Do you remember those third grade experiments with germinating seeds on blotting paper? Well they came to my mind when I read that a company called Creo that makes shampoo has a “revolutionary manufacturing process we capture the life giving essence of germinated seeds.” But even if Creo is doing nothing more than sprouting seeds, that isn’t to dismiss it. Sprouting plants have gone through complex biochemical processes and may be much more potent than just any old botanical extract.

Creo recently sent me some of its hair care products and I was intrigued to see that the signature ingredient is a complex of germinated grape, red clover and sunflower seed extract. I did some reading around and it seems there may be something to sprouting.

According to a couple of researchers in the late 80s (Chavan and Kadam, 1989), sprouting grains have increased activities of hydrolytic enzymes. This is results in more good things – protein, fat, essential amino acids, sugars, B-group vitamins -  and fewer undesirable things - dry matter, starch and anti-nutrients.

I don’t know if, as Creo claims, the germinated extracts are more powerful antioxidants. Red clover is already pretty impressive. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says it contains four anti-tumor compounds, one of which is tocopherol, form of vitamin E. Sunflower seeds are also a good source of vitamin E and grape seeds are well known antioxidants.

Creo makes a big deal about what it doesn’t include in its haircare products as well: no sulfates, silicons, petrochemicals, DEA, oxides, or foam boosters. The shampoo, called Nano Pro-Tec Hair Cleanser ($16 in the TIA shop) relies instead on sodium lauroyl sarcosinate. Although this is relatively mild, it has the potential to be contaminated with nitrosamine (a known carcinogen) is classified as a penetration enhancer. Preferable is the use alongside it of sodium cocoyl glutamate, the sodium salt of coconut fatty acid, used as emulsifier and lightly sudsing surfactant and considered to be gentle. Quaternium-95 and propanediol, a non-irritating emollient are included to provide protection – especially for chemically colored hair – from UV rays.

Overall, the Nano-Protec Hair Conditioner ($17 in the TIA shop) is the more appealing product for me as it has some additional good things. Rose hip seed oil is fairly high up the ingredient list and there’s antioxidant apricot kernel oil and hydrolyzed whole wheat protein. I especially like the kukui nut oil (a source of vitamins A, E, F, linoleic and linolenic acids).

At first, I was a little concerned as the shampoo did one of those “squeaky clean” jobs. But it didn’t leave my hair feeling stripped. The conditioner is light and doesn’t leave my hair feeling weighted down, despite doing a fairly good job of controlling frizz. On this point, New York’s continuous rainfall isn’t really giving it a sporting chance and I am having to rely more than usual on my Oribe Crème styling stuff. But I am pleased to say that the result, despite the constant humidity and a dire need for a haircut, is nice soft waves.

I would say that if anyone is trying to move from crappy chemical haircare formulas but hasn’t yet been satisfied with the performance of more natural ones, then Creo is worth trying out.

Ingredients in Hair Cleanser

Organic calendula flower water, water, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium cocoyl glutamate, glycereth-26, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, di-lauroyl polyglucosides, quaternium-95, propanediol, fragrance, lonicera japonica flower extract, germinated sunflower seed extract, germinated red clover extract, germinated grape seed extract.

Ingredients in Hair Conditioner

Water, behentrimonium methosulfate, cetearyl alcohol, glycerine, rose hip seed oil, panthenol, quaternium-91, apricot kernel oil, hydrolyzed whole wheat protein, PG-propyl silantriol, cetrimonium metholsulfate, kukui nut oil, germinated grape seed extract, hydrolyzed whole wheat protein, quaternium-95, propanediol, wheat amino acids, tocopherol, lonicera japonica flower extract, germinated red clover extract, germinated sunflower seed extract, fragrance