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Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Shampoo

Is a Solution for:
Oily Hair, Thinning Hair & Shedding, Dry or Brittle Hair
June 18, 2010 Reviewed by Marta 7 Comments
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)
  • December 14, 2017

    by Jane

    This post was recently brought to my attention, and I would like to share what currently is correct about this product. Phenoxyephanol is not in the ingredients of this product or any of Intelligent Nutrients products. The following is an ingredient list of the Harmonic Shampoo. It has a new look, and the ingredients have been updated. Intelligent Nutrients wants to be transparent and share all ingredients. Intelligent Nutrients also has 3rd party certification. Many companies do not spend the money or time to authenticate their products. If you'd like to learn more, you may find on their website. I am a firm believer in these products, and they are the safest on the market.


    Water (Aqua), Sodium C14- Olefin Sulfonate, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Mauritia Flexuosa (Buriti) Fruit Oil,1 Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil,1,2 Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Oil,1,2 Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil,1,2 Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil,1,2 Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil,1,2 Aroma,1,3 Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Panthenol, Xylitol, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Heptyl Undecylenate, Gluconolactone, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Limonene,4 Tocopherol (Vitamin E).

  • July 12, 2010

    by Emelyn

    I interviewed Horst recently and you might be interested in his response regading concerns about the Harmonic Hair Care line. He basically says that while this line is not organic, it is nontoxic, non-irritating, and provides an alternative for consumers who want cleaner products that perform more like conventional products, at lower prices. You can read it here:

  • July 8, 2010

    by JD

    Why was my post deleted? All I said was- look into Morrocco Method? It's an all natural line, none of the things in it you're complaining about.

    I also love Lamas' Chinese Herbal shampoo.

  • July 7, 2010

    by JD

    Look into Morrocco Method ?

  • June 28, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Terri - please do post any reply. Thanks. Some years ago, someone who would know told me that the first 5 or 6 ingredients on a label are the ones that count and anything after that is in such minute quantity as to not mean much.

    Personally, I'm less concerned about irritants than things that are toxic. I may be wrong, but I think an irritant would be obvious right away and you'd know it doesn't agree with you while a toxin can build up in your system over time without your knowledge.

    With this shampoo, it looks like the bottom half of the ingredient list is unnecessary bloat, primarily there for fragrance rather than hair benefits. They are mostly potential skin and eye irritants except for limonene and linalool which some studies have targeted as carcinogenic.

  • June 28, 2010

    by Terri

    I agree that it's confusing and unfortunate that they chose to use phenoxyethanol. I am hoping to get a response from IN regarding this decision, and will post it here if you'd like! In the meantime, I wanted to point out that IN is not at all related to Aveda any longer. Estee Lauder purchased Aveda 15 years ago, and so one's experience with or opinion of Aveda should not influence your opinion of IN - most of the products are 100% organic, gorgeous, and very effective!

  • June 21, 2010

    by Lindsay

    Thanks for another informative post, Marta. I've been using organic beauty products for years and haven't seen phenoxyethanol listed as high on an ingredients deck. I've never been impressed with the efficacy any Aveda products (given their price) and likely won't be trying Intelligent Nutrients at all.

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