For this 2012 update of Five Best Conditioners, I’ve been reunited with my old friend Max Green Alchemy. The Scalp Rescue Conditioner remains one of hair care’s all time bargains. In terms of quality and performance, it is in good company. I’ve made many new discoveries this year and increasingly have been finding shampoos (see my 2012 Five Best shampoos) and conditioners that are worth getting in a lather about. Focusing on excellent natural ingredients, these conditioners keep hair healthy, strong and looking good:

Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue Conditioner ($15). As our recent reviewer remarked, MGA makes “one of the BEST shampoo/conditioner duos I have used” (and that after five years of chemo). Don’t be put off by the Scalp Rescue appellation. You don’t have to be scalp challenged to enjoy and benefit from using Max Green Alchemy’s shampoo and conditioner. I’ve been going back to them on and off for years. The conditioner does its thing to make hair shiny, soft and bouncy without ever weighing it down. There are 30 botanicals including antioxidant coltsfoot, calcium rich nettles, licorice and soy protein. A great product at any price and excellent at this one. Read Joan’s review.

Sans Ceuticals Nourishing Hair Hydratant ($42). I am very pleased with the way that Sans Ceuticals Nourishing Hair Hydratant leaves my hair soft and manageable, and over the course of a few weeks seems to have boosted the health of my hair overall. It is way less prone to tangle and feels stronger when I pull a brush through it. At the heart of Sans Ceuticals Nourishing Hair Hydratant is a complex that includes glycosphingolipids and cholesterol. It is supposed to repair hair at the intercellular level, “the cement” that holds a healthy hair shaft together. Read my full review.

Josh Rosebrook Deep Nourishing Conditioner ($30). A lightweight conditioner that is really very nice and gives a tangle-free finish to my shower. It has a base of aloe gel and shea butter, rounded out with a few oils, including meadowfoam that ensure shiny healthy hair. Josh Rosebrook’s signature botanicals are noted for the contribution to healthy hair (horsetail and burdock, for example) and scalp (rosemary and sage). Plant-derived B vitamins may contribute to hair growth. I generally leave this conditioner on for a couple of minutes before rinsing. The result after drying is free of frizz, a good shine and no additional weight. Read my review.

Mukti Botanique Conditioner ($36 in the TIA shop). Mukti’s amazing shampoo and conditioner are formulated without a water base. Instead there are “aqueous extracts” of chamomile and calendula. It’s good to know that your hard-earned cash isn’t going on water. Mukti’s conditioner makes use of avocado, macadamia and safflower oils. As well as imparting fatty acids, they seem to condition without weighing the hair down. And one of the biggest surprises is that my wavy hair has been relatively frizz free, even when I washed my hair during a thunderstorm. Read my review.

Lather Bamboo Crème Conditioner ($20). This conditioner leaves the hair feeling very soft, possibly due to the inclusion of hydrolyzed silk. Ivy extract is a good choice as it contains a saponin called hederin that is supposed to have a protective effect on the hair. Bamboo is rich in natural silica, a trace mineral that is essential for strong, healthy hair. Although there’s the usual suspects in the preservative department, there’s a ton of natural and beneficial ingredients (very welcome and unusual is detoxifying and antioxidant watercress) in this well-priced and performing conditioner. Read my review.

Ingredients in Max Green Alchemy: Purified Water, Aqueous Herbal Extract (Glycyrrhiza Glabra* (licorice) Root, Tussilago Farfara+ (coltsfoot) Leaf, Achillea Millefolium* (yarrow), Salix Alba+ (willow), Tabebuia Impetiginosa+ (pau d arco), Arctium Lappa* (burdock) Root, Berberis Aquifolium (mahonia), Calendula Officinalis* (calendula), Equisetum Arvense* (horsetail), Urtica Dioica* (nettles)), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate (coconut derived surfactant), Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine (coconut derived surfactant), Sucrose Cocoate (sugar/coconut emulsifier), Coco-Betaine (coconut derived surfactant), Leptospermum Petersonii (lemon tea tree), Melaleuca Alternifolia* (tea tree), Lavandula Angustifolia* (lavender), Pelargonium Capitatum* (geranium), Rosemarinus Officinalis* (rosemary), Oryzanol (rice extract), Hydrolysed Soy Protein, Glycerine (vegetable source), Panthenol (pro vitamin B5), Sodium Chloride (solar sea salt), Macadamia* Ternifolia (macadamia) Seed Oil, Parfum (fragrance of plant origin), Alcohol (from sugar cane), Xanthan Gum, Ascorbyl Palmitate (vitamin C ester), Aloe Barbadensis* (aloe vera) Leaf, Mixed Tocopherols (plant derived GMO-free vitamin E). *Organic + Wild Crafted

Ingredients in Sans: Water, behentrimonium methosulfate, cetearyl alcohol, glycerine, water (and) glycerin (and) glycosphingolipids (and) phospholipids (and) cholesterol, wheat amino acids, hydroxypropyltrimonium, hydrolyzed wheat protein, octyldodecanol (and) Irvingia Gabonensis kernel butter (and) hydrogenated coco-glycerides, alpha lipoic acid, pathenol, retinyl palmitate, daucus carota (carot) extract, cetyl esters, avocado oil unsaponifiables, natural fragrance, gluconolactone, sodium benzoate

Ingredients in Josh Rosebrook: Vitamin-infused organic aloe gel, organic shea butter, organic oils of: coconut, meadowfoam, olive and hempseed, organic herbal extracts of: rosemary, horsetail, burdock, peppermint, sage, oregano, cinnamon, thyme, lavender, goldenseal, lemon peel and cottonwood extract; natural plant-sourced vitamins e, a, b1, b2, b3; plant-sourced kosher vegan xanthan gum & potassium sorbate; may contain organic vinegar; organic essential oils of: mandarin, ylang ylang and proprietary blend of other essential oils

Ingredients in Mukti: Certified Organic Aqueous Extracts of Chamomile (Chamomilla Recutita), Calendula (Calendula Officinalis) & Limeflower (Tilia Cordata); Glycerin (Vegetarian); Cetearyl Alcohol (Vegetarian); Certified Organic Oils of Avocado (Persea Gratissima), Macadamia (Macadamia Ternifolia) & Safflower (Carthamus Tinctorius); Certified Organic Essential Oils of Lavender Oil (Lavandula Angustifolia) & Mandarin (Citrus Nobilis); Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) blend preservative

Ingredients in Lather: Purified water (aqua), propanediol (zemea), behentrimonium methosulfate, buxus chinensis (jojoba) oil, cetearyl alcohol, triticum vulgare (wheat) germ oil, trimethylsilylamodimethicone, citrus medica limonum (bioflavanoids), hydrolyzed silk, dimethicone copolyol, hedera helix (ivy) extract, DL-panthenol (provitamin B5) betula alba (birch) leaf extract, triticum vulgare (wheat) protein, aloe barbadensis extract, avena sativa (oat) amino acid, nasturtium officinale (watercress) extract, isolaureth 6, equisetum arvense (horsetail) extract, bambusa vulgaris (bamboo) stem extract, tocopheryl acetate, tocopheryl linoleate, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, citrus reticulata (tangerine) peel oil, juniperus Mexicana (cedarwood) oil, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, ethylhexylglycerin, tetrasodium EDTA, CAB oxy K (caprylic/capric triglyceride and PEG-8 and tocopherol and ascorbyl palmitate and ascorbic acid and citric acid).