A friend who is job hunting and on a very strict budget begged me to review Herbal Essences haircare range. She considered it to be somehow more natural than the other shampoos and conditioners within her budget. I decided to oblige by taking a look at the new Tousle Me Softly range from Herbal Essences.

With a shampoo and conditioner for about $4.38 each, Tousle Me Softly certainly met the criteria of being affordable. But was it a good buy? When I took a look, I had to say that Nutra-Lift's conditioner - packed with all sorts of nutrients for healthy hair - looks to be an absolute bargain at just over twice the price (see TIA store). With Tousle Me, you are getting what you are paying for: not much.

True Tousle Me Softly does have pomegranate, an antioxidant that is a rich source of conjugated fatty acids (of which punicic acid is the most common) and polyphenol compounds (such as anthocynidins and the powerful, miraculous ellagic acid) that lend the fruit potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenging abilities – higher than that of green tea and red wine. Pomegranate is so good for you that it can redeem most things. In this case, it has a full run for its money.

Pomegranates are a source of vitamin C. Usually, that would be a good thing. But here, where the vitamin C, gets mixed up with sodium benzoate, it could be a very bad thing since it is a liaison that renders sodium benzoate carcinogenic. The shampoo has both sodium sulfates. The Journal of the American College of Toxicology says that it has “a degenerative effect on the cell membranes because of its protein denaturing properties”. The Journal adds that “high levels of skin penetration may occur at even low use concentration. Worryingly, tests on young animals showed permanent eye damage – even when the SLS was applied to areas other than the eye. In addition, there are several preservatives that are potential allergans

Despite the extract of viola odorata, Herbal Essences does not come up smelling of violets with Tousle Me Softly.

Ingredients in shampoo:

Water, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium chloride, viola odorata flower/leaf extract, punica granatum extract, fragrance, cocamide mea, sodium benzoate, citric acid, sodium citrate, tetrasodium edta, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, linoleamidopropyl pg-dimonium chloride phosphate, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, sodium xylenesulfonate, blue 1, red 33.

Ingredients in conditioner:

Water, stearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, viola odorata flower/leaf extract, punica granatum extract, glutamic acid, fragrance, bis-aminopropyl dimethicone, benzyl alcohol, edta, sodium chloride, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, citric acid, blue 1, red 33.