Aveda's Be Curly Conditioner ($22) is an old standby of mine as it gives my wavy hair body without too much volume. I started buying it long before Truth In Aging came into being and turned me into an ingredients nerd. Now that I am making myself blind scrutinizing the small print of any new cosmetic that crosses my path, it suddenly occurred to me to take a look at some of my bathroom fixtures, including Be Curly.

The first surprise was that the dominant ingredient was something I had never heard of.  Abies balsamea is Canadian balsam and the essential oil is about 96% composed of monoterpenes. Found in other plants (such as citrus fruits), research has shown that they have powerful chemopreventative activity. Furthermore, balsam oil is demonstrated to be a good scavenger of free radicals.

So far so good, but what of babassuamidopropyltrimonium methosulfate/behenamidopropyltrimonium methosulfate/stearyl alcohol? Although there isn't much information on this, it seems to be a semisynthetic compound with a vague link to babassu oil. It serves as a surfactant or anti-static agent. It seems to be non-hazardous. As is behentrimonium-methosulfate, which is not be confused with the rather nasty behentrimonium chloride.

Of the botanicals, cymbopogon martini oil had me going back through the search engines for information. It turns out to be palmarosa and helpful at controlling sebum. This may explain why, after using Be Curly, I can easily go two days before feeling greasy enough to wash my hair again. I'm not sure what the point of cinnamomum cassi (related to cinnamon) is, but it is useful to know that it is a good mosquito repellent.

All in all, I am delighted to find that Aveda's Be Curly Conditioner has mostly the good or the innocuous. I would, however, urge Mr Aveda to reconsider his use of sodium benzoate. A DNA zapper and carcinogenic when it gets mixed up with vitamin C, it is banned from soda drinks in the UK.

Ingredients:

Abies balsamea (balsam canada) oil, aloe barbadensis leaf, babassuamidopropyltrimonium methosulfate/behenamidopropyltrimonium methosulfate/stearyl alcohol, behentrimonium methosulfate (and) cetearyl alcohol, biosaccharide gum-1, castor isostearate succinate, cetyl alcohol, cinnamomum cassia leaf oil, citrus aurantifolia (lime) oil, citrus aurantium bergamia (bergamot) fruit oil, citrus medica limonum (lemon) peel oil, citrus nobilis (mandarin orange) peel oil, cymbopogon martini oil, fragrance (parfum), glycerin, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, hydrolyzed wheat protein, palmamidopropyl trimonium methosulfate, pelargonium graveolens flower oil, salvia sclarea (clary) oil, sodium benzoate, sodium gluconate, tapioca starch, tocopherol, water.