The founder of Intelligent Nutrients, Horst Rechelbacher, pulled off a cute stunt when he launched his "natural" skin and hair care line; he took a swig of his hairspray to demonstrate that it was pure enough to drink. The problem is that I am not so sure that I would follow his example when it comes to Intelligent Nutrient's Harmonic Shampoo ($22).

Sure there are, as you would expect from the guy who originally founded Aveda, plenty of botanicals that look good enough to eat. But before you get to them there a few ingredients that I personally find hard to swallow. The most worrisome is phenoxyethanol, which - unusually and alarmingly - is the sixth most dominant ingredient. In cosmetics the concentrations are typically 0.5% to 1%. Does that mean that all those botanicals are at less than 1%? There are several animal studies that demonstrate that phenoxyethanol is toxic – with effects on the brain and the nervous system – at moderate concentrations. In Japan, there is a concentration limit for its use in cosmetics. In Europe, the European Union classifies it as an irritant and German researchers found it to be a top ten irritant out of 3,000 ingredients tested.

I am a little wary of sodium methyl cocoyl taurate. Generally described as a mild surfactant, there isn't much information about it. A check on its INCI name of Ethanesulfonic acid, 2-(methylamino)-, N-coco acyl derivs., sodium salts, revealed that it is listed as a skin and eye irritant (source). There is also limonene and linalool (although mercifully way down the list), which researchers have isolated as the cytotoxic compounds in lavender and tea-tree oils.

After this less than appetizing start, Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Shampoo gains some appeal with beta-carotene rich buriti oil, nigella sativa (which the Prophet Mohammed - with hubris to rival Mr Rechelbacher - described as able to cure everything except death), and antioxidant grape, raspberry, pumpkin and cranberry.

I shall ponder the bottle of Harmonic Shampoo for some days to come I suspect. Does the good outweigh the bad enough for me to test it on my precious locks? Hmm. Food for thought.


Water, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Glycerin, Disodium Coco-glucoside Citrate, Behenyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Glyceryl Oleate, Cocoglucoside, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Xanthan Gum, Certified Organic Ethyl Palmate, Certified Organic Mauritia Flexuosa (Buriti) Fruit Oil, Nigella Certified Organic Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil, Certified Organic Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Oil, Certified Organic Rubus Idaeus (Red Raspberry) Seed Oil, Certified Organic Vitis Vinifera (Red Grape) Seed Oil, Certified Organic Vaccinium Marcocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Certified Organic Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Certified Organic Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil, Certified Organic Menthol, Certified Organic Elettaria Cardamomum Seed Oil, Certified Organic Cinnamomum Zeylanicum (Cinnamon) Bark Oil, Certified Organic Vanilla Planifolia Fruit (Natural Flavor), Certified Organic Rubus Idaeus (Red Raspberry Natural Flavor), Gaultheria Procumbens (Wintergreen) Leaf Oil, Certified Organic Limonene, Certified Organic Linalool, Citric Acid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E)