The Gold Winner of Good Housekeeping Magazine’s 2011 anti-aging hair products award is Pureology Nanoworks Shampoo & Conditioner ($53 each) and, of course, I couldn’t resist taking a look since it was tested by at least 20 women over the age of 35 and on hair swatches in the Good Housekeeping lab to win against 100 other products.

Rather like Pureology Nanoworks Restorative Hair Treatment that I looked at a while ago, the Nanoworks shampoo starts off well with three botanical ingredients (in this case mushroom). If Pureology Nanoworks Shampoo was a drugstore product I’d be reasonably satisfied (although certainly not impressed) with the ratio of active ingredients to bog standard chemicals, but at over $50 (and over $100 if you bought it with the conditioner), I am disappointed.

Apparently the Good Housekeeping testers were awed by the high volume of foam produced by the Nanoworks shampoo. I can think of better things to hope for from $53 than suds. Anyway, all the lather is probably due to the presence of two isethionates. Although considered generally mild, all surfactants can be irritants, and tend to be more irritating at higher concentrations. Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate has been specifically shown to cause some eye irritation at higher concentrations. But there is nothing special or intrinsically nourishing for aging locks from these or the very high number of standard foaming agents and surfactants here.

Pureology Nanoworks apparently received a “perfect score for wet combing”. I can understand why this should be a judging criteria. No one with aging, brittle hair wants to be tugging a comb through it. But the problem with being thrilled with rich lather, superficial shine and “improved compatibility” is that the makers of hair care products get preoccupied with finding chemicals or chemically altered coconut derivatives to achieve these goals. And they do so to the detriment of focusing on a formula aimed at restoring hair to superb health.

To be sure there are (as well as fungi), some useful things such as the antioxidants super oxide dismutase, green tea and wine (although why not just go with grape). There are various proteins, a couple of vitamins, UV protectors and amino acids. I’m not sure what to make of the inclusion of lactic, malic and citric acids – perhaps they are for the exfoliating the scalp.

But all of these good things are outnumbered by a pareth, silicone or quaternium. It is instructive to compare Pureology Nanoworks Shampoo to one of Nutra-Lift’s. At half the price of Pureology, Nutra-Lift shampoo has more antiaging botanicals in it than many a high-end facial serum.  I recently sent one to a friend in the UK who has been complaining that her fine hair was getting thinner (she’s in her early 50s). She sent me an email the other day saying that her now “thick!” hair  even elicited comments from her hairdresser. Nutra-Lift foams too. But that’s not really the point.

Ingredients in Pureology Shampoo: Botanicals of Mushrooms Mucor Miehei, Shitake and Mannentake (Certified Organic), Ammonium Cocoyl Isothionate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Panthenol, Silicone Quaternium 8, Glycol Distearate, Glycereth 26, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG Propyl Silanetriol, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (Green Tea), Wine Extract, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Polyquaternium 11, Polyquaternium 7, Wheat Amino Acid, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Trideceth 12, Polamide 2 (Sunscreen), Cinnamidopropyl Trimonium Chloride (Sunscreen), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Extract (Heliogenol), Melanin, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E) (Vitamin E), Super Oxide Dismutase, Butylene Glycol, Amodimethicone, C11 15 Pareth 7, Laureth 9, Glycerin, Divinyldimethicone/Dimethicone Copolymer, C12 13 Pareth 23, C12 13 Pareth 3, Trimethylsiloxyamodimethicone, C12 16 Pareth 9, PEG 150 Distearate, PPG 2 Hydroxyethyl Cocamide, Methyl Gluceth 20, Decyl Glucoside, Tetrasodium EDTA, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, DMDM Hydantoin, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Methylparaben, Aromatherapy Fragrance

Read more: Anti Aging Hair Products - Best Anti Aging Products for Hair - Good Housekeeping