I did something that I very rarely do the other day, I used a product without checking what was in it first. I didn’t just use it in some absent-minded way. I pounced on it and was prepared to go into denial as long as it did the job.  It did. And now, predictably, I’m in a bit of a quandary.  The product is Alterna Caviar 3 Minute Shine Boost ($25).

Although I haven’t been doing anything different (mostly using Nurture My Body’s shampoo and conditioner), my hair has been looking a little frizzy and pretty dull and lackluster the last couple of weeks. I was given a sample of Alterna Caviar 3 Minute Shine Boost and when I read that it promised to be “a shine treatment that acts like a lip-gloss for your hair by giving it an instant blast of hi-def shine”, I just wanted it to be true.

And it was. Shine Boost does what it says on the can. After shampoo and conditioner, I left it on for three minutes and rinsed it off. My hair was soft, shiny and manageable. A once a week treatment is supposed to be enough, which is why I was feeling reckless enough to go for it.  Three minutes once a week can’t hurt even if it has every paraben known to man. The thing is though that it doesn’t – in my experience – last through shampoos. I didn’t use it this morning and my hair looks dull again.  So if I am going to consider using Alterna Caviar 3 Minute Shine Boost with every hair wash, I’d better take a look at what’s in it.

Thankfully the main glossing agent, PPG 3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, is perfectly harmless. And most of the first few ingredients (although not natural) are mostly benign – the exception being Oleth-10, a mild to moderate skin irritant that can have toxins present and may cause organ effects even at low doses. I was delighted to see that they are closely followed by all sorts of botanicals, peptides and antioxidants. Including Alterna’s signature wasabi., in which there are powerful antioxidants in called oxido-reductases. These include peroxidases and superoxide dismutase, responsible for the scavenging and neutralization of free radicals, principal factors contributing to the exogenous aging process. Of course, there is caviar extract, which contains arginine, the building block of proteins.

In fact, the shine isn’t tarnished until you get to phenoxyethanol, some more oleth, and the potential irritant centrimonium chloride. The presence of the potential carcinogen ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate would freak me out if this wasn’t a rinse off product (although as a UV sunscreen I don’t really understand why its here at all).

No Alterna Caviar 3 Minute Shine Boost isn’t squeaky clean. But on balance, there are a host more good things than bad in it. Plus, it really does a good job. I think I’ll go for it.


Water (Aqua), Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Amodimethicone, Oleth-10, Polyacrylamide, Ppg-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Isododecane, Isohexadecane, Caviar Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Panthenol, Wasabia Japonica (Wasabi) Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Polyquaternium-59, Polyquaternium-10, Superoxide Dismutase, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Papain, Bromelain, Melanin, Pikea Robusta Extract, Glycine Max (Soybean) Symbiosome Extract, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Seed Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Corn Oligosaccharides, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Pantothenic Acid/ Yeast Polypeptide, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid Polypeptide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Phenoxyethanol, Oleth-20, Cetrimonium Chloride, Laureth-7, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Caprylyl Glycol, Citric Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Hydrolyzed Saccharomyces/Lactobacillus/Ubiquinone Ferment, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Niacinamide/Yeast Polypeptide, Hexapeptide-11, Adenosine Triphosphate, Apigenin, Oleanolic Acid, Biotinoyl Tripeptide-1, Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment, Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment, Saccharomyces Lysate Ferment, Lactoferrin, Aminoacyl tRNA Synthetase, Phospholipids, Quaternium-15, Copper Oxidase, Acetyl Serine, Acetyl Methionine, Mica (Ci 77019), Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Fragrance (Parfum).