Monday, 11 April 2011

Three-headed Review: Lush R&B (Revive & Balance)

Last month, I submitted my name at the Natural Haven, offering to review a hair product on behalf of the (natural) community.

To those of you who (still) don't know, the Natural Haven is a blog run by a UK scientist, JC (I think she's based in Scotland) who provides the no nonsense plain English science behind our most popular hair products and practices. She has written extensively on shampoo/no-poo, sulphates, coconut oil, afros, protective styling and much more. Furthermore she is always willing to respond to comments and questions which is a real breath of fresh air.

Imagine my excitement when I was informed that my name was 'first out of the hat' and I would therefore be the first 'peer' review!

A couple of weeks ago I received a mystery pot in the mail.  As I opened the packaging I could already hear Nai (Njoi Naturally) in my ears whispering: 'cantu shea butter?' but no, it was a product by Lush cosmetics called R&B, (Revive and Balance).  I am familiar with Lush cosmetics (soaps and bath bombs) but had never heard of this line before - heck I didn't actually know they did hair products, let alone hair products for the 'tightly textured'!

The information leaflet that came with it said:
 "Three of our UK shop managers came up with this one to moisturize their wayward follicles. It works well with African American or curly hair ".

How to Use: Rub between your fingers and scrunch and smooth it into freshly washed hair as often as you like
Being the information junkie that I am - I also googled it and came up with this video of one of the 'originators' describing how to use it .

If you google this product you will find it has a ton of glowing reviews, unfortunately this is not really one of them.  Here's my summary - keep reading if you want the full details.
  • Price (RRP): £9.95 for 100g
  • Smells like: STRONG perfume (Jasmine), almost overwhelming. The fragrance itself is like marmite: you will either love it or hate it. (See below)
  • Feels like: egg mayonnaise but can feel sticky on some hair types. 
  • Moisturising Factor: doesn't last long enough but did add some shine (albeit temporarily).
  • Pros: The smell, it's light, adds temporary shine, aids detangling.
  • Cons: The smell! Shine didn't last. Moisture didn't last (Not for thirsty/thick hair). Starts 'soaping' when it makes contact with skin or scalp. Came across as sticky on one child's hair.
  • Official Company Info, Online Sales & Reviews (UK site)

What's Under the Lid?
When I first sniffed it, I wasn't sold on the smell. Actually I was almost knocked out. It has the overpowering aroma of jasmine and neroli, which gives it a spa like/expensive aroma BUT this also reminded me of a mature lady's cologne and I wasn't sure I would want my hair to smell like this.  After it has been on your hair  for a little while (or in my case hands since I'm currently bald) you start to detect a coconutty (sic) undertone with hints of citrus; this 'second whiff' isn't so bad but I think I would have like the whole thing a lot more if it were much more subtle. I honestly felt as though one of my kids had knocked a jar of perfume over... however, I did find myself sniffing my hands for the rest of the day trying to decide whether I did or didn't like it.

The product itself looks like egg mayonnaise, and it feels like egg mayonnaise. Nothing wrong with that - just letting you know. I didn't know what to expect (having purposely NOT read any reviews etc until AFTER I had finished our evaluation) so this was all exciting to me.

It is thicker than say a Hair Milk by Carol's Daughter, Almond & Avocado or Crown Pride Naturals. If you shake the pot - the product will not wobble, but it is not as thick as whipped shea butter.  It is fairly light and glides easily when rubbed between your fingers.

What's In It?
Oat Milk (Avena sativa), Glycerine, Organic Avocado Butter (Persea gratissima), Fair Trade Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Glyceryl Stearate & PEG 100 Stearate, Perfume, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Organic Cold Pressed Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis), Bay Oil (Pimenta racemosa), Orange Flower Absolute (Citrus Aurantium dulcis), Jasmine Absolute (Jasminum grandiflorum), Cupuacu Butter (Theobroma grandiflorum), Candelilla Wax (Euphorbia cerifera), Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, *Benzyl Salicylate, *Eugenol, *Geraniol, *Isoeugenol, *Benzyl Benzoate, *Farnesol, *Limonene, *Linalool * Occurs naturally in essential oils.

So nothing bad here. I imagine 'oat milk' is a water product containing oat extract since you and I both know oats don't make milk. Glycerine is a humectant - good for attracting and retaining moisture. Avocado butter (or oil) and olive oil are both deeply moisturising oils, coconut oil has conditioning and softening properties, while jojoba mimics the body's natural sebum and is good for both hair and scalp. Bay E.O can be toning for hair, but Jasmine and Orange flower are likely to be here for their fragrant properties rather than their hair benefits (IMHO). Cupuacu is another moisturising butter and the candelilla wax is probably there as a product thickener given its position in the listing. This is followed by the preservatives and trace amounts of things which occur naturally in essential oils. Glyceryl Stearate and PEG 100 Stearate are the emulsifiers (used to help bind the oils and butters to that oat 'milk').  

How I Used It
Being bald myself, I figured that the only reason I would use it would be to perfume my head and that review would be of no use to anyone - so I tested this product over a period of one week on the heads of my lovely children.

