It has taken, Andre Walker, Oprah’s hair stylist 25 years to come up with his own eponymous hair care line and his faithful client gave it significant plug on her show a couple of days ago. The line’s tag line is Make Peace With Your Hair, a notion that I liked so much that I took a look at Andre Walker’s Hair Keratin Conditioner ($23). Unfortunately, all I can say is if this is how Mr Walker makes peace with hair, I’d hate to see how he makes war.

Andre Walker’s Hair Keratin Conditioner starts out promisingly with a base of aloe leaf water, but quickly moves on to the surfactant cetrimonium bromide. According to the EWG, one or more animal studies show brain and nervous system effects at low doses, there is strong evidence that it is a human skin toxicant, and animal studies show reproductive effects at low doses.

Stearalkonium chloride is a not an impressive inclusion in a brand that is positioned and priced at something of a premium. It was originally developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener and is basically a cheap conditioning agent. One or more animal studies show sense organ effects at very low doses when used around eyes, mouth and lips, as well as skin irritation at moderate doses.

There is one interesting ingredient in Andre Walker’s conditioner. The tongue twister Xylitylglucoside Anhydroxylitol Xylitol sounds scary but is a humectant made from sugars found in wheat and wood cellulose that increases the water content of skin (and presumably hair). The company that manufactures it calls it Aquxyl and claims that it is hugely more effective than sodium hyaluronate (and SH is already pretty impressive as it is said to be able to hold 1,000 times its own weight in water).

Aquaxyl is supposed to increase glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) by over 180%. Known as the water reserve of the viable epidermis and dermis, these carbohydrates are dependent on fluid intake. Given that the extracellular matrix of the hair follicle is rich in GAGs, Aquaxyl seems to be an ideal ingredient for a hair conditioner and I am surprised not to see it more often.

Not at all surprising is keratin. Why Andre Walker took 25 years to come up with an ingredient that everyone else has been using during all that time is a tad disappointing. Keratin, the staple of so many mainstream shampoos and conditioners, is a protein that is a major component in skin, hair, nails and teeth. The hydrolyzed keratin in shampoos and other hair care treatments seems mostly to come from wool (which I suppose is hair to a sheep).

Apart from a smattering of green tea, the rest of Andre Walker’s Hair Keratin Conditioner is beyond mediocre. Anti-static chemical film formers (the polyquaterniums) that are in most commercial haircare products and the usual suspects in the preservative department, several of which are irritants (including methyldibromo-glutaronitrile).

I don’t think my hair would regard being in contact with Andre Walker’s conditioner as all that much of a peaceful gesture.

Ingredients

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Polyquaternium-11, Cetrimonium Bromide, Stearyl Alcohol, Xylitylglucoside Anhydroxylitol Xylitol (Aquxyl), Stearalkonium Chloride, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Keratin, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Polyquatemium-7, Fragrance, Cetrimonium Chloride, Tetrasodium EDTA, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Methyldibromo Glutaronitrile, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Phenoxyethanol.