Dear Marta, I am 46 years old and over the course of 2-3 years I have noticed my hair getting dry and frizzy and generally unmanageable. My hair is VERY fine and I do home color.  Over the years the only thing that saves me is using the L'Oreal product Color Pulse. It leaves my hair shiny, detangles, and manageable. The problem is that it has been discontinued and, because it deposits color, I am unable to use as often as I would like. I have tried to pinpoint the ingredient in the product giving this incredible result in a shampoo, conditioner or both so I can achieve the same great results on a regular basis, but no luck.

Can you offer any suggestion or advice? I have tried so many products my husband groans when he sees a new one in the bathroom and predicts, unfortunately correctly, the result. Negative.

Dear S, I managed to track down L’Oreal Color Pulse and I have to say that I am very relieved that this product has been discontinued. The shiny and detangling results you got were likely the result of behentrimonium chloride, a waxy anti-static agent. It is also toxic and concentrations of .1% and higher have been shown to damage the eyes by causing tissue death of the mucous membranes. It's also highly flammable, and irritating to the skin.

If that wasn’t enough, Color Pulse also contains sodium lauryl sulfate, another irritant that most manufacturers are learning to do without. But the real killer – so to speak – is one of the colorants, the hair dye 3-Methylamino-4-Nitrophenoxyethanol. In an acute toxicity study on rats, the animals died. Nonetheless, the cosmetic industry body, the CIR, says the ingredient is safe because its use as a hair dye means that it doesn’t come into contact with the skin. The European Union says it is safe providing it is at a concentration of no more than 0.15% and not used with nitrosating ingredients. Personally, I think that L’Oreal has done the world a favor by discontinuing Color Pulse.

So, as you have the perfect opportunity to try a more natural hair color and care regimen, I do have a couple of suggestions. I know several women who home color and they like Surya Henna Brasil Cream - it is a natural hair dye and seems to work well, according to Leslie, a former L”Oreal devotee and cancer survivor who sourced and tested it for us.

Lesley also uses Nutra-Lift's Simply Superb Goat Milk Shampoo ($19 in the TIA shop). I use this as well (I have my hair salon colored). The formula recently changed and it is now a very thin (watery) consistency, which I don’t love. However, anyone who once found this shampoo too rich for them may well prefer the new version and I think it would be perfect for anyone with very fine hair. Nutra-Lift says they added more goat milk and that it now gives hair more shine. I can testify to that, it gives my hair a lovely gloss and conditioner is barely needed.

Actually, I do use conditioner as well and the one from Shielo, the Color Protect Reflecting Conditioner ($25 in the TIA shop) for color treated hair does a good job and is the one that I typically pair with Goat Milk shampoo. They make a good team in my experience. My color treated hair likes them and I like that I’m not compromising with too many nasty chemicals in the pursuit of sheen.

As we get older, out hair does get drier and chemical products make matters worse so if you can move to more natural color and care products things should start to improve.

Ingredients in L’Oreal Color Pulse: Water, Lareth-12, Behentrimonium Chloride, Dimethyl Ether, Cetearyl Alcohol, Isobutane, Glycol Distearate, Amodimethicone, Butane, Fragrance, Propane, Hydroxyethlcellulose, HC Yellow No. 9, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, HC Red No. 3, HC Blue No. 2, Basic Brown 17, Trideceth-12, HC Red No. 7, 3-Methylamino-4-Nitrophenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, HC Orange No. 2, Cetrimonium Chloride, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben, F.I.L. D7071/3

Ingredients for Nutra-Lift's Shampoo: Deionized Water (agua), certified organic Non-Pasteurized Goat Milk, Lauramide MIPA, Glycol Stearate, Cocamide MEA, Vegetable Glycerin, Phenyl Trimethicone, Aloe Barbadensis gel, Tetrasodium EDTA, Silk Amino Acids, a natural and organic blend of: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Extract, Lemon (Citrus medica limonum) Extract, Pine (Pinus sylvestris) Cone extract, Hops (Humulus lupulus) Extract, Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) Extract; Tocopheryl Acetate, Citric Acid, Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxy-Propyltrimonium Chloride, Panthenol, Sodium Chloride, Quaternium-15, Chamomile extract, Green Tea, Pomegranate

Ingredients for Shielo Conditioner: Water, cetearyl alcohol, glycerin, behentrimonium methsulfate, cyclopentasiloxane, hexapeptide-11, acai extract, white tea extract, sunflower seed extract, horsetail extract, cactus extract, hibiscus flower extract, golden seal root, hydrolyzed algae, sodium hyaluronate, swertia japonica extract, hydrolized corn protein, apple fruit extract, sugar cane extract, hydrolyzed wheat protein, mallow flower, hydrolyzed wheat starch, lemon peel extract, hydrolyzed wheat protein, shea butter, amodimethicone, benzophenone-3, betaine, butylocatnol, butylene glycol, C11-15 pareth-7 caprylyl glycol, centrimonium chloride, citric acid, lemon fruit extract, alcohol, cyclohexasiloxane, cysteine, dicetyldimonium chloride, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium choride, hexylene glycol, laureth-9, PEG-45M, polyquaternium-37, polysorbate 60, PPG1, trideceth-12, PG dicaprylate/dicaprate, silicone quaternium-16, tetrasodium EDTA, trideceth-12, undeceth-11, undeceth-5, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiasolinone, fragrance, yellow 6, red 33