Our Rating: 5 stars

It is rare for my husband to steal toiletries from a hotel room, so when he came home from a trip with shampoo and conditioner by Lather, I took an immediate interest. He remarked that it made his hair "soft and fluffy". I don't think I have heard him use the word fluffy before, even in relation to the cat. Somehow his stolen goods managed to find their way to my shower and I found that there are plenty of things about Lather to get worked up about.

After encountering a few irritants that badly stung my eyes in a Kronos shampoo the other day, I am pleased to say that Lather's Bamboo Creme Hair Wash ($20) and Bamboo Creme Conditioner ($20), for dry and damaged hair, are as gentle as a whisper. But this is no wimp either, hair is squeaky clean and old product build-up has been effectively removed. The end result: my hair has volume, my waves are bouncy and, I've got to say it, soft and fluffy.

Bamboo is an unusual ingredient for a shampoo, but turns out to be rather a good one. It is rich in natural silica, a trace mineral that is essential for strong, healthy hair. In fact, bamboo extract is one of the richest sources of natural silica containing over 70%. This is more than 10 times the level in the horsetail, which is used in many botanical hair care products, such as Earthly Delight's Tropical Rain, as well as here.

Ivy extract is a good choice as it contains a saponin called hederin that is supposed to have a protective effect on the hair. It also removes toxins, which is why - along with birch - it is often found in anti-cellulite creams. Another botanical that is said to boost protective and detoxifying reactions in human cells is watercress.

If you are happy to skip over the phenoxyethanol, a potential irritant and neurotoxin, there is potassium sorbate, one of the gentler, non-irritating preservatives to be found.

Ingredients in shampoo

Purified water (aqua), decyl glucoside, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, lauryl glucoside, propanediol (zemea), sodium lauroyl oat amino acids, cocamidopropyl betaine, avena sativa (oat) amino acid, ammonium laureth sulfate, triticum vulgare (wheat) protein, aloe barbadensis extract, buxus chinensis (jojoba) oil, methylcellulose, salvia officinalis (sage) extract, betula alba (birch) leaf extract, glycol distearate, fucus vesiculosus (bladderwrack) extract, DL-panthenol, equisetum arvense (horsetail) extract, citrus medica limonum (bioflavonoids), bambusa vulgaris (bamboo) stem extract, tocopheryl acetate, linolenic acid, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, citrus reticulata (tangerine) peel oil, juniperus Mexicana (cedarwood) oil, citric acid, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, ethylhexylglycerin, tetrasodium EDTA.

Ingredients in conditioner

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).