experience with the rinse :) I shake mine up first. I'm still on the fence though...

JRN said...

I have this and kind of like it. I use a sports bottle and dilute it that way (I shake it, shampoo and condition, then shake just before using) - Mine is probably more diluted than the instructions state. As you found out the stuff will burn if you have ANY irritation of the scalp. Maybe you could use it as a clarifier before you shampoo?

Deena said...

Are you not supposed to rinse this out before product application?

Lteefaw said...

LOL very funny

Anne said...

I, too, have boundaries (though not related to whisking): if a product sounds like it could be in a horror movie, it stays out of my hair.

Very funny post!

Claudia said...

OMG, that was the funniest post ever. Your writing is delightful.

flower said...

I really like this product and I never encountered any globs in it until I purchased some at an online discount pharmacy store.

This leads me to believe that the product with thick globules in it must be an out of date product.

I only buy it from Dr. Bronners site now. :) I also use about a half capful to eight ounces of water which works really well with my fine hair.

Sage Vivant said...

flower, that is an interesting observation. I wonder if that was the problem for me? But imagine if I bought another bottle of this god-awful stuff and it *also* was glob infested?? I should try, though. Your experience gives me some hope...