I'm always game to try something new in haircare: the Eternal Shampoo Quest. While I'm blessed with very thick and generally healthy hair, it is (shocking, I know) color-treated, tends to be frizzy when the humidity rises, and is sometimes dry and dull when it falls. TIA offered me Alterna's Bamboo Color Hold+ Vibrant Color shampoo ($22) and conditioner ($22) combo to test, and I've been using them for over a month. My report is mostly positive; this is a salon line worth considering.

I've seen Alterna for years in salons, and tried a conditioner from the line once or twice. The company positions its products - there's a lengthy menu of shampoos and shampoo and conditioner duos - as pure (free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and other harsh additives), featuring natural active ingredients, and professional-grade (sold mostly in salons and at Sephora). The brand added Katie Holmes as an equity owner and brand ambassador early this year, and she is the face of its first print advertising.

The Color Hold+ products are each priced at $22 for a 8.5 ounce bottle, and are, as you'd think, intended to maintain and protect color; specifically, the website touts these active ingredients:

• Organic Bamboo Extract(r): Immediately boosts hair's strength, flexibility & sustainability for stronger, healthier hair.
• Organic Kalahari Melon(r): Known for its ability to thrive in extreme conditions, this nourishes and provides defense against UVA/B damage.
• Color Hold(r) UV+: Wash-resistant barrier offers 8 times more UV filter retention on hair shaft and 5 times more natural resistance to color wash-out, versus traditional UV filters.

Several forms of bamboo do show up in the ingredient list, and the Kalahari Melon (citrullus lanatus) is about half-way down. Still, this is not a formulation for absolutists - a bevy of natural extracts, oils, etc. share the billing with an extensive assortment of other chemicals.

So the Vibrant Color shampoo seems to split the difference between more commercial and more "natural" products. It squeezes out of the bottle as a very thick gel, and lathers up reasonably. It is, unfortunately, somewhat scented (a bit fruity). The conditioner has a similar consistency and scent. The shampoo cleans well; and I found after the first few uses that I reserved the conditioner for use only once or twice a week, as the shampoo is rich enough and my hair started to feel overly treated. (Perhaps in dryer, wintery weather I'd reach for it more often.)

But the key question was answered when a couple of friends volunteered, without prompting, that my hair looked shinier and richer than usual. Did the color last longer? It's hard to say, since hair grows faster this time of year, and hair growth is what sends me back to the bathroom for a touch-up. And yet...my hair's appearance seemed to improve; it does seem shinier, better-conditioned, and smoother.

I'd recommend the Color Hold+ duo for color-treated hair, with only one hesitation. Over the last few years, my scalp has become very sensitive to haircare products, even those that raise the "natural" flag. In recent months I'd limited myself to only two tried-and-beloved Truth In Aging favorites, the Dr. Alkaitis Organic Shampoo and the Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue Shampoo, and the irritation was finally vanquished. Since switching to Alterna Color Hold+, sadly, it's back. I think I must be overly sensitive to some of the common cleansers or surfactants all these products use, and I don't assume that most other people would react similarly. So I'd give Alterna's Color Hold+ a cautious endorsement since it does really seem to improve color-treated hair's appearance. For a commercial salon product, it's mid-priced and has plenty of good ingredients to boot.

Ingredients in Vibrant Color Shampoo:

Water (Aqua), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Methyl 2-Sulfolaurate, Disodium 2-Sulfolaurate, Lauramide MEA, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Cetrimonium Chloride, PEG-150 Distearate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Phospholipids, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Bambusa Vulgaris Extract, Saccharomyces/Magnesium Ferment, Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment, Saccharomyces/Silicon Ferment, Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment, Saccharomyces/Iron Ferment, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, Panthenol, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Seed Extract, Polysilicone-15, Superoxide Dismutase, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Aleurites Moluccana Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Bambusa Vulgaris Water, Trideceth-12, Polyquaternium-7, Polyquaternium-55, PEG-90 Glyceryl Isostearate, Laureth-2, Ascorbic Acid, Panthenyl Hydroxypropyl Steardimonium Chloride, Laureth-9, Glycol Distearate, Laureth-4, Methyl Gluceth-10, Quaternium-95, Propanediol, Glycerin, PEG-15 Soyamine/IPDI Copolymer Dimer Dilinoleate, Hydrogenated Castor Oil/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Octocrylene, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Behentrimonium Chloride, Sucrose Laurate, Amodimethicone, C11-15 Pareth-7, Silicone Quaternium-8, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil , Disodium EDTA, Aminomethyl Propanol, Sodium Benzoate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Fragrance (Parfum), Linalool, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Geraniol.

Ingredients in Vibrant Color Conditioner:

Water (Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol , Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Behentrimonium Methosulfate Cetearyl Alcohol, Amodimethicone, Glycerin, Dihydroxypropyl PEG-5 Linoleammonium Chloride, Hydrogenated Castor Oil/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Panthenol, Cyclohexasiloxane, Superoxide Dismutase, Saccharomyces/Magnesium Ferment, Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment, Saccharomyces/Silicon Ferment, Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment, Saccharomyces/Iron Ferment, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Polysilicone-15, Bambusa Vulgaris Extract, Phospholipids, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Dimethiconol, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, C11-15 Pareth-7, Laureth-9, Trideceth-12, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Seed Extract, Behentrimonium Chloride, Tocopheryl Acetate, C12-13 Pareth-3, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Divinyldimethicone/Dimethicone Copolymer, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Octocrylene, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, C12-13 Pareth-23, Sucrose Laurate, Quaternium-95, Propanediol, Citric Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylisothiazolinone, Fragrance (Parfum), Linalool, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Geraniol.