It has to be admitted that in the past I've been a bit snarky about Ojon. All that "ancient secrets from the Amazon" nonsense gets to me (especially when the secret is mostly coconut oil) and then there is the ridiculous Ojon Tawaka The Ball which we are supposed to believe has the antioxidant equivalent of 2,834 pounds of blueberries. But when I saw Ojon's Tawaka Ancient Tribal Rejuvenating Conditioner ($33), with what seemed to be a wealth of interesting botanicals, I thought it was time to give Ojon another chance.

My hair looked glad that I had. It was soft and hung in shiny waves. Ojon had more than redeemed itself. I sat down with the ingredients list, preparing to write a positive review and curious to know which ancient tribal ingredient was responsible for my good looking locks. The answer turned out to be a blistering disappointment. The most dominant ingredient is behentrimonium chloride. This common hair care chemical acts as an anti-static and conditioning agent. Its waxy texture also makes it a great defrizzer and emulsifier. While doubtless responsible for the shine, I was less than pleased to learn that it is 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, irritating to the skin and kills off algae when it gets into the water system.

Perhaps this will be counteracted by what Ojon calls the "savage cacoa" that, in this case, is the "antioxidant equivalent of 125 pounds of blueberries". Not a patch on The Ball then, or perhaps Ojon's marketing dept has learned that hyperbole doesn't always pay. Of the other botanicals that could be said to hail from the Amzon, there is bixa orellana, which is particularly popular with body lotion/cream and shampoo/conditioner because it can give the skin and hair a natural “sunny” glow. In addition, it is rich in carotenoids. Paullinia Cupana is better known as guarana in Brazil where it is made into a popular drink on account of the high dose of caffiene that comes with it. Guarana is also a free radical scavenger. I haven't found any information about it in relation to hair.

With these and all sorts of other useful plant extracts, such as anti-inflammatory bamboo, perhaps I should be prepared to overlook the behentrimonium chloride. But then there is PEG-2 dimeadowfoamamidoethylmonium methosulfate to consider. The Environmental Working Group isn't very keen on this at all, warning that it shouldn't be used on damaged skin. I'm not too keen on methylchloroisothiazolinone, a potential allergen although most reactions occurred in the 1980s and 1990s with leave in products and it is now only used in much lower concentrations and in rinse off products, leading to much lower rates of allergic and irritant reactions. A similar preservative is methylisothiazolinone, an irritant unless used in minute doses.

On balance, I probably won't send Ojon's conditioner directly to the product cemetery (thank you Erin for that turn of phrase). But I will be sure to keep my eyes tightly shut if I use it again.


Aqua (Water/Eau), Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Theobroma Cacao, Elaeis Oleifera (Palm) Oil, Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil, Bixa Orellana Seed Extract, Paullinia Cupana Seed Extract, Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Bambusa Arudinacea Stem Extract, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Seed Oil, Buxus Chinensis (Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil), Carica Papaya Fruit, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Sweet Almond Protein, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Lecithin, Peg-2 Dimeadowfoamamidoethylmonium Methosulfate, Tocopherol, Parfum (Fragrance), Ascorbyl Palmitate, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Magnesium Chloride, Magnesium Nitrate.