Head 1: Two Year Old Boy, Buzz Cut

  • Firstly - not the right fragrance for him at all. 
  • Second - he has a buzz cut, and this product does not like being rubbed into the scalp AT ALL. I placed a small amount (less than pictured above) in the palm of my hands and rubbed it over his hair. What happened? He looked as though I had pasted his head with mayonnaise. Not a good look. His dad gave me the side eye and I spent the next five minutes wiping it out as best I could. Rubbing it just made it whiter (the soaping effect*, see end note) and it was a right effort to get it to blend in. Little man was so annoyed with all the rubbing/wiping that he ran off as soon as he could - so no pictures. Sorry. If you're rocking a TWA this is probably NOT the product for you.
Head 2: Thirteen Year Old Girl, 8 inches of very thick, tightly coiled hair
  •  I thought that the experience with my son might have been a one off, so I applied a little to her scalp just to see what would happen. (NB. the instructions do not say 'apply to scalp', I was just trying to replicate what happened with the lil Prince so I could take a photo). True enough, the product just sat there (on the scalp) and it took a vigorous amount of rubbing before it 'blended in'. [see pictures below]
  • My daughter is participating in the '3-in-6' challenge (where some naturals are aiming to retain 3 inches of growth in 6 months by eating healthily, exercising and using protective hairstyling etc) so her hair has been twisted.  It had been freshly washed (Jason's Organic Sea Kelp Shampoo) and I planned to use Lush R&B to retwist and moisturise.
  • I applied a dab of the product to her roots and smoothed it down the hair shaft - it still took a bit of smoothing before the product actually disappeared. [see photos below]. 
  • However, the freshly retwisted hair looked fabulous: shiny and strong. It felt soft, not crunchy and of course it had that jasmine-coconut aroma. [see photos]
  • Unfortunately, the shine and bounce did not last. I retwisted one evening and the following morning my husband actually questioned whether I had really done anything with the child's hair. It looked rough and untidy, there were lots of fly aways and the hair itself felt dry  - AND before you ask, YES, she slept with a satin bonnet and YES, I did check to make sure it was on properly both before bed and when I went to wake her up. So, I wasn't impressed. Her hair still smelled 'nice' though.
  • Product in Hair (click to enlarge) 
    Still visible after some rubbing (click to enlarge)
    After Retwisting - using R&B as a moisturiser (if only this shine had lasted more than a few hours!)

  • Next Day - close up

Head 3: 1 Year Old Girl, 6 inches of loosely coiled/ wavy hair
  • By this point I was wondering whether this product was better suited to 'less coily' hair types. However, the Lush marketing said it had originally been specifically aimed at African American hair types, so maybe I was doing something wrong. It wasn't too good for short hair (because it got stuck on the scalp), and it wasn't fantastic with super coily thick hair... so maybe third time lucky. The little one was due for her styling so we washed and conditioned and scrunched it through 'damp dry' hair.... drum roll please... we got some curl definition! However, this convinces me that this product might be for looser hair types (?????)
  • I used a little bit more to help moisten her cornrows and secured the ends with cloth covered bands. Next morning, she had no fly aways, although the hair didn't feel as 'moisturised' as the day before'. One thing I did notice while braiding her hair was that the product left it feeling a bit sticky (and no, I didn't use tons of the stuff! I believe that less is more - so the stickiness is weird), my guess is - it's the glycerine, as although this is a humectant it can feel rather sticky at high percentages within a product.
loose section before product applied.
After product applied (Click to enlarge)

After product applied (Click to enlarge)
Anyway - that's my looooooooooong three-headed review. Have any of you tried this product? How did it work for you?

*The Soaping Effect: 

The soaping effect is defined as "an undesired foaming phenomenon observed in skin creams formulated with soap based emulsifiers". You may have noticed this in your lotions - the white streaks when you rub the lotion on and a slight tacky feeling on your skin.  This is saponification!

The fatty acids in the lotion, combined with an alkaline ingredient, create a soap, which acts as the emulsifier in your lotion. (A common combination is triethanolamine and stearic acid.) When using a stearate or oleate based emulsifier, (Lush is using Glyceryl Stearate & PEG 100 Stearate) you are bringing the water and oil together in your lotion by creating a soap, which is going to leave those white streaks when you apply it." -- source

There are ways to avoid this - but that's a topic for another post :)

WELCOME TO THE TAPESTRY OF ME.... These are my words and this is my journey, from 'there to hair'! My life, the lessons learned in and through love and loves ones; and my hair affairs.


Nai said...

R O THA FLoor! Haa !

Girl, I could have saved you the trouble on this review! Think I was in Lush the day they launched this umm err product. Must say though I have a close friend of Turkish heritage with thick curly hair and she LOVES it. A lush assistant tried to sell me a pot ... Personally I think ... back to the drawing board ... snm.

Keep them coming, far too much space in between! ;)) xx

anthia-ofo said...

Thanks. This was a science lesson for me. A very good review. Not that I'm ever likely to use the product, but it's good to know what's what.

Anonymous said...

Could anyone tell me where can I buy it in London, please? :)


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