On a bleak day between Christmas and New Year’s I found myself in a Target, so depleted that it looked as if it had been ransacked. I was in dire need of some shampoo and conditioner and without much choice was relieved to see an aisle of products giving a nod in the direction of natural ingredients. It was there that I found Giovanni Wellness System Shampoo and Conditioner with Chinese Botanicals ($7.99 each at Vitaminshoppe.com).

Giovanni is a brand that has managed to attain mass market distribution whilst retaining its ingredient integrity. There’s no nature washing with its products – they are mostly botanical ingredients, including some unusual ones, with few nasties lurking. And we have had positive reviews from readers who have tested Giovanni, for example Root 66.

Nevertheless, I did not love Wellness System Shampoo and Conditioner and they have been relegated to the emergency-buy-for-emergency-use aisle. Wellness System did not leave my hair looking all that well, indeed dry and dull was the net effect.

It’s a disappointment because the ingredients – especially the “Chinese botanicals” – seem interesting. The Chinese lineup includes sesame and an mole, otherwise known as Indian Gooseberry and a powerful antioxidant due to the high level of tannins. By far the most exciting and well worth keeping on our radar is eclipta prostrata, commonly called false daisy, as there is some research demonstrating that it grows hair.

Despite this and plenty of other herbs with hair growing powers (saw palmetto), hair and scalp conditioning (nettle) and antioxidants (green tea), my hair felt drab and stringy whenever I used Wellness System. Still, I can’t quibble about the price and I love the lack of silicones, fillers and chemicals.

I still have the Giovanni on standby should I find myself running out of my favorite Nutra-Lift and Yarok. (PS: I’ll be posting on my regular hair regimen in a few days).

Ingredients in shampoo: Aqua (Purified Water), *Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, *Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Extract [Hei Zhi Ma], Emblica Officinalis Fruit Extract [An Mole], *Eclipta Prostrata Extract [Mo Han Lian], Sapindus Mukorossi Fruit Extract [Wu Huan Zi], *Bacopa Moniera Extract [Jia Ma Chi Xian], Morus Alba (Mulberry) Fruit Extract, Panax Ginseng (Ginsenosides) Root Extract, Serenoa Serrulata (Saw Palmetto) Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Lauryl Glucoside, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Sodium CocoylIsethionate, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B-5), Glycerin, Menthol, Menthyl Lactate, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid *Certified Organic

Ingredients in conditioner: Aqua (Purified Water), *Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, *Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Extract [Hei Zhi Ma], Emblica Officinalis Fruit Extract [An Mole], *Eclipta Prostrata Extract [Mo Han Lian], Sapindus Mukorossi Fruit Extract [Wu Huan Zi], *Bacopa Moniera Extract [Jia Ma Chi Xian], Rehmannia Glutinosa (Chinese Foxglove) Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract [Proanthocyanidins], Serenoa Serrulata (Saw Palmetto) Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Stearalkonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Chloride, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Cetyl Alcohol,Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Panthenol, Menthol, Menthyl Lactate, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol *Certified Organic