I was hoping to do my bit for the Greek economy (well someone has to) by reviewing Apivita, an Athens-based beauty company with a focus on natural ingredients. So I tried the Apivita Propoline Women’s Tonic Shampoo for Thinning Hair ($22) and the Shine And Revitalizing Conditioner ($22). Unfortunately, my review is going to be about as positive as a Greek bond rating.

I am sorry about this, but I found myself disappointed by both their performance and, to some extent, the performance. Both the shampoo and conditioner left my hair dry, tangled and dull. I tried them over several weeks together and I swapped out either the shampoo or conditioner. In the end, I concluded that neither were for me. I have gone back to Nutra-Lift Shampoo and Shielo’s conditioner and my hair is happy again.

My expectations were appropriately set for the Tonic Shampoo. I am prepared for a product focused on thinning hair to be more of a treatment than a classical sudser. Indeed, my Nutra-Lift isn’t much in the foaming department, but it doesn’t leave my hair feeling dull and stripped as the Apivita did.

The base of the shampoo is promising – an infusion of rosemary water – but I was less enthralled by the sodium laureth sulfate in both the shampoo and conditioner. Laureth sulfate is less likely to cause side-effects such as dryness or irritation than its harsher sister, lauryl sulfate, because it doesn't denaturate (change the structure) of proteins, unlike lauryl. Nevertheless, in Germany, a product cannot be labeled 'natural' if it contains any members of the sulfate family (lauryl, laureth, or ammonium). Coco betaine, another dominant ingredient can also cause irritation.

But overall, the formulas are mostly benign (excepting a few preservatives and linalool) and there are a couple of botanicals that have credibility in the hair growing department, such as panax ginseng. I’m less sure about the much touted propolis, which is a kind of bee mortar that is used for patching up hives and is also an antibacterial. Cotton extract isn’t very convincing either as it seems to be mostly used in cosmetic formulations as a surfactant, although there is some evidence that it smoothes the hair shaft.

I am still looking for new shampoos and conditioners that qualify as Five Bests, but these are not, based on my experience, going to qualify.

Ingredients in Shampoo: Aqua** (Water**), Aqua (Water), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG-4 Rapeseedamide, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Lauryl Glucoside, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Coco-Glucoside, Hydrolyzed Lupine Protein, Cinchona Succirubra Bark Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower* Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf*, Mel* (Honey*) Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Flower/Leaf* Extract, Propolis Extract, Saponaria Officinalis Leaf Extract, Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Extract, Glyceryl Oleate, Panthenol, Butylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Arginine, Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phytantriol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch, Sodium Phytate, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Sorbate, Biotin, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil*, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil*, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Oil*, Laurus Nobilis Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder*, Copper Aspartate, Sodium Hydroxide, Guar Hydroxypropyl Trimonium Chloride, Benzoic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Zinc Aspartate, Manganese Aspartate, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum (Fragrance), Linalool, Limonene
**Rosmarinus Officinalis* Leaf Aqueous Infusion = Rosemary water * from certified organic cultivation

Ingredients in Conditioner: Aqua** (Water**), Aqua (Water), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-4 Rapeseedamide, Panthenol, Mel* (Honey*) Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide, Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phytantriol, Camellia Sinensis Leaf* Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil*, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil*, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil*, Glyceryl Oleate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Saponaria Officinalis Leaf Extract, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Sodium Chloride, Arginine, Copper Aspartate, Zinc Aspartate, Manganese Aspartate, Coco-Glucoside, Glycol Distearate, Niacinamide, Glycereth-2 Cocoate, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf*, Biotin, Lactic Acid, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Glycerin, Potassium Sorbate, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Phytate, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Polyquaternium-10, Ethylhexylglycerin, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Parfum (Fragrance), Limonene, Linalool, Citronellol, Hexyl Cinnamal.