Alba Botanica Shampoo & Conditioner - Beauty Addict

Friday, May 30, 2008

Alba Botanica Shampoo & Conditioner

Occasionally a product I've never heard of, from a brand I know nothing about, shows up on my doorstep for me to test. I love when this happens - because I don't have any preconceived notions of price, quality, or hype. Blank slate!

One recent entry in this category was a shampoo and conditioner set from Alba Botanica's Hawaiian Hair Care line. I had never heard of Alba, but lo and behold, it's available at, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. This natural line prides itself on being SLS and paraben free, made with vegetarian ingredients and not tested on animals.

I read the labels, but deliberately didn't read the press materials until after I tried the products. I wanted to see how the reality matched up to my initial expectations. So, let's take a look:

Coconut Milk Extra-Rich Hair Wash

My expectations: Judging by the name, I thought I'd be getting a super-thick, creamy shampoo that smelled like coconut.

The reality: Imagine my surprise when the formula was CLEAR! That said, it did feel rather rich, and didn't leave my hair feeling stripped or "squeaky." As for the scent, it was more like a pina colada - a perfect summer scent for shampoo.

Plumeria Replenishing Hair Conditioner

My expectations: A creamy conditioner that smelled like my only reference point for Plumeria...the old Bath & Body Works scent by the same name.

The reality: This conditioner was moisturizing and certainly did its job, but the scent was oddly reminiscent of dryer sheets. And not my fancy lavender vanilla dryer sheets, either - more like original Bounce. It's VERY strong in the shower, and lasts quite a while even after blow-drying. I didn't mind it, but would have preferred a matching Coconut Milk conditioner. Fortunately, there is one - click here to get it.

And of Course...Price

My expectations: Judging by the simple cylindrical bottles and not-so-flashy labeling, I guessed about $5 per bottle.

The reality: Wrong! Alba shampoos and conditioners run about $9 a bottle. I guess you're paying a premium for the ingredients, or at least the perception associated with "natural" products. Honestly, if I saw these in the store, I probably wouldn't be willing to shell out $18 for the set.

Overall, I think there are better options out there for the price (Neutrogena Triple Moisture comes to mind immediately), but if you're looking for an SLS-free and/or natural formula, Alba might be for you.