The shampoo angels are finally smiling on me. I have found a shampoo that meets TIA criteria: it works and it does no evil to us or the planet. And by works, I don't just mean that it cleans - although that helps. But we want a shampoo that leaves our hair bouncy but manageable, cleaned but not stripped of color or shine. We even want one that is capable of making our healthier over time. Earthly Delight's Tropical Rain Shampoo ($15.99 at Whole Foods) is a winner.

I almost left this on the shelf on the grounds that I am a superficial snob and the label is an awful design that looks like something that would have been sold in Latin America in the 1950s. I am pleased to say that my better nature won. This shampoo is doing a lot for the way my hair looks, so who cares about its appearance.

A fairly uncommon, but really interesting shampoo ingredient is horsetail. The stems of this plant (also called bottle brush) are rich (10%) in silica and silicic acids, which help mend broken bones and form collagen, an important protein found in connective tissue, skin, bone, cartilage, and ligaments (source). They also contain potassium and calcium. We know that calcium is essential for healthy hair, but (and I may be adding two and two and making five here) I also found out that hair growth products like Minoxidil may work by opening potassium channels in cell membranes.

The handful of other botanical ingredients include wheat germ, which has hair-loving vitamins B1 and B3. It also has a lot of ergothioneine, claimed by some to be a good antioxidant. The data, however, is patchy. A German research team concluded that ergothioneine isn't all that great in the antioxidant department, saying that it only protects against copper (II)-induced toxicity. On the other hand, a Scottish study at the University of Edinburgh, concluded that it is an effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Nettles seems to be a jack-of-all-trades as far as hair care goes. It is said to promote healthier, shinier hair and it is also used as a hair growth ingredient.

And in the week that we celebrated Earth Day, it is fitting that Earthly Delight eshews alcohol, animal products, color or sulfates. Pity though that there doesn't seem to be anything recycled in the packaging - although it does save on trees by coming without a box.

Ingredients

Distilled water, sage, rosemary, nettles, wheat germ soap, horsetail, essential oils of neroli, cinnamon and coconut.